Best Travel Backpack for Women: See it All, and Look Good Doing it

Stylish travel backpack for women
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

It’s no secret that women and men have different needs. This is especially true when it comes to travel. The next time you are in an airport, just take a look around.

You might see men with a duffel, rolling suitcase, carry-on backpack and baby stroller all being shoved through customs, but it’s unlikely. Often we see the care of one’s children, luggage and personal essentials being shouldered by mothers while the husbands are handling the tickets and perhaps the checked baggage.

Fashion design travel backpack

Even so, one needs only to look at the travel gear options available to realize that the equipment used is as varied as personalities. From style to function, here we will discern how discussing what makes the best travel backpack for women may enhance travel.

Standard Packs versus Travel Packs

There are plenty of differences between the ordinary backpack that you take to school or work and a travel backpack you can take with you wherever you go. They may look the same, but there are several features that set them apart from each other.

  • Durability: many standard backpacks are designed to be strong enough to hold a few heavy books and some papers, but it’s not going to withstand all of the heavy gear you’re going to be carrying with you. Travel packs, however, are made of more durable materials that can not only withstand the weight of what’s inside, but also the elements when the weather gets bad.
  • Top-loading: the best quality travel packs are the ones that provide you with the choice of loading. Many backpacks are top-loading, meaning that they only have one zippered means of access to your belongings. This can make it difficult for you to get what you need from the bottom of your bag. However, many travel packs also have panel loading, meaning that the pack can be laid on the ground and opened like a suitcase so that you have easier access to your things.
  • Security: standard backpacks only come with zippers that you may or may not be able to lock together. The situation is worse if it’s just a drawstring. Travel packs are designed to be secure so not anyone can just take what they want out of your bag when you’re not looking.
  • Size: You may think that you need to get the biggest backpack you can find to store all your things, but that would be a mistake. Not only does it make your bag more bulky, thereby reducing the space you have for the rest of your belongings and gear, it just looks plain unattractive. Travel packs, on the other hand, are designed to hold all your stuff and still look sleek, with interior pockets for everything you can think of.

What to pay attention to

These are the specific elements of a travel backpack, which deserve your attention when looking at differing products on the market.


It’s pretty obvious why weight is an important factor to take into consideration. Woman’s travel packs can range from a few ounces to a few pounds, depending on features such as frames, fabric, inner dividers and padding. For most, the ultimate goal is finding a backpack which has a large capacity but also is lightweight. At the same time, it must be durable and well-lined, to avoid ripping.

Leather travel backpack

The weight increases with more storage due to added materials, but finding a good middle ground is the goal. This can also come down to a question of personal preference. Is it more important for you to have a travel pack that is light and malleable or heavy and rugged?


The overall weight of your pack will depend on the materials and fabric that it is made from. The most common and popular options are polyester and nylon. Over all, both are light, durable and cost efficient. Ripstop material is especially useful for travelers looking for heavy use backpacks.

However, for carrying fragile gear such as camera equipment, some travel backpacks are made from leather. Leather is weightier, but provides a stronger outer shell to your pack. It is unlikely to rip or tear, but is more expensive.


The needs of your travel will dictate the capacity requirements of your pack. For a traveling business women, one might not require as much individual storage spaces as much as a professional style.

Brown leather backpack

If one’s trips are only a few days in duration, this also informs the traveler’s needs, however, if you’re looking to take an extended holiday, you might want a large, open inner compartment.

Storage Features

Travel backpacks meet a wide range of designs for storage. Consider your needs. Are you traveling alone, with a partner or with children? Often, mothers end up toting around a bulk of their small children’s belongings or essentials, such as, medications and electronics, so it’s a great idea to have storage for all these knick knacks.


Pocket design is a key essential to finding the best pack for you. What are your needs? Women who are flying between urban environments will likely not have an essential need for waist buckle pockets in the same way that those who are traveling in the great outdoors do. Pockets should always be purposeful and convenient to access, to assure that your gear is a benefit instead of a detriment.


Zippers might be designed to keep from jamming or for economy. Either is acceptable, depending on the traveler’s intended uses. Often, standard zippers can get stuck or jammed if the pack is overfull, therefore, jam-free zipper might be best.

Travel backpack zippers hidden

For short-term travel, when capacity requirements are low, the added efficiency of style and weight could be of greater benefit. For the outdoorswomen, zippers with a Durable Water Resistant (DWR) coating would be of great benefit to the rain and natural elements from soaking through the zippers onto your valuable gear.

