When you have to carry around a lot of stuff, you’re going to need an efficient way to keep it all sorted. And nothing works better than a backpack, with its multitude of pockets, comfortable shoulder straps, and their ability to hold just about everything you need.
But not all backpacks are built the same and it pays to know the best travel backpack on the market and its features. That’s why today we’ll talk about the key features to look for in a great backpack, as well as go over several top products.
Keep in mind that, even though this isn’t an exhaustive list, it can get you on the right track to finding one you can enjoy on your trip, no matter your destination.
Why Use A Backpack At All?
Many people are used to traveling with suitcases and duffel bags in order to get around, since they’re so common and cheap. But sometimes, you want to be able to travel more lightly, not to mention skipping all the lines when you have to gather your belongings from the airport carousel.
By traveling with a backpack, you have everything you need, you won’t have to worry about your bag getting lost, and you can be in and out before everyone else, leaving you with more time to enjoy your vacation.
And, with the best travel backpack, you don’t have to worry about taking up too much space on a bus, plane, or taxi cab. That means fewer baggage charges at the airport, so there’s more money in your pocket. Another bonus to having the a great travel backpack is that they last a lot longer than luggage because they’re not getting pushed or shoved around with other bags.
They’re also built with durability in mind, and are made with bright colors or accents that it’s much easier to keep track of your bag.
Are There Different Kinds of Travel Backpacks?
Different kinds are made with different purposes in mind, and they have more features to accommodate your needs. The different kinds of backpacks include:
- Wheeled backpack: not everyone has the strength to carry a bag on their back all day, and it can be a relief to have one with wheels. This way, you can pull it behind you like you would a suitcase and give those sore muscles a much needed break.
- Day pack: these backpacks aren’t very big, and are usually designed to carry only what you need for a single-day trip. They’re light and convenient, and make it easy to get around.
- Hiking backpack: this is the most popular kind of backpack, as they have a lot of versatility and room for all of your stuff. They’re designed to be able to carry weight over long distances which mean the shoulder pads are definitely more comfortable than other kinds of backpacks.
- Specific travel backpack: these are not made for long-distance walking, but they can carry more weight than hiking backpacks. They’re very sturdy and some are even designed to look like a suitcase when opened up.
Keep in mind that there are also differences between men’s and women’s backpacks. They’re not necessarily smaller, but they’re designed differently with a woman’s body in mind who tend to have wider hips, narrower shoulders and a shorter torso. It’s a good idea to try the various styles out to see which ones are most comfortable with your body type.
Otherwise, the kind of travel backpack you get is entirely dependent on what your plans are and how much you’re willing to carry with you.
What to Look for in A Travel Backpack
The travel backpack that fits you best is not necessarily the most expensive. It needs to have all of the features that you’re looking for, as well as feel comfortable.
So what are some of these key features that you should look for?
- Straps: you’re going to be carrying your travel backpack on your back a lot, and that means that the straps need to be very comfortable. If they’re not, then you’re going to regret ever getting one in the first place. Cheap or badly designed straps are more likely to dig into your skin and be without any kind of padding whatsoever. Some backpacks only come with shoulder straps, while others include a hip strap as well to help reduce the weight being carried by your shoulders.
In fact, any hip strap is better than none at all, but having one that’s padded will definitely make it easier to carry all that weight. A chest strap can also be a good alternative, but may be uncomfortable for some women. A good carrying strap is also key for comfort, especially when your shoulders are already aching. Consider a few backpacks that have several of these options so you can choose how you carry your bag.
- Size: the size may be one of the most important aspects you should look for, as that determines how much gear you can bring with you. However, going for the biggest one you can find may not be conducive, as if it’s too big for your back, then you’re going to have a hard time moving around. It’s always better to have too much space than not enough, but don’t overdo it on the size. Backpack sizes are measured in liters, so you have a handy guide for comparison.
- Material: you want a backpack that is made from water resistant material to ensure that the interior doesn’t get wet. This can be bad for those who are carrying their electronic devices with them. Look for material that’s sturdy and lightweight, and will also dry quickly when it does get wet.
- Frame: there are three different options when it comes to the kind of frame: none, external and internal. With an external frame, you’ll see large poles on the outside of your backpack, which can make it difficult to store them away. There should be avoided altogether, as these kinds of backpacks tend to be heavier. Internal frames are the best kinds, as it keeps everything secure, your belongings won’t be crushed, and they don’t take up unnecessary space.
- Compartments: you want a backpack with multiple compartments so that you can keep all of your various items separate from each other. Keeping your fragile belongings in the main compartment is the best way to get them crushed, so having separate pockets for them will keep them safe. On the other hand, having too many compartments can be a bad thing, especially when you need to find something very quickly.
