The 5 Best Travel Backpacks in 2019
#2 Osprey Fairview 40 Women's Travel Pack
The Osprey Fairview 40 Women’s Travel backpack will be your best trip companion and is designed for the comfort of the female body.
- Comfortable curved back panel
- Ajustable straps and convertible body
- Good suspension system without the bulky look
#4 PacSafe VentureSafe X30 Anti-Theft Adventure Backpack
The PacSafe VentureSafe X30 is the perfect travel backpack for short weekend trips with all of the anti-theft perks you need to stay safe
- Slash guard straps
- Extremely lightweight build perfect for short trips
- RFID blocking technology
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If you’re heading on a long backpacking trip or even an adventure trip then you need to ditch the suitcase. Backpackers and hikers venture off to far away destinations where plenty of adventure awaits. Adventurous travelers know that a good travel backpack is an extremely important part of your trip.
Most backpackers will be walking through difficult terrain, cramming on buses or living out of their backpacks for weeks at a time. Pulling a suitcase simply isn’t an option. With the nature of backpacking, you’ll need a good bag that will fit you comfortably. Investing in the best travel backpack for you will make a huge difference on your next adventure trip.
A good travel backpack is lightweight but sturdy, has ample space and won’t cause back pain. We’ve rounded up a few of the top choices in travel backpacks out there from top brands that are experts in backpack technology. There are also many things you should look out for when buying a travel backpack. The best travel backpack for you all depends on how long your trip is, what type of activities you’ll be doing and what your lifestyle is.
Best for the Budget Minded: Kelty Redwing 44 Travel Backpack
Travel backpacks can be a huge investment, and it’s easy to shell out hundreds of dollars on a nice travel backpack. Luckily there are several budget-friendly options for someone looking for a good quality backpack for their travels. Kelty Redwing has a great travel backpack that has the perfect amount of space for short trips or even longer haul trips. The best part about this bag is that it offers all of the great features you would expect from a travel backpack, but you’ll only spend a little more than $100.
Kelty Redwing Travel Backpack Pros
- Ventilated back panel to help keep sweat off
- Hydration pack compatible
- Lightweight bag at only 2 lbs 10 oz
Kelty Redwing Travel Backpack Cons
- If you stuff the bag, it may not pass carry-on size limits
- No lockable zippers
Best for Women: Women’s Osprey Fairview 40 Travel Pack
Osprey is one of the top makers of travel backpacks, and they have several types of backpacks made specifically for certain physiques. The Fairview 40 Travel Pack is one of the best travel backpacks for women because of it’s lightweight design, its comfortability and the versatility.
This backpack can double as a messenger bag, a duffel bag or a sturdy backpack for your next adventure. It also has a sleek design that doesn’t fit the typical hiking backpack, so it can be worn on just about any type of trip you’ve got planned.
Osprey Fairview 40 Pros
- Available in 3 different sizes to fit your needs as a traveler
- Zip away shoulder and back straps
- Suspension system without the hiking look
Osprey Fairview 40 Cons
- Not the lightest weight backpack, about 3 lbs
Best for Men: Osprey Farpoint 40 Men’s Pack
The Farpoint 40 works just like the Fairview, except it’s built with the male body in mind. It has all of the same features that make this bag one of the best travel backpacks for men.
The Farpoint is built with a full suspension system so you can rely on it for a long trek. It also comes in three different sizes so you can choose which one fits your body type better. The bag also comes with the same great components like a laptop sleeve and comfy padded handle to carry.
Osprey Farpoint 40 Pros
- Available in 3 different sizes to fit your needs as a traveler
- Easy front panel opening
- Suspension system without the hiking look
Osprey Farpoint 40 Cons
- Not as lightweight, smallest size is 3lbs
- Bigger options are not carry on size
Best for Long Haul: Osprey Atmos AG 65 Pack
Another winner travel backpack in the sturdy Osprey family is the Atmos AG 65. The Atmos AG 65 is the perfect for those long haul trips. Going on a long hiking trip? Heading on a backpacking trip throughout South America? You’ll want a bag that can hold any and everything, has a good suspension system and will be easy to move around in.
