How to buy the perfect travel backpack

Traveling can be hectic and stressful. Seemingly endless airport queues, flight cancellations, navigating unfamiliar countries — it can be taxing, to say the least. But with a good travel backpack, you can cut down the stress and be organized and prepared to face whatever comes your way.

We’ve done our research and pulled together a super handy guide for buying your ideal travel backpack, as well as our favorites that you can shop right now.

Whether you’re going on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure or a quick getaway to an interesting city, you’re sure to find a trusty backpack that’s going to be your new best friend throughout your journey.

Read more: Top city break destinations for quick getaways

Fjällräven Kånken Classic Backpack

Longchamp Le Pliage Original Backpack

Why buy a travel backpack?

Whether you’re a travel enthusiast or simply enjoy a quick getaway every now and then, a dedicated travel backpack is definitely worth the investment. Packing for your trip can be tricky, but with most backpacks for travel including features such as multiple pockets, tech compartments and bottle holders, you can take the stress out of the job and keep yourself totally organized while you’re at it.

Travel backpacks tend to be larger than regular backpacks too, making them great for use in lieu of a suitcase — especially if you’re only going away for a few nights.

Say goodbye to lugging a suitcase through cobbled European streets or up hills and flights of stairs — and they’re much easier to take on public transportation, too.

Photo: Unsplash

What to consider when buying a backpack for travel

Finding a backpack that is right for you depends on the type of trip you are planning to go on, as well as your personal needs. With that in mind, here are some things you should consider before making your purchase:


What size backpack you’ll need will likely depend on the length of your trip. If you’ve got a short city break coming up, a smaller bag will likely do the trick. But for longer holidays, a larger backpack may be a better choice.


What’s the weather like at your destination? If it’s somewhere with a lot of rain, consider investing in a bag that is made from waterproof or water-resistant fabric. Hot countries or more active trips could benefit from a ventilated bag that will keep you and your belongings cool.


Safety is super important, so features such as compression straps, double zips and lockable closures are worth looking out for.


Due to their larger size and extensive features, travel backpacks tend to be on the pricier side. That said, they still come in a range of price points to fit different budgets.

Our favorite backpacks for travel

With those key considerations in mind, our thorough research has led us to a selection of travel backpacks that offer quality, style and practicality. Check out our favorites and find your dream backpack below.

Best travel backpacks for short breaks

Capacity: 13L

Dimensions: H43 x W26 x D20cm

Osprey’s Daylite backpack is lightweight, compact and perfect for shorter trips. Made from sustainably sourced Global Recycle Standard certified polyester, it’s designed to withstand wear and tear. The backpack has a roomy main compartment that can comfortably house all your travel essentials, as well as an internal document sleeve and zippered panels.

Safety was also a priority when designing the Daylite; it comes with multiple straps to keep it secure against your back as well as an emergency whistle. It’s pretty comfy to wear too, as it has a foam-ridged AirScape™ backpanel that provides a soft, adjustable fit. So whether you’re scaling a mountain, rocking out at a festival or weaving through spiced alleys, this backpack has got you covered.

Capacity: 16L

Dimensions: H38 x W27 x D13cm

The Kånken is a well-loved classic — and for good reason. It has a versatile design that is ideal for day trips or weekend breaks, but that can also easily be used as a bag for work or school.

The exterior is made from Vinylon F fabric, which has been crafted to be more effective at resisting water than any other synthetic fabric — making it totally ideal for strolling around rainy European cities.

It features adjustable shoulder straps so you can achieve the perfect fit, as well as two top handles for portability. The Kånken comes in 15 trendy colors, so there’s guaranteed to be a hue that speaks to you.

Capacity: 21L

Dimensions: H48 x W30 x D15cm

After a travel backpack with a sporty feel? Nike has you covered. The Elemental backpack features the classic Nike logo on a solid background available in a range of colors (we particularly like the Dark Driftwood shade for a cool, earthy look).

With a super spacious 21L capacity, it works just as well as an overnight bag as it does as a backpack for sightseeing.

