Product Reviews

22 Best Travel Backpacks for Women (2023 Expert Picks)

I’m always on the search for a great backpack to handle all of the different types of travel that I do. Backpacks to carry my work laptop to and from work, a bag for a weekend trip or going on a backpacking trip all have different requirements.

The reason that I like backpacks for travel bags is because it makes travel a bit more flexible. When you have a rolling suitcase, it’s easier to transport through flat surfaces. When you need to walk through cities or cobblestone streets, it’s not so fun. Also, if you need to run for a bus or a flight, then rolling luggage is clunky and stressful!

I’m huge on finding the right backpack for every type of trip, and for women, there are some things to consider like backpacks that are built with females in mind.

Read on to find out the best backpacks for woman travelers, from daypacks, to standard travel bags to backpacking rucksacks that’ll make your trip a good one.

Let’s get started with these hand-picked options and ideas of travel bags for women! And by the way, we’ll be checking out backpacks from the following categories:


With a daypack, I break down my thinking into two different style of bags. The first style is a bag that I can bring to help carry my work laptop to and from a coworking space. For trips during which I am working remotely, I want this bag to double as a travel carry-on and as a bag to bring with me on shorter day trips.

Troubadour Ki Backpack

This small and stylish daypack is everything I’ve wanted in a travel backpack that is not too big, and fits a laptop, all while looking goooood.

Troubadour is a company I really like for their sustainability practices, and when I tried the Ki Backpack, I was truly floored with the ultimate lightweight factor of this bag, along with the pockets, materials and quality.

At only 10L, this daypack is equally like a purse, which I appreciate. Something I value in a small travel backpack is that it can also function as a cute and attractive purse for if I’m out from day to night and I want to look great, or match my bag with a nicer outfit for dinner or events.

I have so many positive things to say about this bag that they won’t all fit here! Head on over to my detailed review of the Ki Backpack to see more photos of me using this travel backpack for women.


  • Sustainable materials made of recycled plastic and vegan leather.
  • Fits most laptops and has mesh and zipper pockets for everyday items.
  • Functions as a day-to-night travel backpack, serving as a cute and classic upscale backpack.


  • The price is in the $200+ range (but it’s worth it)
  • It’s not big enough to fit a jacket or outfit changes, but that’s part of the tiny backpack charm in its design.

Away Everywhere Zip Backpack & Front Pocket Backpack

One of my favorite daypacks that I stand by as sleek, trendy, stylish and fashionable (and I’m picky), the Away Everywhere Zip Backpack is great as a personal item on a flight during travel, or simply as a day bag while you’re on a trip.

Away also makes a smaller backpack with a front pocket!

In this review about the Away Daypack, I review their old style as one of the best daypacks for female travel, because it’s slim, not bulky, not “doofy” and has plenty of inner pockets that I value.

They updated the backpack since I’ve reviewed it! The updates are great improvements to this daypack that comes in a convenient size and looks more stylish and elegant than ever.


  • Great style and design, and at 20L (17L for the front pocket), it feels light and has plenty of room for daily activities.
  • Laptop sleeve in the back of the main cavity, and a convenient zipper exterior pocket on the front.


  • Currently, it’s only made in four neutral colors, but it looks like black, gray (2 shades) and navy would satisfy most customers.
  • The price point increased to $195, but (!) Away still offers a 100-day trial, and free shipping, for you to try it out, commitment-free.

United by Blue (R)evolution 15L Commuter Backpack

I’m newish to the United by Blue brand, and I really like this slim 15L commuter backpack! It’s not too wide, and it’s very compact. It’s a slimming shape for a travel bag, and therefore looks good on women, effortlessly. This backpack is impressively lightweight, so the starting weight is almost nothing before you put your first item in.

The (R)evolution 15L backpack comes at an affordable price point for a quality bag, and what’s cool is that it’s vegan and water-resistant.

It’s also made from recycled materials like recycled polyester and nylon. Check out the set of colors it comes in, from navy to “camel.”

If you scroll down past the product information on the product page for this backpack, you may see it at markdown for final sale in some colors that are about to be discontinued. This is your chance to get $30 off!

It fits my MacBook Air perfectly. It also fits Dan’s 14” MacBook Pro snugly. The interior laptop sleeve is padded for a little bit of protection.