The Atmos AG 65 is built with the backpacker’s comfort in mind. The adjustable straps and anti-gravity suspension system makes it feel like you’re carrying less weight than you really are. Overall, this backpack is the best option for your long haul treks.
Osprey Atmos AG 65 Pros
- Advanced suspension system that makes the bag feel lighter than it is
- Hydration pack sleeve
- Three different sizes available
Osprey Atmos AG 65 Cons
- May not fit as a carry-on
Best for Short Trips: PacSafe VentureSafe X30 Anti Theft Adventure Backpack
A top contender in antitheft bags, Pacsafe brings you the ultimate pick for a short weekend getaway or hiking trip. The VentureSafe X30 is a versatile option that is perfect for your shorter trips but still packs a punch in the travel backpack department. The backpack comes with all of the features you need in a good travel backpack, while also featuring anti-theft technology to keep you and your things safe.
Take this backpack on a short camping trip or even on a trek to a new city. The VentureSafe is great because of it’s lightweight build that won’t be excessive for a few days away.
PacSafe VentureSafe X30 Pros
- Slash proof straps to protect you from slash theives
- RFID blocking technology on pockets
- Accessible through discreet back panel
PacSafe VentureSafe X30 Cons
- Not as easy to open up
- No option to hide the hip belt, can be uncomfortable
Travel Backpack Buying Guide
Top Loader vs Front Loader
One of the biggest decisions when choosing a travel backpack is picking a front loader vs top loader. While there are advantages and disadvantages to both, there is definitely a preference among the traveling community. A front loader backpack is one that opens up like a normal suitcase. This means that when you lay down the backpack, instead of opening it up the traditional way at the top, there is a zipper that opens down the front of the bag.
Opening a backpack from the front gives you better options for packing. Instead of essentially stacking your clothes into the backpack, you can load it by laying it down. This provides better organization and easier access when unpacking or grabbing for something. Front loaders also offer a bit more security because you can secure a lock on the zippers if you want to. A lot of the popular travel backpacks out there like the Farpoint or Fairview 40 are front loaders and also can be worn in various ways.
Top loaders are the more traditional style of opening a backpack. These ones are usually secured by a drawstring and a flap that folds over it. Most people consider this to be not as safe as a drawstring is pretty easy to get into. Some people claim that top loaders are much easier to carry around because of how slim and lightweight they tend to be. A top loader is also said to provide good back support for walking for long periods of time. If you’re a smaller person, then a top loader may be a better choice for you because of the distribution of weight. The best way to decide which one works better for you is to go to a nearby store and try on different travel backpacks.
Size and Capacity
You may think that the size of your backpack is related to how much you want to pack inside of it. While bigger backpacks may carry more, the size of the bag greatly depends on your body type. If you get a backpack that is too wide or too tall for your body then it will be uncomfortable and could cause back pain. A good travel backpack is one that distributes the weight evenly and can carry a sufficient amount of your clothes. So going for the biggest bag isn’t always the best way to go.
Choosing between a 40L and 60L backpack largely depends on the person. As far as the capacity of the bag, it’s important to inspect the inside of the bag to see just how much it can actually hold. Some bags may look like they fit more than they actually can.
The last component of travel backpack size is carry-on versus a non-carry on. The bigger your backpack is, the more likely you will have to check it in. With the airline regulations cracking down on the carry-on size and weight, this could make a difference in the price of your plane ticket and travel time. In our roundup of the best travel backpacks, we included several options that meet the airline regulations (22 x 14 x 9in) so you don’t have to be surprised. No one wants to pay pesky airline fees and waiting at the baggage claim is a major downer.
The travel backpacks of today are usually internal frame backpacks, meaning that the wiring and frame that holds it together is built inside. You’d be hard pressed to find a backpack with an external frame nowadays since almost all of them are uncomfortable and bulky. Most of the backpacks made today have a sturdy and durable internal frame that makes it lightweight and easy to carry.
Comfort and Support
Travel backpacks are made for long journeys, meaning that they must be comfortable and give good back support. A good travel backpack is designed to be comfortable for hours of walking. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a lopsided uncomfortable bag while walking through hilly cobblestoned streets in search of your hostel. This is why backpack comfort and support are one of the most important parts of buying a travel backpack. What are some things to look for as far as comfort?
- Internal frame- Exposed wiring and rods are not only ugly, but they are also extremely uncomfortable. A bag with an internal frame will have the proper padding so that you can’t feel the frame while carrying the backpack.
- Padded back- The back of the bag is more important than you think. A well-padded back will give the support you need to carry your bag for hours at a time. The best travel backpacks are the ones that offer so much support that you forget you’re even wearing it. If you’re carrying weeks of clothes in one bag, you’ll need the proper support to keep the weight evenly distributed throughout the bag. A padded back that is contoured will help the weight of the bag to be distributed evenly and will give the bag a more natural arch. Furthermore, the contoured back will also allow plenty of airflow so that you and your bag don’t become sweaty after hours of wear.
Shoulder and Belt Straps
The shoulder and belt straps are also a crucial part of the comfortability of a travel backpack. In fact, the way that the bag distributes the weight is linked to the quality of the shoulder straps and hip belt straps. Because of the longterm wear of travel backpacks, you’ll usually find most of them with a well-padded shoulder and hip belt straps. You’ll want a backpack with a quality thick padding on these straps so that your hips and shoulders are supported and comfortable while carrying the backpack.
The padded shoulder and belt straps are a typical feature to find in backpacks. Some travel backpacks have anti-theft technology built into the straps like the Pacsafe VentureSafe backpack. The straps have wiring built into it so that thieves can’t cut into your bag while you’re out sightseeing.
Durable and Waterproof Material
You’d be hard-pressed to find a backpack that is 100% waterproof out there these days. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find one with good water proof material. Make sure that whatever brand of backpack you choose has good durable material that won’t soak through with a little water. This comes in handy on rainy days or if you ever spill something while traveling.
In any case, your backpack usually also comes with a water proof tarp that you can pull over the backpack just in case of heavy rain. A good material to look for is a nylon or polyester that is thick and will last long.
Every opening in a backpack should have two zippers so that they easily be locked together. The bag may or may not come with it’s own lockable zipper, but either way if there are two then they can easily be clasped together. This ensures that you can secure your belongings while in transit or if you have to leave it in a public place like a hostel.
Some of the brands that specialize in lockable zippers are Pacsafe. Our pick for best travel backpacks for short trips has lockable zippers as well more special anti-theft features to keep unwanted hands away from your belongings.
The final component of a travel backpack to make sure to look for is the compartments. A good travel backpack should have several extra compartments besides the main ones on both the inside and outside portion. Compartments help organize your packing and keep your things in order. Instead of digging around for smaller items, utlizing the various compartments in the backpack will save you time and stress.
What can you put in the compartments?
Items like shoes, toiletries and other miscellaneous travel items are some examples of things to place in your compartments instead of the main compartment. You’ll need the outside compartments for easy access to things while on the road. For example, many belt straps contain small pockets that are easy to access, these compartments would be good for quick access things like money, headphones or even lip balm.
Types of compartments to look for:
- Water bottle compartment- Many travel backpacks have mesh side compartments that make a great water bottle sleeve. Leaving water bottles inside of your backpack could be a spill hazard. Mesh compartments are great because whatever you put inside is easy to reach whenever you need it.
- Laptop sleeve- This compartment is especially important if you are traveling with a laptop or a tablet. Nowadays a lot of travel backpacks are built with laptop sleeves inside the backpack so that your computer is secured. You don’t want your laptop floating around in your backpack- especially while flying, so securing it in a fitted sleeve is important.