Laptop/Tablet Pocket

In recent years, everyone from senior citizens to children are carrying smartphones, tablets and computers. Especially when one is traveling, be it hiking or flying, it is crucial to keep your communication and information devices safe from damage. Travelers should look for tablet and computer sleeves that are made with a micro-fabric to keep screens from scratching, as well as some sort of adjustable harness.

DWR Finish/Coating

Overall, a water resistant travel bag is a great idea for anyone. Especially for the outdoors traveler, seeing as they will be more exposed to natures apathy for electronics. Though you can obtain a DWR coating spray and apply it to any backpack, travel bags are often specifically built with a DWR finish. These tend to be much more effective for prolonged, rugged use in the outdoors.

Style and Fit

No matter if your travel pack has all the best design elements and appropriate features, it will not serve your purpose if your backpack requires constant adjustment. At the end of the day, how you feel has as much to do with how you look.


Whether you are flying from place to place or walking, you want a travel backpack, which offers ample padding and adjustability. Pay particular attention to how much padding the arm straps and back panels offer. Standard backpacks offer very little, since they are designed to be worn for short durations.

Girl carrying white backpack

For the traveling woman, one might need to be able to walk miles at a time without removing their pack, thus, requiring extra padding.

Women’s needs

Travel backpacks designed for women are specific to body shape. Women’s hips are naturally wider than men’s hips, so a waist harness is provided. Packs will often be designed for a specific range of hip widths. Be diligent in finding a pack which conforms to your needs and not the other way around.

Looking good

Don’t kid yourself: everyone wants to look good in his or her gear. Backpacks designed for travel are much like other women’s bags. They come in a wide range of colors and patterns.

Minimalist design travel backpacks

One will also find that packs made for women can come in a wide range of outer distinguishing features. Some have many outer pockets and can look bulkier, where as some are made to be subtle and sleek. The factor to consider is your own desired uses and aesthetics.

Top Picks on the Market

Now that you know what to look for as you brows through the options on the shelf, take a look at these great travel backpacks, specifically designed for women’s needs and bodies.

Filson 70199 Harvey Backpack

Filson 70199 Harvey BackpackWeight– 2 lbs. 8 oz.

Dimensions- 18 x 15.5 x 4.5 inches

Materials– Tempered Cotton with DWR-finish and Nylon Lining.

Specific Features: Storage-2 bellows pockets, 2 stow pockets, 1 interior hanging zipper pocket, padded laptop sleeve with snap closure.

Best Use– Urban, Travel, Photography

Description– For the professional photographer, the Filson 70199 Harvey Backpack is made for outdoor use and equipment storage. It is designed with water-resistant-fabric, padded shoulder straps and a padded back panel. The storm flap and buckle closure are great for securing valuable equipment from the natural elements.

The removable padded insert is useful for protecting delicate camera equipment or other fragile/valuable items. The Filson is made to Fit a DSLR Camera, lenses and equipment for photographers who require durable, mobility.

Check the price on Amazon

Boreas Mission 26 Hiking Daypack

Boreas Mission 26 Hiking DaypackWeight– 1lb 10oz

Dimensions- 9.8 x 12.5 x 22.8 inches

Materials– 420D nylon, 140D stretch spandura

Capacity– 26L

Specific Features- Storage pocket, Exterior waterproof pocket, Front panel stretch pocket, Internal padded laptop sleeve, available in three colours.

Best Use– Camping, Hiking

Description– If you’re looking for a stylish travel pack that was designed with your comfort in mind, then look no further. For heavy physical needs and warmer climates, the perforated foam back panel helps to keep the body cool so you won’t have to worry about sweat stains on the back of your shirt as you travel.

The Mission 26 features organizer panels for a variety of uses and the removable hip belt offers versatility while traversing varied terrain. It helps to ease the load off your shoulders are you travel, so that means less achey muscles when you get to your destination. And there’s so much internal storage, you won’t have to worry about cramming every single thing you have into one easy-to-carry pack.

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JanSport Superbreak Backpack

JanSport Superbreak BackpackWeight– 12 oz.

Dimensions- 6.7″ x 13″ x 8.5″

Materials– 600 Denier Polyester, Nylon

Capacity– 25 L

Specific Features: Front utility pocket with organizer and 1 large main compartment.

Best Use– everyday use

DescriptionThe Superbreak‘s best features might be its style options. Jansport offers over 30 colors and prints to choose from, making this the most versatile option for the style conscious traveler. It also makes it easy for you to pick out your bag from a crowd, on the off-chance that you’re separated from your pack. The padded shoulder straps and back panel also offer added comfort while commuting to and from one’s daily activities. It’s a simple pack and a perfect choice for those who are shopping on a budget.

