Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

When preparing for your adventures, the choice of the travel backpack it is one of the most important decisions you can make.

And since I'm getting ready to buy a new one too, after a thousand searches I've finally decided which one to choose.

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

No, I will not throw my old Deuter: we spent too much time together to chase him away or lock him up to collect dust in the pantry. After all, it is still in practically perfect condition. For this reason, the choice of the backpack must be made with the right criteria: it will become your adventure companion for years, probably for a lifetime.

However, I decided that the time has come to give Massi a new backpack: his, of poor quality, it has all shown its limitations: It is not well balanced when full, it hurts its back and the zippers and seams are leaving the cuff, so to speak.

Travel backpacks come in all shapes and sizes and range from hand luggage size, hold luggage size to wheeled backpacks.

Based on my experience, I then put it together a guide to the best travel backpacks on the market today. These cover a wide range of budgets and styles, with options for both men and women.

In addition to the guide to the best backpacks for traveling, I've also put together a guide to what you should look for in a travel backpack.

Regardless of whether you choose one of the options I propose here, my hope is that you can find the backpack of your dreams and live many, many great adventures with your new best friend!


1 - The best backpack Theft Protection: Pacsafe Venture S Exp45

2 - the best backpack hand luggageFarpoint 40 Men’s Travel Pack (man),Osprey Packs Fairview 40 or Deuter Traveller 60 + 10 (donna)

3 - the best travel backpackOsprey Atmos AG 65 for men and the equivalent Osprey Aura 65 for women.

4 - the best city ​​backpack:  Fjallraven Kanken Zaino Casual

How to choose the travel backpack

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

Before you start looking at travel backpacks, you need to already have an idea of ​​what you are looking for. Travel backpacks come in a wide range of sizes and price ranges.

They also have a number of features, from things like waterproof covers to the type of zipper, material, airflow system, how they open and more. Which of these features will be important to you it will obviously depend on your needs and traveler priority.

Here is a guide to some of the key features to look out for when choosing your travel backpack.

1 - Functionality

What will you need the backpack for? This is one of the first questions to ask: at that point you can evaluate its characteristics according to your needs.

If you are backpacking you will not need a trekking backpack, if you plan to go on long and demanding excursions you will need a professional backpack suitable for your equipment, if you are traveling by plane you will need luggage suitable for the rules of the various companies and so on.

2 - Materials

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

The first of the aspects that you will have to take into consideration when buying a travel backpack is the matter with which it is made. In fact, its fundamental characteristics will depend on this: weight, impermeability, resistance and load.

Today, travel backpacks generally consist of a mix of synthetic fibers that guarantee lightness and sturdiness.

The most used material is nylon thanks to its extreme resistance, it is also easy to find polyester (or nylon and polyester) backpacks. The latter synthetic fabric, in fact, even if it is less resistant (and therefore durable), has the advantage of being more breathable and, if wet, drying earlier.

Another material to consider for your backpacks is the Polypropylene which is mostly used on certain components. Polypropylene does not absorb water and dries quickly, but it has the disadvantage of absorbing UV rays and therefore degrading faster than other materials.

My advice is to always prefer a backpack waterproof to avoid nasty surprises or damage to the content.

3 - Shoulder straps, back and bands

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

Le shoulder pads, or shoulder straps, are one of the fundamental elements to think about when buying a travel backpack. These, in fact, are always in contact with our body and are constantly subject to stress: for this reason they must be comfortable, but resistant.

The straps must be adjustable and padded, but remember to also inquire about their breathability.

Same advice applies to it back which must be comfortable and padded, but also breathable and equipped with a good ventilation system.

Finally, the lumbar and thoracic bands are also very important: these are belts that they will help distribute the weight of the backpack evenly so as not to weigh on your back.

This is especially true in the case of trips where you will keep the backpack on your shoulders for a long time, otherwise the straps could simply become a clutter.

Also take into account another factor: men and women have different body shapes and a good backpack design takes this into account. This usually includes the frame size and padding adjusted to better fit your body shapes (hey girls, we have breasts), bust length, and waist / hip ratio.

Many backpack models have versions designed for both men and women. Eg, Osprey come on Deuter has two variations of many of their backpacks, one suitable for men and one molded for female ergonomics.

So I generally recommend that you choose a backpack designed for a woman if you are a woman and one designed for a man if you are a man. Although some unisex options also offer a lot of adjustability.

The key is to find the most comfortable backpack for your body size and shape. You will surely feel the difference after a long day of hiking or traveling.

4 - Compartments and pockets

Another aspect to consider is the number of compartments and backpack pockets.

This will depend solely on your needs.

If you travel with several technological accessories (cameras, lenses, tripods, PCs and various components), then it might be useful to prefer backpacks that have different compartments and spaces for your equipment.

