Product Reviews

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2023

There are a lot of great travel backpacks out there, but not all of them are created equal. A travel pack needs to be comfortable to carry, easy to organize, and durable enough to withstand being toted from place to place.

From hitting the road for the weekend to spending months traveling abroad, we’ve put a lot of backpacks through the wringer. And while there isn’t a single pack that suits every traveler, we’ve highlighted a variety of designs and price points to help you find the perfect travel backpack.

Choosing a travel backpack can be a dizzying experience. Deciding on what matters to you will greatly steer your purchase. Are you jet-setting from here to Madrid this week, and then Honduras next week? Need a bag to kick around on a work trip? Visiting a National Park?

For all your travel pack questions, consult our buyer’s guide, where we’ve laid bare all the essentials. Compare each of the packs using our handy comparison chart, and if you’ve still got questions, check out our FAQ section.

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2023

Best Overall Travel Backpack

Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L

  • Capacity 45 L (collapses to 35 L)
  • Weight 4 lbs., 8 oz.
  • Dimensions 22″ x 13″ x 9.5″ standard, 22″ x 13″ x 11″ expanded
  • Compartment access Back panel clamshell design with #10 zipper
  • Material Weatherproof, 100% recycled 400-denier nylon canvas shell; 900-denier waterproof bottom

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2023

  • Compresses down to maximum airline carry-on size, and then expands once you’ve hit your destination
  • Burly construction
  • No details are overlooked in the design

  • Price
  • No internal fastening straps

Best Budget Travel Backpack

Dakine Campus 33L Backpack

  • Capacity 33 L
  • Weight 1 lb., 10.6 oz.
  • Dimensions 20.5″ x 13″ x 8″
  • Compartment access Zippered top access
  • Material Depending on print type, can be 600-denier recycled polyester, 420-denier recycled nylon, 630-denier recycled nylon, or 1,200-denier recycled polyester

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2023

  • Cheap price
  • Available in many different fabric prints
  • Unique insulated cooler pocket

  • Not many travel-specific features
  • Straps don’t pack away

Best Carrying Travel Backpack

Osprey Farpoint & Fairview 40 Travel Packs

  • Capacity 40 L
  • Weight 3 lbs., 7.6 oz.
  • Dimensions 22″ x 14″ x 9″
  • Compartment access Zippered back panel clamshell design
  • Material Bluesign-approved 450-denier recycled polyester

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2023

  • Supreme suspension system offers the best carry of any pack we tried
  • External compression straps limit the volume well
  • Comfortably padded grab handles

  • Not much internal organization

Best Organization in a Travel Backpack

Matador SEG45 Travel Pack

  • Capacity 45 L
  • Weight 2 lbs., 8 oz.
  • Dimensions 22″ x 13.4″ x 10.2″
  • Compartment access Full clamshell interior, additional front zippered access
  • Material 420-denier nylon exterior, 100-denier Robic Dynatec interior

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2023

  • Excellent storage organization options
  • High-quality, strong, and lightweight construction

  • No frame to speak of
  • Shoulder straps don’t pack away

Best Shoulder Bag

Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L

  • Capacity 45 L
  • Weight 3 lbs., 10.3 oz.
  • Dimensions 22.8″ x 8.6″ x 14.5″
  • Compartment access Back panel zippered clamshell design
  • Material 900-denier recycled polyester ripstop with a TPU laminate

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2023

  • Multiple ways to carry the pack
  • Many different storage and internal organization options
  • Burly external fabric

  • Doesn’t carry the best as a backpack
  • No hipbelt

Best Climbing Travel Pack

Mountain Hardware Redeye 45 Travel Pack

  • Capacity 45 L
  • Weight 3 lbs., 2.1 oz.
  • Dimensions 24″ x 15″ x 12″
  • Compartment access Back panel zippered clamshell design, additional top entry
  • Material 500-denier CORDURA nylon

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2023

  • Burly 500-denier CORDURA nylon construction
  • Front and rear grab handles make loading easy

  • Cylinder shape won’t be the most space-efficient
  • Strap storage isn’t the most compact

