From weekend road tripping to jet-setting around the world, these are the best travel backpacks for every adventure.
There are a lot of great 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 around the world. We spend a lot of time on the road and know how important it is to have the right gear.
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.
Feel free to go through all of our recommendations, or if you’re looking for a specific category, you can jump to it using this list
The Best Travel Backpacks
Best Overall: Cotopaxi Allpa 28L Travel Pack
This pack ($170) will change the way you travel. It’s sleek, durable, and able to fit an incredible amount of stuff in a small space. The zippered mesh pockets keep clothes organized. And the compression straps maximize what you can pack.
The ultratough polyester and nylon construction can take a beating without any signs of wear. And we appreciate that the externally accessed, padded laptop sleeve makes pulling out your electronics at security checkpoints a breeze. There’s also a small outer compartment to keep essentials at hand.
You can completely tuck away the backpack straps and carry the pack like a briefcase, or wear it comfortably as a backpack. We’ve stuffed this pack to the gills countless times and have never had a problem with the zippers. Light rain showers or spills roll right off the TPU-coated exterior, but for legit rainstorms, just pull out the included rain cover.
The Allpa also comes in 35L, 42L, 50L, and 70L capacities. As our editor noted in the 42L review, “Building on its fun and functional ethos, Cotopaxi beefs up its bestselling product. The Allpa Travel Pack earns big points for clever design, clean aesthetic, and a surprising number of handy — and hidden — features.”
Yes, the Cotopaxi Allpa packs are an investment, but anyone who travels regularly will find it a worthy one. These powerhouse packs are sturdy, versatile, and built to last.
Best Budget Backpack: Dakine Campus 33L Backpack
Even at the regular price of $65, this pack is a great deal. And considering you can grab one on sale for $36, it’s a must-have.
It has everything you need to keep your travels organized, without getting too big or complicated. It has a padded laptop sleeve, a fleece-lined top pocket to keep your sunglasses safe, and an organizer pocket perfect for pens, a phone, and easy-access essentials. We love pockets, and this backpack has plenty.
And if that weren’t enough, it also has an insulated cooler pocket to keep your snacks fresh on the go, plus double side pockets keep drinks handy. We found the straps comfortable during long travel days. Be sure to use the sternum strap when carrying a heavy load for the best fit.
If you’re looking for a sub-$100 backpack (under $40 during the sale!) that does it all, then the Dakine Campus Backpack is for you. It comes in a variety of colors and is also available in a 25L capacity.
This bag ($160) is built for frequent flyers. Part backpack, part briefcase, it manages to do it all remarkably well. One of the standout features is the “trolley tunnel,” which allows the pack to slide onto your rolling suitcase. Pair this with a sleek roller (like the Spectra 2.0) and you’ll look like a pro gliding effortlessly through the busy terminal.
You can carry the AViANT on your back or stash the straps and carry with side briefcase handles. The full-length zipper makes packing easy, as you can open it completely. The padded laptop case keeps your electronics safe and opens quickly so you can breeze through security. There are even extra pockets to keep your documents, pens, and other small essentials at hand.
We’ve overstuffed this bag on multiday coast-to-coast trips and never had a problem with the zipper snagging. This durable chameleon of a pack is a must-have for anyone who regularly spends time at the airport.
Climbing Adventure Pack: Mammut Seon Transporter 26L
For all the hardworking, die-hard climbers out there, this pack ($140) is for you. With room for rock gear and work gear, this is the perfect workhorse to carry all of your essentials.
It’s the first backpack we’ve seen that has two separate labeled compartments. One is labeled “Work” and holds a laptop, charging devices, a notepad, and other electronics. The other is labeled “Climb” and easily holds your harness, climbing shoes, chalk bag, and climbing clothes. It’s the dream carry-on luggage for anyone planning an epic rock-filled vacation.
And if you don’t happen to be a climber, don’t sweat it — the Seon Transporter also works great for organizing clothes. Or use it hiking, exploring, biking around town, and working.
We packed it up for the weekend and were able to fit a pair of running shoes, clothes for 3 days, and a laptop. Whether traveling for the ultimate work/climb adventure, hitting up the climbing gym after work, or simply keeping the essentials organized, this pack is a winner.
Best of the Rest
This backpack ($129) is a rugged classic. The 300-denier ripstop nylon outer has TPU laminate for extra durability. Add in the DWR coating, and your gear is sure to stay safe and dry. We’ve long been a fan of the entire Black Hole line, and that’s doubly true now that it’s made from recycled materials.
The side mesh pockets are great for water bottles. And the back laptop sleeve is TSA-approved because you can open it flat. The organizational pockets inside and on top fit all of your little essentials, making them easy to find. The signature Black Hole gear loops are also great for tying on extra gear or wet clothes that need drying.
We’ve been using a Black Hole backpack for years now, and it still doesn’t show any signs of wear or tear.
When it comes to backpacks, Osprey has put in the time — and it shows. The Nebula ($120) feels like it’s all the brand’s most popular packs morphed into one. Most of all, we love how it seamlessly goes from city streets to trails.
This backpack can do it all, whether you’re hauling your laptop and books around town; water, food, and layers on an easy hike; or have all of the above and then some for a weekend away.
The internal storage pockets are great for organizing all of your things for easy access. And while it’s a top-loading backpack, the main pocket opens up wide enough so you won’t have to unload everything to get to the one thing you want at the bottom. The sternum strap and hip belt are comfortable, especially when carrying a heavy load.
How to Choose the Best 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, as 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. I 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 28L to 36L range is ideal for comfort and packability.
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 has an ingenious inner organization system 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.
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 Black Hole pack is made with a 300-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.
What Is the Best Travel Backpack?
Our team unanimously agrees that the best travel backpack is the Cotopaxi Allpa. It’s extremely durable, and it offers plenty of organizational pockets. And the clamshell opening makes packing a breeze.
What Size Bag Do I Need for Traveling?
The best size bag for traveling depends largely on your travel itinerary and mode of transport. The Cotopaxi Allpa packs range from 28 L to 42 L.
The 28L option makes for a compact and comfortable backpack that easily fits in overhead airplane compartments. The 42L 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 a backpack form.