When packing for a trip, I like the idea of bringing a smaller backpack within a larger suitcase. This bag makes that totally possible. Because there’s not a lot of padding in the 15L Commuter Backpack, it’s neatly packable and convenient for exploring cities or commuting to a business meeting when you unpack it.

It would also be an ideal “personal item” on a flight, at its 15L size.


  • Sufficient pockets for keeping small items organized during transit and days spent sightseeing.
  • Sleek and minimal design, and lightweight and able to be packed in larger luggage for travel.
  • At under $100, I’d consider it as ‘affordable.’ As a bonus, there’s a Lifetime Guarantee.


  • Fits small laptops (13” approx.) in a padded pocket. If your laptop is larger, this is not the travel bag for you.
  • With spot clean care, it’s not exactly recommended to be machine-washable.
  • It does not have water bottle side pockets.

Everlane Renew Rucksack

This classic more vintage-style daypack or rucksack is great for the woman who wants to be out for a day sightseeing with a versatile bag that matches a classic outfit.

With color choices in a golden brown and standard black, a woman focused on fashion would be cool with either option. The Everlane Renew Rucksack has a volume of 16.5L, which is an agreeable middle ground for being able to stuff in some layers like a sweater and scarf.

It also has a padded laptop compartment, which is crucial for traveling remote workers and digital nomads.

If you’re looking for a waist bag or belt bag to pair with this backpack, check out Everlane’s fanny pack, which made my list of the best fanny packs for travel.


  • For security, it has a drawstring top closure, under which you close the flap and latch it.
  • The unique style would be great with a peacoat, summer dress or really anything you’ve packed on a trip!
  • The price!


It’s hard to find any cons, but if I had to give one, it’s that this is a tall-shaped backpack, measuring 18” in length, which could concern short women.

Make sure to go to Rakuten to see if you can get any cash back with your purchase! If you’re a new customer, you’ll get $30. Check it out!

Up Seoul Lifestyle Daypack by Deuter

Upon seeing this daypack out of its box, I liked how it’s streamlined and chilled-out. With this great Turmeric color that I chose, it’s great for all seasons, especially spring and summer.

One thing I appreciate about the size of this travel daypack is that it’s narrow, which, if you see below in the large backpack section, is also true for Deuter’s women’s large-scale travel backpack of 60+10L (70L).

The Up Seoul Daypack is described as 16+10L, meaning it has an overall capacity of 26L. For me, this is what I think works well as a commuter bag or a daypack for a road trip or vacation. With an overall capacity of 26L, I can fit in a light jacket, some food for during the day, a book or two and maybe a slim pair of shoes.

This bag is urban yet natural, great for a woman who lives a city life and enjoys elements of sustainability. It’s made entirely from recycled components! I think that’s cool for being eco-friendly.

Among the features that made me excited about this daypack are the zipper-around flap (really unique), the two side pockets that fit a slim water bottle and a dedicated laptop compartment (for computers up to 15”).


  • Super eco-friendly (100% recycled material and Green Button Certified) product.
  • Narrow, rather than wide, shape that looks slimming for women.
  • Zipper-around closure top flap that I haven’t seen on other bags (great for being theft-proof in cities).


  • Side pockets do not fit wide water bottles.
  • Bottom waist strap cannot be stowed away, so it hangs out and can look ‘strappy.’

Make sure to go to Rakuten to see if you can get any cash back with your purchase! If you’re a new customer, you’ll get $30. Check it out!

Small Expandable Knack Pack

The smallest Knack Pack from Knack Bags is a 15-liter backpack designed to be your go-to on a daily commute. It fits a 13” laptop and has a dedicated bottom storage compartment dedicated to holding your laptop charger and plug. Pretty cool.

We tried out the small Knack Pack both as a day bag to take to work, and as a daypack for a day trip out to Long Island. What’s important to know about this bag is that it expands quickly out to 27L, to fit some minimalist-style needs for an entire weekend trip.

I’d say this works well if you’re traveling in spring or summer and don’t need layers. You also may not be able to fit a whole pair of shoes in there with your clothes, accessories and toiletries, but this bag does the trick in converting well from one size to the next.

You can see lots more detail in our dedicated Small Expandable Knack product review, in which we list all of our observations.