Best of the Rest

Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 40L

  • Capacity 40 L
  • Weight 3 lbs., 10.4 oz.
  • Dimensions 22.5″ x 14″ x 7.5″
  • Compartment access Zippered clamshell design
  • Material 1000D recycled nylon, 400D recycled nylon, 210D recycled nylon, 1680D recycled ballistic nylon

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2023

  • Overbuilt design with tough materials and chunky zippers
  • Plenty of organizational pockets
  • Bright interior

  • Not the cleanest strap stowage

Cotopaxi Allpa 28L Travel Pack

  • Capacity 28 L
  • Weight 3 lbs., 4 oz.
  • Dimensions 19″ x 12″ x 9″
  • Compartment access Zippered clamshell design
  • Material TPU-coated 1,000-denier polyester, 840-denier nylon paneling

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2023

  • Burly exterior material holds up for the long run
  • Plenty of zippered mesh storage pockets
  • Tom Bihn Synapse 25

    • Capacity 25 L
    • Weight 1 lb., 13 oz.
    • Dimensions 13.4″ x 20″ x 9.1″
    • Compartment access Zippered top access
    • Material 400-denier Halcyon, 420-denier nylon ripstop

    The Best Travel Backpacks of 2023

    • Many different fabrics and color schemes are available
    • Built to last design and materials
    • Removable webbing hip belt

    • Suspension doesn’t pack away
    • Side wing pockets are a little awkward to access

    Patagonia Black Hole 25L Backpack

    • Capacity 25 L
    • Weight 1 lb., 6.9 oz.
    • Dimensions 22″ x 10.5″ x 5.5″
    • Compartment access Zippered top access
    • Material 300-denier recycled polyester ripstop with a TPU laminate

    The Best Travel Backpacks of 2023

    • Heavy-duty outer fabric
    • Cheaper price

    Osprey Nebula 32 Daypack

    • Capacity 32 L
    • Weight 2 lbs., 1.7 oz.
    • Dimensions 19.2″ x 12.2″ x 11.4″
    • Compartment access Zippered top access
    • Material 420-denier recycled nylon

    The Best Travel Backpacks of 2023

    • TSA-compliant laptop sleeve
    • Many options for organization
    • Water bottle pockets fit 32 oz. bottles

    • Need to release two buckles in order to unzip the main pocket all the way

    Travel Backpack Comparison Chart

    Travel BackpackCapacityWeightDimensionsCompartmentsPrice
    Peak Design Travel
    Backpack 45L
    45 L4 lbs., 8 oz.22″ x 13″ x 9.5″Back panel clamshell design with #10 zipper$300
    Dakine Campus
    33L Backpack
    33 L1 lb., 10.6 oz.20.5″ x 13″ x 8″Zippered top access$75
    Osprey Farpoint &
    Fairview 40 Travel Packs
    40 L3 lbs., 7.6 oz.22″ x 14″ x 9″Zippered back panel clamshell design$185
    Matador SEG45 Travel Pack45 L2 lbs., 8 oz.22″ x 13.4″ x 10.2″Full clamshell interior, additional front zippered access$200
    Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L45 L3 lbs., 10.3 oz.22.8″ x 8.6″ x 14.5″Back panel zippered clamshell design$239
    Mountain Hardware
    Redeye 45 Travel Pack
    45 L3 lbs., 2.1 oz.24″ x 15″ x 12″Back panel zippered clamshell design, additional top entry$180
    Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 40L40 L3 lbs., 10.4 oz.22.5″ x 14″ x 7.5″Zippered clamshell design$229
    Cotopaxi Allpa 28L
    Travel Pack
    28 L3 lbs., 4 oz.19″ x 12″ x 9″Zippered clamshell design$170
    Tom Bihn Synapse 2525 L1 lb., 13 oz.13.4″ x 20″ x 9.1″Zippered top access$243
    Patagonia Black
    Hole 25L Backpack
    25 L1 lb., 6.9 oz.22″ x 10.5″ x 5.5″Zippered top access$149
    Osprey Nebula
    32 Daypack
    32 L2 lbs., 1.7 oz.19.2″ x 12.2″ x 11.4″Zippered top access$140
    Peak Designs Travel Backpack
    By land or by sea, we toted these travel backpacks the extra mile in testing; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

    Why You Should Trust Us

    The staff of GearJunkie is a hot-footed bunch, restlessly plodding across the country or around the globe in search of adventure and whatever else comes our way. And we have a lot of stuff, which necessitates having a travel bag or four in the stable.

