Is it time to upgrade your backpack? Maybe that old college or high school standby is getting a little worn out and could use a replacement. Upgrading to a proper travel backpack can be long overdue for some people, so we’ve created a list of the top five best backpacks for traveling. There are some terrible backpacks out there, and some may be in your closet. Do yourself a favor and upgrade to any of these exceptional bags.
SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Travel Backpack 1900
If you’re looking for something with many different compartments and room for a 17” laptop, this is your bag. Even if it isn’t listed on the laptop itself, it’s pretty easy to measure the size of your laptop. The ScanSmart feature is used by various SwissGear bags and makes it a bit easier to get through a TSA line.
ScanSmart is just a fancy term for “the zipper on the laptop compartment goes all the way down to the base, making it easier to show the TSA what’s in that section of your bag.” There are tons of compartments for various gadgets like a phone, tablet, handheld gaming system, and of course a laptop, as well as anything else you can fit inside these large pockets. Some users have dubbed this the “mini suitcase” because of the amount of items he could fit in this backpack.
Example packing list that fits in this backpack:
- 12 shirts and underwear
- 1 sweater
- 1 jacket
- 1 pair of pants
- 5 pairs of socks
- 1 laptop
- 1 electric shaver
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 camera
- Various chargers
The North Face Borealis Backpack
The North Face is a great company and we have determined that this as their best backpack. As the brand name may imply, this bag is the best one on our list for outdoor use. We recommend this bag for hikers, cyclists, campers, or anyone who thinks it looks cool! Some websites bill this as “waterproof” which may not be completely true some users have reported.
This bag does tend to wick off rain water and other various liquids very well. There is an area for a laptop that has a laptop sleeve that measures 13.5” x 10.5” x 1.75”. Users rave about this bag’s comfort, and lightweight yet durable material – making it great not just for outdoor use, but general commuting to work or school. This bag will fit most laptops up to 15”, and the side pocket is perfect for a Nalgene bottle. North Face knew they had a winner with this bag, so they decided to make it in over 15 different color combinations from solid, to multicolor.
Outlander Lightweight Travel Backpack
This is the cheapest travel backpack on our list, making it perfect for somebody not looking to spend a ton of money. To be honest, there isn’t a lot too this bag, we think it’s a great choice for a simple traveler looking for something super lightweight.
This is also the only book bag on our list that actually folds into itself, creating a more compact and easier to carry pouch measuring 6.29 “ x 5.90” x 1.97”. Unlike the other bags on the list, this isn’t the most durable bag you’ll own.
The material is very thin and the straps are a very breathable mesh material. Do NOT try to cram a ton of heavy items into this bag, it is billed as one of the best daypacks, meaning you can go out with it during the day, but any excessive use via camping or any other type of long excursion may not be the best idea. If you are just looking for a simple and cheap daypack, this is what we recommend. Any other thin daypack that we looked at had users reporting ripping and poor craftsmanship.
High Sierra Access Backpack
This is another highly recommended all-purpose backpack that was met with rave reviews. The first thing you’ll notice is the large number of colors that this bag is offered in. We definitely want to draw attention to the fact that there is misleading information out there saying that this bag will hold laptops up to 17”. That would be nice, but our findings have shown that this bag will hold laptops only up to 15.5”.
So if you have a larger laptop that you will need to carry, we suggest the SwissGear listed above, or the Targus listed below. This is a very durable bag with thick, padded shoulder straps. These straps are billed as being “breathable,” but some users report that they are a little too thick and have caused them to sweat a little bit under the straps.
Here’s what one owner was able to fit in their High Sierra Access Backpack:
- 1 blanket
- 1 mosquito net
- 1 large first aid kit
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 rain poncho
- 1 change of clothes
- 1 sweater
- Several pairs of socks and underwear
- 2 days’ worth of food
- 1 small bag w/ toiletries
- 1 flash light
Targus Drifter 2 Backpack
Of our list of best backpacks for travel, we needed to include one for those traveling with a laptop that may be slightly larger than 17”. The 17” version of this backpack will comfortably house laptops up to 17.3”. Frequent airline travelers have reported that this bag fits well underneath their seat on most airplanes, making it the best business backpack because it is stylish and functional.
This bag is very sturdy and lightweight with cushion for the laptop and at the base of the bag. The durable nylon that makes up this bag is water resistant, including a water resistant bottom. Lots of space and pockets are the best features, and the padded pocket for a laptop is also a great addition. However some users have complained that the shoulder straps are a little too big. Some other bags may have removable dividers allowing for extra storage, but that is not this bag.
We also found it strange that for a business bag, there aren’t any dedicated pen loops! Most people can probably make due, however if that is a deal breaker, steer clear of this backpack. It’s not the top bag on our list, but definitely a worthy backpack to close out our top 5 best travel backpacks. If your bag needs some ID, check out these Luggage List approved cheap luggage tags.