How To Choose The Best Travel Backpack – In Depth Guide for 2020

The Traveling Asian
The Traveling Asian

One of the most important pieces of equipment you can have when traveling is a travel backpack. It is very important to pick the right backpack for yourself as traveling around can be quite a hurdle. You need to make sure everything is right, because if it’s not right them you might run into some problems.

For instance, if a backpack is too big then it might carry some extra weight which is something you might not want. Or it might be over the size limit to carry your bag on the plane. If it’s too small, then you might not be able to carry all the items you want to carry. Wrong material? Well you might have rips and tears or even having it get wet from the rain.

As you can see, there are lots of areas in which you have to know about before buying a travel backpack.

And with millions of travel backpacks around on the market for sale, it can be very confusing to know which is the right one to buy.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to find out which backpack will be a good fit for you.

When I was first traveling around, I made the mistake of buying a cheap backpack thinking it will be enough for my travels. Little did I know that the backpack I bought wasn’t even meant for travel purposes. It was flimsy and made out of not so good quality of materials. When it rained, all my stuff got immediately soaked. Not really a great time for me.

Which is why, after that experience, I spent ages doing research on what backpack makes the best travel backpacks.

After all, there are tons of backpacks all over the world to buy.

How do you know which backpack is the right one for you?

Well today is your lucky day!

In this post, I will highlight all the important aspects that you need to know before buying a backpack as well as how to choose the right one for you.

What To Look For In A Good Travel Backpack

When you are looking to buy a new travel backpack, there are some things you want to make sure that it has. Such as durability, water proof, good quality, price etc. You want to make sure the backpack is something that will last you for many years to come.

Here is a short list of things you should look for when buying a backpack:

  • Water Resistant – When buying a backpack, you want to make sure it has some sort of water resistant capabilities. It doesn’t have to be 100% waterproof, but enough to where your entire backpack won’t get soaked in case of any heavy rain. You never know how the weather might be in certain areas of your travel, and being prepared for all kinds of weathers will make your trip a lot easier. I recommend getting a backpack with treated nylon fiber material as many people prefer those kinds of materials for their backpack. Also you want something that is pretty thick to block out the water and is also pretty lightweight to carry around for those long hikes.
  • Many Compartments – You want to look for a bag that has many different compartments all around. This allows you to separate your items in different groups which makes it easier to access and also find the items you need. For instance, my keys and accessories are in my inner side compartments, my shoes in the bottom compartment, my clothes in the main compartment. This allows you to know exactly where each item is without having to spend so much time looking around.
  • Multiple Opening Areas – The reason you want a backpack that has multiple areas to open is that it makes getting your things a lot easier. If your backpack only opens from the top, then you have to spend a lot of time digging down into your backpack to find things. However if your backpack is able to open from the front or bottom, then it makes grabbing your items much more easier.
  • Lockable Zippers – You want to make sure that each compartment of the backpack will have two zippers in which you can overlap and lock together. This makes it safe to travel around as you don’t have to worry about people opening your back and stealing your stuff. Now although I am not really too worried about people opening my bag as I don’t really carry any expensive things or important information in it, it does provide however a peace of mind knowing your stuff is safe. Also when you are going to lock your bags, make sure the lock that you use is TSA-friendly as these locks will have special release areas where only the TSA is able to open the lock without breaking it.
  • Padded Hip/Shoulder Straps – Carrying a heavy backpack can be very uncomfortable. Especially on your shoulders and hip areas as the backpack will constantly be pushing downwards on you. However if you have a backpack with padded straps then it will help take some of that pressure off you and be a lot more bearable to wear.
  • Back Support – You want to avoid backpacks that have flat backs. Look for a backpack that has some lumbar back support in which it can help improve your posture as well as distributing the weight more evenly.
  • Support Frame – You want to make sure that your backpack has an internal support frame of some kind. Some backpacks don’t have these frames, but you definitely want them. A good frame provides good back support and helps keep your stuff secure. Most backpack these days do have internal support frames, but occasionally you will also find backpacks with outer support frames. Try to get internal frames if possible as it’ll look nicer and also make moving around be a lot easier.

