Pack Smart: The Best Travel Backpacks of 2022

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Whether you’re a seasoned traveler, a short weekender, or simply thinking about heading out on the open road, picking the right travel backpack can make or break your trip.

There is a huge variety of lightweight backpacks to match your travel plans. We’ve scoured the internet to bring you what we think are the very best travel backpacks currently on the market.

Best overall: Nixon Hauler 35L Travel Backpack

  • 35L capacityNixon Hauler 35L Travel Backpack
  • Cavernous main compartment
  • Loads of organization features
  • 16” laptop storage
  • Made from recycled plastic

Durable, comfortable to wear, and designed to keep all your belongings organized and secure, the Nixon Hauler 35L Backpack is one of the best travel backpacks. With 35L capacity and 16” laptop storage, it can take practically anything you throw at it, and then some.

Tested by our senior editor who took it on a two-week trip through South America, this handsome travelers backpack is versatile, perfect both for jungle treks and schlepping through the airport. It comes with a cavernous main compartment that has lots of organizational features, including internal organizers and zippered shoe or towel compartment. As a bonus, it’s constructed with REPREVE recycled plastics, meaning it is made using plastic waste from the ocean. Read the in-depth review here.

See Nixon Hauler 35L Travel Backpack on Amazon

See Nixon Hauler 35L Travel Backpack on Nixon


Best for international travel: Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack

  • 40L capacityOsprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack
  • Two grab handles for convenient lifting
  • Includes Safety whistle
  • Padded laptop and tablet sleeve

The Farpoint 40 is the perfect weekend travel bag. Osprey doesn’t disappoint with this 40L pack, bringing its outdoor tech to an urban-cool rucksack that’s equally at home in the wilderness. It features mesh back panels, dual compression straps, and just enough attachment points to hook on extra gear.

With a deceptively large inner space and lots of internal protection for your gadgets, the Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack is also small enough to use as a carry-on bag for plane travel. Throw in a stowaway system that can turn it into a super streamlined duffel and you’ll find navigating airport security and baggage reclaim a breeze.

See Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack on Backcountry

See Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack on Osprey


Most lightweight: Outlander Lightweight Travel Backpack

  • Rip and water-resistantOutlander Lightweight Travel Backpack
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Includes carabiner clip
  • Multi-compartments for organizational storage

For day-to-day use or a quick overnighter, the Outlander offers exceptional value. This lighter than lightweight backpack is made from water-resistant nylon and at under half a pound, can work what seems like a miracle, packing away a supersized 33L of essentials.

Yes, its packable structure means it is a tad on the shapeless side and with its lack of internal padding you could probably feel a toothbrush poking you in the back but what it loses in comfort it more than makes up with versatility. When not escorting you and your gear on your travels, it can be packed away into an inner pocket, shrinking to the size of a “generously sized hamburger”. All for under $2, what’s not to like?

See Outlander Lightweight Travel Backpack on Amazon


Best laptop backpack: Yorepek Extra Large Travel Backpack

  • 45L capacityYorepek Extra Large Travel Backpack
  • Breathable and comfortable design
  • USB port and earphone hole
  • Organizational compartments

The Extra-Large TSA Friendly Travel Backpack is made from premium quality polyester material, with nylon lining for extra durability. With 45L capacity, it takes on even more than your average travel backpack and sports a convenient, functional design. It features a USB port and a headphone hole, perfect for charging devices on the go and listening to music. These features work via a built-in charging port when a power bank is connected from the inside.

There’s also a large laptop compartment ranging from 13 to 17 inches in size. With up to three zippered pockets in the front, there’s enough space to store vital documents and accessories. The main compartments fold flat for security checkpoints.

The backpack is well-ventilated thanks to some strategically placed mesh sections designed for maximum airflow. The ergonomic design ensures the bag properly contours to your back, preventing unnecessary strain or pain.