    Surely any old bindle will do in carrying your kit around, but having a travel backpack that is dialed into the needs of travel can make a stressful situation into a manageable one. We’ve been testing travel backpacks since 2019 and have put the market slice through the wringer on thousands of miles of travel to weed out the best of the best.

    In testing, we looked for a number of features in our travel backpacks, including overall capacity, carry style, durability, and style. It’s important to think about how you’ll use your travel pack, and as such, every pack on our list is carry-on compliant for the worst-case scenario.

    We know no trip will be like the next, so we took a broad swath of the travel backpacks on the market in order to create a list that will suit many different travelers. Packs in hand, over our shoulders, or on our backs, we hit the four corners and tested the best travel backpacks of 2023.

    Curious about what we pack in our travel backpacks? We’ve penned up a list for both domestic and international trips.

    Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L Travel Pack
    (Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

    Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Travel Backpack


    Finding the right size pack for you depends on a few things. First, where are you going, and how long do you plan to stay? Winter travel often comes with more gear, so you’ll need to pack extra layers. And longer trips could mean the need for a larger bag.

    That said, your personal packing style will be the most important factor. We know minimalists who happily travel for months with only a single backpack in tow and others who want the largest travel backpack possible in addition to a totally stuffed duffel bag. One isn’t better than the other, but knowing your style is helpful when choosing.

    In general, we’ve found that something in the 28 to 45-liter range is ideal for comfort and packability. Many packs will also offer a compression system to allow you to limit the overall volume of the backpack. We’ve seen many different ways to accomplish this, but the most effective by far were the button snaps and expanding zipper of the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L.

    Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack
    While we favor the 40-liter versions of Osprey’s Farpoint and Fairview packs for their carry-on-ability, the packs are also available in a number of different volumes; (photo/Erika Courtney)


    What good would a bag be if you couldn’t get into it? From a simple drawstring to a thicket of Velcro and zippers, there are plenty of ways to keep your bag closed while you’re on the go, but not every one will be amenable to travel.

    Peak Design Travel Backpack Clamshell Access
    The broad clamshell design of the opening on the Peak Design Travel Backpack makes packing and quick access a breeze; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

    Most travel backpacks will use a clamshell-style design that opens up the backpack like a suitcase, allowing you to pack intentionally as opposed to stuffing things in. Oftentimes, an internal strap system will help keep your items contained while you’re on the move.

    In addition to a rear entry, some backpacks will offer additional entry points through the top or front of the pack. This can be helpful when you need to quickly retrieve something like a passport from your bag, without the need to totally spill the contents.

    Mountain Hardware Redeye Travel Backpack Clamshell Packing
    While the access of the Mountain Hardwear Redeye was intended for rifling around with climbing gear, we found it amenable to many different loads, like this packraft; (photo/Erika Courtney)

    Carrying Options

    There are plenty of ways to lug your kit to your boarding gate, but not all of them will be comfortable for everything. Over-shoulder backpack straps can support a good bit of weight but typically will need some type of frame to truly be supportive.

    A shoulder strap travel backpack, like the Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L, can be slung across your body and provide a great amount of accessibility on the go. Don’t expect to carry too much weight this way, however.

    And then there’s the classic suitcase style, easily towed anywhere. It’s good to note many travel backpacks will have stowable straps to better streamline the pack for a trip through an X-ray machine or stowed under a seat. The strap storage design of the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L impressed us most of all, utilizing magnetic closure flaps to pack away the shoulder and hip straps neatly.

    Patagonia MCL 45L Travel Backpack Carry Options
    Slung over your shoulder or carried briefcase-style, the Patagonia MCL 45 is easy to toss around while on the run; (photo/Erika Courtney)

    Pockets & Organization

    There’s an organizational saying: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” And we couldn’t agree more. Keeping track of everything while you travel is key for organization. And while more pockets always seem better, there is a threshold where having too many simply becomes more places to misplace things. Instead, we recommend packs with three to six pockets.

