The Best Travel Backpacks for 2024

With so many styles, sizes, shapes and models available, choosing the best backpack for travel can be a real challenge — and that’s before considering the abundance of different brands and manufacturers! 

To help you choose the best backpack for you (and prevent you having a meltdown next time you’re in the backpack aisle of REI or Decathlon), we’ve put together this guide with the help of our trusted audience. 

Using our decades of combined backpacking experience and utilising the knowledge of thousands of travellers in our South East Asia Backpacker Facebook group, we’ve listed the most popular and best-rated backpacks for long term travel. 

We’ve only included bags that we’ve tested ourselves or that come highly recommended by a large number of our readers.

The Best Travel Backpacks – Quick Answers!

The links to online stores (like Amazon) on this page are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate South East Asia Backpacker earns from qualifying purchases. We always write our reviews before checking whether affiliate links are available.

ImageBackpackFeaturesCheck Price
#1 Travel Backpack
Osprey Farpoint 40

Osprey Farpoint 40

  • Clamshell Opening
  • Carry On Size
  • Lifetime Guarantee 
Check Price On Osprey (US)Check Price On Osprey (EU)
#1 Travel Backpack For Women
Osprey Fairview 40

Osprey Fairview 40

  • Clamshell Opening
  • Carry On Size
  • Built Specifically For Women
Check Price On Osprey (US)Check Price On Osprey (EU)
Best Large Travel Pack
Osprey Farpoint/Fairview 70

Osprey Farpoint/Fairview 70

  • Easy Stow Straps
  • Detachable Daypack
  • Different Models For Men & Women
Check Price On Osprey (US)Check Price On Osprey (EU)
Best Mid-Sized Pack
Salkan Backpacker 45L

Salkan Backpacker 45L

  • Detachable Daypack
  • Ultra-Comfortable
  • Expandable Storage
Check Price On Salkan
Best Small Travel Pack
Cotopaxi Allpa 28L

Cotopaxi Allpa 28L

  • Large Internal Pockets
  • Suitcase Style Opening
  • Padded Laptop Sleeve
Check Price On CotopaxiCheck Price On Amazon
Best Anti-Theft Pack
PacSafe Venturesafe EXP45

PacSafe Venturesafe EXP45

  • Anti-Theft Features
  • Made From Recycled Materials 
  • Maximum Carry On Size
Check Price On PacSafeCheck Price On Amazon
Best Frameless Pack
Stubble & Co Adventure Bag 42L

Stubble & Co Adventure Bag 42L

  • Weatherproof
  • Suitcase Style Opening
  • Great Orgranisation
Check Price On Stubble & Co

What’s the best size backpack for your travels?

Backpack volume is measured in litres but for most of us, it’s an obscure number that’s hard to visualise. To help you understand a bit more about the travel bag you’re planning to buy, we put together this handy backpack sizing guide!

Getting a bag that’s too big can be a pain in the ass to drag around. Likewise, getting a bag that’s too small is a waste of time too. It just means you’ll end up carrying countless extra carrier bags everywhere you go. Not only is this a chore but the extra bags will inevitably end up in landfill somewhere! 

To ensure picking a backpack for your next adventure is easy, we’ve split our list of the best bags for backpackers into four size categories: 25-30 litres, 40-46 litres, 50-60 litres and more than 65 litres.

CHECK OUT ? Which size backpack is best for my travels? (Opens in new tab)

Backpack info

The Best 40-46 Litre Backpacks for Travel

The Most Popular Size for Travel Among our Readers

Bags in this size range are excellent for weekend trips, month-long adventures and even long term travel. These packs offer enough room for all your essentials plus a little extra space for some home comforts. At the same time, they’re small enough to fit into most airlines’ carry-on limits*, aren’t overly cumbersome and don’t weigh you down too much. Almost all backpack brands offer bags in this size so you’ll be spoilt for choice!

*Note: You’ll need to keep your gear below a certain weight threshold for hand luggage. Most long haul carriers allow 10kg but some budget Airlines like AirAsia have a maximum carry-on baggage weight of 7kg. Always check with the airline you’re flying with to avoid paying expensive extra fees when you arrive at the check-in desk!

