A minimalist, versatile backpack is an easy way to add functionality and class to any look for any travel occasion.
You deserve the best, and that includes the best travel backpack on the market. Whether you’re looking for the best travel backpack for men, for women, or one that can be shared, a good travel backpack that you’ll carry is durable as it is stylish, and helps you stay organized and prepared to face any day.
Best Travel Backpacks
There’s a travel backpack for every adventure, which is why finding the right one that suits you is important.
While traveling, backpacks give you much more mobility than standard roller luggage. You can glide through airports, be unbothered by cobblestone streets while exploring cities, or go through the annoyance of losing a wheel while in the middle of a trip. With both hands-frees, you have more tactile opportunities to interact with the world around you, with less of a chance of your possessions being rolled away without you noticing.
When shopping for a travel backpack, it’s important to consider the size of the bag, the durability of the material, and the functionality of the design. Keep reading to learn how to shop for and make the most of your travel backpack.
What To Look For In A Travel Backpack
While you may want a specific color or brand of the backpack, there are four key attributes of the right backpack that arethe most important to look for.
- Weight: If you’re traveling on an airplane, you want to make sure your backpack doesn’t go overweight restrictions, which is why a lightweight bag is optimal for you. Additionally, a too-heavy backpack can wreak havoc on your posture and back muscles; the only spine we want you cracking is that of a good book.
- Comfort: Shoulder pads? Check. Ergonomic design? Check. Waist strap? Nerdy, but check. Look for a backpack that has padding and adjustable straps, so you can make sure you have the perfect fit for your body.
- Usability: It’s never a pretty sight to see someone’s backpack spilling out as they dig toward the bottom for one item. The best backpacks have multiple compartments so that you’re able to access different items you’re carrying without disrupting other sections. While it’s important to keep your wallet and phone easily accessible, we recommend not putting them in the outermost compartment, as they’ll be most prone to theft!
- Durability: You need a bag that’s not only there for a good time, but a long time. Consider the type of material, quality of stitching, and weather-resistance treatments. Many outdoor-specific bags will come with rain covers to help you keep it dry. Don’t forget that water resistance doesn't mean 100% waterproof!
What Size Travel Backpack Do I Need?
Well, how big are you and how much stuff are you bringing? We’re breaking down the size backpack based on how much weight they can likely carry:
- 15-30 lb: Too small for a long vacation (unless you’re really minimalist), but perfect for a commute or day trip! This bag should be big enough to fit your wallet, phone, laptop, respective chargers, umbrella, a book, water bottle, and small snack.
- 35-45 lb: Perfect for a long weekend (or week, if you’re packing light), this bag will be large enough to include two days’ worth of clothing, a hanging toiletry bag, and everything from the 15-30 lb bag list.
- 50-65 lb: Going away for more than a week but trying to stay wheel-free with your luggage? This size bag should be able to fit a week’s worth of clothes for most climates and adventures, and won’t require you to be overly minimalist with your packing list.
- 70-120 lb: Whether you’re going on a camping trip, or transporting a small human (just kidding!), this size bag will keep everything you need secured for when you need to take it out. Durability is the most important factor when choosing a bag of this size, as it’s the one you really don’t want breaking when you need it!
Best Carry-On Travel Backpack
You don’t become a jet-setter without a perfect carry-on travel bag. The perfect bag will fit in the overhead compartment, have sections that make it easy to unpack electronics for the TSA scanner, is light enough that it will help you stay within any weight limits, and is comfortable carrying around for long stretches in the airport.
We might be biased at The Ridge, but we love our Classic Backpack for this.
Best Large Backpacks For Travel
Again, somewhat biased, but our Commuter Backpack by The Ridge is our favorite here. The right large backpack for you is one that will carry everything you need for your trip, but not too bulky you can’t travel around with ease or hurting your back. The ideal bag will have different sections so you can separate your daytime necessities (think phone, computer, snacks) from extra clothes and toiletries you may choose to be on your person. Plus, don’t forget to leave a little room for souvenirs you pick up along the way!
What Is The Most Durable Backpack?
The durability of a backpack is based on the materials. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular kinds:
- Rip-stop Nylon: Strong, durable, and resists abrasion and temperatures — as well as insects and some types of mold — makes it very commonplace for camping and hiking backpacks.
- Kodra Nylon: Korea-made premium fabric known for durability and resistance to abrasion.
- Polyester: Besides nylon, this is the most popular fabric on the market today. It’s known for being relatively inexpensive and holding color well, which makes it a great choice for bags, especially those intended for children. While not as durable as a nylon bag, you get what you pay for with their lower price tag.
- Polyprene: This is a thermoplastic polymer that is made by adjoining propylene monomers. To put that in layman's terms, it’s a popular plastic used in everything from ropes, to carpets, to paper.
- Leather: The rock n’ roll choice for bags — unless you’re vegan. Leather is usually cow-based (or other animal skills), flexible, durable, and easily dyed to different colors. While it’s durable, it’s often the most expensive option for bags (beyond the solid gold kind).
- Canvas: For a retro look, canvas is reminiscent of bags that our parents carried to school, but is certainly having a moment and comeback. It’s made of canvas and is heavier than other modern fabrics on this list, but is coveted because of its durability.
Evan Grimm is a practical writer, blogger, editor, and knowledgeable up-and-coming authority in the outdoor realm. His best-known content is published on Bowhunting.com, The Alaska Frontier, and Exodus Outdoor Gear. He and his family reside in central Alaska, where daily common sense and practicality are necessary. His commercial pilot and aircraft technician certifications make him focus on what is relevant and solidly provable. You will find him writing or proving more content.