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If you thought backpacks belong in the classroom, or the ‘90s, our handpicked list of the best backpacks for travel will prove you wrong.

Gone are the days when a backpack was only meant for carrying your stuff. Today’s designs are stylish, practical, and smarter than ever, with features that cater to every lifestyle and activity you can think of.

There are ultra-durable adventure packs constructed for rugged outdoor use, models geared specifically toward hiking or biking, innovative rucksacks complete with built-in technology, and even hip designer pieces that will transform you into a style icon. They protect your travel essentials, abound in cool, unique features, and are designed to fit everything, from laptops and camera gear to your frisky little dog.

Below, we’ve ranked the best backpacks for travel within each category. Please note that these are not hands-on product reviews, but thoughtful recommendations based on hours of research, opinions from fellow travelers, and personal preferences. Design, as always, was an important ranking factor for us, but we took into consideration a lot of aspects, including sturdiness, versatility, and performance.

Whether you are a digital nomad, a world wanderer with a passion for the outdoors, or a style-savvy urban explorer, these travel backpacks will enhance your next adventure in more ways than one.

Here’s a quick overview of the best backpacks for travel in 2019:

Best Overall: NOMATIC Travel Pack
Best Expandable: G-RO Backpack XV Carbon Fiber
Best for Cycling: Timbuk2 Especial Medio Cycling Laptop Backpack
Best Carry-On: Tortuga Setout Backpack
Best for Digital Nomads: Lifepack
Best for Outdoor Adventure: Topo Designs Rover Pack
Best EDC: Peak Design Everyday Backpack
Best Minimalist Design: Bellroy Slim Backpack
Best Designed: Kapten & Son Lund “Sand Brown”
Best for Traveling with a Laptop: Timbuk2 Authority
Best for Safety: Bobby Urban Anti-Theft Backpack
Best for Durability: GORUCK GR2
Best Daypack for Women: Kapten & Son Malmö “Cherry Blossom”
Best Daypack for Men: The Modern Snap Backpack by Everlane
Best for Gym: RYU Locker Pack LUX 24L
Best Backpack with Wheels: Samsonite Encompass Convertible Wheeled Backpack
Best for Style: Berluti Volume Medium Vitello Calf Leather Backpack
Best for Hiking: Osprey Talon 22
Best for Traveling with Pets: TOPSOSO Deluxe Pet Carrier
Best for Short Trips: Allpa 35L Travel Pack by Cotopaxi
Best for Outdoor Photography: Shimoda Explore 60
Best for Urban Photography: VENQUE Campro
Best for Fishing: Wild River Tackle Tek Nomad
Best for Picnic: VonShef 4-Person Picnic Backpack with Blanket
Best for Charging your Devices: HP Powerup Backpack
Best for Urban Explorers: Sandqvist Harald Backpack
Best Waterproof: Matador Freerain24 2.0

Best Overall Travel Backpack: NOMATIC Travel Pack

Best Overall Travel Backpack

There’s a reason the NOMATIC Travel Pack became the most funded travel bag in Kickstarter history. Designed for 3-day trips, this baby is sturdy, handsome, and exceptionally well organized, with pockets and compartments for virtually anything. It also expands from 20L to 30L to suit any travel plan, and comes packed with cool, thoughtful features such as the magnetic water bottle holders or the innovative strap system, which allows you to convert it into a briefcase.

The combination of style, quality, and functionality makes this product the best overall travel backpack. Oh, and it also comes with a lifetime warranty!

Best Expandable Backpack: G-RO Backpack XV Carbon Fiber

Best Expandable Backpack

With a neat, ergonomic design and tons of smart features, it’s hard to find a better expandable backpack for trips both short and long than this utility-style piece of luggage from G-RO.

Thanks to its revolutionary expansion system, the Backpack XV Carbon Fiber is able to double its capacity (15L to 32L) and has multiple handles so you can carry it in different ways (including as a briefcase). Convenient organizational features like a tri-opening laptop compartment, hard-shell sunglasses pouch, and a secret back pocket keep all contents in place, while a water-protected external USB port lets you charge your gadgets on the go.