  • The small-size Knack Bag has a thoughtful size that many commuters and day trippers will find handy.
  • You could fit your gym gear in its inner cavity, while storing headphones, charger plugs and random items (travel-sized toiletries, keys, accessories) in its handy mesh pockets.
  • Specifically for travel, it’s designed to fit both in overhead airplane compartments and under airplane seats.


  • First, the design is a bit boxy. I really like the technical features of this backpack, but the design leaves a bit to be desired.
  • Second, it would be a wide fit for petite women (like me) with narrow shoulders. If you are taller than 5’4” and don’t consider yourself petite, you should have no issue.

Update: Series 2: Medium Expandable Knack Pack

I recently tried out the Series 2: Medium Expandable Knack Pack in this nice Olive color.

Contrary to what I would’ve assumed, it didn’t feel too big. I think this comes from the elongated shape of this bag. It still looks slimming, even though it’s 24 liters when un-expanded, and 35 liters when expanded. It’s also only three pounds.

It fits two or three outfits when packing lightly for a (very) short trip and it fits a 15” laptop. Like the Small Expandable Knack Pack, it has those removable and packable straps, and a strong foam back panel for support during wear.

Aer Fit Pack 3

The Aer Fit Pack 3 daypack definitely packs in a bit more volume than the Away Daypack mentioned above. At 18L, we found we can fit way more, which is why Aer markets this bag as a daypack that’ll fit your gym clothes, and is also something to be used everywhere (for our purposes, travel!). My husband Dan reviewed it in-depth as a work-meets-gym/travel bag in this detailed review.

With some great features for women like a unique center zipper, water bottle pockets, a mesh back panel you’d find on larger backpacks and even a sternum strap, this is a durable choice for a daypack under 20L. My favorite features in this bag are the extremely high-quality zippers and seal-proof zipper closures, along with the very sturdy lift handle and the overall flawless materials used in making this backpack.

Dedicated water bottle pockets are features that I like to see in bags. It helps to save space and gives a tiny bit of insurance from your water bottle dripping onto your things. When trying it out, I was most impressed with the large cavity, which is the exterior vertical zip-up pouch ideal for gym clothes, and the shoe cavity accessible from the bottom of the backpack.


  • It has a pass-through strap to be used with the handle of your luggage – great for the airport.
  • It weighs only 2.5 lbs. before putting anything in it.
  • The laptop compartment is secure and padded and feels really durable.


  • Some smaller-framed women may find it a bit big for taking around during the day.
  • The straps are also kind of thick, but this won’t be an issue if you have wide shoulders.
  • If you’re looking for a bag with a large main cavity, this probably isn’t the one. The largest space is the front vertical-zip area, and the central cavity fits the laptop and a few accessories like my glasses case and a book.

Rains Waterproof Rucksack

I’m newer to the Rains brand, and this rucksack had me at first glance.

The sleek and slim front latch design with the top flap is feminine (in my opinion), but not overly girly: it’s sophisticated.

This is the type of daypack you could bring to a business meeting while you’re on a trip, if such a need arises, or you could bring it out to a bar or date night. I like to think of this daypack option for women travelers as a purse you wear on your back.


  • The color choices (there are six and they’re very fun).
  • The price is competitive for a women’s travel bag that’s waterproof, smooth and durable.


  • At only 11L, this may not be enough for women travelers seeking more space in a daypack.
  • The laptop pocket fits a 13” laptop, but nothing larger.

Troubadour Bivy Tote Backpack

The Troubadour brand is one of my favorite bag brands for travel. I now own three Troubadour bags, namely the Carrier Tote, the Ki Backpack and now, the awesome Bivy Tote Backpack, reviewed here in-depth.

Troubadour’s products are top-notch quality, with the finest details taken into account. They make me sigh with relief that the zippers slide beautifully, the designs are stylish and minimalist and the pockets are thoughtful. It’s why I included Troubadour in our gift guide for travelers.

The Troubadour Bivy Tote Backpack is a two-in-one daypack and tote bag that looks great on women. This smart travel backpack is two bags in one: it’s both a backpack and a zip tote. My first impression of it upon getting it in the mail was: “Yes, this is exactly what I pictured, and I can’t believe how lightweight it is.”

Weight is a huge factor for me, as someone with a small frame who can’t handle a backpack that weighs a lot even before I load it up with stuff for a trip or a commute.

