The 14 Best Travel Backpacks for When You Need All the Pockets and Storage Space

Photo: Getty Images/ Tony Anderson
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If you’ve been hanging on to your trusty college backpack for years, and travel is in your near future (or even if it’s not), here’s your sign that it’s time for an upgrade. The best travel backpacks have specific features that make them comfortable to wear, easy to organize, and sturdy enough for carrying your laptop or tablet (or both).

Best travel backpacks, at a glance

Is it better to travel with a suitcase or backpack?

Whether you choose a suitcase or a backpack is a matter of personal preference, but the advantage of a backpack is that it leaves your hands free. What’s more, if you’re going on a quick trip and don’t want to check a bag, using a large enough travel backpack as your carry-on can help lighten the load and avoid baggage claim. Travel backpacks are a smart choice for longer trips, too. If you’re already lugging a shoulder bag and pulling a wheeled suitcase, it can be cumbersome to add another rolling bag behind you—not with a backpack, though.

How to choose a travel backpack

First, consider size. If you’re traveling for a weekend or longer, you might want one that’s small enough to fit in an overhead bin or underneath a seat. If you’re looking for a larger backpack, you might want one that offers sufficient back support, too.

In any case, you neither want a bulky nor heavy backpack that restricts movement. Those who are worried about safety might also want an option with anti-theft features like special zipper or RFID-lined pockets to protect from identity theft.

Backpacks made with travel in mind typically have features that make life easier when you’re on the go, like padded laptop sleeves for your work trips, locking zippers, wide straps to slip your bag onto a rolling suitcase handle, specialized pockets (including ones for water bottles), and other easily accessible storage spaces.

Whatever your design preference, and whether you typically go for simple designs or styles with lots of bells and whistles, you’re sure to find something you like among these picks. (Some are even made of recycled materials!) Below, find the best travel backpacks for every need—be it a business trip, vacation, or your commute to work.

Best travel backpacks

Lo & Sons The Beacon Backpack
Best for everyday use: Lo & Sons, The Beacon Backpack — $179.00

Originally $298, now $179

Popular brand Lo & Sons has a wide selection of backpacks, including their travel-friendly Beacon Backpack. While only a little over 10 inches wide and 14 inches tall, it has a ton of compartments to organize everything you’d like to carry, including a laptop compartment (for 13-inch devices), a large front pocket, two small pockets on the back, a slip pocket for folders or papers, and six interior pockets. It also has a wide pass-through strap for putting over a rolling-suitcase handle, too.

The Beacon is water-resistant and is made from 50 percent recycled nylon with 37 percent polyester and with leather accents. Reviewers love this backpack for travel and work alike. One reviewer raved: “This is a fantastic bag/backpack! On the smaller side but cleverly designed with easy-to-use pockets and compartments that kept me organized on my trip abroad. Well made, comfortable to wear, and looks great too!”

Material: 37% recycled nylon and 50% recycled polyester

Measurements: 14”H x 10.5”W x 4.5” D

Weight: 1.6 lbs.

Capacity: 10.8L


  • Various compartment types
  • Pass-through strap for luggage handle


  • Smaller capacity
Samsonite Detour Travel Backpack
Most functional: Samsonite, Detour Travel Backpack — $97.00

Originally $130, now $97

Samsonite’s Detour Travel Backpack is all about functionality. It’s water resistant, and it offers easy access to all your belongings. The backpack is replete with pockets, including one for your bottle, and thanks to padded back and shoulder, it will offer you ample support while you’re on the move. Inside, you’ll find even more compartments to organize your things, with one for your laptop. Other features include: Front handles and a wide pass-through strap it offers back and shoulder support. What’s more, Samsonite offers a limited 3-year warranty.

With more than 100 5-star ratings, this backpack has earned high praise. “Someone really put a lot of thought into this backpack/overnight bag. It is fantastic and if you are any kind of traveler I would recommend it,” one reviewer wrote.

Material: Recycled fabric and polyester

Measurements: 20”H x 13”W x 9”D

Weight: 2 lbs.