Constructed with ultra-durable, water-resistant materials, including luxurious carbon fiber, this backpack is as suitable for daily commuting as it is for weekend adventures.

Best Cycling Backpack: Especial Medio Cycling

Best Cycling Backpack

Ride like a pro with the Especial Medio Cycling Laptop Backpack from Timbuck2! Designed specifically for bicyclists, this expandable pack keeps contents cozy and dry in the rain thanks to its durable Cordura nylon fabric and waterproof inner lining.

The tapered top shape enhances over-the-shoulder visibility, and standout features like a back bender flexible cooling panel, reflective paneling, and plush foam straps with hydration and headphone routing make your biking experience safer and more comfortable. No doubt, one of the best cycling backpacks money can buy!

Best Carry-On Backpack: Setout Backpack

Best Carry-On Backpack

Good looks, perfect size, and a series of thoughtful details place Tortuga’s latest travel backpack among the best carry-on luggage out there.

The Setout is a maximum-sized carry-on backpack with tons of internal space, but when it comes to packing and organization, it behaves like a suitcase. Unlike traditional rucksacks, it opens from the side, like a book, and boasts designated spaces for your laptop and other road essentials.

The design is simple and understated, which means you’ll probably want to take it on all your adventures, not just that backpacking trip to Europe.

Best Backpack for Digital Nomads: Lifepack

Best Backpack for Digital Nomads
Photo via Facebook/Solgaard

Stay organized and productive on the go with Lifepack, the world’s first travel backpack with an integrated lock and solar-powered USB bank.

Conceived with mobile workers in mind, this neat, weather-resistant bag acts as a mobile office, complete with solar-powered USB charger, Bluetooth speakers, a microphone for conference calls, and a drop-resistant laptop pocket. It also has an ingenious layout with a “workzone” and a “lifezone”, so you can keep your work items and personal belongings separated, and comes with anti-theft features like secret pockets and an integrated/retractable cable lock.

Best Backpack for Outdoor Adventure: Rover Pack

Best Backpack for Outdoors

Handmade in Colorado using nearly indestructible 1000d Cordura fabric, the Rover Pack is built to withstand whatever you throw at it. It has a cool old-school look and a lightweight design, and stores your essentials securely with a spacious main compartment with inner laptop sleeve and two handy external pockets for quick access to must-haves.

Whether your adventure takes you across snow-capped mountains or to the coffee shop around the corner, this brightly colored Topo Designs backpack is a companion you can rely on.

Best EDC Backpack: Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack

Best EDC Backpack

Want a sleek, clever, multifunctional bag that fits seamlessly into all environments? Look no further than Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack!

Not only is this product weatherproof and comfortable to wear, but its aesthetic versatility is hard to match. It also scores high on organization, with a series of endlessly configurable FlexFold dividers designed to keep contents well-ordered inside.

Add expandable external pockets, a dedicated 15” laptop sleeve, and a choice of carrying methods, and you’ve just found the best backpack for everyday use.

Best Minimalist Backpack: Bellroy Slim Backpack

Best Minimalist Backpack

If there’s one brand that understands the meaning of functional simplicity, it’s Bellroy.

Wrapped in lightweight soft-woven polyester with classy leather details, their Slim Backpack is the very definition of flawless minimalism. It features a water-resistant fold-over closure with magnetic strap, and its choice of pockets provide efficient organization while roaming around the city.

The clean, stylish look and convenient 16-liter capacity make this a perfect choice for hip creatives and urban adventurers.

Best Designed Backpack: Kapten & Son Lund “Sand Brown”

Best Designed Backpack
Photo via Instagram/kaptenandson

Featuring a stylish, minimal design, a padded laptop pocket, and comfortable straps, Kapten & Son’s Lund “Sand Brown” is everything you want and nothing you don’t.

Crafted in a combination of water-repellent waxed canvas fabric and vegan faux leather, this cycling backpack is as beautiful as it is sturdy and practical. The three inner compartments make it easy to stay organized on the go, and breathable mesh back cushions ensure wear comfort.

The roll-top closure serves both functional and aesthetic purposes, allowing the pack to extend its volume from 18 to 26 liters, while at the same time giving it a cool, contemporary edge.