The Bivy Tote Backpack can fit up to 21L in volume, which is very agreeable. The first time I tried it out by bringing it out for a packed day in Manhattan, I packed it with my laptop, my bike helmet, an entire change of clothes (summer weather is unpredictable!), snacks and accessories in the front zipper pocket like AirPods, keys and more.

I love the stellar design that’s easy on the eyes, and the versatile tote straps for when my back needs a break. You can see more photos of me with it at my full review of the Bivy Tote Backpack.


  • Because it’s both a backpack and a tote, it has comfy handles and padded shoulder straps.
  • It’s incredibly stylish, and timeless as well. This one’s a winner, and it’s worth every penny.
  • It is so lightweight. It’s impressive. I give this backpack 5 stars.


  • If you wanted to criticize this bag, you could say that the tote strap at the top, when being worn as a backpack, could feel or look funny, but I think it looks unique.
  • As for the actual carry of the bag as a tote, the straps are a little on the short side, considering the amount of things you’ll probably have in the bag’s interior.


This is a classic mini backpack that you’ll see among travelers of all ages and sizes. You’ll get style over functionality with this bag. Don’t expect too many compartments, but you will get a fairly lightweight bag that does have its advantages.

Part of this female-friendly daypack being lightweight means that you can pack it in your bigger luggage to use for later during your trip.

Dan is a big fan of packing multiple bags and using them for going to a coworking space, hiking, buying groceries and so on.

If you find yourself in Vietnam, be on the look out for these bags. They might not be real, but they will be much more affordable than buying them on Amazon or another store.


  • It’s kind of adorable. This is a cutie bag. It’s only 7 liters of volume inside!
  • It comes in more colors than I can count. You could have one for every month.


  • This is, of course, a small daypack that won’t fit the needs of every traveler looking for more storage and flexibility for the size of their daypack.
  • It very loudly says “Fjällräven” on the front, so if you’re not into big brand logos, this is not a bag for you.

Filson Rugged Twill Rucksack

I hadn’t heard much about Filson until just now. I started using my Filson Rucksack as a commuter bag because it was finally (for me) a bag that had straps that didn’t sit too widely on my shoulders.

If you have the budget and want to have a bag for the rest of your life, choose a Filson. It has a classic look, and because it’s small-to-medium sized, it’s great for women (like me) who want to have a daypack that’s not overbearing and chunky.

It’s an all-purpose daypack or rucksack, made with 100% genuine leather, hence the price point. What I like about it so far is that the straps are slim, which is great for women, as many bags have thick unisex straps. I also like that its components are so thick and sturdy that you virtually can’t damage it.

Why do people love Filson bags? Well, they’re suppose to last a lifetime, so no fast fashion here! Coming in two muted colors (I have the yellow/mustard one), it pairs nicely with most outfits at any time of year. You could sling it over your shoulders in summer or spring, and in fall and winter it’ll brighten any outfit with dark colors.

One thing to note about this rucksack is that it has one main cavity, and two external pockets. That’s it. This is not specifically a laptop bag; rather, it’s a do-it-all backpack meant for various uses. It does not have a dedicated laptop compartment, nor laptop sleeve. When I use this bag to go to work, I put my laptop in a neoprene case, and use it as the backbone of the backpack, if that makes sense.

With only these three cavities and pockets, you’ll need a way to keep your smaller items (day-to-day things like tampons, lip balm, sunscreen, keys, literally anything small) from flying around. I use a small pouch, stuffed in one of the front vertical snap pockets. If you have something like a small-sized packing cube, that could do the trick.


  • Fans of Filson use their bags for decades, and you can guarantee the Twill Rucksack will always be in style.
  • I like the thin straps that don’t look overbearing on my shoulders as a woman.
  • I feel like I could not break this bag, no matter how hard I tried. It’s like it’s made of steel.


  • The price is high, four times other bags that clock in at 21L.
  • Friends have noted to us that if you sweat and you’re wearing light colors, the straps can bleed on your clothes. I haven’t experienced this (yet).
  • The main cavity does not have any smaller pockets, and there are no internal zippers and no dedicated laptop compartment.

Standard travel bags

With a standard travel bag or travel backpack, I consider this between 30L and 45L. You should be able to carry on these travel bags on a flight with no problem, and they’ll be big enough to carry your things for a one to two-week trip.

