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The Best Travel Backpacks for 2020

U.S. News rated the best travel backpacks using recommendations from experts and consumers.

U.S. News & World Report

The Best Travel Backpacks for 2020

Best travel backpack

Backpacks are becoming more popular among travelers and U.S. News evaluated the top options for consumers.(Courtesy of Away, Dagne Dover and ZOMAKE)

U.S. News takes an unbiased approach to our recommendations. When you use our links to buy products, we may earn a commission but that in no way affects our editorial independence.

Best Overall Travel Backpack

  • Osprey Farpoint 40: $160 or less. View deal.
  • Tortuga Setout Backpack: $199 or less. View deal.
  • Away The Backpack: $195 or less. View deal.
  • Osprey Porter 30 Travel Pack: $120 or less. View deal.
  • ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack: $15.99 or less. View deal.

What to Look For When Shopping for Travel Backpacks

There are many details to consider when it comes to choosing the perfect travel backpack. Whether it's big or small, light or heavy, or offers protection for laptops and other important items, one of the most important features to look for is the bag's organizational layout.

Rudy Maxa, host of the TV series "Rudy Maxa's World" and a recent convert to travel backpacks, likes options with lots of nooks and crannies to hold everything from earphones to magazines to travel documents. Wendy Perrin, travel expert and founder of travel planning site, agrees, saying she's a fan of compartments when it comes to her travel backpack and likes the ability to get to her items quickly.

Tom Wahlin, travel gear expert and founder of Pack Hacker, says he prefers a backpack that combines a spacious bucket area with smart organization. He recommends using packing cubes to organize items in the backpack's main compartment.

Style is also an important consideration, especially for business travelers. Samantha Brown, host of PBS' hit series "Samantha Brown's Places to Love," thinks having a stylish bag can make a great first impression. "I like to have a nice looking bag," Brown says. "When you look good, you do get better service."

Weight should be a consideration as well. While you may need something more durable for long outdoor adventures, a lightweight bag can be easier and more comfortable on your back for daytrips, sightseeing or day-to-day travels. Wahlin errs on the side of going lighter, noting a backpack can be both lightweight and durable.

He also suggests choosing a bag with durable zippers. "We typically look for Japanese YKK zippers," Wahlin says. "They're tried and tested and are on most of the best bags out there."

Whether you're an adventurer looking for the best pack for your next hike or a business traveler who wants to safely carry your laptop while looking stylish, here are the top-rated options for travel backpacks from U.S. News.

What Is the Best Travel Backpack?

(Courtesy of Tortuga, Osprey and ZOMAKE)

Best overall travel backpack: Osprey Farpoint 40

Available in two colors, volcanic gray and jasper red, the Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack offers many features handy for travelers, making it our choice for the best travel backpack. The backpack weighs around 3 pounds and comes with handles on the top and sides to make it easy to grab from any angle. It also offers multiple pockets, including a top pocket for electronics and glasses, plus mesh holders on the front for water bottles and drinks.

There are interior compression straps to make sure everything fits snugly, as well as a padded laptop sleeve. If you're concerned about the safety of your items, you can use the backpack's locking zipper feature for security. The backpack, which costs $160, can also be carried as a duffel bag using the included shoulder strap, and the ventilated back panel helps keep your back dry on long outings. Consumers say the backpack is spacious and comfortable and a good size for use on an airplane.

[Osprey Farpoint 40: $160 or less. View deal.]

Other top travel backpacks to consider:

Tortuga Setout Backpack: This backpack opens like a suitcase, allowing you to pack items more easily than you would if you only had access from one zipper on the top. It comes with a padded hip belt, which has pockets for electronics, to put less strain on your back and make the backpack more comfortable to carry. The Tortuga Setout also features a padded laptop pocket, tuck-away shoulder straps and zippered mesh interior pockets. Travelers say it is functional and comfortable, and there is plenty of room inside for two weeks' worth of items.

[Tortuga Setout Backpack: $199 or less. View deal.]