Osprey Farpoint/ Fairview (40-litre) – Overall Best Backpack for Travel

Osprey Farpoint 40-litre Grey
  • Clamshell Opening
  • Carry On Compliant 
  • Includes Osprey's All Mighty Guarantee 
  • The Water Bottle Pockets Suck
  • Badly Placed Laptop Sleeve

Why The Osprey Farpoint/Fairview 40?

  • FAVOURITE AMONGST TRAVELLERS: By far the most recommended travel backpack is the Osprey Farpoint or the female model, the Osprey Fairview. Both are renowned for being comfortable, durable, quick to pack and small enough to carry easily. 
  • EASY ACCESS: They have a clamshell opening style, so can be opened much like a suitcase. This makes them easy to pack and reduces the amount of time you’ll spend digging for items at the bottom!
  • LOADS OF SPACE: At 40-litres, there’s plenty of room for all your essentials. The main pocket is massive, easily holding your clothes and other bulky items. The laptop sleeve is padded to protect your electronics. However, due to its placement, it can be a chore to use when the bag is full. It also means the weight distribution is way off if you’ve got a heavy computer. 
  • COMFORTABLE: The back panel is well padded and breathable. It protects your back from chaotic packing and helps distribute the pack’s weight. The shoulder straps and hip belt are also padded for comfort and protection. They work to spread the weight of your gear evenly across your body. 
  • DURABLE: As you’d expect from an Osprey backpack, the Farpoint/Fairview is incredibly durable. It’s made from 210D fabric which is thicker and more hard-wearing than most backpacks. My own Farpoint 40 has lasted years of travel. Even after being thrown around on planes, tuk-tuks, buses, trains and boats, it’s only showing a few scuffs and scars.
  • ALL MIGHTY GUARANTEE: Osprey are famous for their All Mighty Guarantee which says they’ll repair or replace any bag with a manufacturing defect-free of charge within the reasonable lifetime of the pack! They also go on to say that they strive to repair, rather than replace, to reduce the impact on the environment! It’s worth noting that no one is sure what ‘reasonable lifetime’ actually means but I suspect it is a safe bet that they won’t be repairing your 15-year-old backpack!
#1 Travel Backpack
Osprey Farpoint/Fairview 40
  • Price Range: $$
  • Best Feature: Clamshell opening and carry on compliant.
  • Feature To Improve: The laptop sleeve and bottle pockets suck.
  • Read full review of the Osprey Farpoint 40 & Fairview 40 (opens in new tab).

Stubble & Co Adventure Bag (42-litres)

Stubble and Co Adventure Bag
  • Clamshell Opening
  • Comfortable
  • Weather-resistant 
  • Internal Bottle Pocket
  • Expensive
  • Right On The Carry On Limit

Why The Stubble and Co Adventure Bag?

  • FRAMELESS CONSTRUCTION: Stubble and Co’s Adventure Bag stands out from other bags in this size bracket thanks to its frameless design. This keeps the weight down, allowing you to pack more gear. It also helps keep you under the airline’s carry on weight limits! 
  • WEATHER RESISTANT: The Adventure Bag features weather-resistant materials and a water repellent coating. This ensures your gear remains safe and dry if you’re travelling during the wet season, or just get caught out in an errant downpour! 
  • ORGANISATION: With a padded laptop sleeve, separate shoe compartment and individual sections for all your travel gear, there’s plenty of space to pack, organise and find your belongings while on the road. It’s as easy to pack as a suitcase! 
  • COMFORT: The padded straps, removable hip belt and comfortable back panel make for an excellent carry experience, even when the bag is full of gear! 
  • VERSATILE: This is a bag built to go anywhere. The sleek design works in towns or cities and the build quality means it can handle rougher terrain.
Best Frameless Pack
Stubble & Co Adventure Bag 42L
  • Price Range: $$$$
  • Best Feature:  Waterproof and suitcase-style opening.
  • Feature To Improve: The internal water bottle holder.
  • Read the full review of the Stubble and Co Adventure Bag (opens in new tab).

Osprey Kyte (46-litre) 

Osprey Kyte 46 Women's Backpacking Backpack, Ice Lake Green , X-Small/ Small

  • Comfortable
  • Great For Hiking
  • Male and Female Specific Models
  • No Laptop Sleeve
  • Too Big For Carry On
  • Not The Easiest Bag To Pack

Why The Osprey Kyte 46?