Nomatic 30L Travel Bag

The Nomatic 30L is definitely a standard-size travel bag, coming in at 30L, which is a good volume for taking a gals trip away for a weekend.

This bag looks modern and contemporary, and it’s for a woman who has lots of technical specifications in mind for the perfect travel backpack.

The Nomatic brand is big on innovation, so with this bag, you’ll see a duffel-to-carry convertible option, a water-resistant flap and a TSA-ready laptop sleeve for the experienced woman traveler.


  • Lots of features: durable zippers, waist straps, snaps, handles and materials.
  • Backed by the Nomatic Lifetime Warranty.


  • It weighs 3.3 lbs, which may be a lot for some, and with its boxy build, looks a lot like a rectangular duffel.
  • It’s not overly feminine, so you can regard this as a unisex backpack that a man in your life can borrow as well (also a pro).

Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 30L

Topo is a women’s and men’s brand that creates unisex products for people of all genders. Their products have fun colors and huge playful zippers, with no shortage of pockets, and products for all use cases, especially travel.

I’ve tried out the Topo Global Travel Bag in the 30L size a whole bunch for weekend trips and road trips. I like this bag because it fits a lot inside, and its size is unique. By this I mean that it’s more rectangular than other travel backpacks I’ve used, and this is useful for shoes, clothes and a few travel accessories.

With a bag this rectangular, it helps to have an assorted array of packing cubes to lego-block your way to travel efficiency.

There are a good number of pockets in the front exterior compartment that opens with a big hefty zipper closure, and it has “three-way” backpack straps-duffel handle-shoulder strap functionality.


  • Carry-on compliant, external laptop sleeve for airport use, works well with other products in the Topo ecosystem of luggage
  • Designed for one-bag travel if your use is for a long weekend, short trip or daylong getaway


  • No female-specific build features.
  • The straps are fine and functional, just not beautiful, but they’re packable into the bag itself if you wish to convert to a shoulder bag.

Tortuga Travel Backpack

Tortuga Backpacks are one of the leading brands of travel backpacks for everyone, so of course we’re including their Travel Backpack in 40L (international maximum carry-on size) and 30L (mid-sized carry on) as a choice for women travelers.

This square-sized minimalist backpack is down-to-earth and cool.

At 4.5 lbs, the 40L product is slightly on the heavy side, for not being a 60 or 70L bag with all the trimmings. But, it does fit your laptop and tablet with fleece-line sleeves and has weather-resistant, durable and lockable YKK zippers that won’t break during transit. Reliable zippers are everything. We’ve seen other travelers with bags that won’t shut and we never want to experience that!

The Tortuga Travel Backpack aims to be something in between a suitcase and a hiking backpack, meaning it’s urban-friendly and meant to let you breeze through the airport with one-bag travel.


  • Definitely the timeless design that will please both women and men, so yes, you can lend this bag to your brother or boyfriend if they insist.
  • Front-loading build and durable materials with a weight management suspension system.
  • Highly adjustable
  • Home try-on program


$349 for the 40L and $325 for the 30L may make some brands look like better value, but with a lifetime guarantee, maybe this is competitive pricing.

Bellroy Transit Backpack Plus

My first impression of the Bellroy backpack was that the quality is very sturdy. I can tell just by feeling the exterior that it’s made of a water-resistant fabric, which is a crucial feature for my preferences, in a travel bag. As it turns out, the body is made from recycled materials, which I like for a sustainability factor.

I really like the 38L size of this transit backpack, which is cool as a large commuter bag, nice-sized weekender backpack or larger-end daypack. It’s also quite structured, rather than thin and slouchy, which I like in a bag because it holds its shape.

I took this bag on a train trip for its maiden voyage, and it supports weight well, has a handy set of pockets (even hidden ones on the sides), a generous laptop compartment and inner mesh pockets for small items.

It’s more lightweight than other bags of its size, which I like a lot. The weight makes a big difference when you are carrying the bag for a long time. It’s spacious inside and the straps are firm.

At first glance, this is a very good-looking backpack, and the green color is delightful (it also comes in black). It’s modern, minimalist and simple, with a soft-lined sunglasses pocket and features like a 16” laptop sleeve compartment for easy access during airport security. Lastly, it’s carry-on approved.