Away The Backpack: Weighing less than 3 pounds and measuring more than 17 inches tall, Away The Backpack has three main compartments and a hidden pocket on the back for passports, credit cards or identification cards. You can stow your water bottle in an expandable zippered pocket and your laptop (up to 15 inches long) in a separate sleeve. The backpack easily slides over the handle of the company's Away The Carry-On, a feature travelers really appreciate. Consumers also say it is stylish and praise the dedicated laptop area.

[Away The Backpack: $195 or less. View deal.]

Osprey Porter 30: Standout features of the Osprey Porter 30 backpack include an easily accessible padded sleeve for laptops or tablets, a hip belt and harness that zips out of sight, and straps to help secure and compress the interior contents. The backpack also comes with lockable zippers. Travelers say the bag fits many items and is well-organized.

[Osprey Porter 30: $120 or less. View deal.]

ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack: This inexpensive backpack, which comes in many colors, is water-resistant should you find yourself in the rain. It's also designed to be extremely lightweight at less than 9 ounces, and when you're not using it, it folds into a small pouch. The backpack has many interior pockets and two pockets on the exterior perfect for holding your drink. Travelers say the durable bag is ideal to use during cruise shore excursions and at amusement parks.

[ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack: $15.99 or less. View deal.]

ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack

(Courtesy of Dagne Dover, Pacsafe and ZOMAKE)

If you want a lightweight backpack, the ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack is our top choice. Weighing less than 9 ounces and folding into a roughly 7-inch pouch, the backpack is easy to carry and simple to pack in a suitcase for use at your destination. Plus, it is water-resistant, making it an excellent option for everywhere from beaches to theme parks to mountains.

You'll find plenty of places to store items, including an exterior zippered pocket, an interior pocket and two open mesh exterior pouches designed for stashing water bottles and umbrellas. It's a compact backpack at 16.5 inches tall, and you can choose from multiple colors like hot pink, blue, purple and orange. What's more, it's affordable at $15.99. Travelers say the backpack holds up well and offers ample room for storage.

[ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack: $15.99 or less. View deal.]

Other lightweight travel backpacks to consider:

Knomo Beauchamp Laptop Backpack: If you are looking for a lightweight option to transport your laptop on your travels, consider purchasing the Knomo Beauchamp Laptop Backpack. This stylish backpack comes in sizes to store both 14- and 15-inch laptops in a padded sleeve and weighs less than 2 pounds. It's made of fabric that repels water and features three open interior pockets, one zippered pocket and two spaces to hold cards – all with radio-frequency identification protection, which helps keep thieves from stealing your electronic information. Consumers say they like that the backpack is both stylish and compact.

[Knomo Beauchamp Laptop Backpack: $179 or less. View deal.]

Dagne Dover Medium Dakota Backpack: Available in an array of colors, including ash blue, dark moss and siren, the Dagne Dover Medium Dakota Backpack weighs 2 pounds and stands 17 inches tall. The bag can hold up to a 13-inch laptop and comes with a bag for shoes, a removable zippered pouch, a key clip and exterior side pockets. Made from neoprene, it's also water-resistant. Travelers say they love the bag's chic style and that it's lightweight.

[Dagne Dover Medium Dakota Backpack: $175 or less. View deal.]

Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Anti-Theft 15L Backpack: For those who want to be sure their backpack is secure, the Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Anti-Theft 15L Backpack has multiple features to stave off thieves while weighing less than 1.5 pounds. RFID-blocking material keeps others from stealing your personal information, and specially designed zippers prevent pickpockets from accessing your bag. What's more, the material used for the backpack and its straps is designed to be slash-proof. Many travelers like to take this bag to Europe and appreciate that it's lightweight and can fit numerous items.

[Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Anti-Theft 15L Backpack: $99.95 or less. View deal.]

Sumtree 35L Ultra Lightweight Foldable Packable Backpack: Weighing less than a pound, the Sumtree 35L backpack is made of nylon and folds into a pocket on the bag. It's water- and rip-resistant and has side pockets for water bottles, an interior zippered pocket and two front zippered pockets. Travelers can choose from colors like red, orange and army green. Consumers say the handy bag is great for many uses like visiting theme parks, traveling throughout Europe and spending a day at the beach.