Some extras you might want to consider:

  • Weight – One thing you might want to consider before buying a backpack is how much it weights. A heavier backpack might have more features or be more durable but it’ll also tire you out much faster from carrying it so much. A lighter backpack might have less features but can be easily carried around places.
  • Wheels – Some backpacks nowadays even come with wheels. You want to ask yourself something first, and that is how often or long are you going to be traveling? For people who rarely travel or go on short trips, a backpack with wheels might not be the best option. Now if you are expecting to go on a really long hike or trip, then maybe having a backpack with wheels might be beneficial as you don’t have to carry it around that long and instead just pull it from the ground.
  • Expandable Capabilities – If you are somebody like me who loves to buy stuff then having a back that can expand is very beneficial. A normal backpack wouldn’t be able to expand bigger than it’s original size so you are limited in the amount of items you can carry. However if you find a bag that has expandable capabilities then you are able to store more items in the bag than other kinds of bags.

What Size Backpack Is Best For You?

This is probably something that has come up on many peoples minds when buying a travel backpack. However the right answer is, there is no right answer for that question. After all, backpacks are very personal. You need to buy a backpack that is proportional to your body and fits all of your needs.

For instance, you don’t want a backpack that is too big where it’ll make it hard to carry and also weighs you down. You also don’t want a backpack too small where you won’t be able to carry a lot of things. You want a backpack that fits perfectly for you. If a backpack is not suited right for you, it can cause many problems such as not being balanced properly or can even cause you back pain.

You want a backpack that is big enough to hold all of your stuff and also have a little bit more room for some extra stuff.

If you find a backpack that feels comfortable, is able to fit all of your items, has some extra room to store some other items, then you have found the best backpack for you to buy.

You might have to try out different backpacks to get the feel of them, and this might take awhile. But it is worth it. Some manufacturers even offer suggestions on what sizes you should get relative to your torso and waist size. However those are just suggestions. The best way is still trying things out yourself personally.

I recommend going to any good camping or outdoor type store as they will most likely have a backpack suitable for you to try out. When trying these out, ask them if they are able to stuff things inside so you can get a feel of the weight and see just how good it really is.

Do note however that the bigger your backpack is, the less likely it is that you’ll be able to carry it onto the airplane. Because airlines tend to have a size restriction on the size of carry on bags you are allowed to bring. A common size bag for checking through is: 27″ x 21″ x 14″. – Do know that although this is a common size used by some airlines, sizes will still vary greatly depending on which airline you choose. So be sure you do some research before you buy.

How Much Should You Spend On A Travel Backpack

Travel Backpacks comes in all different shapes and sizes. Depending on the brand and materials used, some backpacks can range as low as $50 dollars all the way to $300 or more.

Many backpacks will come with tons of extra things that bring up the price, however many of those things you really don’t need.

Look for one that suits you the best.

Now i’m not saying you should go out and immediately buy a $200 or 300 dollar backpack, simply because I really don’t think that is necessary. Now for under $100 dollars, you can probably get some pretty decent backpacks. However don’t just go for the cheapest one out there. You want to buy something that is comfortable for you and fits all of your needs.

I round recommend spending about $100-150 for a backpack that is best suited for you.

My List Of Best Travel Backpacks To Buy

1 ) Osprey Packs Farpoint 40

Lightweight, streamlined and full-featured, the Osprey Farpoint 40 travel pack is an ideal travel pack for light-packing, fast-moving globetrotters. Carry it as a duffel, messenger bag or backpack.

Size: 38-40L

Features:

  • Large zippered panel gives access to main compartment; zippers have lockable sliders (locks sold separately)
  • Zippered rear flap stows and protects hipbelt and harness when not in use as a backpack
  • Padded top and side handles for hand carrying; detachable messenger-style shoulder strap
  • Laptop and tablet sleeve secure in lockable compartment; fits up to a 15 in. device
  • 2 front compression straps and 2 internal compression straps to keep your load secure
  • Dual front mesh pockets; zippered stash pocket
  • Internal front-flap zippered mesh pocket

2 ) Osprey Porter 46 Travel Pack

Product image for Diablo Red

A perennial bestseller, the Osprey Porter 46 is a weekend getaway-ready travel bag that converts easily to a technical backpack, complete with padded hipbelt, shoulder harness and laptop sleeve.

