Here’s the bottom line: There is no “best” backpack that is perfect for every traveler in every scenario. However, we believe it is possible for everyone to find a pack that’s perfect for their unique needs. In this guide, we’ll break down the factors we think are most important when choosing the perfect one bag travel backpack for you.
This guide is written and informed by Pack Hacker staff, many of whom are frequent travelers and digital nomads. That means we’re using and testing these products everyday to build a better understanding of what’s available out there and how each bag may appeal to different types of travelers.
If you’d rather skip all this info and get straight to the backpacks we’ve reviewed, you can take a look at our highest rated travel backpack list below, or all of our Travel Backpack Reviews. We’re constantly updating this list as we review and rate new bags frequently.
Reviews: Our Highest-Rated Travel Backpacks
9.1/10: Aer Travel Pack 2
9.1/10: GORUCK GR2
8.9/10: Peak Design Travel Backpack
8.8/10: Tom Bihn Synik 30
8.5/10: Aer Travel Pack 2 Small
8.5/10: Tortuga Outbreaker Travel Backpack 35L
8.4/10: Eagle Creek Wayfinder Backpack 40L
8.3/10: Bellroy Transit Backpack
8.3/10: Trakke Storr Carry-On Backpack
Why a Backpack vs. Standard Roller Luggage?
We’ve found that backpacks give you much greater mobility. You can breeze through airports. You’ll never stand around a baggage carousel after a long-haul again. And as long as your pack is carry-on size compliant, you’ll never lose your luggage, ever. Depending on your travel style and what you’re hauling, it comes down to your personal preference—both roller luggage and backpacks can be good options. In this guide, we’ll focus on travel backpacks for a couple reasons:
They Feel Freeing
You’ve got both of your hands free and you’re not constantly dragging something behind you. No matter what terrain you’re walking on, you’ll never have the annoyance of loud or unsteady wheels behind you from standard travel luggage. Sure, roller bags work like a charm on smooth airport and hotel floors, but how about the winding cobblestone roads of Paris or a sandy beach in Ko Pha Ngan? You can traverse almost any terrain when you’re wearing a backpack.
Travel Backpacks are Versatile & Usually Lightweight
If you pack light enough, you can comfortably have all of your belongings with you at once. Did you arrive earlier than your hotel or Airbnb check in? No problem, just take your pack around with you for the day—no need to stop by and drop your luggage off. Versatility at its finest.
We can’t necessarily guarantee the pack will be lightweight if you fill it up with a bunch of heavy stuff (like camera gear) so we made a Travel Camera Guide too 🙂.
They Provide Flexibility
You’ll take up less room on the airplane or in public transit. You’ll generally feel more agile vs needing to drag around rolly luggage, with the added benefit of not looking like an out-of-place tourist. It caters to a more adventurous lifestyle by always being ready to go. And, you can easily catch that train that’s about to depart without awkwardly side-running with a roller bag or two.