A Best Carry-On Travel Backpacks doesn’t prevent you from traveling, but a good package will feel like a home away from home. We spent more than 3 months researching 60 bags, testing 22, and flying across the country with all our choices. In the end, we found two – the great 45L Tortuga Outbreaker and the smaller Cotopaxi Allpa 35L – which sets the standard for all travel backpacks for comfort, durability, arrangement and style.
However, finding the right bag for you is a personal choice, and there isn’t a single bag that appeals to everyone. That is why we have additional choices that can overcome the worst elements, minimalist designs that can be accommodated anywhere, and budget options for travelers who want to try a one-bag strategy.
Outbreakers are built to occupy the maximum available cabin space. This is an almost perfect blend of backpacks and suitcases. On the outside, waterproof cloth screens and closed zips provide sufficient protection from sharp objects and elements. The main clamshell opening zipper shows a large interior and some organizational features – a prominent front panel, great for tracking electronics and chargers – which makes the bag easy to pack.
Last but not least, thanks to adjustable body length, straps and a belt system – borrowed from a hiking backpack – Outbreaker is the most comfortable bag we’ve tested two years in a row, even though it weighs (5.1 pounds) when blank. It is available in a carry-on configuration of a maximum of 45 liters that we tested and a 35-liter version that fits several intra-European flights. This smaller version is decent for weekends or minimalist travelers, but at that size, we prefer space-saving profiles from Cotopaxi (and our other smaller choices) below.
Best for flexibility and quick access.
While Tortuga is made to do one thing very well – carrying it on your back – Peak Design 45L Travel Backpack is made to adapt. This is a Swiss Army backpack: can be adjusted and if you are looking for a cube with additional controls, the system is almost perfect for a photographer or head of a traveling mate. Most bag expansion mechanisms are not comparable to the extra zippers they use, and they look as attractive as plastic-wrapped ham coming out of the packaging. Not so with the Peak Design: It looks as good as a 45-liter package as compressed into a 30-liter daypack. Another thing that makes this bag stand out is the way the shoulder strap and hip belt are tucked behind a sturdy and strangely satisfying magnet to use.
Although the Peak Design Camera Cubes require additional fees, you may want it if you travel regularly with camera equipment. The company also makes technology regulators, washing bags, and packaging cubes that fit neatly in the bag. This add-on is not needed so that the bag becomes superior as a travel package.
Sleek, slim, and stylish.
AER Travel Pack 2 is the best bag of all our choices. Even though it is enough to be considered a traveling bag, this bag can easily double as a daily carry-on bag for someone who tends to carry a lot of equipment or happens to have a hobby after working like climbing that requires extra clothing and equipment.
The point is, no one will see you twice when you use a Travel Pack, whether you are on a plane, in the office, or climbing to the observation point above the city. It just ignites. We were impressed by its long-lasting construction, how much it could carry for smaller bags, and the easy-to-access front panel loading design. However, we hope to have a handle on all four sides of the bag – like Cotopaxi Allpa did.
Smaller bag with a sporty look.
Osprey Farpoint 40 has helped set the standard for travel bags of this size (both for short torque or shorter trips), but the design is rather long in gear when compared to newer models. If you are just starting out with a one-bag trip or you are not sure what kind of travel bag best suits your needs, Farpoint is an excellent first choice.
It is well-made, easy to pack, and comfortable for most medium distances – walking through the city for one day. The Osprey makes a very good backpack, and their lifetime warranty is well known in this industry. One thing we don’t like: Laptop casings are positioned on the outside of the bag, which weighs the bag strangely when packed and will protect your laptop less than our other choices.
Affordable capacity and organization.
If you like the great Tortuga Outbreaker concept but not the price, TLS Mother Lode eBags are a good choice for travelers who rarely travel who are willing to offer some features, such as a decent hip belt. It’s not comfortable enough for long-distance trekking on foot, but there are plenty of external pockets for organizations, laptop casings that hold your computer’s weight above your shoulders, and the main compartments are easily accessible. It also has the largest capacity of all the bags we test, growing up to 65 liters – far beyond the 45 liter limit set by any airline. However, a more casual appearance than a bag might not suit everyone’s taste.