Inside, there are multiple zipped pockets to keep your bits and pieces organized, with the dual-zipped main compartment offering extra security. The shoulder straps are padded for added comfort and the open mesh back panel keeps the bag well ventilated, no matter how much walking you do.

Dimensions: H28 x W26 x D10cm

Light packers will love this compact backpack from Longchamp. Folding down to the size of a paperback book, it’s super lightweight and easy to put away when not in use. It’s also simple to pack into a suitcase or holdall, making catching a plane or train completely hassle-free.

As well as being practical, the Le Pliage is a truly chic backpack. Inspired by the clean lines of origami, it has a sleek look and comes in eight sophisticated colors. It’s made from high-quality canvas that’s strong enough to carry your items with ease, and we think the leather trimming and classic gold hardware give it a luxurious feel.

Best travel backpacks for adventurous trips

Capacity: 65L

Dimensions: H62 x W38 x D25cm

Designed to be the perfect companion for long trips, the Osprey Porter 65 is a seriously impressive travel backpack. It has a generous 65L of storage space so you can comfortably pack everything you need for your journey, and even have enough room left over for a few souvenirs.

It’s equipped with multiple pockets and zippered compartments — including a padded laptop sleeve — which are sure to help keep even the most haphazard packer organized.

The Osprey features StraightJacket compression straps to minimize the size of your bag as much as possible, as well as padded foam sides to protect your belongings from knocks and bumps when traveling. And, just like the Daylite, it comes with an emergency whistle to help keep you safe while adventuring.

Practical and versatile, this backpack from Technicals can take you from your daily commute to exploring somewhere new. Designed with comfort in mind, it has ergonomic padded shoulder straps and a ventilated mesh back panel to keep you cool if you’re carrying it for long periods.

It has an internal padded sleeve that accommodates a 17-inch laptop and external stretch mesh pockets to keep water bottles secure and within easy reach. The backpack also features bungee cords that are super handy for holding jackets, saving you precious space inside the pack, as well as a reflective bike attachment point to keep it secure if you’re cycling.

Capacity: 42L

Dimensions: H50 x W33 x L23cm

Eastpak is a major player when it comes to backpacks and luggage, and they continue to deliver with the Travelpak Cnnct. Perfectly sized for use as cabin luggage, and easy to attach to a suitcase thanks to the trolley strap, the Cnnct is the ideal travel backpack for long adventures. The adjustable shoulder straps give you the perfect fit when wearing over your shoulders, and the side handles make it easy to use as a duffle, too.

Can’t go anywhere without your tech? This backpack has a padded slot for a 15-inch laptop as well as a 12.9-inch tablet, so you can rest assured that your items will remain secure on your journey. And as it’s made from durable, water-resistant polyester, you won’t have to worry about getting caught out in the rain, either.

Capacity: 28L

Dimensions: H49.5 x W30.5 x D16.5 cm

The Borealis backpack is another versatile wonder that’s fantastic for both exploring the great outdoors and wandering through interesting cities. It has two water bottle holders to help keep you hydrated and multiple pockets for organization, including an external smartphone pocket so you can store your tech within easy reach.

It’s also designed to keep you cool and comfortable, with a FlexVent™ suspension system consisting of a breathable lumbar panel to protect your back and flexible shoulder straps that mold to fit you. The roomy internal compartment has a 28L capacity, so you can pack all your essentials without any worry.

Get packing!

When it comes to buying a travel backpack, you’re pretty spoiled for choice. With so many amazing options available, you’re guaranteed to find something that suits your needs.

Just be sure to consider the kinds of trips you take most often, as well as the size, weight and comfortability of the pack prior to committing to a purchase.

As far as our picks go, we’re pretty impressed with them all. Having said that, we’re particularly keen on the Osprey Porter 65 as it’s a high-quality backpack that’s well designed and offers a ton of features that are bound to come in handy on any trip. We also think that the Nike Elemental Backpack and the Osprey Daylite Backpack are perfect choices for short stays that are also versatile enough for everyday use.

Prices updated on 22/09/22. We are not responsible for any changes made to the prices listed.

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