10 Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

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Back view of a guy wearing the Cotopaxi Allpa travel backpack in a green park with a bridge overhead
Cotopaxi Allpa – Photo credit: Casey Handley (CleverHiker.com)

Paring down to the essentials into one single travel bag, whether you’re heading a few hours away or traveling thousands of miles, can be fun and freeing as long as you have the right gear – and the right backpack to pack it in.

Our team at CleverHiker has spent the last 10 years traveling all over North America, from Calgary to Cancun and Hawaii to Hartford, testing more than 20 of the top travel backpacks. This guide represents the best of the best backpacks when it comes to price, comfort, and durability, as well as considerations like carry-on size and weight.

If you’re looking for more room and versatility out of your travel bag, pop over to our guide to the best duffel bags. For those who love a well-organized backpack, consider picking up some durable, compressible stuff sacks or packing cubes. And when you need easy access to your small essentials, you can’t beat a quality fanny pack.

Quick Picks for Travel Backpacks

Check out this quick list of our favorite travel backpacks, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

Best travel backpack overall: Cotopaxi Allpa ($200)

Best budget travel backpack: Ebags Mother Lode ($100)

Most organized travel backpack for one-bag trips: Tortuga Outbreaker ($350)

Best travel backpack for photographers: Peak Design Travel Backpack ($300)

Most versatile & stylish travel backpack: Nomatic Travel Pack ($300)

Best travel duffel bag: Patagonia Black Hole Duffel ($159)

Travel backpack with the best safety features: Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 ($290)

Durable & highly compressible travel bag: Osprey Farpoint Men’s ($185) / Fairview 40 Women’s ($185)

Most protective travel backpack: Osprey Sojourn Porter ($195)

What’s new

The CleverHiker team has been testing tons of new travel backpacks against our go-tos while we’ve traveled across the country on planes, trains, and automobiles – and there’s been quite a shakeup in the order of our list.

  • The Cotopaxi Allpa moves to the number one spot due to it’s excellent balance of organization, functional pockets, cushy padding, and upbeat colorways.

  • Thanks to impressive affordability and a burly build, the Ebags Mother Lode is a close second that stands out for it’s expandable design and efficient compression straps.

  • We added the Osprey Sojourn Porter 46 for it’s industry-leading durability, precise sizing as an airport carry-on, and cavernous main compartment.

Cotopaxi Allpa 35

Best travel backpack overall for organization, durability & style

Price: $200

Weight: 3 lb. 8 oz.

Dimensions: 20 X 12 X 10 in.

Options: Allpa 28 & 42


  • Main compartment opens fully
  • Durable
  • Stylish
  • Streamlined organization
  • Hideaway straps
  • Raincover included


  • Expensive
  • Material marks easily

The Cotopaxi Allpa has everything we look for in a travel pack – streamlined organization, easy-access pockets, a comfortable carry, and unique style. The main compartment organization is about as close to perfect as it comes for us. There are four zipper compartments of different sizes for keeping things tidy – s0 there’s no need to add organizing cubes or stuff sacks – and they’re all made of mesh which makes it easy to see what’s inside. The trendy colorways stand out but aren’t abrasive, offering a more interesting design and flair than the endless wash of black backpacks out there. We’ve been using the durable Allpa pack for several years of travel now, and the stitching, hardware, and outer materials look just as good as the first time we used it.

Ebags Mother Lode

Best budget travel backpack

Price: $100

Weight: 3 lb. 15 oz.

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 10

Other Options: Mother Lode Jr.


  • Affordable
  • Fits large laptops (up to 19")
  • Lightweight
  • Streamlined organization
  • Main compartment opens fully


  • No hipbelt
  • Laptop compartment isn’t as padded as others

With the features of a premium bag and a price tag from the bargain bin, the Ebags Mother Lode travel backpack is an incredible value for the money. This expandable bag opens up suitcase-style to a tidy internal organization system with one large mesh zipper pocket and a modular “shelf” with compression straps. The shelf helps keep things, like clean and dirty clothes, separate, or it can be unclipped to make one large compartment for packing whatever way you like. We love a well-organized and durable bag, and this model from EBags has an impressive number of smartly-placedpockets, burly zippers, and 4 highly effective compression straps. As long as you don’t mind the lack of a hipbelt, the Mother Lode is an excellent choice for travelers with expensive taste and a small budget.