Tortuga Setout is the best all-purpose backpack I’ve ever met.
This 45 liter package has a clamshell design, giving you easy access to all your items. You will also find a ton of useful bags and organizers inside.
Setout is clearly designed to be a versatile tool, making it easy to be recommended for all types of trips. If you use it mainly for urban or air travel, then this is a great choice! But if you want to do this on a more adventurous trip, then it’s also suitable for that.
Harness from Setout is a kind of big problem for travel bags. It has a thick strap that is comfortable, a rear panel with proper cushioning and ventilation space, and even a hip belt with two broad zip pockets for quick access. (This is a feature usually found on trekking bags. But if you don’t like it, you can release it.) A laptop or tablet compartment is behind, which is ideally placed for load balancing. Next to it has a large mesh bottle holder, which can also hold a small tripod.
Gray heather material on the outside and white interior make Setout full of style. The main ingredient is 900 denier polyester which has a waterproof coating.
As a newer version of the popular Oakley backpack, “Kitchen Sink”, accessories are perfect for travelers who don’t pack light, but don’t want to check bags. “Accessories” measuring 8 x 14 x 20 inches and have additional features such as hooks for attaching locks or water bottles, and many bags and pockets for storing separate items.
Oakley looks stylish, but is functional enough to carry the most important equipment (eg laptops, speakers, tablets, snacks and chargers) for a short vacation while still being easily installed in the trash. Amazon buyers feel that the bag is big enough for their needs, but not excessive.
The Porter 46 is a duffel-style bag that also has a harness, allowing you to carry it as a backpack.
It is made of a thicker material than Farpoint 40 and has padded foam walls that stand when empty. It has many side pockets and a default travel organizer. I think the harness is not good enough or soft like the other backpacks here, although it can still be used for public use. This is superior in large part with great organizational features and a neat protective shell.
Porter 46 seems ideal for urban and air travel. If you are on a very long or outdoor adventure, I recommend buying a bag with a more sophisticated seat belt like Farpoint 40 or Tortuga Setout.
Best for expeditions, storing climbing gear, sports equipment, etc.
Made of 840D nylon laminate and double-layered for weather resistance, designed to be hardworking. Copy the Osprey Transporter 40 does not come with a laptop compartment, side pockets, a small space for storing pens, your keys or anything else. It only gives you one large storage space with four large carry handles and a seat belt that can be stored.
This is a very durable adventure backpack. This is designed to be thrown and you can trust it to keep your items safe and protected from the elements. This can certainly be done on your back, but it will be the same as storing things at home, behind a pickup truck, in a garage or on a boat. If you need to bring sports equipment or expedition equipment, this is your best choice.
Best for long-term travelers.
This bag has the same features and advantages as the one reviewed. Setout earlier on this page, but with some key differences (besides the price difference of $100).
First, it has a fully adjustable suspension system. This means you can precisely adjust this bag to your height, giving you maximum comfort. This is a feature that is usually provided for trekking bags or advanced adventures.
In addition this backpack is made of sailor cloth (yes, made of what a sailboat is made). This material consists of four separate layers which provide high durability and weather resistance. Although it’s definitely overkill for only weekend trips, these bags are made with world travelers experienced in mind.
Ideal for business people & digital nomads.
As a result of the popular Kickstarter campaign, Minaal 2.0 has a clean look and many ways to manage your things in it. I think this is a good bag especially for business travelers and digital nomads who love to go around the city, because it really invites you to pack minimally just with your laptop + electronics and some important clothes neatly arranged.
One of the cool things about this bag is that its main clamshell-style compartment already has several integrated packaging cubes. If you start a journey with a minimalist style, then you will definitely enjoy this feature. With a capacity of around 35L, it has a sleek and lightweight design, although its simple size can make it a little more flexible than the other packages I’ve reviewed for this guide.
The Minaal 2.0 is a bag concept that will definitely appeal to fans of one bag and urban travelers. On the other hand, it might not be the obvious choice for more outdoor trips or adventures, and the price might be a little high for the average traveler. Best Carry-On Travel Backpacks
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