Best Travel Backpacks To Have In 2024

Travel Backpacks

If you’re thinking of leaving the suitcase behind and using a backpack for your travels, then you’re in the right spot.

When you travel, being flexible is important. With a backpack, you can easily move through crowded streets, get on and off public transportation, and handle unexpected challenges along the way.

Also, there’s no need to stress about dragging a heavy suitcase up stairs or attempting to fit it into small hostel lockers.

A backpack means freedom. It enables you to pack minimally, travel with ease, and be more resourceful.

However, with the abundance of travel backpacks available, deciding which one is right for you can be challenging.

In this guide, we’ve picked out the best backpacks for travel, making it easier for you to live your backpacking dream and leave the suitcase behind.

All these backpacks are sized for carry-on, helping you save on checked luggage fees and travel with just your hand luggage.

The Best Help for Picking a Travel Backpack

Deciding on the right travel backpack for you is a big choice. Just like how people are not the same, backpacks can be different too. Your needs for a backpack may not be the same as others who travel.

In all the time we spent traveling with a backpack, we found some things that make travel easier and more comfortable.

Before we talk about the best travel backpacks, let’s first look at what things you should want in a backpack.


If you’re like us, you’ll be traveling in many different ways, and you want a good backpack that will last and be useful for all your travels!

You’ll be spending a lot of time with your backpack while getting on and off public transportation, going up stairs, navigating airports, standing in lines, walking around city blocks, or on dusty roads looking for your place to stay.

Your backpack will be taken to various places, and people who handle luggage are not very good at it – it’s kind of ironic!

You might see your backpack placed on top of buses in Asia, squeezed in next to boxes of chickens in Central America, or tied onto the back of a scooter.
It’s like your backpack will take a journey through a pretend washing machine on the road, so it’s important to focus on how strong and long-lasting it is.

Keeping Things in Order

Your backpack is like a new best friend carrying all your stuff, so how you arrange things in your bag is crucial.

Do you require a special spot for your laptop while traveling? What if there was a hidden pocket for important things like your passport and valuable items?

Certain backpacks have one big space, while others have smaller pockets and pouches for storing various items.

If you have a bunch of gear or you’re working away from home, having multiple compartments can be really handy.

Feeling Comfortable

The most important thing to check is how a backpack feels on your back. Don’t just try it when it’s empty; fill it with things and see how it feels with the weight.

It’s not always possible to test it before buying, so here are some features that make it more comfortable:

  1. Padded shoulder straps – better quality padding on the straps makes a big difference when carrying your bag.
  2. Padded hip strap – adds comfort and spreads the weight so your shoulders and back don’t bear the full load.
  3. Waist strap – useful for those with weaker shoulders and backs, distributing the weight around your whole body.
  4. Sternum strap – a small mid-chest strap connecting the two shoulder straps keeps your bag stable and evens out the weight.
  5. Carry handles – top and side handles are good when you’re not wearing it on your back, making it easier to carry.
  6. Ventilation – some backpacks have a back panel made of suspended mesh (like a trampoline) that’s breathable, preventing your back from sweating against the bag.
  7. Torso Length – an adjustable torso allows the travel backpack to fit different sizes. Depending on the brand, backpacks come in various sizes from extra small to large, fitting different torso lengths.

Other Important Things to Consider

  1. Cords for sleeping bags and tents: During our 5-month backpacking trip in Africa, we had a tent and sleeping bags. Having cords to attach these was very helpful.
  2. Elasticized water bottle pockets: Not all drink bottles are the same size, so having pockets that can expand and contract to keep your bottle secure is very useful!
  3.  Hipbelt pockets: Having a few external pockets can be helpful for smaller items you need quick access to, like phones and snacks.
  4. Water-resistant material: Make sure the material of your bag is weather-resistant, like using nylon fabrics. Good quality bags come with better material that also dries quickly, not some cheap polyester. Some bags come with a rain cover or clips where a rain cover can be attached.
  5. Internal compression straps: Like in a suitcase, they help you pack more tightly and keep your gear, such as a camera, tablet, or laptop, in place when the bag is upright.
  6. Zip off day pack: A small detachable day pack that you can zip off your main bag is useful for day trips and adds more storage to your overall packing capacity.
  7. Dimensions: If you’re looking for a carry-on backpack, check the dimensions to make sure they comply with your favorite airline’s carry-on restrictions.

