Best Travel Backpacks

John C.
By John C. / November 8, 2016

Packing for an exciting travel adventure means the time to leave is near. This can be a fun, yet daunting experience depending on your familiarity with the type of travel you plan on taking. The right backpack can make a world of difference. You can get something very specific to the type of trip you are taking, like a backcountry skiing backpack. Or, get a more diverse backpack that might lack some of the features like the great compartmentalization you might have gotten on a sport specific backpack like a backcountry skiing backpack, but offer more flexibility in its usage. Spending a little extra in the backpack department always seems to pay off in the long run. Here are my reviews of the best travel backpacks. I’ve included sport specific and more generic packs. Safe Travels!

Travel Backpack Comparison Table







The North Face Borealis Unisex Backpack

19 x 13.5

x 7.5 in.

2.4 lbs.


Osprey Packs Kode 32

3 Sizes



JanSport Big Student Classics Series

17.5 x 13

x 10 in.

1.5 lbs


Patagonia Ascensionist Daypack 35L

21 x 12

 x 5 in.

2.6 lbs.


SwissGear Blue Ibex Computer Backpack

19.6 x 17.3

x 4.8in.

3.4 lbs


The North Face Borealis is a long lasting, super durable pack that is just the right size. Not too big, but not too small. This pack could win the diversity award right off the bat. This pack has two compartments. One large open section and another that’s about ¾ the size of the large section that contains several organizational sleeves that could be used for a variety of things including laptops, tablets and really any kind of gear. There’s a mesh water bottle compartment on the exterior making it good for hiking as well! The foam back panel offers extra back support and along with the extra comfy “FlexVent injection-molded” shoulder straps, this backpack is easily one of the best travel backpacks on the market.

2. Osprey Kode 32 Backpack

Osprey is another very reliable brand. I’ve used these packs deep in the wintertime backcountry and they can take a beating! This pack is a little more expensive than the Travel Porter pack that Ospreys also sells but I think this bag is worth the extra dough. Here’s why; The Kode 32 pack is wonderful for traveling, hiking, skiing or snowboarding. This pack’s main function is for backcountry skiing and snowboarding but it also happens to be my favorite travel bag. The amazing organization for backcountry gear in the front compartment leaves the entire separate back zipper compartment open for layers or whatever you may need for your adventure. I’ve also taken my Kode on planes and busses with ease. The waist and chest straps help to take the load off and make it easier to carry the extra weight that clothes can add while traveling.

Ahh, the classic. This pack has now been used for decades, yes, decades. We are that old. Its simple design allows for the user to organize any way they wish. I can remember waking with this backpack through rain, sleet, hail and snow just to wait for the school bus. Nonetheless, my books were always dry as a bone. With its double large compartment design and additional storage in the front, including a small double pouched zipper section at the bottom and mesh water bottle storage on the side, this backpack is ready for any week or even month long adventure (if you know how to pack it right). For sure, this pack is one of the best travel backpacks around.

4. Patagonia Ascensionist Pack

This medium-largish sized bag’s intended use is for pretty gnarly dudes and dudettes who want to ice climb! However, as awesome as a climbing bag as this is, it’s secretly an even better traveling bag. This 45-liter pack is about as simple yet as effective as they come. One small top compartment that closes with a zipper and the main large compartment that opens from the top opens plenty wide to dig down to the bottom and access whatever gear or pair of underwear you accidentally stuffed all the way at the bottom. Don’t worry, it happens. Patagonia’s Ascensionist Pack has got you covered.

5. SwissGear Ibex Computer Backpack

When wearing backpacks with padded back panels you’re almost guaranteed a back-sweat soaked shirt when removing said pack. The Ibex address this issue with its airflow channels while not giving up anything in the comfort department. This backpack has a dedicated computer slot, which can hold a 17 inch wide screened device! There’s tons of extra padding around it which is great for a traveler who takes their computer with them a lot but is, let’s say, a little rough on their stuff. There are 3 main compartments with plenty of room for everything you may need for your next adventure.

Well there you have it. The best travel backpacks for the traveler who wants to pack what they need, while not stressing about digging for it in unorganized packs. The best travel backpacks can be used in a variety of situations, in mountains or deserts or in airports or on busses. These packs can take it all. I hope you’re able to find one of the best travel backpacks out there for your adventure! If you'd like to see a list of backpacks geared more for women, check out the Best Travel Backpacks for Women. And if you want to see what to stuff your backpack with, don't miss the Best Travel Accessories!

About the author

John C.

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