Tortuga Outbreaker 40L

Most organized travel backpack for one-bag trips

Price: $350

Weight: 4 lb. 8 oz.

Dimensions: 21.7 x 13.8 x 7.9 in.

Other Options: 30L Weekender


  • Tons of organization
  • Main compartment opens fully
  • Adjustable & supportive suspension system
  • Heavily padded TSA laptop pocket (up to 16”)
  • Lots of electronics storage
  • Large waistbelt with compartment
  • Sleek design


  • Expensive
  • Heavier than others
  • Bulky

If you’re the type of traveler who wants everything to have its own designated space, the Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L will be your new favorite travel companion – you won’t find a better organization system on this list. The spacious main compartment opens up fully like a suitcase and has a handy mesh pocket to separate dirty clothes. It also has quick-grab pockets on the exterior for wallet items, small essentials, and a huge TSA-ready electronics compartment. If you’re carrying electronics on every trip, this bag has our favorite laptop compartment; it’s heavily padded and fleece-lined to keep your valuables protected, and can fit laptops up to 16 inches.  So many pockets may be overkill for some, but it’s perfect if you have a lot of little things to keep tidy or you love a solid, intuitive storage system. All of these features make this travel pack feel much larger than it is, and at 40 liters you’ll be able to fit everything you need for up to a wee – or longer.

Peak Design Travel 45

Best travel backpack for photographers

Price: $300

Weight: 4 lb. 8 oz.

Dimensions: 2 x 13 x 11 in. (fully expanded) / 22 x 13 x 9.5 in. (compressed)


  • Highly padded
  • Waterproof
  • Lots of access points
  • Handles on all sides
  • Stylish
  • Streamlined organization
  • TSA laptop pocket
  • Hideaway harness
  • Theft-deterrent zippers


  • Expensive
  • Heavier than some others
  • No compressions straps / bulky

The Peak Design Travel Backpack is the epitome of smart, elegant design. With its multiple access points (back, side, and front) and slick expansion system, this bag can be tailored to countless uses whether you’re heading into a high-mountain expedition in Nepal or just taking a quick daytrip to your local trails. It really shines when you have a lot of camera gear, gaming equipment, or electronics to tote, but don’t think that this bag is just for the techy crowds. Its stylish look and streamlined organization will work well for anyone wanting a single bag that can fit many niches – our take on this pack is if you’re traveling anywhere, you’ll need a pack just like this to stay organized and stylish. The biggest downside is the steep price tag, but the heavy padding, weather resistance, and stellar safety features are worth every penny for a backpack that will last for years and years of travel.

Nomatic 30L Travel Pack

Most versatile & stylish travel backpack

Price: $300

Weight: 4 lb. 2.3 oz.

Dimensions: 18.5 x 12 x 9.5 in.

Other Options: 40L Travel Bag


  • Stylish
  • Waterproof zippers
  • TSA laptop compartment
  • Main compartment opens fully
  • RFID safe pocket
  • Removable hipbelt / hideaway straps
  • Durable materials


  • Expensive
  • Heavier than some others
  • Bulky profile

The Nomatic Travel Pack is definitely the most sleek-looking bag we tested, and it’s also chock-full of useful features. This bag is a modern and sleek take on suitcase-style backpacks, and easily transitions from a professional business tip to a trendy daily carry whether you’re in the city, suburbs, or open country. It expands from 20L to 30L making it versatile enough to work as an everyday backpack, a commuter bag, and a travel bag. We also love how many different types of storage there are, including cleverly placed magnetically expandable water bottle pockets, TSA-ready laptop and tablet sleeves with plenty of padding, and a large zippered mesh internal pocket. The Nomatic Travel Pack is very expensive, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better bag if style, durabilty and versatility are what you’re after.

