Ah, the travel backpack. There’s something so freeing about traveling with only one bag on your back and nothing in your hands. When given a choice, I’ll almost always pick a backpack over a checked suitcase due to practicality. Traveling with a backpack forces you to cut down on many of the unnecessary things you probably won’t even use on your travels. With one bag, you’re able to easily move from location to location, always having just enough and never too much.
And then, there’s the carry-on. I find them equally as convenient as the backpack for short weekend trips. You just toss it into the overhead compartment of a plane and voila! Nothing more to worry about. When the flight lands, just grab the bag and be on your merry way out of the airport. The last thing you want to do is spend an extra 30-45 minutes waiting for your luggage at baggage claim, especially when you could be using that time to explore.
When it comes to the dilemma of carry-on suitcase vs. travel backpack, it all depends on your personal preferences and travel needs. Choosing the perfect travel backpack or carry-on can be a tough endeavor when the options seem endless. There are bags literally everywhere. That’s why I’ve narrowed down a list of ten bags that either I or my friends swear by and like the most.
Please note: This post contains affiliate links. You won’t be paying a cent more for any services you sign up for, but the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep the content coming to you. Thanks!
Most backpacks tend to be lighter than standard luggage (yet still very durable) and smaller, too — usually fitting neatly beneath the seat in front of you. Plus, it serves multiple purposes. You can easily take your carry-on backpack from the airport to your day out in the city, to the beach, and beyond. They often have tons of pockets, providing you with a place to store everything.
Weekend Trip Options
Sleek, comfortable, and secure 25-liter backpack with anti-theft technologies built in; ideal for carrying day-to-day necessities on adventures abroad, around town, or as a handy carry-on. So, so sleek. (They have a smaller size too!)
A rugged all-condition backpack and a favorite of bike messengers all over the world, rolltop bags give you extra room when you need to haul a ton of gear and fold over to keep everything inside protected from the outside world. Ideal for travelers who need to carry a variety of cargo or who expect to encounter weather other than sun.
WANDRD – The PRVKE Bag
Calling all travel photography enthusiasts out there! The PRVKE Pack’s innovative design and high-quality materials make it an award-winning camera bag. This travel camera backpack is perfect for photography, travel, and even daily use. It has been featured in and recommended by Forbes, USA Today, and National Geographic.
Multiweek Trip Options
Osprey Farpoint and Fairview
Two of my favorite travel backpacks are the Osprey Farpoint and the Osprey Fairview — they’re both essentially the same backpack but the Fairview is a female-specific version that’s slightly tweaked to better fit females. They have multiple sizes available which is awesome for customization (40L, 55L, 70L, 80L).
The Farpoint and Fairview are two of the most fully-featured travel backpacks on the market because they incorporate many features that you’d find in a traditional hiking pack, but it’s marketed as a travel bag as well. Gotta love these multipurpose backpacks.
Osprey’s Farpoint is perfect for a weekend getaway in the city or the wilderness. The frame suspension transfers the load from harness to hipbelt. If you get the larger sizes, the detachable daypack provides additional storage and organization ideal for daytrips or carry-on.
Lightweight and streamlined, the Fairview Series is an ideal travel pack for fast-moving globetrotters. The zip-off daypack provides additional storage and is perfect for carrying around town by itself. The stowaway harness and hipbelt disappears for safe keeping when you check your bag, and durable fabrics offer added protection.
Buy it here.
Osprey Sojourn Wheeled Luggage, 28-Inch/80-Liter
This convertible, lightweight bag by Osprey is the ultimate multi-tasker. It can be wheeled or carried as a backpack. Rolling luggage is great, but sometimes the terrain is too rough and you need a backpack. The Osprey Sojourn’s got you covered.
My personal favorite! The Aura AG 65 is the best-fitting and most comfortable women’s-specific pack ever made for traditional backpacking trips. The innovative Anti-Gravity suspension makes it feel like you’re carrying less weight and seamlessly wraps around your body.
Tortuga makes durable, water-resistant carry-on backpacks that packs easily like a suitcase, yet is comfortable enough to wear for miles. It seriously holds enough stuff to travel for weeks at a time, and I know a ton of people who have backpacked across Europe with this thing.
Vera Bradley Weekender Bag
This one is a bestseller. Seriously, we can never have enough carry on / weekender bags.
NEWHEY Travel Weekender Bag
This one by NEWHEY is not only super spacious (really, it’s bigger than it looks), but it’s made with materials such as genuine leather and waterproof waxed canvas that gives it that classic, rugged feel.
Yet another sleek and durable choice! Extremely light and visually impactful, this collection takes polycarbonate design to the next level. Featuring 360 spinner wheels and TSA compatible combo lock.
Another one of my super reliable (and cute!) carry-on bags. This one’s easily identifiable and has the ability to expand. Spinner wheels are a must.
This case expands for added packing capacity. Featuring 360 spinner wheels and tons of sleek colors and even patterns to pick from.
Looking for more packing and travel planning ideas? Read more: