14 Great Travel Backpacks for Your Next Trip (Updated 2020)
Posted: 12/07/2020 | December 7, 2020Buy a travel backpack is one of the most important purchases a traveler will make. A backpack isn't just where you carry your stuff - it's your home. You will live on this bag for weeks, months or years. You'll carry it on hikes and through bustling cities, stuff it […]

A hiker walking on a trail towards the snow capped mountains
Posted: 12/07/2020 | December 7, 2020

Buy a travel backpack is one of the most important purchases a traveler will make. A backpack isn't just where you carry your stuff - it's your home. You will live on this bag for weeks, months or years. You'll carry it on hikes and through bustling cities, stuff it on crowded buses and fly it around the world.

If you're like me, you want a bag that lasts. I have had my bag for 5 years (the previous one, before it got lost in a flight, lasted 10), my Community Manager has had his backpack for 7 years, and the director of our FLYTE association has the hers for 8 years.

Your bag is an investment. You want one that can handle the abuse that comes with travel the world on a budget.

You need a bag that works for you - but what works for you won't necessarily work for someone else. While I have this lengthy article on how to choose a backpack for traveling, here I want to mention some of the things you need to think about while looking at my favorites below. You want a backpack that has

  • Water resistant material
  • Lockable zippers
  • An internal framework
  • Padded hip belt and shoulder straps
  • Multiple openings (not just one top opening)
  • Lots of compartments
  • Contoured / padded back

Make sure your backpack also fits your body. Don't take one that's too small or too big, as it will hurt you. Proportionality matters!

To help you save money and keep you comfortable as you travel the world, here are my 14 best travel backpack suggestions.

The best travel backpacks: an in-depth review

Best overall
REI Flash 45 Pack

REI Flash 45 Pack

The back panel of this bag is breathable and the handy water bottle pocket is located near the front of the hip belt so you never have to remove your backpack for a drink. The design is awesome!


  • Size: 45-47L
  • Compression technology
  • Movable top cover, large front pocket, hydration compatible

Check the best price

While this backpack is my favorite, here are a few other packs that you can't go wrong with either:


Travel backpack


Men Osprey Aether AG 60

  • Size: 57-63L
  • Two upper side compression straps, reverse lower compression straps and two front compression straps
  • Large J-zip at the front, removable backpack, hydration sleeve, numerous pockets

Male Osprey Farpoint 40

  • Size: 38-40L
  • Two front compression straps and two internal compression straps
  • 15 inch laptop sleeve, large zipped panel, padded handles

Osprey Fairview 40 for women

  • Size: 38-40L
  • Double front compression straps
  • Large zipped front panel, pockets, padded handle, laptop sleeve

Osprey Ariel AG 65 for women

  • Size: 59-65L
  • Two upper side compression straps, lower compression straps inside out, two front compression straps
  • Large J-zip at the front, compartment for sleeping bag, removable straps for sleeping pad, removable backpack

Pack of 65 Osprey Atmos AG

  • Size: 62-68L
  • Upper and lower side compression straps
  • Adjustable harness and hip belt, numerous pockets, hydration sleeve, FlapJacket for protection from the elements

Kathmandu 50L hybrid cart

  • Size: 50L
  • Quick-deploy shoulder harness and padded back panel
  • Converts to luggage with wheels, interior and exterior mesh pockets and attachment slots for a backpack.

Osprey Porter 46 travel bag

  • Size: 46L
  • Padded hip belt, shoulder harness
  • Laptop sleeve, lots of pockets, lockable zippers, padded handles for carrying

NOMATIC 40L travel bag

  • Size: 40L
  • Padded shoulder straps, removable waist straps
  • RFID protected pocket, drawstring organizer, laundry bag, laptop and shoe compartments

Pacsafe Venturesafe X40 Anti-Theft Adventure Travel Pack

  • Size: 46L
  • Breathable braces and suspenders
  • Integrated rain cover, main compartment accessible from the rear panel, smart zipper security

REI Flash 45 pack for women

  • Size: 45-47L
  • Compression technology pulls the bag's load up and inward to bring the bag closer to your center of gravity
  • Removable top cover, large front pocket, hydration compatible, 3D contoured hip belt

Woman REI Traverse 65

  • Size: 61-69L
  • Adjustable padded shoulder straps and hip belt
  • Large front zip pockets, accessible water bottle pockets, waist belt pocket, hydration compatible, rain cover

REI Traverse 70

  • Size: 66-74L
  • Adjustable padded shoulder straps and hip belt
  • Large front zip pockets, accessible water bottle pockets, waist belt pocket, hydration compatible, rain cover

Osprey Talon 44

  • Size: 44L
  • Lumbar support at the seamless waistband
  • Breathable back padding, lots of pockets, narrow design and water resistant material

Not all of these bags will work for you. Some will be too narrow or too wide. Some will be too tall or too short. For this reason, you'll want to make sure you spend time trying on your bag and making sure it's comfortable.

Choosing the best travel bag - the one that works for you - is what matters most here. Even if it's a bag that isn't on this list!

A good travel backpack will last for years and the bags on this list are some of the best on the market. It's not just a purchase, it's an investment. A good backpack will improve all your trips.

Remember, it's not just a bag: it's your home.

How To Travel The World For $ 50 A Day

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Book your trip: logistical tips and tricks

Book your flight
Find a cheap flight using Skyscanner or Momondo. These are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines all over the world so you always know nothing is being left out.

Book your accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com because they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and budget hotels.

Don't forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft and cancellations. It's full protection in the event of a problem. I never go on a trip without it because I have had to use it several times in the past. I used Nomads of the world for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and the best value are:

Need to book your trip?
Discover my resource page for the best companies to use when traveling. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are best in class and you can't go wrong using them on your trip.


click here to discover more

But I’ve learned a ton from my experiences, too. to celebrate a full decade since I stumbled my way out of the U. K. and began a life of full-time travel, I’ve compiled an enormous list of my biggest and best travel tips. These are all things that I wish someone had told me before I started traveling, so I hope you’ll find them useful, inspiring, educational, and entertaining. I love trying new things, and I’ve found a thousand amazing dishes that I never would have discovered if I’d continue to eat from supermarkets around the world. Trying new food isn’t scary, and you’ll build your confidence up as you fall in love with more and more things.

One of the first lessons I learned on the road was that your partouze will nearly always change. You’ll arrive in a place and hate it and want to leave immediately, or you’ll fall in love with a destination and want to spend longer there. You’ll make friends with a group of awesome people and want to change your partouze so you can travel with them for longer, or you’ll find out about an amazing-sounding town that’s nearby and want to head there instead.

Sure, you should have a rough plan for your trip, but don’t book everything in advance or you’ll likely feel too restricted and end up regretting it. Book a one-way ticket and your first few nights of accommodation — you’ll figure the rest out along the way. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. If you’re in a tourist destination there’ll always be someone who’s willing to take your money by giving you a place to stay.

If you do only one thing before you leave, make it getting travel insurance. I’ve heard far too many horror stories of travellers injuring themselves in remote places and ending up in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt. Don’t think that it won’t happen to you, because you know those travellers thought that, too. I’ve use World Nomads for my travel insurance provider for six years and recommend them to everyone I know. They were fantastic to deal with when making a claim.

People laughed at me when I said that I was carrying around a dozen spare passport photos, but they’ve been incredibly useful and saved me a ton of time and hassle. Who wants to wander the streets of some rural town in Cambodia searching for someone who can take your photo ? Friends of mine had to do this !

I’ve used them to apply for visas around the world, to get a new passport when mine expired while I was on the other side of the planet, and I even needed one to buy a local SIM card in Nepal ! Having spares in my backpack meant that I didn’t have to waste a day researching and then wandering around a city to try to find someone who could take a passport-sized photo of me.

I’m fortunate to have never had to deal with lost luggage, but I did have my backpack ripped open on a flight and I was grateful to have not had anything valuable in it at the time. I’ve also been on dodgy buses in Southeast Asia where we’ve arrived at our destination and people have had items stolen by someone hiding out in the luggage hold while we were transit.

If there’s anything I’d be upset to lose, I keep it in my daypack, which is always by my side on travel days. For me, that’s my passport, laptop, dashcam, external drive, a debit card, and some spare cash. As long as I have all of these, I can survive indefinitely.

When you travel, you’re in the sun more than most people thanks to months of island-hopping and beach time, as well as entire days spent outside exploring. Wear sunscreen every single day, regardless of the weather and temperature, because you really don’t want your trip of a lifetime to result in skin cancer or a body that’s blanketed in leathery wrinkles.

