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Basically suitcases that you can carry on your back, travel backpacks are the favorite luggage of many digital nomads, city explorers, working travelers – and me. If you don’t want to pack carry-on luggage or have to deal with a wheeled suitcase, a good travel backpack is a one-bag solution. With plenty of room for all the clothing you need for a short trip, as well as organizer pockets for tech, accessories and travel documents, it’s a great way to travel light.
To find the best travel backpack, I tested nine of the most popular models on the market for capacity, packability, logical pocket placement, and comfort. I wanted packs that felt manageable in size and volume, but still gave me enough room for all my usual packing needs. I mostly stuck to packs that opened like a suitcase—clamshells, frontloaders, and backloaders—but I left some room for wildcards. At the end of this guide you will find my full testing methodology and a glossary of useful vocabulary to know when buying your travel backpack.
The best travel backpacks of 2022
Best overall: Tortuga Outbreaker, $299 at Tortuga
With a highly adjustable harness system, multiple useful organizer pockets, and a four to five day pack capacity, the Tortuga Outbreaker is the only bag you need when traveling.
Best for short trips: Incase EO, $189.95 at Amazon
The Incase EO is all you need for short trips. Its main compartment expands to hold up to three days’ worth of clothing, and it easily converts into a daypack to carry on the go.
Most convenient to wear: Osprey Fairview, $160 at Osprey/Farpoint, $160 at Osprey
The Osprey Fairview/Farpoint is available in two fits with two torso sizes per fit. Each features a wide waist belt and contoured back panel, making them incredibly comfortable to wear and a great choice for any body type.
Best for Carrying More: Cotopaxi Land, $200 at Amazon.com
Three roomy compartments in the Cotopaxi Allpa allow you to pack more than any 35L backpack we’ve tried and it still manages to maintain a streamlined carry. But it lacks organizational and technical pockets.
Best Duffle Style Travel Backpack: Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Backpack Duffel, $199 at Timbuk2
With a large main compartment, the Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Backpack Duffel allows you to pack as much stuff as you see fit, and it features some small side pockets and a shoe pocket to increase its usefulness.