Air Bags: 15 Best Travel Backpacks

Oct 16, 2017

Category: Gear

The seasoned traveler knows that the best thing you can do to ease frequent journeying is pare down your luggage as much as possible. And for many frequent flyers and weekenders alike, that means getting your necessities down to just one bag. But you shouldn’t just be focused on the content of the cargo, because the carrier itself can be just as important in some cases.

Owning and making use of a good travel pack can make every trek you make even better. And that’s because they offer good organizational schemes, plenty of room (sometimes expandable) for anything you might take or pick up on the way, and they can cater to a multitude of locales and trip types. Still, even with such a specified purpose, there are bags that sit at the upper echelon in regards to style, capability, and worth. The following 15 bags are what we believe to be the best travel backpacks out there right now.

Osprey Farpoint Travel Backpack

As its name might suggest, this bag was built specifically for travel. And its biggest highlight is that it offers some modularity, as it’s actually two bags in one. The larger main bag has plenty of space for your essentials, but the secondary daypack can be detached and taken with you for shorter getaways. That way, you can always make sure you have everything you need with you and nothing you don’t. It’s also built from polyester, so it offers a bit of water resistance and a whole mess of durability.

Purchase: $126+

Mystery Ranch Streetfighter

Mystery Ranch makes all their bags in the USA in a factory that was designed around making mil-spec gear – which also lends plenty of toughness and durability to their gear, especially when combined with the high quality materials they use to build their stuff. This bag is made from 500D Cordura nylon, features durable YKK zippers, and was specifically designed around urban environments and exploration. Sure, it’s not the most spacious bag out there, but its easy access lends itself to quickness in a pinch – and that can be invaluable on travel.

Purchase: $149

Aer Duffel Pack

Aer is a brand that consistently ranks at the top of everyone’s must-have bags list – and with good reason: everything they make is superbly designed and crafted with great attention to detail. Their Duffel pack, however, might be the best one they’ve ever made. With 24 liters of internal space across several external pockets, internal pouches, a comprehensive organizational system, and a padded laptop pouch (which fits up to a 15″ Macbook Pro), you could feasibly live out of this bag for weeks, months, or maybe even years and never get frustrated with what it has to offer.

Purchase: $150

The North Face Overhaul Pack

Known perhaps best for their rugged outdoor-focused gear, the North Face does not simply relegate them to wilderness adventures – as evidenced by their travel-friendly Overhaul Pack. With a format that fits well within the international carry on guidelines, this 41-liter backpack features stowable shoulder straps for briefcase-stye carry, a fleece-lined 15″ laptop pouch, an organizer panel for all your tech gear, and a quick-access small item pouch. And it’s all housed within a durable 420D ripstop nylon constructed exterior.

Purchase: $159

Heimplanet Motion Ellipse Pack

There are many travel backpacks that offer decent organization and a solid amount of space, but very few are actually designed around you, the carrier. Heimplanet’s Motion Ellipse, however, offers all of that and more. It’s got 25 liters of internal space across several different pockets, pouches, and compartments; is water resistant for any damp outings; features a hybrid 3-liter hydration and 15″ laptop pouch; and is built from a unique combination of a 210D ripstop nylon melange with PEVR lamination and 420D PU coated nylon. That material, by the way, was designed to mold and move with your body as you wear the pack, making this one of the most ergonomically-sound backpacks ever to have been made. Truly, this backpack is a marvel of modern technology.

Purchase: $160

Patagonia Black Hole Backpack

Patagonia, the legendary outdoor gear brand, made their Black Hole line with two concepts in mind: the packs should be ideal for everyday carry use, but they also need to be tough enough to journey around the world with. And, if we’re being frank, they certainly achieved that goal. Need proof? Check out their 30-liter backpack. It’s made from a 450D 100% polyester ripstop with a TPU-film laminate and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish – meaning they’re durable, won’t let liquids anywhere near your gear, and are likely to outlast even you during your adventures. Other features include a sternum strap, a hybrid laptop hydration sleeve, a molded back panel, and water-bottle sized side pockets.

Purchase: $169

Standard Pacific Field Rucksack

Though you may not have heard of them before now, Standard Pacific Goods is absolutely an outdoor brand you should be keeping your eyes on. And the proof is in the product – namely, their Field Rucksack. Designed specifically to be the best do-everything bag in the world for the everyman, this backpack has a wealth of handy features that will help you make it through any adventure – be that in the wilderness or a foreign city. They include a water-repellant nylon shell, waterproof zippers, a fleece-lined front tech pocket, a thermal side pocket for keeping a water bottle or thermos cold or hot (respectively), and both a top and full-clamshell opening for either quick or full access. It even comes with a removable toiletry pouch, a removable shoe pouch, and a rainfly cover for when things get a little too wet.

Purchase: $199

Aer Travel Pack

As if Aer hadn’t already created one of the greatest and most comprehensive lines of packs we’ve ever seen, they come out with their Travel Pack – a bag that meets all of their exacting standards on build-quality and organization, but is also geared specifically toward trekking around the globe – be that by foot, by car, by plane, or otherwise. The most obvious benefit of this bag is that it fits international standards for carry on luggage. But there’s so much more to it than that – including a 1680D ballistic nylon exterior, a lay-flat main compartment, a full clamshell opening, a ventilated shoe pouch, multiple external and interior pockets, an expandable water bottle pocket, multiple straps for different carry options, and so much more. It would truly be a difficult, if not impossible, endeavor to find a more air travel-friendly bag.

