Discover the best travel backpack: features, size, materials and safety

Here is our buying guide to help you choose

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By Kenny G

The choice of the ideal travel backpack may seem complicated, but with a series of considerations and correct advice, it is possible to find the perfect one for every type of adventure.

Let’s understand together what the key features, dimensions, materials, type of transportation, security options, and an overview of the best travel backpack brands should be.

Best travel backpack: what features should it have?

The ideal travel backpack should have a series of essential features. First of all, it should be comfortable to wear for long periods. This means it should have adjustable straps, a well-padded back panel, and an ergonomic design that distributes the weight correctly on the body.

It should also have multiple pockets and compartments to organize your personal belongings. These include laptop pockets, water bottle pockets, zippered pockets for valuable items, and separate compartments for clothing and various equipment.

Lastly, it should be durable and long-lasting. This implies that it should be made of high-quality materials, have sturdy stitching, and quality zippers. Now let’s take a closer look at the comfort aspect.

What makes a travel backpack comfortable to wear?

With the premise that the choice of the most comfortable travel backpack will also depend on your body shape, personal preferences, and the type of activity or trip you intend to undertake, there are still several factors that contribute to comfort, important aspects to consider:

  • Padding of the shoulder straps that distribute the weight evenly on the shoulders and help relieve pressure and reduce fatigue.
  • Padded back panel that provides additional comfort and support on the back, improving ventilation and reducing the sensation of sweat on the back during longer trips.
  • Chest strap and hip belt: A travel backpack equipped with adjustable chest strap and hip belt can help balance the weight and distribute it more evenly on the body. The chest strap helps stabilize the backpack and reduce the load on the shoulders, while the hip belt can support the weight and relieve pressure on the back.
  • Ventilation system: Some backpacks are designed with a ventilation system that allows air to circulate between the backpack and the back, reducing sweating and discomfort caused by heat buildup.
  • Adjustability: Adjustable straps and panels should adapt to your body shape, especially the shoulder straps, hip belt, and chest strap, allowing you to customize the fit for greater comfort.
  • Weight distribution: A well-designed backpack includes compartments and pockets organized in a way that distributes the weight evenly inside and prevents the load from shifting or concentrating in one area, contributing to overall comfort.
  • High-quality and durable materials that can offer greater comfort over time, such as ballistic nylon or sturdy, durable, and wear-resistant polyester.

Now let’s move on to the sizes.

Ideal sizes for a travel backpack

The ideal dimensions largely depend on the type of trip you are planning.

  • For short trips or trips where you don’t need to carry much, a 20-30 liter backpack should be sufficient.
  • For longer trips or trips where you will need more things, a 40-60 liter backpack may be necessary. Remember that the larger the backpack, the heavier it will be once filled.

Additionally, some larger backpacks may not be accepted as carry-on baggage on certain flights, so it’s important to check the airline’s restrictions before traveling.

What are the best materials for a travel backpack?

The best materials are those that combine durability, lightweight, and water resistance. Nylon and polyester are two of the most common materials used for their strength and lightweight properties. Ballistic nylon and Cordura nylon are particularly durable and long-lasting.

Regarding water resistance, many travel backpacks have a polyurethane coating or an integrated rain cover to help keep your belongings dry.

Shoulder bag or two straps?

If you are looking for a travel backpack, it is generally better to opt for a two-straps model rather than a shoulder bag. Two straps distribute the weight more evenly on the body, which can help prevent back pain and fatigue.

Additionally, two-strap backpacks are generally more spacious and have more pockets and compartments compared to shoulder bags. Shoulder bags can be more convenient for short trips or carrying a few items.

And what about security?

When it comes to security, there are some features you should look for in a travel backpack. These include lockable zippers, hidden pockets for valuable items, and cut-resistant materials.

Some models also have more advanced security features, such as integrated alarm systems, safety cables to secure the backpack to fixed objects, and RFID coatings to protect credit cards and passports from identity theft.

Best travel backpack brands

Here are some of the most renowned brands in the industry and a few models that you can also purchase directly online:

  • Osprey: A very popular and respected brand with a wide range of backpacks, including those specifically designed for travel. Osprey is renowned for attention to detail, quality materials, and comfort.
  • Deuter: A German brand specialized in backpack production, including travel backpacks that offer a variety of models suitable for different types of travelers. They are known for their robustness, functionality, and comfort.
  • Patagonia: A company known for its philosophyand commitment to sustainability, Patagonia offers travel backpacks made from recycled materials. They focus on durability, functionality, and environmental responsibility.
  • Eagle Creek:  known for its innovative and durable travel gear. They offer a range of travel backpacks with features such as lockable zippers, organization compartments, and comfortable carrying systems.
  • Thule: a well-known brand that specializes in outdoor gear, including travel backpacks. Their backpacks are designed with durability, functionality, and style in mind, making them a popular choice among travelers.
  • Gregory: known for its high-quality backpacks, including travel backpacks. They focus on ergonomic designs, comfort, and durability, making their backpacks suitable for long trips and outdoor adventures.
  • REI Co-op: offers a variety of travel backpacks designed for different types of travelers. They prioritize comfort, organization, and sustainability in their backpacks, making them a reliable choice for travel enthusiasts.
  • Osprey Farpoint 40: This popular travel backpack from Osprey is designed for versatility and meets most airline carry-on requirements. It has a spacious main compartment, multiple pockets, and a comfortable carrying system.
  • Patagonia Black Hole 32L: This travel backpack from Patagonia is made from durable and weather-resistant materials. It features a large main compartment, a padded laptop sleeve, and multiple pockets for organization.
  • Eagle Creek Global Companion 40L: The Global Companion backpack from Eagle Creek is designed for travel with its organization features and comfortable carrying system. It has a spacious main compartment, a padded laptop sleeve, and various pockets for storage.

Remember that the best travel backpack for you will depend on your specific needs, preferences, and the type of trip you plan to undertake. It’s always a good idea to try on different backpacks, read reviews, and consider your personal requirements before making a purchase.