See Yorepek Extra Large Travel Backpack on Amazon

See Yorepek Extra Large Travel Backpack on Walmart


Most stylish: WITZMAN Men Travel Backpack

  • Comes in two sizesWITZMAN Men Travel Backpack
  • Zippered back-side pocket to reveal or conceal shoulder straps
  • Included duffel shoulder strap
  • One year warranty

The WITZMAN Men Travel Backpack Canvas Duffel Bag is made with quality cotton canvas and leather trimmings, delivering a high fashion look. Two front zippered pockets keep small devices or important documents to hand. The larger pocket is designed for laptops sized between 12 to 16 inches. There are also breathable sleeves that these devices can be slipped into for maximum protection and ventilation. The buckles at the side keep the bag tight, preventing it from sagging.

It can be worn as a backpack, carried using a side handle, or hung across the shoulders with a long single strap. Unzip the zipper at the back to reveal the extra comfortable, well-padded shoulder straps that can be concealed when not in use. The rectangular shape works well, with generous interior capacity and extra pockets for small items. This canvas backpack comes in small and large sizes.

See WITZMAN Men Travel Backpack on Amazon

See WITZMAN Men Travel Backpack on Newegg


Most versatile: Osprey Porter 46 Gear Travel Backpack

  • Carry on compatibleOsprey Porter 46 Gear Travel Backpack
  • Front zippered pocket for books, travel documents etc
  • Stowaway shoulder harness and hip belt with adjustable sternum strap
  • Protected rear panel lockable zip laptop/tablet sleeve
  • Reinforced cord loops to attach an Osprey Daylite daypack

The Porter 46 Gear Hauler is like a holdall version of Superman, by day an attractive but business-like duffel bag with everything you need to keep you super organized, but when it’s time to head for the hills it transforms into a high-quality travel pack.

Despite the whopping 46L capacity, it is carry-on compatible. This is an extremely versatile ultralight backpack/duffel hybrid, with just enough features to take it beyond simple luggage and into short break traveler territory.

See Osprey Porter 46 Gear Travel Backpack on Amazon

See Osprey Porter 46 Gear Travel Backpack on Osprey


Most spacious: Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack

  • Two packs in one – for main luggage and day tripsOsprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack
  • Made from durable 210D Nylon Mini Hex
  • Multiple side buckle straps for adjusting the height
  • Stowable hip belt and harness system
  • Removable pad straps for external gear attachment

Traveling often throws up unexpected opportunities and a two-in-one travel pack is the perfect companion for those looking to see where the road takes them. The Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack provides an adequate main bag offering 42L of space, while its zip-off 13L ‘mini-me’ is a versatile day pack. Together, they are handy enough to keep your overnight luggage and your day-to-day accessories separate.

The Farpoint 55 is also durable and contains a wealth of travel-specific features, including a lightweight frame, mesh panels, a padded hip belt and harness, plenty of gear loops, lockable compartments, and compression straps. A mid-price travel rucksack that gives you a lot for your money, with its comfort, quality, and flexibility justifying the price tag.

See Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack on Amazon

See Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack on REI

See Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack on Osprey


Best daypack: Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack

  • Use as a standalone pod or buddy up with another OspreyOsprey Packs Daylite Daypack
  • Multi-function interior sleeve for either a water bladder or small laptop
  • Easy access main compartment with durable zipper
  • Front zippered pocket with mesh organizer
  • Mesh-covered foam back panel for comfort and ventilation

Clean-lined and robust, the Osprey Daylite is an ideal lightweight backpack for the time-limited adventurer as well as a smart choice for the man about town. The Daylite may have city slicker looks but it’s also tough enough for a day on the trail, with just enough features to keep you hiking happy.

A well-thought-out design gives you ample room for essentials without overcomplicating things. Side mesh pockets securely hold water bottles and there’s also space for an optional water bladder. Internal clips to secure small items, breathable back panels, and padded, easily adjustable straps all help to make the Daylite a comfortable ride. And when your travel plans demand more space, this versatile backpack has been designed to attach to several of Osprey’s larger travel packs.

See Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack on Amazon

See Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack on Walmart

See Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack on Osprey


Most comfortable: Osprey Packs Porter 30 Travel Backpack

  • Lockable zip access to main compartmentOsprey Packs Porter 30 Travel Backpack
  • Reinforced cord loops to attach an Osprey Daylite daypack
  • Lockable zip laptop/tablet sleeve for quick access
  • Stowaway harness and hip belt
  • Substantial suspension for backpack-style carry

When it comes to traveling light, a rucksack/duffel hybrid is the way to go. The Osprey Porter 30 features the comfort of a rucksack and the storage simplicity of a duffel. When a duffel isn’t enough and backpacking bags are too much, the Porter comes into its own.

This 30L travel backpack offers ample internal space yet is the perfect size for carry-on luggage. The main compartment is perhaps too fuss-free, there are no straps or internal sections, but a few packing cubes and you’ll have this sorted. The Porter also offers a comfortable and secure ride, complete with padded sidewalls and back suspension. There is even a stowaway harness to keep things streamlined when needed.

See Osprey Packs Porter 30 Travel Backpack on Amazon

See Osprey Packs Porter 30 Travel Backpack on Osprey


Best for hiking: The North Face Unisex Borealis

  • FlexVent injection moulded shoulder strap with foamThe North Face Unisex Borealis
  • Additional outer storage space
  • Adjustable straps and spine channel for additional support

North Face have lightened the load with this Borealis backpack, whilst offering you ample space to head off on adventures with all of your essentials.

You’ll appreciate the comfortable padded and adjustable straps, integrated reflective loop, and front stash pocket. Furthermore, you can use the bungee cord and mesh side pockets should you need a little extra storage.

See The North Face Unisex Borealis on Amazon

See The North Face Unisex Borealis on REI



Why trust us

Most of us (editors, writers, and testers included) travel, camp or hike on a regular basis. Which is to say, we know a thing or two about good travel backpacks. While personal preferences and travel needs may vary from person to person, we believe that everyone needs the following things from a good travel backpack: a durable, comfortable, lightweight yet spacious design.

Who this is for

This guide is for hikers, campers, and world travelers alike. Basically, anyone who needs a good travel backpack. Whether you’re looking for a simple, lightweight bag for weekend getaways, an ultra-spacious backpack for international travel, or a good mid-range model for regular camping trips, these backpacks have got your back.

How we picked

When choosing backpacks for this guide, we tried to find models that would appeal to a wide range of users, hikers, campers, city dwellers, and world travelers alike. We used the following criteria to determine which travel backpacks made our final list: overall quality of construction materials, organization features (main and side compartments, pockets), how comfortable and lightweight the design is, as well as brand reputation.

How we tested

While we didn’t test all the backpacks in this guide, the ones we did were taken through the wringer during trips. For example, our senior editor took his Nixon Hauler 35L Backpack on a recent trip through South America. Aside from including the backpacks that our testers and editors liked the best, we also included top-rated models from the best backpack brands.

vintage travel backpack

Features to look for in travel backpacks

You’ll want to consider the following before buying your new travel bag:


Look for a travel pack that is roomy enough to hold just a little bit more than the stuff you plan to pack, and that you can carry comfortably on your travels.


Always go for lightweight, quick-drying water and rip-resistant material that is tough enough for the wear and tear of the travels ahead.


You’ll be carrying your travel backpack everywhere so aim for lightweight without compromising on quality and durability.


Lightweight but hardwearing materials are one of the most important things to look for in a travel backpack as it needs to be tough enough to last. Nylon fabric is the most durable.


The design of the backpack depends on what you want it to do. For larger or more adventurous travel packs, the internal frame design needs to be lightweight and designed for weight distribution and comfort. In all travel backpacks look for quality and simplicity of use.


This is mostly down to personal preference although how you use your new travel backpack could influence your selection. Darker colors are best when it comes to dirt and help you blend into the crowd, but splashes of color can reduce time spent at the luggage reclaim!


Essential to comfort and fit, straps can make or break a travel backpack. Look for adjustable straps and hip belts with padding in the right places, ideally with mesh panels to help keep you cool. A stowaway harness and an additional carry-on strap are very useful additions when checking in your luggage.


Look for water-resistant material such as treated nylon that is quick-drying and will protect your contents from the rain. It doesn’t have to be 100% waterproof and many packs come with an additional tarp for dealing with heavier downpours.