If, on the other hand, you don't carry anything like this with you, a large number of compartments could be inconvenient and take up space by decreasing the liter capacity of the backpack.

A separate discussion should be made for the openings and pockets.

A backpack that only opens from the top could be uncomfortable if you have to look for something that is at the bottom. An additional front opening, then, could be functional to quickly access the lower part of the backpack.

There are also backpacks with a comfortable "clamshell" opening (like that of trolleys, so to speak) that can facilitate organization. Mine is like this and also what I chose for Massi.

In addition, the front and external side pockets are very useful for placing objects to be taken on the fly: water, glasses, umbrellas, snacks, but also tickets for vehicles and reservations.

5 - Dimensions and Capacity

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

Le backpack size to buy will depend on your needs, but if you travel by plane keep in mind which are the dimensions accepted by the different companies for cabin baggage, otherwise you will have to board it every time (paying, therefore, a surcharge if you travel with low cost airlines).

Another fundamental aspect is the backpack capacity (i.e. its capacity) which is generally expressed in liters.

A backpack with a capacity of 20 - 30 liters is sufficient for short stays and is generally suitable as cabin baggage on an airplane.

If you are traveling with the bare minimum and do not need to carry special equipment with you, a backpack with a capacity of 35 - 40 liters may be sufficient.

Also in this case it is easy to find models designed specifically to fit the size of a cabin bag. I also have it zaino Pacsafe Venture (see later) made on purpose of dimensions for hand luggage.

A 45 - 50 liter backpack is a good solution for slightly longer trips, but you will hardly find backpacks that fit the size of hand luggage.
Then there are those ranging from 55 to 75 liters, but I warn you: they are starting to be a bit more demanding backpacks and therefore are good for men, less for women.

In general:

  • 15-30 liter backpack: too small unless you are going for a weekend trip or are super minimalist. This size is usually for day backpacks or commuter bags.
  • 35-45 liter backpack: A happy backpack! Perfect for short trips but also for trips that last several weeks (my husband managed to stay there for a month in Tanzania). However, it is essential to travel in a warm climate. This size is generally accepted as hand luggage, saving you time and costs for checking in during the flight.
  • 50-65 liter backpack: Good if you need extra space. I'm not that good at traveling light and I need the extra space for the souvenirs I buy for the world.
  • 80-120 liter backpack: NOPE. For trekking and camping expeditions only. Internal support frames often already weigh several kilos on their own. This is overkill for most travelers. But if you need to store one travel tent and other gear, this might be the right size.

6 - Weight of the backpack

In all this you must always remember to evaluate the weight of the backpack which, obviously, will add up to that of the load. The lighter it is, the more comfortably you will travel and, of course, the more freedom you will have in filling it.

Also, if you want to use it as hand luggage on the plane, this will be a fundamental aspect since most companies accept baggage between 8 and 10 kg in the cabin.

A backpack that weighs 1,5 kg is an excellent solution: make sure, however, that the materials are good and that it is not a question of savings.

7 - Security

Last but not least, the safety of your travel backpack is a very important feature.

Secret pockets, hidden compartments and the possibility of using a padlock can be qualities to be taken into consideration for a more peaceful journey.

The best Airplane backpacks

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

Now that you know what to look for in a travel backpack, let me introduce you to my list of our favorite travel backpacks available on the market today.

Since size is one of the most important factors for people, I have chosen to sort the backpacks into 3 categories:

  • airplane backpacks
  • travel backpacks
  • city ​​backpacks

This is a list of great backpacks that you can easily buy online from amazon but keep in mind that it would be best to go to a store and try on the backpack before buying it.

Alternatively, make sure you buy from an online source that has a solid return policy, just in case the backpack you buy isn't perfect for you.

Here is the list of the best backpacks around!

Pacsafe Venture S Exp45 Borsa Unisex

I can't start this list with the best airplane backpack I've ever had.

Il Pacsafe Venture S Exp45 it is built with the safety of your equipment in mind: it is a real one anti-theft travel backpack!

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

The bag is made of 420D nylon and features a cut resistant steel mesh fabric and lightweight for maximum safety.

As if that weren't enough, there is a stainless steel cable to tie your travel bag to other items, so you don't have to worry when you are traveling that someone will rub your backpack while you sleep.

Il anti-theft design also includes lockable, puncture resistant hinges that can be locked with a padlock.

As I said, the dimensions are those of hand luggage on the plane and the straps allow for good compression, but we have also used it for trips for several weeks (for example in Senegal o Tanzania)

Here I am below in Kyrgyzstan with my little one Pacsafe Venture!

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

Farpoint 40 Men’s Travel Pack (man) e Osprey Packs Fairview 40 (donna)

Osprey is one of my favorite travel backpack manufacturers and their backpack of choice for my husband.