- Access: how you get into your backpack is a matter of personal preference, but it can make the different. Many of the best ones in the market are top-loading, while others have U-zip access like a suitcase, allowing you to set your backpack down and get exactly what you need without having to move around too many things.
- Lockable zippers: at times when you’re not always going to have your eyes on your bag, it can be a good idea to have a backpack that has zippers that can be locked together. This way your items can stay secured even when it’s on your back.
All these features can start to add up, and although cost is not among them, it’s an important aspect to take into consideration when looking for the travel backpack for you. A higher price will fetch you higher quality, but you may end up with features that you’re never going to use.
What’s most important is your comfort level when you wear it, and then you can focus on how durable you want your backpack to be.
Top Travel Backpacks To Consider
If you need some help getting started on looking for travel backpacks, this list can provide you with some good ideas on what’s already in the market. Not all of these may be suitable for your needs, but by knowing what to look for, you’re in a better position than most to find a comfortable and useful backpack that you’ll use for travel for years to come.
Cost: $145.65 – $180.00
Weight: 3.9 pounds
Dimensions: 15 x 9 x 26 inches
Capacity: 40 liters + 15 liters
Features: unisex back panel, hip belt, sleeping pad straps, lockable zippers, comes with additional bag, available in three colors.
Description: The Osprey Farpoint 55 is perfect for those day trips or a longer getaway on a camping trip. It’s designed to hold up to at least 50 pounds, which is a lot more than what all your gear might weight.
The inner frame transfers much of the load from the shoulders to your waist with the use of the hip belt, so you won’t suffer from aching shoulders and back mid-way through your travels. There are multiple compartments within the main body to hold your smaller items, and there is also a front pocket and other attachment points for you to add extra gear.
Weight: 3.8 pounds
Dimensions: 12.2 x 7.3 x 27.9 inches
Capacity: 60 liters
Features: moisture-wicking padded back panel, hip belt, safety whistle, available in three colors, ultra lightweight, lockable zippers.
Description: Deviate backpacks are known for being very light and very sturdy, with the added comfort of being able to lock up your bag when you don’t want people stealing your belongings. This backpack combines travel style with innovation, keeping you safe with the added whistle in the event that you need to signal for help.
It can be used for travel around the city, from tent to tent on a camping trip, or for much longer trips where your backpacking across the country. And you won’t have to worry about your back feeling sticky and wet after wearing this all day; the moisture-wicking material on the back panel will keep your cool, dry and comfortable, no matter how far you’re going.
Weight: 5.8 pounds
Dimensions: 12.2 x 15 x 29.1 inches
Capacity: 65 liters
Features: eXomesh Slashguard stainless steel wire mesh, Roobar locking system, adjustable back harness, Puncture-resistant ToughZip, hip and sternum straps, two colors to choose from.
Description: Pacsafe Venturesafe 65L GII Anti-Theft Travel Pack is the anti-theft bag that you want on your side, especially if you’re venturing into unfamiliar territory. It’s ideal for the traveler that wants to go light on a long trip, or as a carry-on for short getaways on vacation.
The Slashguard material makes it difficult for thieves to at the material to get at your belongings. There’s added security with the lockable and double-layered zippers to keep out even the most opportunistic thieves. There are sternum and hip straps to help you ease the load on your shoulders, and the extra pockets and compartments will help you to stay organized.
Weight: 7 pounds
Dimensions: 33.9 x 13.4 x 10.2 inches
Capacity: 70 liters + 10 liters
Features: Deuter Aircontact System, dual access, detachable daypack, key clip, straps to secure larger items, duffel can be used as a rain cover.
Description: If you’re looking to go on an extended trip and need your major belongings, then Deuter Quantum 70+10 Backpacking Pack is the backpack for you. The large size allows you to carry everything you need and then some, so you’re never without those key tools for your hiking or backpacking adventure.
The size alone doesn’t make this very useful for light traveling or taking on a plane, so you may have to downgrade to something smaller. However, if long trips are your thing, then the sheer size of this backpack will keep everything you need secure, safe, and dry. There is a women’s version of this backpack that is 10 liters smaller so that it’s not too tall for those with shorter torsos.
Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack Bag
Weight: 3.1 pounds
Dimensions: 27 x 14 x 7 inches
Capacity: 46 liters
Features: lockable front panel, padded sidewalls to protect your belongings, zippered compartment to stow away shoulder straps, three colors to pick from.
Description: Although Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack Bag may look more like a suitcase than the other backpacks listed here, it can still fit as a carry-on if you plan on traveling by air. It has lightweight and padded shoulder and hip straps for added comfort, and given its size, it’s a lot cheaper than the other top brands in this list.