Best Laptop Backpack for Travel: Timbuk2 Authority

Best Laptop Backpack for Travel

There are plenty of ways to carry your laptop nowadays, but if sturdiness, practicality, and organization are high on your list of priorities, the Authority is hard to beat.

This premium laptop backpack from Timbuk2 boasts a rear-access padded laptop sleeve, plus tons of other internal/external pockets for keeping things orderly on the go. There’s even a side pocket for your water bottle, as well as an organizer panel for neatly storing work supplies or other daily essentials.

The adjustable compression straps are a nice touch, and so is the ventilated back panel or the reflective zipper pools & tape.

The Authority Laptop Backpack is conveniently lightweight and comes in a range of pleasing, subdued grays, which makes it an excellent choice for both the office as well as for day-to-day use.

Best Anti-Theft Backpack: Bobby Urban Anti-Theft Backpack

Best Anti-Theft Backpack

Hidden RFID-protected zippers, cut-proof outer fabric, and a steel enforced combination lock for the main compartment make XD Design’s Bobby Urban the safest anti-theft backpack on the market. Not only that, but the bag is also water-repellent, looks good, and holds a decent amount of stuff, including a laptop up to 15,6″ and a tablet up to 12,9″. It even comes with a detachable elastic net for your sports equipment.

If you’re looking for an anti-theft backpack that’s cool, lightweight, and comfortable – all without making a hole in your pocket, this is it!

Best Tactical Backpack: GORUCK GR2

Best Tactical Backpack

Highly efficient, surprisingly good looking, and engineered to endure the harshest environments, the GORUCK GR2 takes you from city streets to warzones with ease.

Made from Special Forces-grade material, this badass tactical backpack is nearly indestructible without compromising the appearance. With 3 large compartments and 8 pockets, it packs everything you need into a carry-on size piece that will fit under your seat, which makes it great for extended travel. In fact, if you’ve ever dreamed to explore the world with one bag, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one for the job.

As you would have thought, GR2 is jam-packed with features (think silent zipper pools, Molle attachments, rainproof outer material, and extra padded straps), but the highlight is by far the bombproof laptop compartment – something you won’t find in any other backpack out there, tactical or not.

Best Travel Backpack for Women: Malmö “Cherry Blossom”

Best Travel Backpack for Women
Photo via Instagram/kaptenandson

Clean Scandinavian design and smart functionality combine to create the ultimate everyday backpack for women – the Malmö “Cherry Blossom” from lifestyle accessory brand Kapten & Son.

In line with the company’s well-designed products, this super chic rucksack made from supreme vegan tech-material in blush pink is proof that less is more. In addition to its sleek appearance, it comes with thoughtful pockets for storing your valuables, including a designated 13-inch laptop sleeve and magnet pocket at the front. Add the fact that it’s also water-repellent, and you’ll want to carry it with you everywhere.

Best Travel Backpack for Men: The Modern Snap Backpack

Best Travel Backpack for Men

What makes a great backpack for men? Well, for us it’s all about the right balance between quality, design, and value for money. And this trendy Everlane piece delivers just that.

The Modern Snap Backpack is both practical and sophisticated, with its water-resistant cotton twill exterior punctuated by leather details and convenient pockets for easy access to on-the-go items. Inside, there’s a simple, albeit expandable, main compartment for gear and wears, along with a padded laptop slot big enough for a 15″ MacBook.

Whether you are a light-packing weekend adventurer or a freelancer hopping from co-working space to coffee shop, this smart travel pack has your back, as it works really well for a variety of styles and occasions.

Best Gym Backpack: Locker Pack LUX 24L

Best Gym Backpack

Thanks to its innovative construction and minimal urban aesthetics, the RYU Locker Pack LUX is equally at home at the gym, in the office, or out and about.

Constructed from durable, DWR treated workwear loomed canvas with tasteful leather trim, the backpack is water-repellent and comfortably fits a 15’’ MacBook Pro, in addition to water bottles, wraps, tape, and even a change of clothes.

As well as allowing you to access the interior pockets from the outside, its unique design is complemented by a top locker loop, which makes it easy to hang the bag anywhere. Also, the drop front opening enables easy packing/unpacking and gives you full access to all of your items inside.