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Patagonia Arbor Pack 26L Backpack

Patagonia Arbor Pack 26L BackpackWeight– 1 lb. 6.4 oz.

Dimensions- 18 x 11 x 6 inches

Materials-100% recycled polyester, DWR coating

Capacity– 26 L

Specific Features- main compartment; zippered stash pocket beneath flap, padded laptop sleeve for 15″ laptops, available in five colours.

Best Use– everyday use, Travel

Description– Drawstring top access and a water resistant coating make the Arbor Pack a good choice for travelers who require durability and a light carrying load. The reinforced haul handle offers the user confidence in the structural integrity of this bag and is reinforced with a sound, polyester material.

It should be kept in mind that there is very little padding around the laptop storage sleeve, so it’s not a good idea to roughhouse with this backpack, unless you really don’t care about your computer. Otherwise, there’s plenty of storage space even with a 15″ laptop.

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Kelty Women’s Redwing 40 Backpack

Kelty Womens Redwing 40 BackpackWeight– 2 lbs. 10 oz.

Dimensions- 23 x 14 x 12 inches

Materials– 420-denier polyester, Aluminum

Capacity– 39 L

Specific Features- Dual side pockets; front stash pocket with closure hook; front pocket with organization; top stash pocket; water-bottle pockets, dual-use laptop / hydration sleeve, Dynamic AirFlow back panel.

Best Use– Hiking, Rock Climbing, Wilderness Camping

Description– The hip belt and internal aluminum frame provide ample structural integrity for rugged use. The Kelty Women’s Redwing 40 Backpack also offers utility loops for tools such as ice picks and trekking poles. In addition, the suspension has been designed specifically for women, but that’s not the only thing that makes this backpack so great.

It also works as a panel loader so you can find whatever you need in less time, and you don’t have to take out all your gear. An added stash pocket on the front makes it easy for you to fold up and keep a jacket so that you can be hands-free. The back panel also keeps your back cool, regardless of where you’re traveling to.

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Tortuga Travel Backpack

Tortuga Travel BackpackWeight– 3.65 lbs.

Dimensions- 22x14x9 inches, Carry-on Sized

Materials-1680D ballistic nylon body and 70D rip stop polyester lining

Capacity– 45L

Specific Features- 2 zippered side pockets, 2 hip belt pockets, 1 medium-sized front pocket, large main compartment, 4 internal zippers pockets, lie-flat laptop compartment fits up to 17”.

Best Use– Travel, Hiking, Camping, Outdoors

Description– Not many manufacturers give you the opportunity to carry around your suitcase like a backpack, but Tortuga knows exactly what their customers are looking for. Designed with a removable hip belt and adjustable suspension system, this bag is unique, due to its packing design: top and panel loading.

The main compartment of the Tortuga Travel Backpack has lockable zippers, for added security and the computer sleeve is fleece-lined. There are plenty of zippered pockets throughout the interior body of the bag to keep your smaller items so that they won’t roll around in the main part of the bag, waiting to get crushed. And if you don’t want to use the shoulder straps anymore, they’re easy to stow away so that they don’t get caught on other things.

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EBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Junior

EBags TLS Mother Lode WeekenderWeight– 3 lbs., 5 oz.

Dimensions- 19.5″ x 14″ x 9″

Materials– 840D Twisted Filament Polyester exterior, 210D nylon lining.

Capacity– 41.6 L

Specific Features: Main compartment with removable inner walls, front loading accessory pocket, Mini-Pocket for small valuables, adjustable Laptop Sling fits up to 18”, available in six colours.

Best Use– Travel, Urban, Maternal

Description– Guaranteed for life under the eBags Lifetime Warranty, this bag is designed to be a large capacity mammoth. 41.6 Liters of space will allow the user to get every last garment or piece of gear safely packed away without the risk of your zippers bursting.

The full expansion zipper of EBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender allows for effortless packing and access, while the three padded grab handles make transporting this bag effortless and comfortable. The available colours are also quite attractive, and make it easy for you to spot your bag.

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Final Thoughts

For the women who want efficiency, comfort, style and the freedom to climb any mountain and weather any storm, the right travel backpack is out there. No need to go looking for unisex accessories to make your next trip effortless. There is a bag just for you.

By the city canals

All you need is the information and a ticket to your destination. In fact, save the ticket and hike your way there. With the right pack and mindset, there’s nothing in the world to hold you back.

Do you have anything you’d like to share with us? Please do so in the comments section below.


Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.