[Sumtree 35L Ultra Lightweight Foldable Packable Backpack: $16.99 or less. View deal.]

Osprey Farpoint 40

(Courtesy of Gregory and Osprey)

Outdoor adventurers who need a sturdy backpack that can hold everything required for a day's hike or longer should look no further than the Osprey Farpoint 40, which we've rated as the best adventure travel backpack. This bag, which costs $160, is the company's lightest and meets most airline carry-on bag dimension restrictions at about 21 inches tall. It's unusual in that it can be fully unzipped from the front, so you can pack it like you would a suitcase.

To make it easier to carry, the backpack features padded handles, a shoulder strap and a removable padded waist strap to keep pressure off of your back. In addition to offering space for your hiking gear, it has a padded pocket for a laptop, an emergency whistle and two front mesh pockets for drinks or an energy bar when you need a pick-me-up. Travelers say this is a solid, functional bag that can be used in place of a traditional suitcase. They especially like the tuck-away waist strap.

[Osprey Farpoint 40: $160 or less. View deal.]

Other adventure travel backpacks to consider:

Osprey Porter 30: The Osprey Porter 30 backpack is another good option for adventure travelers, measuring 19.5 inches tall and weighing less than 3 pounds. This bag opens fully like a suitcase and has a harness and waist strap that zips away. The front pocket features multiple sleeves and pouches for smaller items, and there is a pocket designed to hold a laptop or tablet. Consumers like how the backpack keeps their items easily accessible and organized.

[Osprey Porter 30: $120 or less. View deal.]

Osprey Fairview 55: Osprey also makes the highly regarded Osprey Fairview 55, which stands nearly 25 inches tall and weighs about 4 pounds. Like other Osprey backpacks, this one allows you to pack it like you would a suitcase by opening it fully. The backpack is designed specifically for women and offers an option to zip on a daypack. The Osprey Fariview 55 also includes padded sleeve for your laptop, a backpack divider to keep dirty and clean clothes separate, an emergency whistle and a top pocket for phones, glasses and lip balm. What's more, you can use the front mesh pockets for drinks or other items you need within quick reach during your adventures. Users love the detachable daypack and describe the backpack as lightweight and comfortable.

[Osprey Fairview 55: $180 or less. View deal.]

REI Co-op Ruckpack 40: Grab this REI backpack for your next outdoor excursion. You can strap hiking poles to dedicated exterior loops, use the rain cover if you get caught in a downpour and take advantage of the backpack's ventilated back panel and wide, padded hip belt to stay cool and comfortable. The backpack's two side pockets make it easy to stow drinks, snacks and other items within easy reach. It's also designed to hold a hydration reservoir tube so you can stay hydrated on the go. Plus, both the men's and the women's versions offer a whistle for emergencies. Consumers say the bag is multifunctional, is great for hiking and has lots of handy pockets.

[REI Co-op Ruckpack 40: $139 or less. View deal.]

Gregory I-Street 28L Backpack: The Gregory I-Street 28L Backpack is water-resistant and has a roll-top top closure for added protection to keep the outside from getting in. Its padded laptop and tablet sleeve is also easily accessible from the exterior, and its contoured shoulder straps, hip belt and back panel are designed for comfort and breathability. The backpack comes with outside pockets for carrying your drink of choice. Consumers say the backpack is well made and appreciate its design.

[Gregory I-Street 28L Backpack: $149.95 or less. View deal.]

ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack

(Courtesy of Everlane, Pacsafe and ZOMAKE)

For an inexpensive yet highly functional backpack, opt for our top-ranked cheap travel backpack: the ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack. This $15.99 backpack is available in 11 colors, weighs less than 9 ounces, easily folds up into a sandwich-size pocket and is made of a water- and tear-resistant material. It's also reinforced at multiple pressure points for improved durability.