Purchase: $220

Topo Travel Bag

Topo Designs is renowned for their brightly colored, adventure-focused offerings – so it should come as no surprise that one of their bags made our list of best travel backpacks. As evidenced by its name, the Travel Bag is ideal for trekkers of all sorts. It’s crafted from 100D Cordura nylon, has a coated pack cloth liner, and offers 30 liters of internal space for all your shirts, socks, shorts, favorite jeans, and more. It also offers stowable shoulder straps and alternative handles for suitcase-style carry, has a sleeve that fits up to a 17″ laptop, meets most carry-on requirements, and has a large-opening main compartment. And if you’re worried about quality, don’t – because these bags are made right here in the USA.

Purchase: $229

DSPTCH Ruckpack

Who says a good travel backpack can’t also be rugged and traditionally-inspired? Not the guys behind the DSPTCH Ruckpack. Based on classic military rucksacks, this slimmed-down modernized version was designed specifically around carrying all of your everyday carry essentials and more. In fact, it’s got 25 liters of internal space, a dedicated separate laptop pocket, several small item pouches, and a rigid HDPE (High-density polyethylene) and aluminum back support to help ease your carrying over long periods of time. It’s also built with 500D Cordura nylon, features mil-spec webbing for expandable carry options, and is compatible with a number of DSPTCH’s optional add-ons. It even comes with the brand’s lifetime guarantee.

Purchase: $240

Minaal Carry-On 2.0 Bag

Even some of the greatest outdoor brands might have a hard time saying that their flagship product went through literal millions of miles of on-the-road testing before they rolled it out. Minaal, however, can. Even more than that, this isn’t their originally released version – it’s the second release; or, as they call it, the Carry-on 2.0 bag. Envisioned in the rural paradise that is New Zealand, this bag was built with three principles in mind: moving fast and efficiently, bringing the user enjoyment, and complete unabashed confidence in the product’s off-road capabilities. What they ended up with was a stunning marvel of carry constructed from a custom 600D core fabric with reengineered carry handles, a seam-sealed rain cover, an aluminum hook compression and security system, and literal dozens of other tweaks making this one of the best travel bags in the world. Bravo.

Purchase: $299

Mission Workshop The Vandal

Responsible for crafting a whole catalog-worth of sleek, modern, minimalist, style-forward carry goods and apparel, Mission Workshop did not skimp in the design department with their Vandal cargo backpack. Hell, they didn’t skimp on the capabilities and quality, either. This is a solid bag through and through with 29 liters of internal space (which is expandable up to a whopping 65 liters), a water resistant main compartment, the option to switch between a roll top or flap-down closure, and urethane coated zippers. Did we mention that it can nearly double its carry capacity? And that’s just the beginning. Hidden within its exterior you’ll find a carbon fiber reinforced internal frame suspension system, dual laptop-sized carry pouches (one that fits up to a 15″ computer or tablet and the other that fits 17″), and it looks handsome as hell. But the best part is, each and every one of them is made right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Purchase: $335

Lexdray San Francisco Camera Pack

Lexdray has a large catalogue of travel-focused packs, each built with a fairly specific purpose in mind – but that doesn’t mean they don’t work in other applications, as well. That’s the case with their San Francisco Camera Pack. Yes, this bag is ideal if you’re a traveling photographer and you need to keep all your photo gear close to the hip. But it’s handy compartmental system and modular inserts could also easily be repurposed to suit clothing, a flying drone, or even souvenirs – because it’ll keep all of that equally safe and organized. Which is a guarantee, because it’s constructed from ultra-durable water-resistant fabrics (including neoprene, ripstop nylon, and 1000D TPE waterproof fabric), is equipped with military-grade hardware, and is customizable in its internal layout. If you’re traveling with a lot of tech gear, this is the bag to get.

Purchase: $335

TAD Axiom X25 Pack

It’s nearly impossible to say anything bad about any of Triple Aught Designs’ offerings. That being said, some of their gear is definitely better suited to specific activities. Their Axiom X25 pack, for instance, is a superb travel bag for the modern jet setter. Because within its subdued exterior (which is still made from extremely tough materials like VX-21 and VX-42 ripstop, hypalon, polyethylene foam, and nylon webbing), you’ll find 25 liters of internal space (expandable to 40), a built-in organizational system and Helix anchor points, and a padded back pouch that can house a laptop or tablet up to 13 inches. It also has a handy separate dedicated shoe and/or dirty clothes pocket, a quick-access small item zippered pouch, and so much more.

Purchase: $350

Alchemy Equipment Carry On Daypack

Any master traveler can pare down their equipment into a single bag’s worth of stuff. But it takes a little help from the pack designers to keep all that stuff well organized during one’s travels. And there are very few bags that have struck this balance quite as well as the Carry On Daypack from Alchemy Equipment. As you might imagine, this bag fits the international standards for carry on luggage (so you can store it in the compartment above your head rather than in the belly of the plane where it could get roughed up). But it has so much more to offer than that – including a superbly tough exterior built from 630D ATY nylon with a 3x TPU coated waterproof base, an EVA exoskeleton to keep the gear inside safe, a self-ejecting laptop pouch that fits a computer of up to 15 inches, and 40 liters of internal space. This might just be the best all-around travel bag ever built.

Purchase: $370

Best Weekender Duffel Bags

Sometimes, you don’t have time to fuss around with a compartmental backpack. For whenever you just need to stash some gear in a bag and hit the road, these are the best weekender duffel bags for the job.

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