  • BUILT FOR WOMEN: The straps and back panel on this bag are cut to fit smaller, more petite frames. For too long backpacks were ‘unisex’ — aka built for men but you know, you can make the straps tighter if you want. Osprey changed the game when they started producing versions of their most popular packs specifically for women!
  • COMFORTABLE: The thick shoulder straps and Airscape back panel offer a ton of cushioning — ideal if you’re covering long distances with a heavy load! They can be easily adjusted to offer you a customised fit too. The waist strap is well-padded and features a zippered pocket on each side. These are great for quick access items like money, passports and phones. 
  • HIKING PACK: The Osprey Kyte is more of a hiking pack than a travel bag — but it’s still consistently mentioned as one of the best travel bags by our readers! Like most hiking packs, it’s top-loading. However, it also features a large zipper on the side so you don’t need to pull everything out to find stuff stored at the bottom! 
  • ORGANISATION: The Kyte has a giant main compartment as well as a ton of small organisational spaces and a removable internal divider. It’s for keeping a sleeping bag away from the rest of your gear but can also be used to keep other items separate. There’s an access pocket at the bottom of the bag so you can get to this gear easily. 

Osprey also produce a men’s version of this backpack called the Osprey Kestrel which is two litres larger.

Best Travel Pack For Hikers
Osprey Kyte 48L
  • Price Range: $$$$
  • Best Feature: Side zips make this top-loader super easy to pack and unpack.
  • Feature To Improve: Not carry on compliant.

Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 – (45-litre) Best Theft Proof Backpack

PacSafe Venturesafe EXP45 Anti Theft Carry-On/Travel Pack, ECONYL Ocean

  • Theftproof 
  • Made With Recycled Materials 
  • Suitcase Style Opening And Loading
  • Heavy
  • Too Big For Hand Luggage On Small Airlines

Why The Pacsafe Venturesafe?

  • THEFTPROOF: As an anti-theft backpack Pacsafe Venturesafe features cut-resistant straps, lockable zips and a slash-proof lining. These help prevent opportunistic thieves from getting at your belongings! 
  • RECYCLED MATERIALS: The Venturesafe is made from discarded fishing nets and other nylon waste! Not only is it an excellent bag but the materials its construction makes it one of the most sustainable backpacks available! 
  • CARRY ON SIZE: Even with its 45-litre capacity, the Pacsafe Venturesafe is just within hand luggage limits for most international airlines — it’s well over for smaller budget airlines though. 
  • INTERNAL FRAME: Having so many features makes this bag heavier than most travel backpacks. However, the internal frame does an excellent job of distributing the weight across your back. The hip belt and sternum strap also make for a comfortable carry experience! 
  • EASY TO PACK: With a suitcase-style opening, a huge main compartment and some smaller organisational pockets, the Venturesafe is easy to pack and organise. This theft-proof bag also features a padded laptop sleeve and internal compression straps to ensure all your belongings are safe and secure!
Best Anti-Theft Pack
PacSafe Venturesafe EXP45
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Best Feature: Made from recycled materials.
  • Feature To Improve: Security features mean this pack is on the heavy side.

The Best 50-60 Litre Backpacks For Travel

Whenever we ask our readers which backpacks they’re using, the ones mentioned the least are those within the 50-60-litre range. However, if it’s this size that appeals to you, we still have some recommendations! 

REI CO-OP Recycled Travel Bag (60-litre)

REI CO-OP Recycled Travel Bag 60L
  • Male & Female Models Available 
  • Detachable Daypack 
  • Eco-friendly
  • Expensive
  • Heavy

Why The REI Recycled Travel Bag?