Capacity: Not specified


  • Water-resistant
  • Padded back and shoulder straps


  • Front pockets have narrow openings
Tumi Voyageur Just In Case Nylon Travel Backpack
Best compact: Tumi, Voyageur Just In Case Nylon Travel Backpack — $125.00

Not totally sure whether you’ll need an extra bag on an upcoming trip, or just don’t like bulky backpacks in general? Tumi’s aptly named “Just In Case” backpack conveniently folds flat, so you can easily pack it in your suitcase. It could also work well if you need a small, hands-free carry-on—and it has a wide pass-through to slide over the handle of your suitcase and lighten your load. This sleek backpack is small, super light at only 0.6 pounds, and it has a large outer zip pocket, and adjustable shoulder straps.

“I bought this to use as a carry-on—it’s remarkably roomy for such a small bag!” One traveler on Amazon wrote. “I put in a sweater, a makeup bag, headphones, iPad, a little case with cords and chargers, sunglasses, travel docs, water bottle, wallet, keys, two phones—and still had a bit of room left over. The nylon is heavyweight and the gold zippers are substantial. It does not look utilitarian or outdoorsy. It really does fit into a small pouch, which is useful on its own.”

Material: Nylon

Measurements: 15.5”H x 4.5”D x 12.3”W

Weight: 0.6 lbs.

Capacity: 2.8L


  • Waterproof
  • Pass-through strap for luggage handle


  • Not as structured as other options
Athleta Excursion Backpack
Best for commuting: Athleta, Excursion Backpack — $119.00

Athleta has more to offer than great sports bras and athleisure. They also have a few highly-rated bags and wallets, for example, including this backpack. It’s made with recycled nylon and polyester, and it features a front zip pocket for your keys, phone, or wallet, side pockets, and on the inside, a roomy main compartment for your laptop. It has a mesh back panel to keep you cool and comfortable when you’re on the move, as well as adjustable straps. Plus, it isn’t too bulky either.

“Perfect size and functionality, as I wanted something for quick trips and not a big old backpack,” one happy customer wrote. “Compact with lots of great little pockets and compartments.”

Material: Recycled nylon and recycled polyester

Measurements: 15”H x 9”W x 3”D

Weight: Not specified

Capacity: Not specified


  • Roomy main compartment
  • Mesh back panel and adjustable straps


  • Some reviewer say they wish it had more compartments
The North Face Borealis Backpack
Most ergonomic: The North Face, Women’s Borealis Backpack — $99.00

Rugged-looking and available in a ton of colors, this backpack is designed for women (as opposed to the brand’s original Borealis pack). Fortunately, The North Face didn’t simply add “women’s” to the product name, make it pink, and jack up the price—although there are pink and pink-and-black options available, plus a pretty pink print. This women’s backpack costs the same as the regular version. Its “FlexVent” suspension system is tailored to a woman’s body and is certified by the American Chiropractic Association. This recycled-nylon, water-repellent backpack’s many features include a padded tablet sleeve, laptop sleeve, and water bottle pocket.

Amazon reviewers frequently mention using this backpack for school, college, hiking, and/or work, but many customers also love it for travel. To wit: “This backpack is so versatile. It is spacious, yet compact. It is comfortable and stylish. There is literally a place for everything. I use this as a carry-on for airplane travel with packing cubes for organization and it is perfect,” one reviewer wrote.

Material: Nylon

Measurements: 18.75”H x 12”W x 6.75”D

Weight: 2 lbs.

Capacity: 27L


  • Padded back panel
  • Waist belt and sternum strap for support
  • Made specifically for women


  • On the bulky side
Kroser Laptop Backpack
Best for overnight trips: Kroser, Laptop Backpack — $40.00

This slim but roomy backpack has earned over 11,700 5-star reviews on Amazon. It’s even professional enough for work. There are many compartments—a dedicated laptop sleeve that can hold up to a 17.3-inch laptop, organizational pockets, and a compartment where you can fit some clothes for an overnight trip. There’s a pass-through strap so you can hook it over a suitcase handle, side pockets to hold water bottles, and a built-in USB port.

“This bag looks fantastic and is very well made. It has a lot of padding so it is comfortable to carry,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I was able to fit everything I need for an overnight business trip into a single bag and not have an additional carryon bag.”

Material: Water-repellent fabric

Measurements: 18.5”H x 13.3”W x 7.8”D

Weight: 2.6 lbs.