  • Built for the traveler in mind, with passport pockets, the airport-friendly laptop pocket and carry-on dimension size.
  • Within the first few minutes, I could tell this bag has strong construction and quality materials that make it worth it.
  • It also comes in 20 and 28L, for if you love the style and 38L is too big for your needs.


  • The price falls at the higher end, but consider that Bellroy’s products have a 3-year warranty.
  • In my opinion, the zippers are a bit stiff, and feel like they’re tough to break in. The zippers move kind of slowly and with a more effort than other zippers that slide more seamlessly.

Tom Bihn Techonaut 45

An excellent bag for a weekend trip, this is a backpack that suits both bringing things like packing cubes full of a few sets of clothes, and a laptop.

Tom Bihn is a brand that uses superior materials, and Dan also has the Tom Bihn Synapse. If you’d like to never buy another 45L travel backpack again, choose from Tom Bihn and you’ll probably be happy!

This bag opens clamshell-style, which I really like, and this has been useful while I’m traveling with it. I like to take everything out at one time, and put it all back in, while seeing it and assessing how much space I have left.

The Tom Bihn Techonaut is a good bag for women who might fall into the size M and up category, because it’s not terribly narrow, and it looks chunky at first glance. We critique the Tom Bihn Techonaut in this review.


  • Incredible materials and strong zippers. Useful side-grab handle for carrying as a duffel as well.
  • Awesome choice for using as a weekender backpack, with dedicated laptop compartment.


  • Some travelers may find the price tag excessive (but think about the quality nylon ripstop and water-repellant zippers!)
  • No woman-specific features, and likely too wide for petite ladies.
  • Keep in mind that because this bag equally functions as a duffel, it is not comfortable to wear for an extended period of time like in walking around a city on a layover.

Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L

Through my experience with this bag, my favorite aspect of it is that it is simple and minimalist. The quality is also outstanding. While other bags report torn pockets or bad zippers in the reviews, the Peak Design travel backpack is flawless, and I mean that.

If you’re looking for a backpack with high-quality zippers that won’t break, snap or split, Peak Design is a great brand to look into. The materials are also incredible. They are strong, super-powered even, and the exterior is 100% waterproof. It’s no wonder this backpack is also on our list of the best backpacks for travel photography.

We also have the 30L version of this backpack and it shares a lot of the same quality and features. If you don’t quite need 45L, the 30L is a perfect alternative.

Dan has the Everyday Backpack which is a great choice for photographers. He also has a few of their camera accessories. Peak Design is a very well rounded brand.

For the woman traveler, this bag is an appropriate size, although it only comes in one size. It is adjustable, though, and I find that the straps are, once again, high-quality and always have my trust. It’s specifically worth calling out the expandability of the bag, because it’s – well, expandable. The entire front of the bag unzips, which reveals another few liters of space that you can utilize.

And best of all? It’s international carry-on size approved, so no airline can turn it away from an overhead compartment on your flight.


  • So many. If I had to pick, the nylon shell and waterproof liner that instill confidence during unexpected downpours.
  • Padded shoulder straps and waist straps, along with an attractive and modern minimalist design in Black, or PD’s signature sage color.


  • High price for a 45L, but worth it, if you’re into quality materials and a bag for life.
  • No woman-specific features for sizing.
  • Limited number of pockets, but still a good amount. Keep this in mind if you’re looking for a bag with hip strap pockets and etc.

“Backpacker” Large-Volume Travel Backpacks

With a backpacker bag, you are likely a serious traveler. You need something that will help you travel across different countries and different climates, and you wouldn’t be caught dead with a suitcase!

If you’re looking to fit in with the crowd and pack away all of your belongings, a backpacker bag is probably for you.

These style of bags will help you carry heavy items. The bags are fit custom for women’s bodies and often have adjustable straps to find the perfect fit.

For bags like this, we like shopping at REI because if you have a location near you, you can go in and try on a bunch of different options. Here are a few ideas for the best women’s backpacking bags for longer trips to get started with!

Deuter Aircontact Core 60 + 10 SL Pack

This high-volume backpacking backpack is for the woman who wants to take everything and have it all fit in a 60+10L backpack. My sibling recently took it on a trip and was floored with everything she could fit in it.

The list of features is long, and the backpack was modeled by Deuter to have a female-specific fit, setting it apart from a men’s bag of the same size and build. This is a big benefit! I like the ergonomic lock hip fit, with compression straps, an air mesh back panel and a narrow shoulder harness.