  • MEN’S AND WOMEN’S MODELS: REI’s Recycled Travel Bag comes in both male and female models but don’t feel constrained by this. If one model fits you better than the other, go with it regardless of the sex printed on the label.. Having a range of models available means you’re more likely to find the perfect fit! 
  • DETACHABLE DAYPACK: Although it’s officially a 60-litre bag, the Recycled Travel Bag from REI comes with a detachable 20-litre daypack. This bumps the total volume up to 80-litres! The daypack can be attached to the main pack or used as a standalone — ideal for keeping your valuables with you on planes, trains and buses. 
  • ECO-FRIENDLY: REI’s Travel Bag is built using materials that meet the Bluesign Criteria. This means there are fewer toxic chemicals used in the supply chain and that all factories are run using ethical practices. REI also use as much recycled material as they can in their bags. 
  • COMFORTABLE: The adjustable hip belt and shoulder straps are well padded for maximum comfort. In the women’s model, the shoulder straps curve differently around the chest. The hip belt is also more adjustable in the female version to accommodate a larger range of body shapes. The back panel is well cushioned and ventilated on both the male and female versions. 
  • ZIP-AWAY STRAPS: Whenever you need to check the bag on planes, store it under buses or in the luggage area on trains, the stowable straps reduce the risk of it getting tangled and damaged. It’s also easier to manoeuvre through tight spaces when you have the straps tucked away. 
Best Versatile Travel Pack
REI CO-OP Recycled Travel Bag 60L
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Best Feature: Can be used as a hiking pack while on your travels.
  • Feature To Improve: It’s expensive — you can get a similar spec Osprey backpack in the same price bracket.

Osprey Farpoint/Fairview (55-litre) – Best Backpack With Detachable Daypack

Osprey Packs Fairview 55 Travel Backpack, Misty Grey, Small/Medium

  • Easy To Pack
  • Detachable Daypack
  • Durable
  • Induces Sweaty Back Syndrome
  • Too Big For Carry On
  • Feels A Bit Bulky When Full

Why The Osprey Farpoint/Fairview 55?

  • VERY SIMILAR TO THE 40-LITRE VERSION: Osprey’s Farpoint and Fairview 40 are the most popular travel bags among backpackers — and this 55-litre model is celebrated for all the same reasons. It’s comfortable, durable and comes with Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee
  • EASY TO PACK: With a clamshell opening, a massive main pocket and additional organisational spaces, the Farpoint and Fairview 55 make packing and unpacking your gear a doddle! 
  • DETACHABLE DAYPACK: The 13-litre detachable daypack is ideal for keeping your valuables close to hand or for storing your day to day essentials while out exploring. It attaches to the main pack using Osprey’s Zip and Clip system. This means it’s quick to secure and won’t fall off as soon as you start moving. It can also be attached kangaroo style if you prefer having a bag on your front. 
Best Detachable Daypack
Osprey Farpoint/Fairview 55
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Best Feature: Detachable daypack.
  • Feature To Improve: Increased ventilation around the back panel would be a great addition.

The Backpacker by Salkan (45-litres) – Best Mid Sized Travel Backpack

Salkan Black Backpacker
  • Detachable Daypack
  • Rugged
  • Easy To Pack
  • Heavy
  • Expensive
  • Mounting For Daypack Can Be Difficult 

Why The Backpacker?

  • TWO BAGS: The Backpacker by Salkan is actually two bags – The Main Pack and The Daypack. The Main Pack is 45-litres but can be expanded up to 55 should the need arise. The Daypack is 20-litres and is attached to the Main Pack with a series of metal clips. 
  • TOUGH MATERIALS: Both the Mainpack and the Daypack are made from a thick canvas-like material. It’s durable and treated with a water repellent coating. There’s also a stowable rain cover for those days where a water-resistant coating just isn’t enough.
  • EASY LOADING: The Main Pack has a large U-zip opening on the front. This means it opens more like a suitcase than a traditional backpack. It allows you to pack and unpack, or find what you need in a hurry. The bag also has a drawstring opening at the top. This allows you to use the bag as a top loader if you prefer. The Daypack can only be used as a top loader. 
  • COMFORT: The shoulder straps and hip belt have incredible padding. The back panel is also well-cushioned. The whole back system is adjustable so you can get a fully customised fit, no matter your height. 
  • STORAGE: Both the Mainpack and Daypack feature padded laptop sleeves and a small hidden pocket inside the back panel — this can be used to hide items like your passport, money or phone. As well as this, each bag has a few small organisational pockets but the bulk of each is the large main compartment. 
Best Mid-Sized Pack
Salkan Backpacker 45L
  • Price Range: $$$$
  • Best Feature: Easy stow straps when you need to check the bag
  • Feature To Improve: Can be unwieldy and hard to fit into storage spaces when full
  • Read the full review of Salkan's Backpacker (link opens in a new tab).