Capacity: Not specified


  • Water repellent
  • USB port
  • Large laptop compartment


  • Back is only partially padded
Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack
Most eco-friendly: Everlane, The ReNew Transit Backpack — $95.00

This backpack is part of Everlane’s ReNew collection, which features shoes, bags, outerwear, and activewear made from recycled polyester and nylon from plastic bottles, textiles, and fishing nets—and it’s perfect for carrying everything you need on the go. This particular travel backpack is 100% recycled polyester. It has an unusual but interesting structure for a backpack, with plenty of pockets. It also has spaces designed for a 15-inch laptop, water bottles, passports, tickets, magazines and notebooks, aswell as a luggage-handle strap.

Material: 100% recycled polyester

Measurements: 17.5”H x 12”W x 7.25”D

Weight: Not specified

Capacity: 27L


  • Made from 100 percent recycled polyester
  • Water resistant
  • Many compartments


  • Not ideal for those who want a backpack with more structure
Best basic: Madewell, The Rush Hour Backpack — $100.00

Originally 148, now $100

Madewell makes several backpack styles, and this travel-friendly backpack is made with a combination of strong ripstop nylon and stylish suede. It is sturdy, lightweight, and packed with pockets. The backpack has an inner laptop sleeve, as well as outer side pockets, a sizable front pocket, and lightly padded shoulder straps.

Material: Ripstop nylon and suede

Measurements: 16 ½”H x 12 ¼”W x 6”D

Weight: Not specified

Capacity: Not specified


  • Lightly padded straps
  • Side and front pockets
  • Made from strong ripstop nylon


  • Minimal organizational compartments
Lululemon City Adventurer 17L Backpack
Most sporty: Lululemon, City Adventurer Backpack — $128.00

Lululemon has few backpacks in its City Adventurer line, and this 20-liter-sized option is one of them. The backpack is made from water-repellent fabric and has reinforced straps. The laptop pocket is padded and can fit devices up to 16 inches in size (giving it a bigger compartment than many backpacks). It also has handy pockets, including an expandable one for clothes. (The company suggests using that one for “your sweaty gear,” but bear in mind that the bag isn’t machine washable!)

One Lululemon customer wrote: “Holds a lot. Not bulky. Decent in the rain [and] can be wiped clean! Very nice sleek look, yet sporty! I love it for travel!”

Material: Nylon

Measurements: 16.1”H x 11.4”W x 7.1”D

Weight: Not specified

Capacity: 20L


  • Water repellent
  • Padded laptop sleeve
  • Shoe compartment


  • Not machine washable
Baggallini Securtex Anti-Theft Vacation Backpack
Best anti-theft: Baggallini, Securtex Anti-Theft Vacation Backpack — $110.00

The safety features on this backpack will offer you more peace of mind while traveling. It features slash-resistant fabric and cut-resistant straps, locking zippers, and RFID-lined pockets. The backpack also has a pocket that’s hidden against your back when you wear it, among others. Plus, there’s a small opening for headphone or earbud wires. The material is water-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about wearing it in weather.

One of the 500-plus 5-star reviews on Amazon reads, “Bought for trip to Greece. I’m small (5 ft.) and wanted something smallish, lightweight, and secure. This fit the bill perfectly. Was great to carry water bottles and other essentials while sightseeing and it held what I needed on the flight.”

Material: Polyester

Measurement: 13”H x 10”W x 3.5”D

Weight: 1.2 lbs.

Capacity: 7.5L


  • Anti-theft features like RFID-blocking technology and locking zippers
  • Water resistant
  • Lots of pockets


  • Straps aren’t padded
SwissGear Laptop and USB Power Plug Backpack
Best for electronics: SwissGear, Laptop and USB Power Plug Backpack — $120.00

SwissGear parent company Wenger also makes Swiss Army knives, so it’s not surprising that this bag is super functional. It boasts tons of features you won’t find in a typical travel backpack, such as shoe storage, a crush-resistant sunglasses compartment, ergonomically contoured straps, a ventilated back panel, insulated water bottle pockets, and designated pockets for your cell phone, ID card, memory stick, and pens. It even has a USB port for charging your devices (battery pack not included). Its more common features include a padded laptop pocket, padded tablet pocket, water bottle pocket, and luggage-handle strap. Bonus: SwissGear provides a 5-year warranty.