Choose the Right Backpack for You

Make sure to get the right backpack for your gender.

Travel backpacks for women are made to fit differently.

They may not necessarily be smaller, but makers think about the fact that women usually have a shorter torso and wider hips.

If you are a tall female, like Caz, or if you have broader shoulders and slim hips, you might be more comfortable with a male backpack.

Check Your Backpack

  1. Fits your body shape and height
  2. Has good weight distribution
  3. Can carry and protect your belongings
  4.  Is functional and comfortable to carry
  5. Is easy to pack and unpack
  6. Meets your budget

What is the Best Size for a Travel Backpack?

Travel backpacks come in different sizes, usually measured in liters (the volume they can hold).

For carry-on luggage, a 40-liter backpack is usually the most you can carry comfortably.

Honestly, you don’t need anything much bigger than this because a larger bag will become too heavy to carry.

If you’re planning a longer trip, you might consider a 60L backpack, but we don’t recommend going larger than that. Often, we see people with 80L backpacks that are completely full, and it’s clear they find it challenging.

You’ll end up getting rid of a lot of things to make your pack lighter, and remember, you can always buy more things along the way.

When choosing the size of your backpack, think more about the actual weight of your belongings rather than just the capacity.

Airlines are becoming stricter about weight limits, so you want to make sure your backpack size can hold everything you need without exceeding the weight limit. Nobody wants to pay extra for excess baggage fees!

Is a front-loading or top-loading backpack better?

Another important thing to think about when choosing a travel backpack is how you’ll access your bag.

Do you want a backpack that opens in the front or on the top? Front loading is also called panel loading, just so you know.

Front-loading backpacks have a zipper that goes all around the front. You can unzip it, peel off the front part, and your backpack’s things are right in front of you, like a suitcase. It’s super easy to find what you need.

These backpacks also give better support to your back and feel more comfortable. You can also zip a smaller daypack to the front, which is really useful for those short day trips.

Think about getting a bag with a U-zip system. The zipper goes around three sides of the bag. If you’ll be packing and unpacking a lot, a front-loading backpack is a good choice.

Top-loading backpacks only open at the top. This makes it tough to reach all your stuff, and they’re usually narrower and taller.
Honestly, the top-loading design is more old-fashioned, and I don’t understand why they’re still made. They make it tricky to organize your backpack, finding things quickly is hard, and you have to take everything out to get just one thing.

Our Experience with Top Loader Backpacks

When we first used a top loader backpack, we really didn’t like it.

If you choose a top loader, think about using packing cubes.

We switched to a front-loading backpack soon after.

Benefits of front-loading backpacks

  1. Faster and easier to pack and unpack.
  2. Larger opening, so you don’t have to dig from the top to reach items at the bottom, avoiding frustration.
  3. Multiple access points (top, front, bottom, side).
  4. Front loading backpacks are usually a bit shorter, which is great for shorter torsos.
  5. Have zipper closures, while most top-loading backpacks have drawstrings.
  6. You can usually lock the zippers together for some peace of mind.

Top Travel Backpacks of 2024

Now that you understand what features to consider in a travel backpack, let’s explore the best travel backpacks for this year.

  1. Osprey Farpoint/Fairview 55L
  2. Gregory Mountain Zulu 55 Backpack
  3. Kelty Redwing 50L
  4. REI Vagabond 40 Pack
  5. Osprey Women’s Aura 65 AG
  6. Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG
  7. Gregory J 53 Backpack
  8. Osprey Women’s Ariel 65
  9. Minaal Carry-On 2.0
  10. Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L
  11. Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 30L
  12. Cotopaxi’s Allpa 42L
  13. Patagonia Black Hole 32L

These backpacks are reliable, durable, and designed for different needs. Find one that fits your style and travel plans!

Final Thoughts

There you go, these are the top travel backpacks for this year. We hope you discover a few options from this list.

Whether you’re going on a week-long backpacking trip or embarking on a year-long adventure, a dependable and strong backpack is a must-have for your travels.

Did you spot a backpack you like on this list? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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