The Best 65+ Litre Travel Backpacks

There’s an interesting divide in the backpacking world. Some people like to pack light, taking as little stuff with them as they can. Others like to have enough gear to get them through weeks without having to do laundry! 

If you fall into the latter camp, these 65+ litre travel bags are for you! 

Osprey Farpoint/Fairview (70-litre) – Best Large Travel Backpack

Osprey Packs FARPOINT 70, Volcanic Grey, Small/Medium

  • Full Framed
  • Stowable Straps
  • Hard-wearing 
  • Bulky
  • Heavy
  • Can Be Unwieldy When Full

Why The Osprey Farpoint/Fairview 70?

  • FARPOINT/FAIRVIEW: Once again a version of the Osprey Farpoint and Fairview make it onto our list of the best travel backpacks. They include all the features you’d expect from this range: padded straps, breathable back panel, clamshell-style opening, high build quality and of course, Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee
  • FULL FRAME: Being a bigger bag, the 70-litre Farpoint/Fairview benefits hugely from having an internal frame. It helps to distribute the weight of your gear across your entire body, protecting your neck and shoulders from heavy loads.
  • STOWABLE STRAPS: Stowing the straps when on the move can make a big difference to the lifespan of your bag. It helps to protect your belongings from being dragged about by careless baggage handlers and prevents them getting tangled with other people’s luggage. 
  • DETACHABLE DAYPACK: As with the 55-litre version, the Osprey Farpoint/Fairview 70 includes a removable 13-litre daypack. This takes some of the stress out of travelling. It allows you to keep your valuables close while in transit and provides plenty of space for day to day essentials the rest of the time. 

Inspired by the success of their Farpoint/Fairview series, Osprey stepped it up a notch with the Farpoint Trek. Available in both 55-litre and 75-litre models, this reimagined version of their classic Farpoint sets a new standard for hybrid backpacks. As at home on long isolated trails as in busy cities, you can read more about the Farpoint Trek in this full review!

Best Large Travel Pack
Osprey Farpoint/Fairview 70
  • Price Range: $$$$
  • Best Feature: Easy stow straps when you need to check the bag
  • Feature To Improve: Can be unwieldy and hard to fit into storage spaces when full

Gregory Tetrad (75-litre)

Gregory Mountain Products Tetrad 75 Travel Backpack, PIXEL BLACK

  • Zip-off Daypack
  • Waterproof Compartment
  • Fully Adjustable 
  • Bulky
  • Daypack Mounting Points Aren't Super Secure

Why The Gregory Tetrad 75?

  • ZIP-OFF DAYPACK: As with all the best travel bags in this size bracket, the Gregory Tetrad includes a zip-off daypack. At 20-litres it’s the perfect size for using as hand luggage or a daypack. It includes a padded laptop sleeve, tablet holder and a host of small storage compartments. 
  • INTERNAL WATERPROOF COMPARTMENT: Inside, the Tetrad is huge! There’s plenty of space and pockets for all your travel gear, the most ingenious of which is the Active Shield compartment. It’s waterproof and odour resistant, allowing you to carry dirty gear without it ruining the rest of your stuff! 
  • FULLY ADJUSTABLE: Unlike a lot of other travel bags, the Gregory Tetrad is one size fits all. The straps and back panel are easy to adjust, fitting any torso length between 16-21 inches!* 
  • COMFORTABLE: The Tetrad features nicely padded shoulder straps which are well placed for the best carry experience. They have strategically placed ventilation holes to promote airflow and reduce sweat build up. The back panel is sturdy, padded and well ventilated too. When secure, the chunky hip belt takes a lot of weight off your shoulders.
  • U-ZIP OPENING: The Tetrad main bag includes one of our favourite features in a travel backpack: suitcase-style opening! You can lay the bag down flat and open it right up. This makes packing and unpacking easy — reducing the need for you to root around, searching for loose items that have slipped to the bottom of the bag. 

*Note: The women’s version of this bag, the Gregory Tribute, fits torso lengths from 13-19 inches. It’s designed to fit the female body shape more effectively but is slightly smaller in capacity. 

