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I am a huge fan of minimalist travel. It allows a person to wander unencumbered. You get to see more and do more.
The last 5 times I have traveled I have not checked a bag onto a flight and that feeling alone is priceless. My body also thanks me when I am only traveling with a small, easy to carry backpack.
Look at the above photo. Which one would allow you to actually be happier while you are exploring different parts of the world? A small travel backpack which can easily go in the overhead storage? Or the gigantic pack which will have to be checked baggage?
Seems like a no brainer to me but then I tend to think differently than a lot of people.
How To Choose A Backpack
Choosing and then buying a backpack is subjective. What one person likes may not work for you at all. Go to a hiking/outdoor gear store and actually look at different packs. The people there will also be able to fit a backpack to you properly.
Choosing the best travel backpack for your needs is an important decision, as you’ve saved up your hard-earned money and you’ll possibly be living out your backpack for many months or years, and the more research you do the more overwhelmed you probably feel.
For this post I have done a ton of recent research online via Google and digesting endless Amazon reviews to come up with a shortlist of the best backpacks for travel to hopefully save you some time.
Front loading or Top Loading Backpack?
Just so you don’t get too confused, front loading is sometimes called panel loading. Either way, it means how will you get things in and out of your backpack.
Front-loading backpacks have a zipper that goes all around the front. You can unzip, peel off the front piece and your backpack’s belongings are laid out in front of you like the insides of a suitcase, making it so easy to find things.
They also seem to have greater support for your back and sit more comfortably(subjective). You can zip a daypack to the front as well, which you may need for those shorter daytrips you will be taking.
A front loading backpack is my preferred choice.
Here is a great example. The Kelty Redwing 32 liter.
Top loading backpacks open up at the top only making it harder to access all your gear and tend to be narrower and taller. Once upon a time I bought a large top loading backpack and quickly realized how difficult is was going to be to find items within the pack. Also security at airports asks that you take things out and show what you are traveling with. Much easier and less stressful with a front loading backpack but that is just me.
Other Backpack Features To Consider
You should factor in these other features when shopping for a travel backpack. Not all of them may apply to you. It depends on what type of traveler you are. For example if you have a lot of camera gear you will need features that will accommodate your equipment.
- Padded shoulder straps- extra padding is almost always a good thing
- Padded hip strap/hip belt- see above point
- Sternum strap- helps keep back stable
- Cords to attached tents and sleeping bags
- Elasticized pockets that will expand
- Hipbelt pockets- extra pockets for frequently used stuff
- Camera and laptop storage
- Water resistant
- Ventilated back panel- see Berghaus Freeflow and Osprey Atmos AG
- Dimensions – if you’re looking for a carry-on backpack, don’t forget to check the dimensions to make sure they work with airline carry-on restrictions.
Top 10 Travel Backpacks
In no particular order here are just 10 of the top travel backpacks to consider. Some of these are bigger than I would ever consider using but this list is based on reviews and research.
Almost all backpacks come in a variety of sizes. I do not travel with anything larger than a 35 liter backpack. Going bigger just means you will try to take more stuff with you. Don’t. You will thank me later.
- top loading
- ventilated back panel
- Carry-on size, sleek, lightweight, affordable, holds lots of gear
- Dedicated lie-flat 17″ laptop pocket with neoprene tablet sleeve.
- FlexVent injection-molded shoulder straps.
- Comfortable, padded air-mesh back panel with Spine Channel and PE sheet.
- Padded, winged, stowable hipbelt.
- Removable sternum strap.
- Durable, easy to pack, comfortable, excellent climbing specific features
Also see- Solo Travel To Nicaragua
- only for the most committed minimalist and ultralight traveler
- Classic 28-liter backpack updated with easy-to-access pockets and an overhauled suspension system
- The FlexVent™ suspension system boasts custom injection-molded shoulder straps and a padded mesh back panel with a spine channel for maximum support and ventilation
- Padded, fleece-lined 15″ laptop sleeve in main compartment protects laptop from bumps and falls
- Padded front pocket offers protection for iPad mini
- Large main compartment for books, jacket, and other carry-on essentials
- Tricot-lined floating pocket protects sunglasses or smartphone
- Fits up to a 15″ laptop
- Pockets: 2 interior slip, 2 interior zip, 5 exterior
- soft, breathable back panel that makes carrying it effortless
- one large and one medium interior pocket for the bulky items, and plenty of outer zipper pockets
- Deuter Aircontact Trail Pro System
- two-way zipper so you can always reach to the bottom of the bag with no worries.
- lots of little zippered pockets to keep smaller items
- Lightweight, high-rolling clearance chassis provides maneuverability
- A comfortable harness for backpack style carry with torso adjustability,
- A detachable daypack for day trip adventures includes a 15″padded laptop sleeve, padded tablet sleeve
- Rear panel pocket holds magazines and an ID card window helps you quickly spot your bag on the luggage carousel
There you have it. 10 Of The Best Travel Backpacks For Traveling.
Do you have a favorite travel backpack? Can you add to this list? If so please add your tips and advice in the comments.
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“Change The Code. Change Your Life.”