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel 40

Best travel duffel bag

Price: $159

Weight: 2 lb. 8 oz.

Dimensions: 21 x 13.7 x 10.6 in.

Other Options: 55L, 70L, 100L


  • Affordable
  • Spacious
  • Water-resistant
  • Durable
  • Multiple carry options
  • Lightweight


  • Fewer pockets
  • No padded compartment for electronics
  • Not the most comfy backpack

For those times when you want to just throw everything in a bag and go, you can’t beat the convenience and durability of the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel. We’re cheating a little bit here: while the isn’t a dedicated backpack, it easily turns into one thanks to beefy padded straps that can be tucked away when not in use. Made from burly 900-denier recycled ripstop polyester, you can put this thing through the wringer season after season without having to worry about it. The outside of the pack features 20 lash points, and seam-sealed zippered pockets on the outside of the duffel make access to smaller items fast and easy The Black Hole Duffel works great for quick trips when you need to just grab and go, or for packing those extra bulky things that won’t fit in your carry-on. Check out our list of the Best Duffel Bags to see how it compares with our other favorites.

Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45

Travel backpack with the best safety features

Price: $290

Weight: 4 lb. 4.8 oz.

Dimensions: 21.7 x 13 x 7.9 in.


  • Built-in anti-theft & safety features
  • Comfortable carry
  • Main compartment opens fully
  • Stylish
  • Streamlined organization
  • Hideaway straps


  • Fewer pockets
  • Takes a second to open due to safety features

The Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 is the ultimate pack for those travelling with valuables that need to be kept safe. It comes with locking zippers, a cable lock, and slash guards in the straps. The zippers take a minute to open when they’re in the locked position, but they open up to a nicely organized bag with simple pockets. In our experience, many travel backpacks aren’t necessarily designed with comfort in mind, but the Venturesafe was the most comfortable all-day carry for us thanks to a heavily padded back flexible hipbelt, and a sturdy chest strap – a more technical feature that’s common in hiking backpacks. If keeping your things secure is your main concern, but you don’t want to sacrifice a modern aesthetic, the Venturesafe is the pack for you.

Osprey Farpoint 40 & Fairview 40

Durable & highly compressible travel bag

Price: $185

Weight: 3 lb. 8 oz. / 3 lb. 7 oz.(Farpoint/Fairview)

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 in.

Other Options: Farpoint 55 & 70 (Men’s sizes), Fairview 55 & 70 (Women’s sizes)


  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Good compression system
  • Main compartment opens fully
  • Hideaway straps
  • Multiple carry options


  • Laptop compartment is not as padded as some others
  • No internal organization / pockets

The Osprey Farpoint (men’s sizes) and Fairview 40 (women’s sizes) are comfortable bags with quality construction. They have some of the most burly hardware (zippers, buckles, straps) of all the backpacks we tested, so they’re especially great for folks who tend to be hard on their gear, and for the rigors of travel – from rolling around in overhead bins and trunks to laying on the dirt, cement, and train station platforms, these packs are built to last. The Farpoint and Fairview have a simple approach to organization with little in the way of internal infrastructure, so we recommend picking up inexpensive packing cubes to maintain order. No matter how packed your bag is, we’re big fans of the well-placed internal and external compression straps that cinch it all down into a neat package. The Farpoint and Fairview can be tailored to many different travel styles with the option to carry as a backpack, a briefcase, or a messenger bag.

Osprey Sojourn Porter 46

Most protective travel backpack

Price: $195

Weight: 3 lb. 7 oz.

Dimensions: 18 x 15.8 x 12.2 in.