Best Internal Features
Gregory Tetrad 75
  • Price Range: $$$$
  • Best Feature: The main pack can be used as an effective hiking backpack while travelling.
  • Feature To Improve: Daypack could be more secure when attached to the main pack.

The Best 25-35 Litre Travel Backpacks

How much stuff do you really need? Is it possible to travel extensively with just a small backpack? A ton of our readers said that travelling with a small backpack that fits under a plane seat is the BEST and ONLY way to travel! 

With some careful packing and rolling of your clothes, you could easily fit everything you need in a 30-35-litre backpack packed to the maximum 7-10kg.

Carrying less stuff means you’re more nimble when on the move. You’re also not going to stand out quite as much, which will reduce your chance of being targeted by scammers, con artists, pickpockets or even overzealous taxi drivers! 

Osprey Nebula/Nova (33-litre)

Osprey Women's Nova, Black, O/S

  • Lots Of Pockets
  • TSA Approved Laptop Sleeve
  • Comfortable Back Panel 
  • Not Much Padding On Straps Or Hip Belt
  • Doesn't Carry Heavy Loads Well

Why The Osprey Nebula/Nova?

  • SMALL: Originally designed for commuting and use in cities, the Osprey Nebula/Nova has become a clear favourite for light packing travellers. The men’s model (Nebula) is 34-litres, while the women’s version (Nova) is 33-litres — both fit easily into hand luggage limits. 
  • NEBULA VS NOVA: Aside from the capacity, the two packs differ very little. The women’s version has a slightly shorter torso length and the straps are shaped to be more comfortable for women. However, if you’re a man with a slight frame and short torso, you may find the Nova more comfortable than the Nebula. It’s worth trying both to see which is your favourite.
  • DURABLE: As you’d expect from Osprey, the Nebula/Nova is comfortable and hardwearing. It’s made from robust, abrasion-resistant nylon that’s thicker in areas of high wear. This tough material makes the bag a little heavier than a typical 30-litre backpack. But at just 1kg, it’s nothing to stress about. 
  • LAPTOP SLEEVE: The padded laptop sleeve is in the rear of the pack, sitting against your back as you walk. It has a dedicated zipper so it’s easy to get to your computer no matter how much you’re carrying. It can be unzipped and opened right out to save you from removing your laptop while going through airport security.* 
  • ORGANISATION: The main pocket offers plenty of room for your clothes and bulkier items. There are also a ton of small compartments to help you stay organised and a stretchy pocket on the front. 
  • ALL MIGHTY GUARANTEE: Osprey are famous for their All Mighty Guarantee which says they’ll repair or replace any bag with a manufacturing defect-free of charge within the reasonable lifetime of the pack! They also go on to say that they strive to repair, rather than replace to reduce the impact on the environment! It’s worth noting that no one is sure what “reasonable lifetime” actually means but I suspect they won’t be repairing your 15-year-old backpack!

*Note: Some airports will make you remove all laptops and electronics regardless. 

Best Small Osprey Travel Pack
Osprey Nebula 32L
  • Price Range: $$
  • Best Feature: Great laptop sleeve — you don’t need to remove your computer for airport scanners.
  • Feature To Improve: Lacks padding on the straps and hip belt.

Cotopaxi Allpa (28-litre) – Best Small Travel Backpack

Cotopaxi Allpa 28L Travel Pack - Black 28L

  • Well Built
  • Eco-friendly 
  • Comfortable
  • Limited External Pockets
  • No Water Bottle Pocket
  • Not Suitable Very Tall Or Very Short Users

Why The Cotopaxi Allpa?

