More and more travelers are trading in their oversized “wheely” suitcases for the comfort and convenience of backpacks.
However, not all backpacks are created equal. They come in a dizzying array of sizes, shapes, and styles, from minimalistic bags for city day-trippers to heavy-duty versions for backcountry hiking.
So, which backpack is best for you, your budget, and your unique travel needs? Keep reading to discover 12 of the best backpacks for traveling this year.
1. Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag 55L
The Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag 55L is another option with outstanding durability and versatility, making it a top choice for adventurers.
Notable features include rugged weather-resistant construction, reinforced with TPU-film laminate, and durable water-repellent (DWR) coating. This ensures it can withstand even the harshest weather conditions.
Its large 55-liter capacity offers ample space for gear without allowing you to overpack, while multiple carrying options – backpack straps and haul handles – enhance convenience. Additionally, it’s made from recycled materials, which is perfect for the eco-friendly traveler.
The bag’s hefty price tag might deter budget-conscious buyers; some find the lack of interior organization pockets a drawback. Overall, it’s a high-quality, eco-friendly option for outdoor enthusiasts from another trustworthy brand in the space.
2. Aer Travel Pack 3
The Aer Travel Pack 3 backpack is a popular choice for travel enthusiasts and those with traveling jobs, offering a blend of exceptional features.
Its best attributes include a sleek minimalist design crafted from durable 1680D Cordura ballistic nylon. The 33-liter capacity offers plenty of space for essentials, with thoughtful pockets and compartments for all your gadgets.
Comfortable and adjustable straps enhance its wearability, while a dedicated shoe compartment helps keep things clean and tidy.
Downsides include its bulkiness when fully packed, which might be inconvenient for some, and premium build quality with a similarly premium price point. Nevertheless, the Aer Travel Pack 3 is a stylish, functional companion for short-term urban travel or anyone seeking a sleek carry-on.
3. Osprey Aether
The Osprey Aether backpack offers exceptional comfort for hikers and travelers alike.
Its adjustable harness and hip belt make it ideal for long treks – or long security lines at the airport – and its internal frame provides excellent load distribution, reducing strain on the back.
Multiple compartments and pockets aid in organization, and the Aether also includes a hydration sleeve for those carrying a water bladder. This backpack is known for its durability with high-quality materials and craftsmanship, and Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee covers it.
At almost five pounds, its weight may be a drawback for some, as it’s not the lightest option on the list. It’s also relatively expensive compared to other brands. Still, the Aether remains a top choice for avid hikers and travelers seeking a reliable backpack that’s both comfortable and durable.
4. REI Co-op Flash 55 Backpack
The REI Co-op Flash 55 backpack is a versatile and affordable option for budget-conscious travelers.
Standout features include its lightweight design – just three pounds – making it comfortable for extended hikes, the 55-liter capacity that provides ample storage, and numerous pockets for keeping everything organized.
Adjustable shoulder straps and a ventilated back panel offer comfort during long treks. It’s also reasonably priced compared to many competitor options.
Unsurprisingly, for a budget-friendlier backpack, its durability may not match premium brands. Some users also find the frame is less supportive with heavy loads. Despite these drawbacks, the REI Co-op Flash 55 shines as an affordable, lightweight pack that deserves its place on this list of the best backpacks for travel.
5. Fjällräven Abisko Hike Foldsack
The Fjällräven Abisko Hike Foldsack is a multipurpose, compact daypack for outdoor enthusiasts.
Noteworthy features include its water-resistant G-1000 Eco fabric construction, which ensures longevity and durability. The 15-liter capacity is ideal for day hikes and short urban adventures, with a roll-top closure for easy access and expandability. It’s also super lightweight, making it easier to carry, and the removable foam frame adds support.
However, the smaller size of the foldsack may limit its use for longer trips. Some users may find the minimalist design lacks extra pockets for organization.
Overall, the Fjällräven Abisko Hike Foldsack is a stylish, highly functional daypack for a wide range of adventures with your friends.
6. Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Pack
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Pack is a high-performance ultralight backpack designed for serious adventurers.
Its premier features include a waterproof Dyneema Composite Fabric construction. As the name suggests, this makes it highly durable and weather-resistant while remaining lightweight.
With a 40-liter capacity, this backpack is spacious enough for multi-day trips and includes a roll-top closure for easy access. The minimalistic design and robust materials ensure longevity, while adjustable straps enhance comfort on the road.
The premium price tag may deter budget-conscious buyers, and some may miss additional organizational pockets. Nevertheless, this is another of the best backpacks for travelers seeking something lightweight, durable, and suitable for challenging outdoor expeditions.