Expect to see many more of their backpacks on this list, including the one I picked!

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

Farpoint 40 Men’s Travel Pack (man) e Osprey Packs Fairview 40 (woman) are two perfect airplane models that I had the pleasure to see and try: they are in fact very popular with travelers.

The main thing I like about the Farpoint is that it is super comfortable thanks to a padded back panel, well-padded shoulder straps and a belt at the waist.

Six different adjustment straps facilitate weight distribution across the entire back. Osprey is one of the TOP brands for travel backpacks and it shows.

Osprey Porter 46 (unisex)

Of this backpack there is also the version of 2020 you find here and which costs slightly less.

THEOsprey  Porter 46 is another great option as hand luggage.

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

Il Porter 46 is an interesting alternative to the Farpoint 40. It seems designed from a different starting point; the Farpoint 40 is almost like a small-sized trekking bag suitable for general travel, while the Porter 46 is more like a duffel bag that has been converted into a backpack.

It has more side pockets but its harness is thinner and not as well padded, making it less ideal for heavier loads or for walking long distances. It's basically more of a city bag.

I think the Porter 46 is better suited for city travel, while the Farpoint is perhaps better for adventure travel.

The Porter 46's frame is slightly clunky and wide and isn't quite as comfortable on the back, but it's a lot easier to store your stuff inside and is perhaps more versatile.

CabinZero Classic 44l

Everything you need to know about the travel backpack CabinZero Classic 44L it's in his name. Classic. This simple and minimalist travel backpack is a backpack cheap, but for its price, less than 70 euros, we would not expect its robustness.

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

CabinZero's classic travel backpack comes in three different sizes - 28L, 36L and 44L - and around a billion different colors and patterns to choose from.

Moving on to the materials. The backpack is made of 600D polyester. The good news is that polyester is lightweight. This backpack weighs very little. This is definitely a big plus, it not only helps keep the overall weight of the backpack low for airline restrictions, but for back and shoulder health.

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

The bad news is that it's not the strongest fabric around.

It will likely hold up for quieter trips, but if you're looking for a backpack to lug up and down for years it might not last that long.

Having said that the CabinZero Classic 44L, among the budget carry-on backpack options, is one of the best choices around: my friend Margherita and her husband Nick, as you can see in the photo above, have been using it for years and are very satisfied with it.

The best travel backpacks

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

Osprey Atmos Ag 65 (man) e Osprey Packs Pack Aura (donna)

Kicking off the list of the largest travel backpacks is theOsprey Atmos AG 65 for men and the equivalent Osprey Aura 65 for women.

And the men's one is the travel backpack I chose for Massi, I'm sure he'll be delighted!

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

Atmos / Aura AG 65 are two perfect backpacks for backpacking trips of a week or more. The extra suspension in the back makes you feel like you are carrying less weight and hugs your body perfectly.

The lightweight mesh extending from the top to the ventral waistband provides unmatched ventilation and fit.

Deuter Traveller 70 Plus 10 (unisex) e Deuter Traveller 60 Plus 10 (donna)

And as a second choice I could not put my beloved Deuter Traveller 60 + 10? I have owned it for 10 years and it is my companion of a thousand adventures: I dragged it to half the countries of the planet, on shabby planes and buses.

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

It is a very comfortable backpack for the back with adjustable shoulder straps and a belt at the waist. The detachable 10-liter backpack is a plus for getting around town.

In short, it closes completely with a bag for air travel it's a really great travel backpack!

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

La 70 liter version +10 it's unisex, but for a woman it might get a bit heavy.

Osprey Aether AG 70, Backpack (Man)

Osprey Aether AG 70 it has all the advantages of every Osprey brand backpack (the “Osprey Guarantee”: quality, durability, comfort), but this model is slightly smaller than the standard 80+ liters.

It makes it the perfect backpack for long-haul travel when a smaller bag wouldn't be enough.

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

In addition, it has many pockets and compartments to keep things tidy. I can guarantee you it will last a lifetime, if you don't believe me, just ask Osprey!

Literally guys, they put a lifetime warranty on every single product they sell to prove it. The only downside to this backpack that you can't avoid is the cost.

Osprey Aether AG 70 it is undoubtedly one of the best backpacks to travel around the world on a longer adventure.

Berghaus - Unisex 60 l + 20 l travel backpack

If you are looking for something cheap but without sacrificing quality, you should take a look at this backpack from Mountain house.

Versatile is the name at play in this case and this product does the job that is required of it.

A large 60 liter main bag can be carried like a regular travel backpack, with a smaller detachable 20 liter backpack.

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

Like other travel backpacks it has this clever design whereby it is possible to “hide” the straps and turn it into a duffel bag.

As for comfort it offers a back length adjustment system to a supportive waist belt for a lighter load feeling.