Size: 46L

Features:

  • Convenient back-panel laptop compartment simplifies access for security checks and allows easier access to main compartment
  • Foam structure extends around bottom panel keeping the pack upright for easier packing
  • Stowaway padded hip belt and stowaway shoulder harness with adjustable sternum strap can be used independently of one another
  • Straight Jacket™ compression with padded wings helps protect and secure any size load
  • Updated front panel organization pocket features lockable zippers
  • Rear panel laptop sleeve offers better security than last year’s model
  • Rescue-whistle buckle
  • Padded top and side grab handles allow for comfortable toting
  • Easy zip access to large main compartment with lockable zipper; dual internal zippered side pockets
  • Zippered top pocket provides easy access to toiletries and liquids
  • Reinforced cord loops to attach an Osprey Daylite daypack (sold separately)
  • D-ring attachments permit you to add a shoulder carry strap (not included)
  • This item meets carry-on size restrictions for most airlines (size not to exceed 45 linear inches when adding L+W+H; this is subject to change, so check with your airline)

3 ) Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Pack

Product image for Side view (Volcanic Grey)

Lightweight, streamlined and full-featured, the Osprey Farpoint 55 is an ideal travel pack for fast-moving globetrotters.

Size: 53 — 55 L

Features:

  • Large panel zip access to main compartment
  • Lockable sliders on main compartment zipper (locks sold separately)
  • Dual front compression straps
  • Dual front mesh pockets
  • Heat-embossed, scratch-free zippered stash pocket
  • Padded top and side handles
  • Zippered rear flap stows and protects hip belt and harness
  • Stowaway back panel, harness and hip belt
  • Laptop and tablet sleeve secure in lockable compartment; fits up to a 15 in. device
  • 2 internal compression straps hold contents securely
  • Internal front-flap zippered mesh pocket
  • Farpoint 55 pack comes with a detachable Farpoint daypack to carry essentials for a hike in the hills or an excursion downtown

4 ) Osprey Porter 30 Travel Pack

Product image for Mineral Teal

The best of all worlds—you can carry the lightweight, streamlined Osprey Porter 30 on to the airplane, and then convert it into an adventure-ready, technical backpack at your destination.

Size: 30L

Features:

  • Convenient back-panel laptop compartment simplifies access for security checks and allows easier access to main compartment
  • Foam structure extends around bottom panel keeping the pack upright for easier packing
  • Stowaway padded hip belt and stowaway shoulder harness with adjustable sternum strap can be used independently of one another
  • Straight Jacket™ compression with padded wings helps protect and secure any size load
  • Updated front panel organization pocket features lockable zippers; dual internal zippered side pockets
  • Rear panel laptop sleeve offers better security than last year’s model
  • Rescue-whistle buckle
  • Padded top and side grab handles allow for comfortable toting
  • Easy zip access to large main compartment with lockable zipper; dual internal zippered side pockets
  • Zippered top pocket provides easy access to toiletries and liquids
  • Reinforced cord loops to attach an Osprey Daylite daypack (sold separately)
  • Reinforced cord loops to attach an Osprey Daylite daypack (sold separately)
  • This item meets carry-on size restrictions for most airlines (size not to exceed 45 linear inches when adding L+W+H; this is subject to change, so check with your airline)

5 ) Osprey Farpoint 80 Travel Pack

Product image for Volcanic Grey

Lightweight, streamlined and full-featured, the Osprey Farpoint 80-liter travel pack is ideal for fast-moving globetrotters who either like to take a lot along or plan to be gone awhile.

