Packing smart is one of the most important parts of any journey, especially longer ones such as a thousand-mile-long that involves connecting flights. Nobody wants to get stuck with a poorly made or bulky travel bag that makes a journey more difficult. Sure, you’d want to squeeze everything you possibly can into a luggage, but that requires plenty of pockets and a thoughtful design that makes organization easier.
However, with so many options available such as backpacks, travel packs, suitcases and lightweight carry-ons, choosing the right one might become difficult for people who are new to buying luggage. This post aims to make it easier for potential buyers to find the right product and highlights some of the best travel backpacks currently available (backpacks are more versatile and work great for most situations than other products such as suit cases).
Choosing the Right Travel Backpack
The type of travel bag largely depends on the average length of your trip. Occasional travelers who usually plan short trips (like weekends) can get away with a lightweight carry-on, but you’d want a something better for longer journeys. The luggage also depends on the mode of transportation as a hard-shell suit case might not be a good option if your journey includes planes, trains or buses. Bright colored bags might not suit some tastes, but they are typically easier to spot on the luggage carousel.
Soft travel backpacks are easier to squeeze into compartments and absorb shock better than hard-shell luggage, but they also can leave your items inside more vulnerable. Ideally you would want lots of pockets and compartments for organization as well as a waterproof pouch for your toiletries. It’s preferable to have compartments with two zippers so you can easily lock them together and flex according to your needs.
If you want to lock your backpack, then make sure its TSA approved. TSA ready/checkpoint friendly locks allow the TSA (Transport Security Administration in the US or something similar in other countries) to release a special valve and open the lock.
A few things to consider when looking for travel backpacks:
- Choose the correct size according to your journey. Too big and you’ll end up carrying unnecessary weight, too small and you won’t be able to fit everything in
- Pick the right base material, waterproofing is a must if you like camping and outdoor adventures as part of your journey
- Backpacks are more versatile, durable and weather-resistant if you’re traveling light or through via various methods
- You will at least semi-waterproof material if 100% waterproof bags are too expensive
- Each compartment should have two zippers
- TSA-friendly locks can save you from a lot of hassle at airports and other checkpoints
- A travel bag should have multiple compartments for different items such as shoes, toiletries, etc.
- Backpacks with an internal frame make it easier to wear and protect your items. Be sure to pick ones with light weight rods.
- Backpacks with padded hip belts make it easier to carry the weight on long journeys by providing better support and weight distribution
- Backpacks with a padded back allow air to move between your back and the bag and prevents sweat from building up
- Thick, padded shoulder straps take pressure off the lower back and make travel and carrying load easier
- The size of a bag should be proportional to the body, the exact size depends on your own stature
- $100-200 travel bags work great in most situations, you don’t necessarily need to spend $300+ on a travel bag unless you want all the bells and whistles higher-end bags have to offer
- 15-30L bags are suitable for short/weekend trips and minimalists, 40-45L is the sweet spot, 45-60L bags are better if you want some extra space, 65-120L bags are meant for camping, trekking and mountaineering (an overkill for most travelers)
Let’s have a look at some of the best backpacks that offer great value for the money and make your journeys more comfortable.
The carry-on travel backpack by German company Deuter is made of super-polytex, a durable 600-den polyester thread coated with thick PU. The base material is lightweight and durable, which helps keep the total weight of the bag to a minimum. The backpack is flight approved, meets airlines’ size guidelines and fits inside overhead compartments.
Padded carry-strap (removable), breathable padded shoulder harness, 2 grab handles and stabilizing straps make carrying the load more comfortable than ‘regular’ bags. The 40L main compartment is more than enough for carrying all the essentials plus a few extra items, while the separate compartment at the bottom is designed specifically for shoes.
- 600 Den Polytex is lightweight and durable
- Up to 16KG/40L
- Internal stays for added strength
- Zippered front panel (lockable)
- Separate bottom compartment for shows
- Side pockets
- Front stash pocket (small) for documents
- Padded carry strap (removable)
- Two grab handles
- Breathable padded shoulder harness
- Stabilizing straps
- Flight approved
Available in 40L, 55L and 70L versions, Farpoint is one of the most popular backpacks by Osprey, which also offers the same product designed specifically for women. The backpack offers many features you’d normally find in hiking packs such as a real suspension system, which is great for those who value comfort. The 55L version comes with a detachable daypack (13L) so when detached, you essentially have a 42L backpack.
The fully adjustable and padded hip-belt adds to the comfort level, while two carry handles come handy when moving the bag around. The sleeping pad straps make it easier to quickly attach external gear and can also be completely detached if you are worried about adding extra weight.
- 210D Nylon Mini Hex
- Unisex back panel
- Removable hip belt and harness system
- Detachable 13L daypack
- Urban aesthetics
- Real suspension system
- Padded hip belt (fully adjustable)
- Two carry handles
- Weight under 4 lbs
- Mesh backpanel for better air ventilation
- Large main panel zip
- Dual front compression straps
Kelty Redwing 50 is relatively more affordable, very comfortable and comes with some advanced features, which makes it one of the best backpacks in the price range. A solid suspension system, padded shoulder straps, hip-belts and vented back make travelling easier. Redwing is also available in a 44L and 40L women-specific version, but the 50L backpack allows you to pack more stuff without notably increasing the weight.
- 420D nylon
- PerfectFit suspension with on-body adjustments
- Top loading
- Zippered side pockets and front pocket
- Side compression straps
- Hex mesh back panel
- Sternum and load lifter strap
- 1 interior slip and 7 interior zippered pockets
4. NOMATIC 40L Travel Bag- Duffel/Backpack, Carry-on Size for Airplane Travel, Everyday Use with TSA Compliant Built in Laptop and Tablet Sleeve, Updated V2 for 2020
This 40L travel bag is one of the most functional bags and is TSA/checkpoint compliant. If offers everything you need to stay organized and works well for up to a 7-day trip. It combines the best features of duffel bags and backpacks into a functional travel bag that’s made using weather-proof materials.
Separate notebook and tablet pockets, laundry bag, water bottle pocket, RFID protected pocket, separate shoe compartment and cord pocket makes organization easier. The detachable waist strips also include two waterproof pockets for quicker access of valuables and important documents.
- 100% water-repellent exterior (tarpaulin)
- Minimalistic design
- Separate laptop and tablet pocket
- Roller bag sleeve
- Laundry bag
- Detachable waist straps
- TSA/checkpoint ready
- Shoe compartment
- Waterproof zippers (exterior)
5. Ciao Underseat Luggage Collection - Small Lightweight 15 Inch Under Seat Bag - Briefcase for Men & Women - Carry On Suitcase with 2- Rolling Spinner Wheels (Black)
While not exactly a backpack, this carry-on suitcase-alike is a good option for people specifically looking for something similar to a suitcase for short trips. It’s made using lightweight nylon, which makes it suitable for air travel and under-the-seat storage. Ergonomic handles provide comfort and make carrying easier, while the lightweight construction helps shed some weight and make travel less cumbersome. The suitcase is made using 100% ballistic nylon, which is durable and of higher quality (compared to nylon commonly used in travel bags).
- Under-the-seat suitcase
- 100% ballistic nylon
- Ergonomic handles
- Organizational pockets
- Can also be used as a plus-one luggage