Best Rolling Backpack: Samsonite Encompass Convertible Wheeled Backpack

Best Rolling Backpack

Zip-away backpack straps, retractable handles, and adjustable suspension allow this Samsonite luggage piece to transition from a wheeled carry-on to a backpack in no time.

But the Encompass Convertible Wheeled Backpack excels in more than just versatility. Made of water-resistant materials, it keeps your belongings safe in a downpour without sacrificing aesthetics. Another strong point is the intuitive business organization, with a padded laptop compartment, tablet sleeve, Key FOB, and interior pockets aplenty. Last, but not least, the padded shoulder straps are ergonomically designed, and RFID Data Vault protects your passport & debit cards against electronic pickpockets.

The perfect fusion of style and functionality means this rolling backpack is a truly reliable travel partner, whether you’re going to the meeting room or the airport.

Best Backpack for Luxury Travel: Berluti Volume Medium

Travel Backpack for Luxury Travel

Leave it to Berluti’s master craftsmen to elevate the backpack from utilitarian carry-on to stylish fashion accessory! Made from exquisite Vitello Fiore leather, their Volume Medium Backpack is a true piece of art, enriched with biking-style quilted details and woven with the brand’s signature ‘Scritto’ motif which takes inspiration from the calligraphy of an antique manuscript.

Part of the new “Off the Road” collection, this man’s bag invites to exploration of Iceland’s eerie landscapes, but it’s just as useful to stylish jetsetters on a weekend city break or preppy professionals toting their laptops to work. Overall, it’s a travel backpack for the gentleman of discerning tastes, with an investment-worthy price tag to match.

Best Hiking Backpack: Osprey Talon 22

Best Hiking Backpack

Osprey is known for making some of the best backpacks for travel out there, and the Talon 22 is no exception.

Lightweight, durable, and loaded with functionality, this is the most versatile pack for casual hikes. There are pockets and storage compartments for all your needs, as well as an updated AirScape back panel for added breathability and carrying comfort. Plus, outdoor enthusiasts will love the plethora of practical hiking features, including hydration sleeve, trekking poles attachment, and compression straps.

At 22 liters, this hiking backpack is the perfect companion for a full day out, whether that means climbing a mountain, cycling through the countryside, or trekking in the woods. It also sports a stylish, snug design, which makes it a pleasure to carry around.

Best Pet Carrier Backpack: TOPSOSO Deluxe

Best Pet Carrier Backpack

Like to take your furry friend with you wherever you go? Here’s a great item to add to your pet travel accessory arsenal!

Fashionable, ingenious, and easy to carry around, the TOPSOSO Deluxe Pet Carrier keeps your hands free and your companion happy while hiking, biking, or walking around town. Combining high-quality PVC with waterproof mesh fabric, it sports a large transparent front window with multiple air vents, allowing your cat or puppy to breathe fresh air while enjoying the scenery.

Tough conveniently lightweight, this pet backpack is roomy enough to accommodate small dogs, puppies, and most cat breeds in maximum comfort.

Best Backpack for Short Trips: Allpa Travel Pack

Best Backpack for Short Trips

The mix of TPU-coated 1000D polyester and durable 1680D ballistic nylon paneling gives the Allpa Travel Pack a sturdiness that’s hard to match.

Designed by Salt Lake City-based outdoor gear brand Cotopaxi, this suitcase-backpack hybrid is theft-proof, waterproof, and carry-on compatible, holding up to 35 liters’ worth of stuff. Its clamshell opening makes it easy to pack and unpack, while the adaptable strap design lets you wear it your way, depending on the occasion. The bag’s organizational capabilities are equally welcome, with two zippered mesh compartments, sleeves for your laptop and tablet, as well as a couple of smaller pockets for easy, accessible storage.

Whether you’re heading on a short trip or the adventure of your life, the Allpa is one brilliant, multi-purpose travel backpack ready for the road.

Best Camera Backpack for Outdoor Photography: Explore 60

Best Camera Backpack for Outdoor Photography

Detached internal units for camera organization, multiple access points to your gear, and ground-breaking features that minimize physical fatigue ensure you won’t find a better camera backpack for outdoor photography than the Shimoda Explore 60.