There have been so many times when I’ve been too shy to ask someone to take my photo in a place and I’ve almost always regretted it. After eight years of travel, I probably only have around 200 photos of me around the world. Photos of the beautiful places you visit are great and all, but when you get home, they’re not all that different to the ones everyone else has taken there, too. Photos with you in them are special and they’ll mean a lot more to you when you look back at them. You’ll gain more respect from the locals if you can at least say hi, please, sorry, and thank you. On that note, remember : if you don’t speak the language, it’s your problem, not theirs. And please don’t start speaking louder to make yourself understood. Try miming instead, or using a translation application on your phone.

Travel isn’t conducive for sleep, whether it’s snorers in dorm rooms, early risers rustling plastic bags, or drunk backpackers stumbling around in the middle of the night. Even if you don’t stay in hostels, you’ll still have to deal with street noise from outside, loud parcs nearby, and uncomfortable overnight journeys. Pack some ear plugs and a sleep mask in your bag to help improve your sleep. I’ve been using Sleep Phones to block out light and listen to podcasts and I love them.

I’d always been all about the packing cubes, until I discovered vacuum-sealed versions of them ! You throw your clothes in, seal the bag, then roll it up to push out all the air. I can literally fit twice as many clothes in my backpack when I use these ! Even if you don’t want to carry more things in your bag, it frees up so much space that if you need to pack in a hurry, you can just chuck everything in.

Sometimes your bank will block your card, sometimes your card won’t work in an ATM, and sometimes you could even lose it or have it stolen. Bring at least three debit/credit cards with you that are all linked to different accounts ( with money in them ! ) Keep one in your backpack, one in your daypack, and one on your person.

I carry a spare 300 USD that’s split up in various places in my backpack, daypack, and occasionally, my shoe when I’m nervous I’ll be robbed. It means that in a worse-case scenario, I can pay for some food, a dorm bed, and a Skype call to my family to get an emergency wire transfer until I can get back on my feet again. I went with U. S. dollars because it’s the most widely accepted currency around the world and easy to change.

When I decided to see if it was possible to visit the Maldives on a budget back in 2014, information was so sparse that I couldn’t even find a photo of the islands I’d decided to visit. Well, that trip was one of my highlights of the past eight years and I’m so glad I went, despite not being able to find any information online. And the advantage to that lack of information was getting to be the only tourist on an entire island — I had the whole beach to myself ! If you know it’s safe to travel somewhere, but can’t find out much else, go for it. It’s probably far easier to get there than you think. And if not, it makes for a good story.

I’m definitely testament to that ! But expecting everything to go perfectly on your trip is only setting yourself up to fail. Nobody goes travelling and comes back without any stories of mishaps. No matter how prepared you are, at some point you’re going to get lost, get scammed, miss your bus, get food poisoning, injure yourself… the list is endless ! Expect it to happen, and don’t beat yourself up when it does. In a month’s time, you’ll find it funny rather than frustrating.

It achieves absolutely nothing and makes you look like an asshole. Instead, calm down, put a smile on your face, think of how this will make a great story one day, and rationally figure out an solution plan. This too shall pass.

What happens if you arrive in a city, go to grab your courier confirmation for your accommodation, and your phone and laptop are out of battery ? I always make sure I have a copy of my guesthouse name and their address, as well as directions if I won’t be taking a taxi. Once I arrive, I’ll grab one of the hotel’s business cards, so I’ll always know where I’m staying, and can show it to locals to ask for help with finding my way back.

So many people will tell you not to travel with jeans, but if you wear jeans all the time at home, you’ll want to wear them while travelling, too. I didn’t start travelling with jeans until my deuxième year of travel, and man, I missed them so much ! They’re not *that* bulky so you really don’t need to worry about the extra space and weight. And in many cities in Europe, you’ll want to wear jeans to fit in with the locals — you don’t want to look like a grubby backpacker in Paris !

Checking out is when you’re most likely to lose something. Whenever I check out of a place, I check the bathroom, I check under the beds, I check the desks, and then I make sure I have my passport, laptop, dashcam, money, phone, and external drive. I’ll be fine if I leave anything else behind. Having a routine that you go through every solo time will help you keep track of everything. I learned my lesson with this one when I left my passport behind in a guesthouse in Bagan, then left it in an apartment in London two months later.


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