After more than 250 reviews on Target, this backpack has earned a 4.5-star rating. One reviewer shared, “This is the best backpack I have ever owned. It is a beast! I was able to fill it with two days of clothes, a computer, chargers, toiletries, a book, snacks, a wallet, and more, and flew without having to roll a bag, or check any luggage.”

Material: Polyester

Measurements: 18.5”H x 12”W x 8”D

Weight:Not specified

Capacity: 24.7L


  • Padded straps
  • USB power port
  • Lots of pockets, including a crush-resistant compartment for glasses


  • Some reviewers say it won’t always sit upright
Troubador Ridge Explorer Backpack
Most stylish: Troubador, Ridge Explorer Backpack — $325.00

If you’re a traveler who is tired of digging through your bag to find stuff on the road, this pocket-friendly backpack is for you. The Troubador Ridge Explorer has a space for quite literally everything, so you’ll never lose your AirPods or charging cable again.

The 25-liter body is large enough for storing your main belongings, keeping them safe and cushioned while you’re on the go. There’s also a plethora of pockets: three large main ones in the front for organizing your wallet, headphones, and other personal items, two retractable water bottle holders on the sides, and a 16-inch padded laptop zipper for your computer. Layer on the classy design and chic leather detailing and you couldn’t ask for a better commuter backpack.

Material: Recycled polyester

Measurements: 18.5”H x 12”W x 7”D

Weight: 2.8 lbs.

Capacity: 25L


  • Waterproof fabric and zippers
  • Breathable back panel
  • Sleek design


  • Expensive
Cotopaxi Allpa Del Dia Travel Pack
Best double-duty: Cotopaxi, Allpa Del Dia Travel Pack — $210.00

The Cotopaxi Allpa Del Dia Travel Pack doubles as a packing cube, making it ideal for short and long trips. It has a clamshell design that falls open into two halves when unzipped, much like a suitcase. On one side is a large zippered mesh compartment, and on the other are two zippered mesh compartments. According to one reviewer, it is sizable enough to hold two week’s-worth of clothes and essentials, including toiletries and electronics. Outside, you’ll also find a few more compartments—a smaller zippered pocket on the front, a zippered padded laptop sleeve on the back that’s perfect for storing devices up to 15 inches, and a side pocket for your water bottle. It’s replete with wide shoulder and hip straps to help you carry the load.

While the pack itself isn’t water resistant, it comes with a rain cover, making it suitable for outdoor adventures or wet climates. You can wear it as a backpack, or attach the shoulder strap to wear it like a messenger bag. To add to its appeal, it’s made of 100 percent repurposed nylon fabric, so each bag is unique to its owner.

Material: 100% repurposed nylon

Measurements: 21.5”H x 13”W x 9”D

Weight: 4 lbs.

Capacity: 42L


  • Includes a rain cover
  • Multiple ways to wear it
  • Made of 100 percent repurposed fabric


  • Expensive
Baboon To The Moon Go-Bag Mini
Best duffel backpack: Baboon To The Moon, Go-Bag Mini — $169.00

A true workhorse, the Baboon To the Moon Go-Bag converts to a backpack but fits as much as a small carry-on suitcase. For reference, the 32-liter option can fit about three day’s-worth of clothes. The waterproof shell protects the duffel from the elements while keeping it lightweight. It has a roomy main compartment replete with three zippered compartments for your essentials, plus an exterior zippered compartment to keep valuables, like your phone, wallet, passport, and keys close at hand. It’s also surprisingly lightweight considering all the duffel backpack can carry. (It weighs a little over 3 pounds). The adjustable straps make it comfortable to wear as a backpack, but you also have the option to carry it as a briefcase if you so please. You can shop it in a wide range of colors and in two other sizes—a 40-liter version and a larger 60-liter option.

“I love my Go-Bag so much!” proclaimed one reviewer. “I was a little hesitant due to the price, but this bag is the only thing I ever need for my little excursions. It’s perfect for weeks away from home or even just two or three days. I adore this bag and love the color I bought it in as well!”

Material: PVC and polyester

Measurements: 9.5”H x 18.5”W x 12”D

Weight: 3.2 lbs.

Capacity: 32L


  • Roomy yet lightweight
  • Available in multiple sizes
  • Lifetime warranty


  • Not as many compartments

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