This camera carry pack is chock-full of innovative features designed to meet the needs of today’s adventure photographers, including a floating lid, 15 liters of adjustable volume, and ergonomically designed shoulder straps that help balance the weight comfortably across your chest. Needless to say, its lightweight nylon resin shell is built to withstand the most extreme outdoor environments.

Best Camera Backpack for Urban Photography: VENQUE Campro

Best Camera Backpack

Urban photographers looking for a fashionable camera carry solution should definitely check out the Campro. Designed by Toronto-based luxury travel brand VENQUE, this urban-inspired DSLR backpack stands out from the crowd with its unique retro styling and premium materials.

Made of signature weather-resistant Quanta fabric and enhanced with tan leather accents, the bag is sure to turn heads while delivering the utmost protection for your gear thanks to its convertible camera compartment and rain cover. In addition to camera, lenses, and accessories, it also fits a weekend’s worth of travel essentials like clothes, toiletries, and electronics.

Best Fishing Backpack: Tackle Tek Nomad

Best Fishing Backpack

With an integrated LED light system, a front pouch that converts into a work surface, and ample storage space with plenty of compartments, the Tackle Tek Nomad sets a new standard for fishing backpacks.

This soft tackle bag by Wild River is big, durable, and extremely versatile, with unrivaled organizational capabilities. Aside from the main compartment, it features four side pockets, sunglass holder, and tray storage. Added bonuses include a protective rain cover, wide padded shoulder straps, a removable pile holder, and web loops for securing smaller tools.

Best Picnic Backpack: VonShef 4 Person Picnic Backpack with Blanket

Best Picnic Backpack

Equipped with a dining set for four and an extra-large, hardwearing blanket, this picnic backpack from VonShef has everything you need for a memorable alfresco meal with friends and family. The best part, however, is its insulated aluminum foil-lined compartment, which keeps food chilled for longer.

Made from 600d polyester, with a waterproof outer layer and elegant tan leather detailing, the pack is both durable and good looking. It also features an integrated water bottle holder, sturdy straps & carrying handle, as well as handy picnic accessories like salt and pepper shakers, bottle opener, and a chopping board.

Best Tech Backpack: HP Powerup Backpack

Best Tech Backpack

Winner of the 2017 Red Dot Award, the HP Powerup Backpack impresses with its smart orderly structure, cutting-edge attributes, and stylish, modern design.

Armed with a massive 22,400 mAh battery pack, this heavy-duty canvas rucksack charges your laptop, tablet, and smartphone on the go, while also meeting security requirements for in-flight carry-ons.

Ventilated pockets and a built-in heat sensor prevent it from overheating, and there are dedicated slots for every type of mobile device, plus integrated cable routing, so you can stay well organized at all times. It’s also complemented by interior padding and a raincoat for maximum protection.

Best Backpack for Urban Exploration: Sandqvist Harald Backpack

Best Urban Backpack

Part of Sandqvist’s Urban Outdoor series, the Harald is a handsome, practical backpack with a sporty vibe.

Finished in water-resistant Cordura EcoMade polyester, it features an attractive, contemporary design, with adjustable shoulder straps and two outer slip pockets on each side of the bag. An additional laptop slip compartment on the back of the backpack fits most 13″ portable computers and several zipper pockets keep small items secure inside.

Although perfectly suited for urban walkabouts, this long-lasting Swedish piece of gear can also serve as second bag on longer trips, or a daypack for recreational endeavors.

Best Waterproof Backpack: Freerain24 2.0

Best Waterproof Backpack

Any high-quality, water-resistant backpack will do a decent job in keeping your belongings safe and dry through rain or snow. Matador’s Freerain24 2.0, however, does this and more. At only 6 ounces, it is the most packable waterproof backpack on the market, folding down from a 24-liter daypack to a ridiculously small package that fits in the palm of your hand.

The ultra-light design, along with its weight-distributing shoulder straps, detachable storage bag, and completely waterproof rolltop main compartment, makes it an excellent companion for most travelers, from city sightseers to festival goers to outdoor enthusiasts.


Written by Meeroona

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