It's a great all-round product!

Osprey Sojourn Wheeled Luggage (unisex)

Is it a backpack? Is it a giant trolley? Who knows! All I know is that I have seen it and who used it told me that it will never come back.

What I generally don't like about backpacks with wheels is that they are heavier, but surely, they are easy to carry and very comfortable.

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

THEOsprey Sojourn it has the standard features of a suitcase with wheels, but also has a backpack transport system so that you can use it differently depending on the case.

While it's not designed to be a full-time backpack, the backpack suspension is actually pretty decent. It features mesh back panels and padded shoulder straps, with the entire system highly adjustable.

The suspension system can also be removed completely to add more packing capacity when additional volume is needed.

I also found that this bag excels like suitcase with wheels. It has large rollerblade-style wheels and a really solid polymer plastic base, which means it handles most of the terrain with ease and the base won't get damaged even as you walk on potholed roads.

Le features They include side pockets with zipper to keep your gear organized, internal and external compression straps to keep everything in place during transport and one optional detachable backpack for day trip adventures.

It's also easy to pack and unpack, with the entire front zipping up to reveal the contents.

You will also find one back panel pocket which can hold documents and a zippered top pocket for smaller items like chargers that you may want to access quickly.

As for the materials, this bag is durable. There are three main materials in use. First the bag is wrapped in 1680D ballistic nylon, which surrounds the main compartment and protects it. This stuff is really tough.

The main part of the bag is made of nylon 420D. Finally, the bottom of the backpack is made of durable Super Oxford 900D fabric, which is often used to make camping chairs and other products that need to be durable and wear resistant.

Sojourn is available in sizes 45L, 60L and 80L. I think the 60 liter is perfect for travelers as it is spacious enough to hold everything we need.

The main drawback of the Sojourn range is the weight. The frame, rolling system and durable materials in use make this a pretty heavy bag.

However, if you think of it more like a travel bag (where weight is less of an issue), which you can also use as a backpack when needed, it's definitely a great option.

The best city backpacks

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

Those who travel for long periods and with a large backpack know very well how indispensable it is a city backpack to be able to ride light.

Those who have chosen a backpack with a detachable backpack like me do not have this problem, but if you had, for example, a hiking or mountain backpack, having a small separate backpack is absolutely essential.

There are plenty of them on the market, but assuming that you will already be loaded like a donkey under your 80-liter backpack, let's see a couple of very light options, easily foldable and that you can put in your backpack when you don't need them.

Invicta Minisac Next backpack (unisex)

Anyone who is more or less my age cannot fail to remember this iconic backpack!

Lightweight and folds up on its own, you can put it in the pocket of the large backpack and it will be like not having it.

This is very small, only 8 liters, but it's okay if you have to put your wallet, a hand sanitizer, handkerchiefs, in short, those things you need to visit a city with the least possible weight.

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

It has a small pocket where you can put something (but not much).

We should all have it!

ZOMAKE Foldable Backpack 35L, Lightweight Foldable Backpack

Another folding backpack, less iconic than the previous one, but with a greater capacity (35 liters).

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

This backpack is also very convenient to be stored in its pouch and put in your pocket or backpack.

In addition it has a wide range of colors so you can choose the one you prefer.

Fjallraven Kanken Zaino Casual

A backpack that has become famous in recent years. Scandinavian design has long been known for offering practical and functional pieces that are beautiful to look at but are meant to be used.

Guide to Buying the Best Travel Backpack in 2021

Originally designed in the 70s for Swedish pupils as a school backpack, the Kanken has now become iconic.

Lightweight and sturdy, it's made from durable, water-resistant Vinylon F ™ fabric and features a sleek, contemporary silhouette.

Final conclusions on the travel backpack

Here we have come to the end of this endless article with my top tips to help you find the best travel backpacks for your next adventures.

Remember, the most important thing that makes a travel bag one of the best backpacks for traveling is the comfort.

The last thing you will want is a bag that you rub on your shoulders or hips as you walk. Follow these tips, try a few before you buy, and you'll end up with an inseparable companion for the next years of adventures!

Still not sure which backpack to buy?

OK, let's summarize! … The best travel backpacks are:

1 - The best backpack Theft Protection: Pacsafe Venture S Exp45

2 - the best backpack hand luggage: Farpoint 40 Men’s Travel Pack (man), Osprey Packs Fairview 40 or Deuter Traveller 60 + 10 (donna)

3 - the best travel backpackOsprey Atmos AG 65 for men and the equivalent Osprey Aura 65 for women.

4 - the best city ​​backpackFjallraven Kanken Zaino Casual

Now that you know all the best travel backpack options, my hope is that you can find the backpack of your dreams and experience many, many great adventures with your new best friend.

Have a good trip!

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