That can be a good thing for those who can’t afford the expense of a deluxe travel backpack, but still need the most basic features in order to get around and be comfortable. The back panel uses semi-stiff supportive foam in order to prevent your belongings from digging into your back. And at only 3.1 pounds, your backpack won’t add any unnecessary weight to the gear you’re already carrying.
Cost: $119.99 – $124.95
Weight: varies depending on size
Dimensions: varies depending on size
Capacity: 49-52 liters
Features: LightBeam single aluminum stay, Dynamic AirFlow back panel, two colors, padded shoulder and hip straps, two colors, sternum strap, key fob.
Description: Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack possesses not only a hybrid zipper design that allows for both top and panel loading, but it also has an additional stash pocket that’s big enough to hold a jacket or a hoodie.
There are several other pockets and compartments that are perfect for keeping maps, pens, electronics, and even your laptop. It has a single aluminium stay that keeps your load stable and comfortable against your back, no matter what kind of landscape you’re traversing.
Cost: $113.37 – $313.00
Weight: 9.5 pounds
Dimensions: 9.4 x 22.8 x 15 inches
Capacity: 30-32 liters
Features: six colors, external compression straps, on-strap bottle opener, removable sternum strap, easy conversion from suitcase to backpack.
Description: The update on this design has not only added more space to the interior, but also added more comfort to the straps and fell of it against your back. It has front pockets to store your smaller items, an easy storage compartment specially made for your laptop, and hidden zipper pockets so that it doesn’t look overly bulky and busy.
The reinforced grab handles also make it easier to carry when your back and shoulders are tired. Timbuk2 Aviator Travel Backpack is a stylish backpack that’s definitely worth the cost if you’re looking for a backpack to withstand the test of time.
Weight: 3.09 pounds
Dimensions: 3.15 x 14.96 x 24.02 inches
Capacity: 44.24 liters
Features: two colors, LightBeam single aluminum stay, Dynamic AirFlow back panel, side compression straps, sternum straps, key fob, removable waist belt.
Description: Smaller than the Kelty Redwing 50, Kelty Redwing 44 Backpack is much more compact and easier to carry around, especially for those who need much less space for their belongings. Because of that, it’s easier to carry on flights and fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment.
The hip strap is a bit small for anyone with a waist that’s more than 36″, so it’s definitely not designed for larger people. But if you can carry a lot of weight without the use of the hip strap, then you can still carry this back with comfort. It has plenty of compartments in the main body for all of your smaller items so you can find them easily when you need them.
Weight: 5 pounds
Dimensions: 10 x 25 x 13 inches
Capacity: 50 liters
Features: seven colors, removable shoulder strap, zippered bottom compartment, hip strap, aluminum frame, removable daypack.
Description: Deuter Transit 50 Travel Pack is one of the simpler travel backpacks in this list, as it isn’t equipped with a lot of extra straps, loops, and doodads that you may not even need. It looks simple and was designed with simplicity in mind so you can focus on what you have and not which compartment to go searching in.
It’s big enough to hold a lot of gear without overburdening you with weight and still being able to fit in an overhead compartment. The zippers were designed with heavy duty in mind, and won’t rip or malfunction even after some harsh punishment. The removable daypack also makes it easier for you to take a few bare essentials with you on a day trip instead of having to carry the larger bag around.
Cost: $189.00 – $313.00
Weight: 2.6 pounds
Dimensions: 25 x 16 x 5 inches
Capacity: 51 liters
Features: two colors, backpanel sleeve, slip attachment for 3 liters of hydration complete with drinking hose, aluminium alloy frame, internal key clip, tie-off points for additional gear, plenty of pockets to carry smaller items.
Description: Osprey Packs Exos 48 Backpack is the only backpack to include water pouch, this definitely has backpacking written all over it. Having somewhere to keep all of your things, no matter its size, is a great asset to have, especially if you don’t want to risk losing them in the woods or on a mountainside.
The stretchy mesh pockets can hold even your larger items without the risk of breaking, so you don’t have to worry about shoving everything you have into the interior. For how much it can carry and all the loading options it has, it’s pretty inexpensive and would be a perfect fit for those who are just starting out on their backpacking ventures.
Prepare for Takeoff!
Do you see what these backpacks all have in common? Comfort! Padded straps are definitely the way to go.
Another thing you may have noticed is the wide range of carrying capacity for the various backpacks, and that’s definitely something that should be considered. You don’t want to get one that’s too big with space you’ll never fill up, but you also don’t want one that’s too small that you’re going to have to carry extra bags in your hand.
It’s best to figure out what your backpacking habits are going to be beforehand so that you can get the best travel backpack to suit your lifestyle. Are there any great travel backpacks that we failed to mention here? Let us know about your favorite!