7. Cotopaxi Allpa 42L
The highly-rated Cotopaxi Allpa 42L backpack stands out with its versatility and stylish, sustainable design.
Noteworthy features include its recycled polyester fabric with a TPU coating for weather resistance, making it suitable for various outdoor activities. The 42-liter capacity offers a useful amount of space for longer trips. And it boasts a clever selection of compartments, including a padded laptop sleeve.
Its harness system and padded waist belt ensure a pleasant carrying experience. The unique, vibrant color schemes make it easy to spot on the luggage carousel.
Downsides? Some travelers may find it somewhat heavy for a carry-on bag with a relatively high price point. All things considered, the Cotopaxi Allpa 42L impresses with its eco-conscious construction and functional design.
8. Gregory Baltoro 75
The Gregory Baltoro 75 backpack is a rugged, top-tier choice for serious backpacking enthusiasts.
Its best features include an adjustable Response A3 suspension system, which offers unparalleled comfort and load support. Its cavernous 75-liter capacity accommodates extended trips and heavy gear, complemented by numerous pockets and access points for efficient organization.
The backpack’s durability and robust materials ensure longevity, while its integrated rain cover adds weather protection.
Its weight and size may be overkill for some hikers/travelers, and it comes with a heavy price tag. Despite these potential drawbacks, the Gregory Baltoro 75 is a comfortable, feature-rich backpack for anyone tackling extended trips or tough outdoor expeditions.
9. Tortuga Travel Backpack 30L
The Tortuga Travel Backpack 30L is a versatile carry-on backpack for urban explorers.
Noteworthy features include a sleek, minimalist design that adheres to airline size restrictions. The 30-liter capacity offers ample space for essentials, with thoughtful organization pockets for tech gadgets and accessories.
It’s comfortable to wear with padded shoulder straps and a ventilated back panel. The backpack’s durable materials ensure longevity, while the hideaway shoulder straps add versatility.
However, the smaller size might not suit longer trips, and the lack of a hip belt could limit comfort for some users with heavier loads. The Tortuga Travel Backpack 30L is a compact, stylish choice for city adventures. Tip: travelers seeking slightly more space could consider the 40-liter version.
10. Osprey Transporter Global Carry-On Travel Backpack
The Osprey Transporter Global Carry-On Travel Backpack is another versatile travel companion with many impressive features.
Its most noteworthy attributes include a durable TPU-coated nylon construction, which offers good weather resistance and longevity. Similarly, the 36-liter capacity adheres to global carry-on size regulations, making it perfect for hassle-free air travel.
The backpack’s comfortable harness system includes a padded hip belt and adjustable shoulder straps for a customized fit. It also offers excellent organization with multiple pockets and a padded laptop sleeve.
The lack of wheels might be a drawback for some travelers, and, like most Osprey packs, it isn’t cheap. This would be a robust, attractive, well-organized, and spacious carry-on for frequent flyers.
11. ULA Circuit Backpack
The ULA Circuit backpack is a favorite among thru-hikers and ultralight backpackers.
Its standout features include a spacious 68-liter capacity, ideal for extended wilderness trips. It also has a comfortable, adjustable suspension system to handle heavy loads.
The rugged Cordura fabric ensures durability, while the numerous external and internal pockets facilitate organization. It has a custom-fit option, allowing buyers to tailor the pack to their needs.
On the downside, its three-pound weight may be considered “heavy” in the ultralight community. Some users also find the lack of frame uncomfortable with heavy loads. Nevertheless, the ULA Circuit is a hardwearing, customizable backpack for anyone serious about long-distance treks.
12. Kelty Redwing Tactical Backpack
The Kelty Redwing Tactile backpack is affordable and versatile for outdoor enthusiasts.
Notable features include a rugged 500D Kodra fabric construction, offering both durability and water resistance. Its 45-liter capacity provides ample space for gear, complete with multiple pockets and organization options.
The U-shaped zipper provides easy access to the main compartment, while the padded shoulder straps and ventilated back panel enhance comfort during extended use.
However, some users may find the tactical aesthetics less appealing for urban settings. And the absence of a dedicated laptop compartment could be another drawback for city travelers. Yet its popularity as a well-built, robust pack is undeniable.
The Best Backpacks for Traveling: Which Will You Choose?
Ultimately, picking the best backpacks for you will depend on where you’re going, what you’re doing, and how long you’ll be there.
As we’ve seen, there are high-quality packs for day-trippers, weekend wanders, long-term travelers, and everybody in between. One of the options on this list is sure to be the perfect traveling backpack for you.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Danny Newman is currently writing and traveling his way around the world in a bid to figure out exactly what he’s doing with his life. He’d love you to follow along with his journey over at What’s Danny Doing.