Size: 78 – 80L

Features:

  • Large panel zipper access to main compartment
  • Lockable sliders on main compartment zipper (locks sold separately)
  • Dual front compression straps
  • Dual front mesh pockets
  • Padded top and side handles
  • Zippered rear flap stows and protects hipbelt and harness
  • Stowaway back panel, harness and hipbelt
  • 2 internal compression straps secure the contents
  • Internal front-flap zippered mesh pocket

6 ) Osprey Porter 65 Travel Pack

Product image for Diablo Red

A nifty pack that doubles as both travel duffel and backpack, the Osprey Porter 65 offers plenty of ways to haul your gear and keep it organized on your next big adventure.

Size: 65

Features:

  • Convenient back-panel laptop compartment simplifies access for security checks and allows easier access to main compartment
  • Foam structure extends around bottom panel keeping the pack upright for easier packing
  • 65-liter storage capacity and organization are ideal for longer, out-of-town trips
  • Stowaway padded hipbelt and stowaway shoulder harness with adjustable sternum strap can be used independently of one another
  • StraightJacket™ compression with padded wings helps protect and secure any size load
  • Updated front panel organization pocket features lockable zippers; dual internal zippered side pockets
  • Rear panel laptop sleeve offers better security than previous models
  • Rescue-whistle buckle
  • Padded top and side grab handles allow for comfortable toting
  • Large lower zippered compartment and dual internal zippered side pockets keep everything organized
  • Zippered top pocket provides easy access to toiletries and liquids
  • Reinforced cord loops to attach an Osprey Daylite daypack (sold separately)
  • D-ring attachments permit you to add a shoulder carry strap (not included)

7 ) REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Pack 

Product image for Black

You’re free to roam with the REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 pack, designed to be your perfect travel companion for destinations near and far. It boasts plenty of storage and organization.

Size: 40 L

Features:

  • Rugged, durable rip stop nylon withstands whatever the road throws your way
  • Lightly padded shoulder straps provide carrying comfort
  • Zippered back panel cover protects straps while in transport
  • Ventilated mesh back panel promotes breathability
  • Full-zip design makes packing and unpacking easy
  • Hidden daisy chain on the front of the bag lets you lash gear when you need it, and conceals when you don’t
  • Easy-access side panel keeps travel essentials convenient and well organized
  • Access port on the left side of the pack accommodates a hydration reservoir tube (reservoir not included)
  • Sleeve along back panel can hold a 3L hydration reservoir or a 15 in. laptop
  • Dual bottle holders keep water handy while you’re hiking
  • Always ready for bad weather, the stowable raincover deploys quickly
  • Compression straps and load-lifters keep the weight of the pack close to your back for stability
  • Trekking-pole attachments tuck out of the way when not in use
  • Side and top handles make it easy to grab and go
  • Sternum-strap buckle doubles as a survival whistle
  • Lockable zippers keep bag contents secure while traveling
  • Size maximizes capacity for carry-on bag; carry-on size restrictions vary, so check with your airline ahead of time to be sure

8 ) REI Co-op Ruckpack 65 Travel Pack

Product image for Dark Army Cot

Sized to handle continent-sized adventures, the REI Co-op Ruckpack 65 boasts plenty of travel-smart touches, plus comfortable, adjustable suspension descended from trail-tested REI backpacks.

Size: 63L

Features:

  • Lightly padded shoulder straps provide carrying comfort; sliding shoulder strap harness lets you adjust the fit to your torso length
  • Sternum strap offers extra support and stability and its buckle doubles as a survival whistle
  • Mesh back panel offers cushioning and ventilation to keep your back cool
  • Compression straps and load-lifters keep the weight of the pack close to your back for stability
  • Wide hipbelt is supportive and comfortable and stows away when you don’t need it
  • Includes a removable mini-pack for day trips, complete with a tablet/hydration sleeve
  • Rugged, durable ripstop nylon withstands whatever the road throws your way
  • Zippered back panel cover protects straps in case you want to check your pack as luggage
  • Full-zip design makes packing and unpacking easy
  • Hidden daisy chain on the front of the bag lets you lash gear when you need it, and conceals when you don’t
  • Easy-access side panel keeps travel essentials convenient and well organized
  • Access port on the left side of the pack accommodates a hydration reservoir tube (reservoir not included)
  • Sleeve along back panel can hold a 3L hydration reservoir or a 15 in. laptop
  • Dual bottle holders keep water handy; convenient sunglass stash pocket at top of pack
  • Always ready for bad weather, the stowable raincover deploys quickly
  • Trekking-pole attachments tuck out of the way when not in use
  • Side and top handles make Ruckpack easy to grab and go
  • Lockable zippers keep bag contents secure while traveling