  • TOUGH: The Allpa 28-litre from Cotopaxi is lightweight and super durable. Thanks to the combination of 1000D TPU coated polyester and 840D ballistic nylon, this bag is sleek as well as abrasion and water-resistant. It even comes with a stowable rain cover for those heavy downpours! 
  • COMFORTABLE: The air mesh back panel is comfortable and breathable. It allows air to flow around your back, reducing the build-up of sweat to keep you cool. Contoured shoulder straps ensure the bag hugs your body while being worn. This keeps the centre of gravity as close to your body as possible, making it easier to carry in tight spaces or for long distances. The sternum strap locks the shoulder straps into place, while the hip belt helps reduce the load on your shoulders. 
  • ORGANISATION: The Allpa opens like a suitcase and features internal mesh dividers for increased organisation. This makes it easy to pack and ensures you make the most of the 28-litres! There’s also a side entry padded laptop sleeve that can hold any computer up to 15 inches. Within that sleeve, there’s a tablet pocket too! On the outside, the bag features some webbing loops for attaching extra gear but lacks somewhere to store your travel water bottle.
  • DEL DIA VERSION: Cotopaxi’s backpacks are available in their standard guise or as the Del Dia models. The Del Dia bags are made with leftover materials from other manufacturers, meaning they have a much smaller environmental impact. Not only are they more eco friendly but the Del Dia range is jazzy as hell and all bags are one of a kind! Different coloured fabrics are used for each panel, ensuring your bag is as unique as your personality! Aside from the environmental impact and standout style, the Del Dia bags are built to the same strict standards as the rest of Cotapaxi’s bags. And they’re a tad cheaper!
Best Small Travel Pack
Cotopaxi Allpa 28L
  • Price Range: $$$$
  • Best Feature: Large internal pockets and suitcase-style opening.
  • Feature To Improve: Limited external pockets and no water bottle holder.

Travel Backpack FAQs

Top-loading bags vs clamshell — Which are better?

If you’ve already made your decision on the old backpack vs suitcase debate, which if you’re reading this you probably have, the next question is what type of backpack you should buy. When it comes to traditional top-loading backpacks for travel, the number one complaint is that it’s a pain in the ass to get at your stuff, especially if you’ve crammed it full. It’s Murphy’s Law that the pair of shorts you want will be wedged right at the bottom, leaving you to empty everything else out first. 

Bags with a clamshell design open like suitcases, making it easy for you to find those shorts without throwing clothes everywhere! They’re also easier to pack and organise than traditional backpacks. 

Top-loading packs have an advantage for hiking, mountaineering and other outdoor pursuits because you don’t need to lay the bag down to open it up. On a cold, wet day, this is quite a relief! 

What size backpack do I need for travel?

Choosing the right size travel backpack isn’t as easy as grabbing the first big bag you see. It’s a lot more nuanced. The good news? The answer is almost always “smaller than you think.”

When it comes to packing for travel, the old adage still rings true: Put all your clothes and luggage in a pile. Next to that, place all the money you have. 

Now, take half the stuff and twice the money. Packing too much will weigh you down and make moving from A to B a nightmare.

However, everyone is different. Some people are comfortable with a single 25-litre backpack. Others want a 100-litre monster. It’s different for everyone. I travel with a 40-litre backpack and a collapsible daypack. But you’re not me and may want a bucketload more space in your bags!

How much should I spend on a backpack?

Most travellers say it’s worth investing in a travel backpack. Cheap bags tend to break and need to be replaced on the road. They can also be badly built, making them harmful to your back, neck and shoulders. A more expensive, good quality bag can last years, if not decades! 

I’m not saying you should go out and spend a few hundred dollars straight away but don’t waste your time on a $20USD bag. You can often find popular travel backpacks, including the Osprey Farpoint/Fairview 40 on sale for roughly $100USD if you shop around. 

Spending more on your gear is one of our top budget travel tips!

What’s the most popular travel backpack brand?

Osprey are the most popular company making travel backpacks today. Their packs are well designed, expertly built and durable enough for years of backpacking! They’re also very budget-friendly when you consider the build quality, comfort and range of models available. 

But what makes Osprey stand out is their excellent customer service and the All Mighty Guarantee! 

Note: Some readers have told us that Osprey refused to honour the lifetime warranty for products bought on Amazon. With this in mind, we contacted them for clarification. They informed us that they stand by their guarantee no matter where the bag was purchased.

Is a 40-litre backpack big enough for travel?

Yes, a 40-litre backpack is plenty big enough for long term travel. Things will get tight if you like to carry a lot of home comforts while travelling but a 40-litre backpack provides plenty of space for the essentials! A 40-litre backpack can usually be taken as carry on luggage too which saves you time at the airport! 

If you’ve tried a 40-litre bag out and want to go bigger, we suggest keeping the total around 55-litres. Any more and the bags become unwieldy when full! 

How do I know if a bag will be comfortable?

Unless you try a bag on — fully packed with all your gear — you’ll never really know how comfortable it will be. However, there are a few things you can do to stack the deck in your favour: 

  • Look out for bags with padded back panels or better still, a full suspension system
  • Check the straps, are they well-padded but still flexible? Contoured straps will hug your body improving the overall carry experience. 
  • Ensure your bag has a hip belt, especially if it’s on the larger side. A hip belt helps distribute the weight of your bag from your shoulders to your legs. It can be a lifesaver if you’re carrying bags over 40-litres! 

Do I need a daypack for travel?

You don’t need a daypack to make travel possible. But having one will make your adventures a bit smoother. Most travellers opt for the two-bag approach. One large backpack for carrying the majority of their clothes, toiletries and belongings, plus another smaller travel daypack which they use while out exploring.

The two-bag method is also important when it comes to security. Usually, when backpacking, you’ll be asked to store larger backpacks underneath (or sometimes on the roof of) buses, trains and in the hold on planes. 

During these times, it’s best to have a smaller bag with your valuable and important items e.g. your phone, passport, wallet, camera, medicine, etc. While theft or lost luggage is rare, it can happen. And it’s most likely to happen when you’re separated from your bag! Keeping your important items with you ensures they remain as safe as possible. 

Do backpacks come with a warranty?

All good backpacks come with some form of manufacturer warranty. Osprey’s famous All Mighty Guarantee, while not quite the lifetime warranty it used to be, is still a fine example of a company standing behind their product. They will repair any defects or issues with your pack caused at their end. They say that this warranty is only valid within the “reasonable lifetime” of the pack.

If the backpack you’re looking at doesn’t offer a good warranty, it’s probably not worth spending a ton of money on — if it breaks, you’ll be left high and dry. 

What’s the difference between men’s and women’s backpacks?

For some manufacturers, the difference between men’s and women’s backpacks is purely marketing. But that’s not always the case. The best backpack brands build real differences into their sex-specific bags.

As a general rule, women’s backpacks tend to come in shorter torso sizes and often have slightly lower carrying capacities. The shoulder straps on women’s bags are usually shorter and are cut differently to account for different chest sizes. The same is true of hip belts on ladies’ packs, they’re shorter but feature more adjustability. 

Final Thoughts On The Best Travel Backpacks

There are so many backpacks for travel available today that the whole buying process can be overwhelming. Take the stress out of choosing by opting for one of the bags on this list! Our favourite overall travel bag is the Osprey Farpoint 40 or the ladies’ version, the Osprey Fairview 40

If you’re looking for a bag with a detachable daypack, the Osprey Farpoint or Fairview 55 would be an excellent choice. Likewise, Salkan’s The Backpacker fits the bill although it costs quite a bit more. 

For bigger bags, we recommend the Osprey Farpoint or Fairview 70 as well as the Gregory Tetrad 75. And finally, for sub-30-litre bags, you can’t beat the Cotopaxi Allpa 28 — especially if you opt for the Del Dia version! 

Have we missed your favourite backpack from our list? Tell us what you use and why you love it in the comments below!!

Tim Ashdown | Gear Specialist

After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since then, he has travelled Southeast Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and backpacked South America. His first book, From Paralysis to Santiago, chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident and will be released later this year.

Have we missed your favourite backpack from our list? Tell us what you use and why you love it in the comments below!

4 thoughts on “The Best Travel Backpacks for 2024”

  1. So we are going to SEA in two days and hoping to go hiking around Vietnam and Cambodia. Would you recommend a travel size warm jacket. I’ve seen some lightweight travel pack down jackets and was wondering if these would be too warm or actually a godsend at the tops!

    1. Hi Will,
      If you’re going to be climbing (or riding a motorbike up) any high-ish mountains then yes, it would absolutely be a good idea. Even at lower altitudes near the equator you can be surprised by how chilly it can get at night. Obviously, the smaller/lighter the better, as you don’t want to be weighed down. Don’t forget, you’ll also find it pretty easy to find something once you’re out here, so don’t worry too much if you don’t have a chance to get anything before you leave. That way, you can get a feel for things when you arrive and help out the local economy if you need to buy anything.
      Have a great time!

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