The Best Travel Backpacks for Every Kind of Adventure
Whether you're crossing an epic round-the-world expedition off your bucket list or just headed out of town for the weekend, settling on the right travel backpack to bring with you is as important as deciding what to pack in it. And just like a good human travel buddy, your carry-on companion should also help enhance your trip.
No one pack is perfect for every traveler or every trip, though, and there are so many options out there that shopping for one can be dizzying. Don't sweat it, though, because we've rounded up some of the best travel backpacks on the market to match whatever your needs may be.
If you want a trail bag you can also take to the office
Rocky Mountain Underground Core Pack 15L
420d nylon, 15 liters
This sturdy pack from Breckinridge-based RMU is a great option if you're looking for something that'll serve you as well out on a long hike as it will on your next business trip. It's stylish and lightweight but also fashioned from durable 420D nylon with an aluminum perimeter frame and weatherproofing, so it'll put up a fight under even the harshest conditions. Inside, you've got your pick from multiple pockets to keep things organized, including one fleece-lined option to keep your laptop or tablet nice and safe.
If you need something indestructible
1000D cordura nylon, 34 liters
If you're a Bear Grylls devotee who insists on taking things to 11 during on epic adventure trips, you'll want to invest in something like GoRuck's GR2 to keep up. These are actually modeled after the medical rucks used by US Special Forces, so they're meant to handle the most punishing environments and situations. Inside, you have eight pockets and three distinct compartments (including a "bomb-proof" laptop compartment), and it opens flat so you can easily access everything all at once. If you somehow do manage to break it (and good luck with that), no worries -- it comes with a lifetime guarantee.
If you want to stash and carry a month's worth of stuff
Osprey Atmos AG 65 Backpacking Pack
100D X 630D nylon, 65 liters
Ask any veteran backpacker and you'll hear the same piece of advice: pack lighter than you think you need to. Still, if you're planning an extended getaway, you're going to need something that can accommodate more than a couple pairs of underwear and tee shirts. This expandable Osprey pack is big enough to keep a week or more's worth of stuff, and features special antigravity engineering that'll make it feel like you're carrying less. There are also handy side pockets along the belt, which are great to keep little things you'll want quick and easy access to while on the trail, train, or schlepping through the airport.
If you prefer something more classically stylish
Topo Designs Klettersack
1000d Invista cordura nylon
Evoking the simple design of an old-school hiking pack, this ruggedly handsome roll-top bag from Topo Designs may not look as tactical or tough as some others on this list, but don't let that fool you -- it's built for durability. Available in four colorways (black, blue, clay, or olive), it's fashioned from cordura nylon with heavy-duty reinforced straps and tough plastic hardware with a few thoughtfully stylish touches like leather lash tabs (which can also be used to secure extra gear) . Inside, there's a laptop compartment and plenty of additional space to stash your stuff securely via an inner drawstring.
If you need something durable with a low profile
Cotopaxi Allpa 35L
1000D polyester, 1680 ballistic nylon, 35 liters
Cotopaxi is one of our favorite brands making backpacks these days precisely because of bags like the Allpa. Although it's engineered for adventure travel, it disguises all its technical acumen in an eye-catching and minimalist package. Take it trekking and it'll serve you well with comfy sternum straps and a hip belt. Those same straps, though, easily tuck away to turn the whole thing into a briefcase-style carry-on when it's time to catch a flight. Inside, it's equipped with zip-close mesh compartments and a laptop sleeve, all of which are easily accessible via its suitcase-style wraparound opening.
If you need to protect your precious photo gear
Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L
Weatherproof 400d recycled nylon canvas, 45 liters
Bringing your nice camera equipment with you on once-in-a-lifetime trips is a wise move, but it's also a risky one if you're not carrying it all in the right bag. Peak Design's Travel Backpack is specifically designed to cover camera carrying needs with a padded exterior and dedicated padded compartments for stashing lenses and more (including a laptop). That said, it's also built to carry your clothes, toiletries, and anything else you'll want easy access to on-the-go thanks to a pop-out expandable middle section and three easy access points (it zips opens from the front, side, and rear).
If you're on a tight budget
Timbuk2 Blitz 28L Pack
420d ripstop nylon, 28 liters
If you need something sturdy but aren't ready to drop more than $100, Timbuk2's Blitz has you covered. The versatile bag isn't packed with as many bells and whistles as some of these other bags, but it looks great and is a workhorse that makes a great partner at the airport or out in the wild. The clamshell opening reveal a variety of internal straps to keep your packed clothes and gear organized, plus a large mesh pocket and laptop sleeve for safely stashing your gadgets, chargers, and more. It also slims down once you've packed everything in thanks to four external compression straps that neatly cinch its contents.