The bag offers many pockets for storing items of all shapes and sizes, including two on the front for drinks and umbrellas. Travelers say the backpack is versatile and that they've used it in a variety of settings, including on hikes, at theme parks, on the beach and even as a diaper bag. They describe it as resilient, light and comfortable.

[ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack: $15.99 or less. View deal.]

Other cheap travel backpacks to consider:

Everlane The Packable Backpack: Costing only $35, this handy backpack made from nylon twill tucks into its front pocket when you're ready to pack it away. It also has a sleek and stylish look, with minimal pockets on the outside. There's one front pocket for easy access, plus an interior laptop sleeve. Consumers say the bag fits a lot while looking chic.

[Everlane The Packable Backpack: $35 or less. View deal.]

Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Anti-Theft 15L Backpack: The Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 backpack is a good cost-effective option for those concerned with security. The backpack costs less than $100 and offers a range of features to protect your items inside, including locking zippers, fabric that protects against slashes and RFID-blocking material to keep thieves from stealing your personal information from your credit cards and other identification. Travelers say the bag holds a lot, is comfortable and helps them feel at ease when traveling.

[Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Anti-Theft 15L Backpack: $99.95 or less. View deal.]

Sumtree 35L Ultra Lightweight Foldable Packable Backpack

The Sumtree 35L backpack is designed to be super lightweight and easily portable. The exact price varies depending on the color you select, but all choices cost less than $20. Options include blue, army green, orange and red. Made from nylon, the bag easily folds into a small pocket for packing, but it is 19.5 inches tall when fully unfolded. There are multiple interior compartments, as well as two exterior pockets for water bottles and other items you need within easy reach. Purchasers like how the bag folds up but also appreciate its ample space.

[Sumtree 35L Ultra Lightweight Foldable Packable Backpack: $16.99 or less. View deal.]

Herschel Little America, Mid-Volume Backpack

Priced at $99.99, the Herschel Little America, Mid-Volume Backpack is a stylish yet affordable option available in many fun patterns and colors. Available designs feature flowers, stripes and even camouflage – all while offering excellent functionality. The front storage pocket has a hidden zipper and a clip for keys, and the backpack also includes a fleece-lined laptop sleeve and a headphone port. Consumers say they like the look of this backpack and appreciate its pockets, organization and laptop sleeve.

[Herschel Little America, Mid-Volume Backpack: $99.99 or less. View deal.]

Longchamp Le Pliage Backpack

(Courtesy of Everlane, Dagne Dover and Leatherology)

The Longchamp Le Pliage Backpack is our pick for the most stylish travel backpack. This lightweight bag from Paris-based Longchamp is made of canvas and features leather trim accents. It closes by folding over a leather flap and snapping it in place.

The bag, which stands 11 inches tall, folds into the size of a paperback book and typically comes in 12 colors every season, such as red, navy, black and khaki. Consumers say they love the size of this backpack and appreciate how it folds into an even smaller size if needed.

[Longchamp Le Pliage Backpack: $140 or less. View deal.]

Other stylish travel backpacks to consider:

Knomo Beauchamp Laptop Backpack

Carry your laptop in style with the Knomo Beauchamp Laptop Backpack. This sophisticated option from Knomo, a company based in London, is made of a lightweight, water-repellent fabric and offers two zippered pockets on the front. The bag is available in eight colors and boasts chic accents like leather lining and silver or gold hardware. The interior can accommodate a 14- or 15-inch laptop and features a contrasting color to make it easier to find what you need. Purchasers say they love the look and style of the bag, as well as its ability to hold a variety of items.

[Knomo Beauchamp Laptop Backpack: $179 or less. View deal.]

Everlane The Packable Backpack

Everlane's Packable Backpack has a sleek design. The exterior features one front pocket with a zipper, while the interior offers a pocket that can hold a laptop that measures up to 13 inches. This bag easily folds into its front pocket when it's not in use to make it simple to pack away and take with you. Consumers love the size and look of this backpack and appreciate that it folds into a smaller size.

[Everlane The Packable Backpack: $35 or less. View deal.]

