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The top 6 best travel backpacks | Durable, functional, affordable

5 Mins read

It’s the dream of any traveler: What if you could only carry one bag on your next trip? One bag travelers have found a huge level of freedom in recent years due to the increasing popularity of carry-on travel backpacks. These bags are designed to allow you to literally bring a single bag on a trip. They are made to carry all of your stuff without the use of wheels like normal luggage. This means you can be more nimble, move over tough terrain and just generally pack lighter.

And in the past few years some amazing companies have been releasing truly buy it for life BIFL quality travel backpacks. Our list of the top 6 best travel backpacks below shows some of the very best, most durable travel backpacks. Each of these companies uses top notch materials and stands behind their product with great warranties and customer support.

Amazing design: Peak Design Travel Backpack

In our minds you can’t really get any better than this travel backpack. The Peak Design Travel Backpack is the pinnacle of smart design choices that make for a bag that is simply a pleasure to use. From backpack straps and waist straps that vanish securely behind magentic flaps on the back of the bag to side access packets that make finding anything in your bag a breeze, this bag has it all. There is a thoughtful laptop sleeve built-in as well as dual (that’s right, dual) water bottle pockets on the outside that can double as a way to carry awkward items like tripods. It comes in two colors (black and a kind of textured gray) and sports incredibly durable materials and zippers. Our favorite part of this bag is how versatile it is. It can be packed up to 45 litres, but can also be contracted with included snaps to become a 35 litre bag that easily passes airline carry-on size restrictions. Peak Design makes packing cubes, gear organizers and dop kits that fit perfectly in this bag for a modular design that fits the way you like to travel. Overall I’d say this is our favorite bag of the bunch. Some others may carry a bit more, but none of them offer the full-featured flexibility of this bag.

Peak Design Travel Line Backpack 45L (Sage) (Expandable 30-35-45L)

$411.49  in stock
3 new from $411.49
Amazon.com
as of January 19, 2022 4:41 am

Features

  • Modular Bag System by Peak Design, customise the internal carry options to match your requirements
  • Meets international max carry-on standards in default 35L configuration. Dual expansion zips give 10L extra volume for 45L max storage.
  • Dual side zippers for instant camera and item access. Full rear access via large dual zips.
  • Quick tablet and laptop access using the main back zip.
  • Packing Tools, Camera Cubes, Tech Pouch and Wash Kit compliment the Travel Line Backpack and are available separately.

The big boy: Heimplanet Monolith 40L Weekender

Sometimes you want a bag that is just a massive black hole. Throw everything you own in there and call it a day. This is where the Heimplanet Monolith 40L Weekendercomes in. Its probably the best constructed bag on this list in terms of the quality of sewing and in the general ruggedness category. Our favorite part of this bag is its big gnarly padded shoulder straps. These aren’t trying to be inconspicuous, but they are an absolute dream when you are carrying a lot on your back. While many other bags start to make you feel fatigued due to too much weight on one part of your shoulder, the Heimplanet Monolith 40L Weekender spreads this weight out perfectly. There is more than adequate internal capacity and simple but straightforward outer pockets for some basic organization. This is a fantastic and BIFL bag if I’ve ever seen one.

Heimplanet Monolith 40L Weekender Backpack - Copper Red

 out of stock
Amazon.com
as of January 19, 2022 4:41 am

Features

  • Heimplanet Monolith 40L Weekender Backpack - Copper Red

Elegance and simplicity: Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack

Now here’s the exact opposite of the Heimplanet Monolith. The Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack tries to include all of the reggedness of the best travel backpacks and adds and level of finish and slickness that is often an afterthought for a lot of other companies. The slick outer shell boasts crazy durable 1680D ballistic nylon paneling for long term durability, and it adds a splash of colour for good measure. With a 35 liter capacity, it isn’t the largest travel backpack on the list, but it makes up for that with its super comfortable contoured shoulder straps, included waist belt, tablet and laptop sleeves, and theft proof zippers. For those of you with sweaty back syndrome, the Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack includes a really nice meshed back material that is great at keeping you cool, even in the sweltering heat of a hike in the Bolivian desert… Great bag, would buy again. A+

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack - Black+ New Waist Belt!

$199.90  in stock
3 new from $199.90
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of January 19, 2022 4:41 am

Features

  • Weight-distributing, low-profile harness system.
  • Carry-on-compatible 35L capacity. TPU-coated 1000D polyester. 840D ballistic nylon paneling.
  • Suitcase-style, full-wrap zipper opening on the main compartment. Large zippered mesh compartment on the right side. Subdivided zippered mesh compartment on the left side.
  • Padded laptop and tablet sleeve. Shortcut zipper to main compartment. Top zippered pocket. Security YKK zippers.
  • Carabiner lash loops. Tuck-away straps. 4 reinforced grab handles. Included rain cover. 35L Size. This version has a new removable waist belt!