Look for just enough compartments, pockets, and sections to keep you organized without over-complicating your travel pack. Three to five are ideal and one should be lockable. Look at ease of access too, to take the stress out of check-in and passport control.

travel backpack

Travel backpack FAQ

Q: Why do you need a travel backpack?

A: When your travel plans mean you need to be ready for anything, then solid suitcases simply won’t cut it and a travel backpack is the only way to go. Unlike heavier luggage, travel and hiking backpacks can be extremely lightweight. They are designed for comfort and for different types of travel and terrain, giving you an adaptable bag that can take you from the city to the hills with ease. And with many carry-on size options available, a lightweight backpack can make short breaks and airport travel a breeze.

Q: How to choose a travel backpack?

A: The first question to ask is what you want the backpack for. Is it for getting around town and the odd weekend away, flying off on city breaks or taking you into the great outdoors? Or are you planning a once-in-a-lifetime long-haul trip or global adventure? While comfort, size, and space are key, thinking about why you want the pack will ensure you get the right bag for the job.

For urban use and short travel, go for a lightweight, carry-on backpack with enough space for all your travel essentials. For longer breaks, bump up the capacity and choose a breathable back support system and padded harness. And for that trip of a lifetime, look for technical extras to keep you and your belongings on the road. For all travel backpacks, durable, water-resistant material is a must and if possible, try it on before you buy.

Q: What size travel backpack should you get?

A: The size of your pack depends on the type of traveling or activity you want to do. If it’s a daypack for everyday or urban use, then a 20L to 30L pack size is more than adequate. Rather than liter volume in a day pack, look for dimensions if you want to fit in your laptop and gadgets. For extra flexibility, you could opt for a larger travel pack with a smaller detachable day pack. For short overnighters or weekend city breaks, a 30L or 35L pack works well and is carry-on friendly. For longer trips, of say three to five days on the trail, opt for a 40L or 50L hiking backpack. Long-haul or round-the-world travelers, you’re looking at the large but lightweight category, so that’s a minimum of 50L.

Q: How to pack a travel backpack?

A: Start from the bottom and work your way up! Pack your heaviest items at the bottom and then layer upwards, with your most regularly used items at the top. Make the most of the extra pockets and compartment features to keep your wash gear away from your clothes, and your gadgets, ID and cash safe and secure. Look at using packing cubes if your rucksack is a bit light on internal compartments. Snacks, sunglasses, and sunscreen all go in the top pocket. Extra gear and water bottles can be attached to the outside.

Q: How to wash a travel backpack?

A: The best travel backpacks are made of robust and water-resistant material, so keeping your bag clean shouldn’t be too much of a chore. Daily wipe downs can help minimize dirt build-up, but if it’s really dirty or smelly you can do a full wash. Not all packs are machine washable so check the label before you start. Remove the frame and turn the pack inside out before putting it in the machine; popping it into a pillowcase can also prevent any damage. Use a small amount of gentle detergent and wash on a cold cycle. If you are cleaning on the go, immerse the pack in cold water and use a small sponge or even a toothbrush to scrub away stains and grime. Once washed, let your backpack dry naturally, upside down if possible. Rucksack liners and covers are also handy additions to help keep your travel bag clean on the go.

Q: What size backpack can you bring on a plane?

A: Every airline sets its own maximum size for carry-on luggage, although as a guide most allow bags 22″ long, 14″ wide, and 9″ deep to be carried onto the plane. Also, just because a bag is advertised as carry-on sized, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is for your flight, so check the airline’s website for their guidelines before you fly.


    1. How to Pack a Hiking Backpack – WikiHow
jovana dosenovic

Jovana Dosenovic

Jovana is a writer and copy editor living with her lazy calico cat and thousands of (mostly unread) books. She has worked as a copywriter, fact-checker, QA analyst, and librarian, but this has been her favorite gig so far. A bit of a bookworm since she was tiny, she loves nothing more than curling up with a giant cup of coffee or tea and a good book. When not hunched over a keyboard or book, Jovana enjoys going on long walks, short hikes, and occasional camping trips. She also has an unfinished novel she’d like to publish one day. No, really.