    The Cotopaxi Allpa and Topo Designs Global Travel Bags both have ingenious inner organization systems complete with large zipping “pockets.” It has just enough space to find room for everything but not so many compartments that you’ll be hunting all day for your misplaced passport.

    Bringing along a laptop is a necessary evil for some travelers, and having an incorporated laptop sleeve in your travel backpack can keep it safe during travel. Most laptop sleeves will be padded with some type of foam and nestle in close to the back for maximum protection. In order to be TSA-compliant, a laptop sleeve will need to fold entirely flat away from the pack in order to be scanned.

    Because flying with liquids over 3.4 ounces is prohibited in the U.S., carrying all of these items in a separate toiletry bag can make your foray into the screening line a breeze. Many of the packs on our list incorporate many external pockets where such a bag could be stashed and produced when needed.

    Matador SEG30 Travel Backpack Storage Options
    The multi-tiered organization of the Matador SEG45 was easily the most organized in our testing. There’s a spot for everything; (photo/Nick Belcaster)


    Travel luggage takes a beating, so durability is a top concern. Luckily, gear manufacturers realize this and are making increasingly burly yet portable packs. The fan-favorite Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L pack is made with a 900-denier ripstop nylon outer with a TPU laminate for extra durability. It’s nearly indestructible, water-resistant, and versatile.

    If you’re traveling somewhere with inclement weather or if your pack needs to double as a climbing bag or hiking pack, durability is extra important. And it’s worth paying more for a backpack that is water-resistant.

    Tom Bihn Synapse 25 Travel Backpack
    Available in a large number of color schemes and fabrics on a rolling production basis, the Tom Bihn Synapse is built burly with 400-denier+ fabrics and #8 and #10 YKK zippers; (photo/Erika Courtney)

    Space Efficiency & Carry-On Compliance

    Astute observers will note many of the packs in our review sport a rectangular shape, which is certainly due to designers aspiring to create a more space-efficient pack. This isn’t to say that more shapely packs won’t make it happen, but when you’re struggling to make every liter of space count, maximizing dimensions matters.

    Carry-on luggage is any bag that you plan on bringing into an airplane and storing in the overhead bins. Because space is limited, airlines dictate the maximum size that any carry-on can be. In the U.S., the most common size is 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches, or 45 linear inches (length + width + height). However, this is just a rough guideline; some airlines differ from these dimensions, and you should refer to their information directly.

    In general, these dimensions provide a travel backpack with around 40-45 liters of internal volume, so buying a pack that’s as close to that as possible will provide the most space allowed. Many of the packs on our list have the ability to compress to a smaller size, such as the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L.


    Our team unanimously agrees that the best travel backpack is the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L. It’s extremely durable, and it offers plenty of organizational pockets. And the clamshell opening makes packing a breeze.

    The best size bag for traveling depends largely on your travel itinerary and mode of transport. The Cotopaxi Allpa packs range from 28 to 42 liters.

    The 28-liter option makes for a compact and comfortable backpack that easily fits in overhead airplane compartments. The 42-liter option is a bit more like carrying a duffel bag on your back, but it still manages to fit in overhead compartments. It’s a great option for maximizing carry-on capacity in backpack form.

    While both have their place in travel, a backpack can offer some advantages over a suitcase. Since they’re much more portable, backpacks can be brought to many more places where a suitcase won’t work. Suitcases can be your large load carriers, but a good travel backpack gives you the freedom to strike out on daily adventures.

    Travel backpacks absolutely can be carry-on luggage, given they meet the size requirements. In the U.S., the most common maximum size is 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches, or 45 linear inches (length + width + height). But this is only a common size, and different airlines will have different specifics. Consult with your airline specifically to determine what they allow.

    While different body types will find different travel packs comfortable, we can all agree that a good support system and ample foam make for a comfortable carry. In our own testing, we found the Osprey Farpoint 40 and Fairview 40 Travel Packs were by far the most comfortable due to their plush suspension systems.

    Because many different airlines operate a slate of different planes, there isn’t a standard under-seat luggage size, although there is an average: 16 inches x 12 inches x 6 inches. Some airlines allow personal items larger than this, but you should consult with their customer service for specifics.

    The Best Women’s Travel Pants of 2022

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  • Best Overall Travel Backpack: Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L
  • Source:

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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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