9 ) Eagle Creek Gear Warrior Travel Pack

Product image for Arctic Blue

The 45-liter Eagle Creek Gear Warrior travel pack is a lightweight, mega-durable, carry-on meets an every day duffel. It’s built to do and carry whatever you need it to.

Size: 43L

Features:

  • Zip-away backpack straps, removable shoulder strap and multiple grab handles for convenient transport
  • Book-style opening gives you full access to its contents
  • Zippered 360° bottom expansion gives you 8 liters of additional carry capacity when needed
  • Top 3-1-1 pocket with key fob and bottom stash pocket gives you quick access to your belongings
  • Safety whistle located on pack straps
  • Front compression straps adjust to compress contents and lash gear to bag
  • Interior compression wings shift for a snug fit, to keep clothing secure
  • Sustainable fabrics include 100% recycled PET ripstop polyester and recycled coating on durable back fabric with laminated exoskeleton to reinforce high-wear areas
  • Water-resistant fabrics with seamless composite fabrication add strength
  • Large zippered door panel pocket organizes your essentials
  • Corners reinforced with Hypalon for maximum protection
  • Lockable zippers with option to lock through Central Lock Point deters pick-pocketing; lock sold separately
  • Loop zipper pulls enables access into bag even when wearing gloves
  • Colorful contrast accents make the bag easy to spot on a conveyor belt
  • Reflective panel and zipper pulls offer nighttime visibility
  • This item meets carry-on size restrictions for most airlines (size not to exceed 45 linear inches when adding L+W+H; this is subject to change, so check with your airline)

10 ) Osprey Atmos AG 65 Pack

Product image for 3/4 front view (Abyss Grey)

Don’t abandon comfort just because you’re leaving your creature comforts at home. The Osprey Atmos AG 65 pack uses Anti-Gravity™ technology to distribute the load and provide a dreamlike fit.

Size: 62 – 68L

Features:

  • Top-loading main compartment with padded 3D suspension contouring promotes ventilation and upper body mobility
  • Upper and lower side compression straps reduce bulk and stabilize the load for optimal weight distribution and carrying comfort
  • LightWire™ peripheral frame connects the upper load lifters and the central core of the pack to the hipbelt to spread the load
  • Anti-Gravity ventilated mesh back panel contours automatically to the body, distributing weight and providing an outstanding fit
  • Adjustable harness and Fit-on-the-Fly™ hipbelt allow you to fine tune the fit for maximum comfort
  • Removable floating top lid contains 2 zippered pockets with web attachment points
  • Integrated FlapJacket™ protects contents from foul weather and rain during lidless use
  • Zippered hipbelt pockets and dual-access stretch mesh side pockets with InsideOut™ compression straps
  • Pack exterior also features front stretch mesh pocket, 2 ice tool loops and Stow-on-the-Go™ trekking pole attachment
  • Pack bottom contains zippered sleeping bag compartment with a removable divider
  • Removable sleeping pad straps; sternum strap has an integrated safety whistle
  • Hydration sleeve accommodates reservoirs up to 3L (sold separately)

Now we know buying a backpack can be a pretty hard thing to do.

After all, there is just so many different makes and models out there, it is hard for you to choose.

The good thing is that you are always able to try them out before you buy them. And using our helpful guides listed above, choosing your backpacks will be an easier job than ever. But it all boils down to how well suited you are with the backpack. If it does everything you need, has that extra space, is comfortable to wear, then you have found your backpack.

Also if you are interested in reading some of my other posts about traveling, you can do so by clicking these links:

Or you can check out all my blog posts by click this link.

Hope you have a safe and fun trip~


Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and are at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I only recommend products and companies that I have personally used and all the income that I generate from this will be used to help maintain the site and make it a much better place.