Other Options: 30L, 65L


  • Durable
  • Spacious
  • Good compression
  • Good suspension
  • Main compartment opens fully
  • Streamlined pocket organization


  • Bulky
  • A little large for carry-on with some airlines
  • Sidewalls can get in the way when packing

If you’re a rugged adventurer who needs an equally tough bag, you’ve found it in the Osprey Sojourn Porter. Whether you’re throwing it under your seat on a plane, carrying it on cross-country travels, or heading to the nearby park, you can rest assured that your things are protected thanks to the padded sidewalls. These rigid sidewalls can be a little cumbersome when trying to pack the bag, but they’re excellent for compressing the load, so the bag feels streamlined even when it’s packed to the gills. The opening of the Porter is more similar to a duffel, so the interior organization is minimal. Pair the Porter with some packing cubes if you prefer things to be more organized. The Porter is great for those looking for a simple, durable bag for the most adventurous excursions.


What’s Most Important to You in a Travel Backpack?


Traveling isn’t cheap: plane tickets, rental cars, hotel stays, and all of the essential gear can cost a pretty penny. That said, we’ve found that paying a little extra for a top quality bag means cost savings in the long run, since your bag will last for years. Luckily, a good travel bag doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. You’ll find stellar options at every price point below.

Best budget travel backpacks:

Best value travel backpacks:


We’re big fans of one-bag travel. Not only do you save money on checked-bag fees, but you also have less stuff holding you back from adventuring. While most of the backpacks on this list are carry-on friendly, these are our favorites that fit the most common dimensions. Be sure to check measurements ahead of time with your airline and airpot, because carry-on size varies between companies.

Best carry-on size travel backpacks for most airlines (22 x 14 x 9 in. / 21.7 x 15.7 x 9 in.):

Best small travel backpacks for small airplanes (ex. IcelandAir: 21.7 x 15.7 x 7.8 in.):


Dumping everything out of our packs as soon as we reach that hotel, hostel, or spare room is part of the experience of travel – but we want everything organized and efficient inside the bag until then. When it comes to traveling, we prefer streamlined backpacks that have a small number of highly functional and well-placed pockets. Bags with built-in dividers are also our top contenders when it comes to maintaining order.

Best travel backpacks for staying organized:

Best travel backpacks with a good balance of pockets & simplicity:


Your backpack is your constant companion for trips where you’re moving around a bunch, whether you’re on a plane, a train, or navigating your way to your next stop. It’s important to find a bag that’s comfy enough to carry all day, so that you can focus on enjoying the experience. Consider options that can be used as a messenger bag, briefcase, or backpack for versatility.

Most comfortable travel backpacks:


We’ve all been there before: you get your bag packed with your favorite outfits and hiking gear and that extra pair of shoes – and then you remember that pesky weight limit. We recommend starting with a lightweight bag to ensure you’ll use your weight allowance for the essentials.

Lightest travel backpacks:


Your bag may have to take on many different roles – daypack, purse, briefcase – so it’s good to look for one that can fill multiple niches. If you’re traveling for many hours or you’ll be hoofing it over large distances, a bag that can be carried multiple ways puts less strain on the body and is more comfortable throughout the day.


We’ve also had our bags come out of the luggage carousel looking like they were thrown into the propellers – it’s not a good look. Travel is hard on bags, so we prioritize bags that have excellent stitching, durable fabric, and a sturdy frame.

Critical Travel Backpack Considerations


The right size backpack is going to vary from person to person, but we typically think less stuff equals more comfort. We usually go for travel backpacks that are between 30 and 40L to maximize capacity for necessities while keeping everything in a small, tidy package.



Keeping things organized is key to a stress-free experience. Some travel backpacks come with a pocket or compartment for everything, but we prefer organizing our things in packing cubes for a more customizable way to keep everything neat.



The most important travel safety tip we can give is to stay hyper-aware of your surroundings, especially in places with lots of foot traffic. For additional safety, consider bringing along small luggage locks to lock zippers and swap out your current wallet for a RFID technology wallets or card sleeves to protect sensitive information sitting in your back pocket.



Carry-on size varies a lot between airlines, check your airline’s website to make sure your bag fits their dimensions. Also be sure your toiletries and liquids meet the standard of 3-1-1 (3.4 oz. liquids in 1 bag sized at 1 quart max) for carry-on. We love using refillable GoToobs for our shampoo, conditioner, and other toiletries.