What’s the +10L though? It’s an extra optional compartment of space at the top that you can stash gear in, without having to open the rest of the backpack. This is a perfect opportunity for me to put in a travel blanket, or a sleeping bag, and the usability is great because you can detach this compartment and leverage additional space using Deuter’s design.

You can see how I look with the Aircontact Core backpack here. Keep in mind that I am 5’2” and petite. This backpack works great for its narrowness and weight distribution. I wish I’d had it for all my trips in past years.


  • I think the value and price on this bag is awesome for the size, volume and quality.
  • As you pack it more, it gets taller, not wider, so it keeps its shape (I consider this an attractive feature).


  • Weighing in at 4 lbs 3 oz before being packed, some may think this is on the heavy side (that’s because it has a metal frame).
  • It only comes in one women’s size, OS (one size).
  • Too big to be carry-on size.

REI Co-op Flash 55 Pack

I’m impressed that this flash 55L pack by REI doesn’t truly look like it’s a 55L backpack. It looks more modest and compact, but it packs a punch (well, literally it packs 55L of your stuff).

True to REI being awesome, it comes in dedicated women’s sizes of XS, S and M. It focuses on stability and suspension, for female hikers and anyone who plans to be really walking around with this 55L backpack strapped to your back (long walks through airports maybe?).

For loads of 15-30 pounds, the support and suspension keeps even this kind of weight comfortable through compression straps and a contoured hip belt.


  • Great support through weight management features, and roll-top closure for compression.
  • The design is hydration-compatible, good for hiking or hot weather trips.
  • Comes in three dedicated female-specific sizes.


The mesh and materials can be kind of delicate, and are prone to ripping if you get rugged during a hike.

Osprey Ariel Plus 70 Pack

If you’ve ever been in a hostel where you eye everyone’s backpacks and have backpack envy, you’ve probably seen a guy or gal with an Osprey. What’s the hype all about?

With the Osprey Ariel Plus 70 Pack, which is a maximum-size backpacking backpack, you better be getting everything under the sun for its cost of $370. I like this backpack though, because it has a detachable bag that you can use for a daypack for hikes or walking around the city.

This is a fantastic value-add because the detachable tiny daypack. It’s very small; however, you can bet that the removable daypack will be handy to take on a hike or out for a day of sightseeing. It’s like a built-in convenience that I have found highly useful during travel.


  • It’s one of the highest-volume backpacks for women on the market.
  • The removable top lid and detachable daypack is super handy.


  • Osprey seems to be skipping over woman-specific build features.
  • The price is one of the highest out there for a 70L, but the value is good.

Gregory Maven 55 Pack

This durable and comfortable form-fitting 55L larger backpack for women has a heap of features like a woman-specific shoulder harness and comes in two sets of sizes, XS-S and S-M. This is really useful if you’re a petite woman looking for a backpack that’ll agree with narrow shoulders or a unique build.

The Gregory Maven 55 Pack allows for easy gear loading and focuses on adjustability and performance technics for whatever the weather brings, from rain (a rain cover in a zipper pocket) to hot sun (with a sunglasses stow system feature).

Overall, the price is steeper, but this is certainly a backpack for life, and with the REI warranty, you can return or replace your item for a refund within 365 of buying it.


  • Woman-specific build for female bodies
  • Incredible set of features for travel conveniences and security


  • At around $250, this backpack may be steep for some.
  • The REI warranty is “only” one year, and not a lifetime warranty.

Bonus backpack: Decathlon Quechua 50L Forclaz for Women

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this trusty and budget (okay, cheap) hiking and backpacking travel pack for women. I had the 2010 version, and then the 2011 version, and then Dan got the 2018 version for men.

I’ve had a ton of experience using the Quechua Forclaz 50L as my main backpacking travel bag, and it has stood the test of time. It also comes in this 60L version around the same price point.


  • Affordable price
  • Lightweight materials
  • Great back support, plenty of compartments


  • Zippers aren’t top quality
  • Elastic bungee bands tend to wear out over time
  • None others. I’ve taken my Quechua Forclaz to more than 30 countries.

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Last updated on May 9th, 2023

It would also be an ideal “personal item” on a flight, at its 15L size.


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Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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