Whether you're traveling on a short business trip or a month-long vacation overseas, a high-quality backpack can make all the difference. The best traveling backpacks will differ depending on the length of your trip, what you plan to bring, and what you'll be doing there. However, all of them will have several similar features.
To begin with, and perhaps most importantly, a travel backpack should be made of top-quality, well-constructed material. Look for abrasion-resistant nylon, polyester, and other tough fabrics that won't wear out quickly. Also, look for strong stitching and zippers made of sturdy, durable metal. The best way to assess the latter is to read the reviews to see if anyone has reported the stitches unraveling or the zippers breaking.
Next, think about comfort. You'll be wearing it on your back, after all, so it's important to have soft padding on the shoulders and fully adjustable straps. For backpacking bags, it's also helpful to have some sort of lumbar support and breathable fabric to prevent you from getting sweaty.
Finally, think about the size and organizational components. How long will you be gone? How much space will you need? Do you want features like extra pockets or a laptop sleeve? Travel packs range from 20 liters to 55 or more, so think about how big you want it to be.
To help you in your quest, I've made a list of the best traveling backpacks for every type of excursion. Take a look so you can begin preparing for your next adventure.
1. The Best For Day Trips
Capacity: 20 liters
Why it's great: The amazing thing about this lightweight travel backpack is that is packs down into a tiny pouch when not in use, so you can toss it in your luggage and take it anywhere. The compact backpack, which offers 20 liters of space, is made from durable, abrasion-resistant nylon and features a sturdy, SBS metal zipper. It's water-resistant, too, so it can handle a little splash of water or unexpected drizzle.
What fans say: "BEST LIGHTWEIGHT BACKPACK!!! Great price great product. Bought two of these for cruising for my boyfriend and I. Can be rolled up or folded and packed away in suitcase while traveling ... I would definitely recommend this for vacations, beach trips, day trips, etc."
2. The Best For Weekend Trips
Why it's great: One of the most impressive things about this convertible travel backpack is how it transforms into a spacious duffle bag. While the capacity isn't specified, reviewers found it big enough for a long weekend, and at 22 inches long, it's still compact enough to use as a carry-on for most U.S. airlines. It's constructed with tough nylon that's lightweight yet super durable. Inside, it has a dedicated section for shoes and laundry in addition to the main compartment. On top of that, the shoulder straps are padded and super comfy, according to reviewers.
What fans say: "This is a versatile, sturdy and well made bag. It is very light weight and the straps can be completely tucked in. It has several compartments and multiple handled. Very happy!"
3. The Best For Work Trips
Capacity: 25 liters
Why it's great: Designed with a special padded-sleeve for your laptop, this high-quality travel backpack is a great choice for business trips. The computer compartment features lockable zippers for security, and there are also two main compartments for storing clothes, toiletries, and other personal items. It has a clever file-divider as well as a book-style opening that makes it easy to pack. The interior is equipped with a removable hanging organizer that you can drape in the bathroom to keep items handy. As for the shoulder straps, they're fully adjustable and super comfortable, even for long periods of walking or carrying.
What fans say: "Durable design with plenty of pockets and compartments. Spacious middle section with plenty of room for clothes in addition to the usual business essentials if traveling. Strong protective lining at the rear for laptops including a security chain with numerical lock. Highly recommended purchase for anyone looking for a professional looking laptop backpack that will last."
4. The Best For Hiking
Capacity: 50 liters
Why it's great: If you're planning an outdoor excursion during your travels, this well-built hiking backpack is an excellent choice. With more than 1,300 reviews on Amazon, the popular bag features a spacious main compartment, as well as tons of additional pockets, pouches, and mesh storage spaces. It's made with robust, water-resistant nylon and features a waterproof cover that pulls out of the bottom pocket for extra protection if it starts raining on the trail. This efficient pack is outfitted with comfortable, adjustable straps and comes in eight different colors.
What fans say: "This is the back pack I've been hunting for for years ... It is extremely comfortable and balanced with high quality adjustment straps (waist, shoulder, chest) to make it fit just right for any load or body size/shape. The zippers don't snag, like many other backpacks and they have little loops on them which add to the ease of use and of finding them."
5. The Best For Longer Backpacking Trips
Capacity: 55 liters
Why it's great: For full-on backpacking trips where you're trekking for days on end, this high-performance pack will fit all of your needs beautifully. With a 55-liter capacity, it has plenty of room to fit everything you need without feeling cramped or overstuffed. It's lightweight (clocking in at just 4.5 pounds) and highly customizable with lots of adjustable straps. The breathable lumbar pad is made with open-cell foam that molds to the contours of your body. On top of that, it also has a sleeping bag compartment, integrated rain-fly, and multi-directional compression straps.
What fans say: "Bought this for a month long backpacking trip to the Patagonia. I'm 5'5 and this was a great size. I could spend hours talking about all the qualities that make this bag great but overall, it's a quality product, sturdy and the space is amazing. It allows for a well distribution of the weight so it doesn't strain your back as much, the hip padded buckle is priceless. The is my third teton product and I'm very satisfied with their consistency and quality."
6. The Most Waterproof Backpack
Capacity: 35 liters
Why it's great: Whether you're planning a vacation full of water-related sports or just visiting an extra-wet climate, this fully waterproof travel backpack will be your best friend. Not only is it 100-percent waterproof, but it's submergible, too. That means if you knock it overboard or dunk it underwater, everything will be safe inside — even a laptop or camera. It's constructed with bomb-proof polyurethane-coated polyester and features a roll-top, dry-seal closure system. Available in four colors, it's super comfortable to carry around. And if you need even more space, it's available in 70- and 115-liter versions, too.
What fans say: "Went on a week-long backpacking trip through lowland tropical rainforest, which aside from the rain, meant fording rivers. Both as a general-carry and a dry-bag, this SealLine performed ... The design is flawless; loved the roll-top and the folding breakpoints to buckle. Everything was completely dry. The backpack material doesn't hold smells, which is great - easy to clean and wipe down. Highly recommend this bag for wet conditions."
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