Water proof workhorse: Nomatic 30L Travel Bag

There are many bags that say they are water resistant, few actually achieve a level of water resistance that could stand up to Southeast Asian rainstorms. Meet the Nomatic 30L Travel Bag, a bag for true adventurers. This carry-on size bag offers some really great features aside from its water resistance including: a ventilated shoe pocket, an RFID proof pocket for IDs, pass through cord system (so you can charge your phone with an external battery without screwing around with the inside of the bag), a TSA-ready laptop sleeve, and smart compartmentalization for all your tech goodies. This bag is a real winner and passes our BIFL test with its rugged design and attention to detail.

NOMATIC 30L Travel Bag, Water Resistant Gym Pack Carryon

$279.99  in stock
2 new from $279.99
Amazon.com
as of January 19, 2022 4:41 am

Features

  • LIFE ON THE MOVE: Patented strap design allows you to switch between duffle bag and backpack. You never have to worry about dangling straps again! Whether you're headed to the gym, the office, or a weekend getaway, the 30L travel bag will hold everything you need and more.
  • 20+ INNOVATIVE FEATURES: Find your things easily with pockets designed specifically for shoes, liquids, tech, and everything in-between. Features include a full perimeter zipper, RFID safe pocket, roller bag sleeve, mesh pockets, a cord pass through with an easy access pocket, water bottle pocket, water resistant pocket, shoe compartment that fits 2 pairs of shoes with a ventilated door, and more!
  • TSA READY: Imagine security without juggling bins! The TSA ready laptop sleeve lays flat so you can leave your laptop in the bag when passing through airport security.
  • BUILT TO WITHSTAND: We know traveling can be rough on your belongings, so we engineered this bag to be durable and long-lasting! Our bag is created with water resistant materials and zippers that will keep your precious cargo safe.

A duffel in disguise: WANDRD Hexad Access Travel Duffel Bag

We all know and love duffel bags. But what if you took everything great about duffels, sewed on some kickass shoulder straps and gave it a clamshell design more like a traditional set of luggage? Meet the WANDRD Hexad Access Travel Duffel Bag. This is truly a duffel bag that has somehow morphed into a great travel backpack. A favorite of photographers, the Hexad features huge capacity and smart organization which lends itself to lenses and other tech goodies. The three large compartments on this bag are perfect for those of you that are obsessed with organization. Some find the outer material to be a little to rigid and rubbery, but this is the price you pay for one of the most durable travel backpacks in the game.

WANDRD Hexad Access 45L Duffel Bag - Travel Duffel Bag with Multiple Compartments for Organization

$336.81  in stock
Amazon.com
as of January 19, 2022 4:41 am

Features

  • DESIGN - The HEXAD Duffel series was designed to go where no duffels have gone before.
  • FEATURES - The HEXAD Access Duffel features a clamshell opening that gives you complete access to the 3 large compartments inside the bag.
  • COMPATIBLE - The two bottom compartments were designed to be compatible with our existing Camera Cubes, turning this into our largest photo bag yet.
  • TRAVEL - Whether you are using it for photography or not, this is the perfect travel bag for those who want a little more organization.
  • WANDRD - Our mission is simple. Create products that inspire people to get out and live passionate lives; exploring, creating, and living life in the moment.

For the minimalist: Arcido Akra Backpack

For those of you that want to lighten the load a bit, there is the minimalist-oriented Arcido Akra Backpack. It’ll fit into more planes with some room to spare, but still sports enough storge for a lot of travelers who are happy to leave a couple pairs of undies behind… The laptop sleeve is elevated off the ground so there is no chance you will damage your gear when throwing this bag around. Like the Peak Design Travel Bag, the Akra is really meant to be packed with the included packing cube system which will maximize your storage space and organization. This is up there with the best travel backpacks for digital nomads due to its copious amounts of smart organization. Lastly, once you get to your destination, the Arcido Akra Backpack can easily pass as an everyday carry backpack if you pull out some of your stuff. True one bag travel, finally!

Arcido Akra Backpack : Carry-on Size Laptop Backpack with Removable Harness TSA Compliant American Airlines Carry On

$199.99  out of stock
Amazon.com
as of January 19, 2022 4:41 am

Features

  • CARRY-ON SIZE - Fit everything you need into this single, cabin-approved backpack. Less than 22" in height, it's the perfect size to take on board any airline including American Airlines and WestJet
  • HUGE INNER CAPACITY - This 35L pack has a large main pocket inside Akra which allows you to fit a whole lot of clothes, shoes and toiletries inside. Using our Packing Cubes (sold separately) makes this large volume more organized. Or simply roll your clothes and take it as your only luggage.
  • AMAZING ORGANIZATION - Never worry about where your passport, your laptop or liquids are. Akra allows you to pack smarter, keeping everything organized without an excessive number of pockets.
  • PROTECT YOUR GEAR - An innovative laptop harness system keeps your notebook suspended and perfectly contained, no matter the size. With a pull tab for quick access, the laptop harness can be used interchangeably with our smaller companion bag, Vaga (sold separately).
  • COMFORTABLE & DURABLE - Spread the weight with Akra's removable, weight-bearing chest and hip straps as well as a padded foam backplate. Finished in a durable lightweight material and with high-quality zips, Akra is our best pack yet..

