What makes a great travel backpack? It should be roomy enough to hold everything you need, whether you’re using it as a carry-on or your only bag for your trip, but also have plenty of pockets and other ways to keep all your gear neat and orderly.
The best travel backpacks are also comfortable to carry, because no one wants a sore back or shoulders to ruin their travels. And they need to be durable enough to be stashed in a plane’s overhead compartment, thrown in the trunk of a rental car, taken on outdoor adventures, and used to explore a new destination.
My Picks for the Best Travel Backpacks Available Today
I’ve rounded up some great travel backpacks in a range of sizes and styles to match your travel plans and personality. Every backpack here offers lots of functionality and storage options, and I’ve sorted the list into different categories (e.g., best overall, best splurge, etc.) as well as all-around great backpacks for travel from popular brands.
NO OVERHEAD ANXIETY: 12 Best Underseat Carry-On Bags for Every Kind of Traveler
1. Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack
Best Overall Travel Backpack
The Allpa 35 liter travel backpack from Cotopaxi helps you be prepared for almost anything. Store essentials in the main compartment, which features a suitcase-style zippered opening and zippered mesh compartments for optimal organization. A side zipper offers easy access to the interior for grabbing anything you need, and all external zippers have theft-proof webbing sewn across the openings.
Padded laptop and tablet sleeves offer protection when on the go, while a subdivided top compartment corrals cell phones, passports, and other smaller items. For maximum comfort and versatility, the backpack features contoured shoulder straps, a removable hip belt, an adjustable sternum strap, and four reinforced grab handles for easy carrying no matter the situation or adventure. Cotopaxi’s Allpa series also includes a larger version of the backpack as well as tote, duffel, and hip pack bags.
2. Nomatic Travel Pack
Best Splurge Travel Backpack
Ideal for shorter trips, the sleek and stylish Nomatic Travel Pack backpack is made from water-resistant materials and can expand from 20 liters in size to 30 liters for stashing all your must-haves. A full-perimeter zipper and clamshell-style opening make it easy to pack, while a TSA-friendly flap helps get your tech through airport security quickly.
VACATION READY: 10 Most Comfortable Travel Clothes Brands for the Whole Family
The backpack from Nomatic offers a slew of pockets and compartments for storing sunglasses, shoes, and other travel gear plus features like a magnetic water bottle pocket, RFID-safe pocket, and retractable key leash. There’s a luggage handle pass-through, and the bag’s straps can transition from a backpack to a briefcase-style carrying option.
Where to Buy: Nomatic
3. Eddie Bauer Stowaway Packable 20L Backpack
Best Budget Travel Backpack
The highly affordable Eddie Bauer Stowaway backpack makes for an ideal travel companion. Use it as a carry-on for your next flight, or fold it up into its own carrying pocket and stash in your suitcase to use while hiking, shopping, or hitting the beach during your trip. Available in a variety of colors and prints, it’s made of lightweight, durable ripstop polyester and features a lightly padded mesh back panel and adjustable shoulder straps for comfortable carrying.
TRAVEL IN STYLE: 12 Best Luggage Brands That Are Stylish and Built to Last
External zippered pockets, elasticized mesh side pockets, and an interior Velcro pocket can hold everything from water bottles and wallets to sunscreen and cell phones. Four front lashing loops make it easy to clip on extra gear for more active adventures.
Where to Buy: Eddie Bauer
4. Peak Design 45L Travel Backpack
Peak Design’s 45-liter travel backpack is an option that’s well suited for multi-day trips and offers plenty of features to help you stay organized, including padded laptop and tablet sleeves, expandable side pockets, hidden pockets for things like your passport and wallet, and zippered access to the interior of the bag from the top, side, and rear. Concealed external straps can add to your carrying capacity, and the backpack can contract to 35 liters for use as a day bag during your travels.
5. Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack
Available in three sizes, the Dakota neoprene backpack from Dagne Dover has amassed some 2,000 glowing reviews. The large size offers a zippered padded laptop compartment that fits most 16-inch laptops, an interior slip tablet sleeve, an exterior top-panel phone pocket, and lots of small interior and exterior zippered and mesh pockets for chargers, snacks, and other travel necessities. The backpack is made of durable, water-resistant neoprene, while the included shoe bag is made of recycled polyester.
Where to Buy: Dagne Dover
6. Away The Everywhere Zip Backpack
Away’s The Everywhere travel backpack has minimalist good looks, is made of water-resistant nylon, and features an extended zipper clamshell opening to the main compartment for easy packing and unpacking. Interior zipper and slip pockets, a detachable key clip, and several external pockets help keep things organized, while a padded 15-inch laptop pocket protects your electronics. Padded straps, a leather-top handle, and a trolley sleeve provide carrying options, and the backpack can also be stored flat in your suitcase when not needed.
Where to Buy: Away
7. L.L.Bean Approach Travel Pack 45L
The L.L.Bean Approach Travel Pack is made of durable nylon and can stand up to both outdoor adventures and crowded airplanes. Mesh interior sections keep dirty laundry or shoes away from the rest of your gear, and exterior compression straps help maximize your space. There’s also a padded sleeve for up to 13-inch laptops and a top compartment that can be opened easily from both inside and outside the backpack. And whether you’re lugging it through city streets or along a mountain trail, the adjustable straps and waist belt help make things comfortable.
Where to Buy: L.L.Bean
8. Nixon Ransack Backpack
The 26-liter Nixon Ransack travel backpack features a polyester exterior made from recycled ocean plastics, side water bottle pocket, and padded shoulder straps. A side-entry padded laptop sleeve can hold laptops up to 15 inches, while a smaller zippered pocket is ideal for cell phones. More pockets and compartments inside help everything stay tidy.
9. Baggallini 3-In-1 Convertible Backpack with RFID Phone Wristlet
You can call this 3-in-1 convertible backpack from Baggallini a multitasking marvel. Available in a range of solid colors and prints, it can function as either a backpack or crossbody bag thanks to its adjustable, convertible strap. There’s a roomy main compartment for stashing all your travel essentials, plus lots of zippered and slip interior and exterior pockets for water bottles, hand sanitizer, and other items you want at the ready. The removable RFID-protected wristlet has 3 card slots and plenty of space for a cell phone for when you want to travel light.
10. Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack
There’s a place for almost everything in Timbuk2’s Never Check expandable travel backpack, which features a side-access padded laptop compartment for up to 15-inch laptops, external quick access pocket for passports and boarding passes, and an expandable zippered water bottle pocket. Weatherproof zippers, padded shoulder straps and carrying handles, and an adjustable, removable sternum strap make for comfort and durability.
11. Everlane ReNew Transit Backpack
Get through TSA security lines with ease thanks to Everlane’s RenNew backpack’s 15-inch exterior laptop pocket. Made from 100% recycled polyester, the pack has lots of zippered and slip pockets inside and out for stashing passports, cell phones, magazines, headphones, and water bottles. There’s a top handle for an additional carrying option, or use the pass-through strap to attach it to a luggage handle if you’re traveling with more gear.
Where to Buy: Everlane
More from FamilyVacationist:
- 10 Wildly Adaptable Crossbody Bags That Are Perfect for Travel
- 17 Best Flight Booking Sites for Cheap Airfares
- 10 Sturdy Beach Bags with Special Features and Style
At FamilyVacationist, we’re parents and travel experts who use our real-world, real-person travel expertise to help you make great decisions about travel. Here’s why that matters.