Dagne Dover Medium Dakota Backpack

The medium version of this fashionable backpack works for travel or everyday use. Color options include onyx, storm, dark moss and ash blue, among others. The backpack is made from neoprene, which is water-resistant and durable, and features two side pockets, a key clip, adjustable shoulder straps and interior zip and mesh pockets. Reviewers say the bag is comfortable and chic, adding that it can hold everything they need.

[Dagne Dover Medium Dakota Backpack: $175 or less. View deal.]

Leatherology Parker Backpack

For a stylish leather option, consider the Leatherology Parker Backpack in colors like navy, army, charcoal and brown. The backpack stands nearly 18 inches tall and has a front pocket and main compartment with zippers that are mostly hidden, as well as a laptop sleeve that zips and two open pockets on the sides. You can also opt to have your initials debossed or hand-painted onto the leather. Consumers say the bag is well crafted and an excellent size.

[Leatherology Parker Backpack: $325 or less. View deal.]

Tortuga Setout Backpack

(Courtesy of Away, Tortuga and Minaal)

The Tortuga Setout Backpack lets you carry your laptop in style without worrying about damage, making it our top laptop travel backpack. The bag has room for up to a 17-inch laptop, a 9.7-inch tablet and an e-reader. Additionally, there are plenty of interior pockets for storing other items of all sizes. The backpack also comes with lockable zippers to safeguard your expensive electronics and important documents.

Additional perks include the backpack's top and side handles, which make it easier to grab from an airplane's overhead bin, and how it opens like a suitcase for easy packing. It's also designed for comfort, with a padded hip belt that doubles as a pocket, a padded back suspension system and shoulder straps that tuck away when you're not using them. To ensure a proper fit, you can choose a men's or women's design. Consumers say the roomy, well-designed backpack works great for a multiweek trip to Europe.

[Tortuga Setout Backpack: $199 or less. View deal.]

Other laptop backpacks to consider:

Away The Backpack

Away The Backpacks hides your laptop in a discreet cushioned zippered pocket. The pocket is designed to keep water from getting inside and can accommodate laptops that measure up to 15 inches. The bag's layout features three main pockets, as well as a secret passport pocket on the back and an expandable side pocket for water bottles and umbrellas. Travelers say the bag is durable and has room for many items.

[Away The Backpack: $195 or less. View deal.]

Minaal Carry-on 2.0 Bag

The Minaal Carry-on 2.0 Bag has a patented device sleeve designed to absorb shock for your expensive electronic devices, including laptops that measure up to 15 inches and tablets that are no more than 11 inches long. The bag also features lockable zippers for extra security and a rain cover to keep your devices dry. Consumers say the bag is outstanding and professional-looking, making it a great option for everyone from business travelers to kids to flight crewmembers.

[Minaal Carry-on 2.0 Bag: $299 or less. View deal.]

Expandable Knack Pack

This slim backpack, which comes in small, medium and large sizes, is designed to hold up to 17-inch laptops in its padded zipped pocket, which is on the side for easy access. The bag also expands to accommodate up to three sets of clothes in its packing compartment and features a side pocket for drinks that can be hidden away when it's not in use. The Expandable Knack Pack can be opened fully and packed like a suitcase as well. Reviewers say they love the look of this bag and its ample space.

[Expandable Knack Pack: $235 or less. View deals: Option 1 | Option 2 | Option 3.]

Tumi T-Pass Business Class Brief Pack

The handy Tumi T-Pass Business Class Brief Pack lets you pull out the laptop section when going through security. Your laptop, which can measure up to 15 inches in length, sits in a padded zipped compartment inside the backpack. The bag also features a padded tablet pocket, three open pockets and zipped pockets accessible from the front, interior and sides. Consumers say this bag's storage is outstanding and that it's made from high-quality materials.

[Tumi T-Pass Business Class Brief Pack: $600 or less. View deal.]

How U.S. News Evaluated Travel Backpacks
U.S. News uses an unbiased scoring methodology based on a composite analysis of the ratings and reviews published by credible third-party professional and consumer review sources. U.S. News makes the best effort to review active and available products as of the time of publication.

Tags: travel

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