The best travel backpacks run down

Just to recap, here are what we think are the very best travel backpacks in the game right now. Each will pack what you need, in style, and will last a lifetime. Happy traveling!

Peak Design Travel Line Backpack 45L (Sage) (Expandable 30-35-45L)

$411.49  in stock
3 new from $411.49
Amazon.com
as of January 19, 2022 4:41 am

Features

  • Modular Bag System by Peak Design, customise the internal carry options to match your requirements
  • Meets international max carry-on standards in default 35L configuration. Dual expansion zips give 10L extra volume for 45L max storage.
  • Dual side zippers for instant camera and item access. Full rear access via large dual zips.
  • Quick tablet and laptop access using the main back zip.
  • Packing Tools, Camera Cubes, Tech Pouch and Wash Kit compliment the Travel Line Backpack and are available separately.

Heimplanet Monolith 40L Weekender Backpack - Copper Red

 out of stock
Amazon.com
as of January 19, 2022 4:41 am

Features

  • Heimplanet Monolith 40L Weekender Backpack - Copper Red

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack - Black+ New Waist Belt!

$199.90  in stock
3 new from $199.90
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of January 19, 2022 4:41 am

Features

  • Weight-distributing, low-profile harness system.
  • Carry-on-compatible 35L capacity. TPU-coated 1000D polyester. 840D ballistic nylon paneling.
  • Suitcase-style, full-wrap zipper opening on the main compartment. Large zippered mesh compartment on the right side. Subdivided zippered mesh compartment on the left side.
  • Padded laptop and tablet sleeve. Shortcut zipper to main compartment. Top zippered pocket. Security YKK zippers.
  • Carabiner lash loops. Tuck-away straps. 4 reinforced grab handles. Included rain cover. 35L Size. This version has a new removable waist belt!

NOMATIC 30L Travel Bag, Water Resistant Gym Pack Carryon

$279.99  in stock
2 new from $279.99
Amazon.com
as of January 19, 2022 4:41 am

Features

  • LIFE ON THE MOVE: Patented strap design allows you to switch between duffle bag and backpack. You never have to worry about dangling straps again! Whether you're headed to the gym, the office, or a weekend getaway, the 30L travel bag will hold everything you need and more.
  • 20+ INNOVATIVE FEATURES: Find your things easily with pockets designed specifically for shoes, liquids, tech, and everything in-between. Features include a full perimeter zipper, RFID safe pocket, roller bag sleeve, mesh pockets, a cord pass through with an easy access pocket, water bottle pocket, water resistant pocket, shoe compartment that fits 2 pairs of shoes with a ventilated door, and more!
  • TSA READY: Imagine security without juggling bins! The TSA ready laptop sleeve lays flat so you can leave your laptop in the bag when passing through airport security.
  • BUILT TO WITHSTAND: We know traveling can be rough on your belongings, so we engineered this bag to be durable and long-lasting! Our bag is created with water resistant materials and zippers that will keep your precious cargo safe.

WANDRD Hexad Access 45L Duffel Bag - Travel Duffel Bag with Multiple Compartments for Organization

$336.81  in stock
Amazon.com
as of January 19, 2022 4:41 am

Features

  • DESIGN - The HEXAD Duffel series was designed to go where no duffels have gone before.
  • FEATURES - The HEXAD Access Duffel features a clamshell opening that gives you complete access to the 3 large compartments inside the bag.
  • COMPATIBLE - The two bottom compartments were designed to be compatible with our existing Camera Cubes, turning this into our largest photo bag yet.
  • TRAVEL - Whether you are using it for photography or not, this is the perfect travel bag for those who want a little more organization.
  • WANDRD - Our mission is simple. Create products that inspire people to get out and live passionate lives; exploring, creating, and living life in the moment.

Arcido Akra Backpack : Carry-on Size Laptop Backpack with Removable Harness TSA Compliant American Airlines Carry On

$199.99  out of stock
Amazon.com
as of January 19, 2022 4:41 am

Features

  • CARRY-ON SIZE - Fit everything you need into this single, cabin-approved backpack. Less than 22" in height, it's the perfect size to take on board any airline including American Airlines and WestJet
  • HUGE INNER CAPACITY - This 35L pack has a large main pocket inside Akra which allows you to fit a whole lot of clothes, shoes and toiletries inside. Using our Packing Cubes (sold separately) makes this large volume more organized. Or simply roll your clothes and take it as your only luggage.
  • AMAZING ORGANIZATION - Never worry about where your passport, your laptop or liquids are. Akra allows you to pack smarter, keeping everything organized without an excessive number of pockets.
  • PROTECT YOUR GEAR - An innovative laptop harness system keeps your notebook suspended and perfectly contained, no matter the size. With a pull tab for quick access, the laptop harness can be used interchangeably with our smaller companion bag, Vaga (sold separately).
  • COMFORTABLE & DURABLE - Spread the weight with Akra's removable, weight-bearing chest and hip straps as well as a padded foam backplate. Finished in a durable lightweight material and with high-quality zips, Akra is our best pack yet..
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