Travel backpacks make our lives so much easier — they’re durable, usually roomy, and most of them look really nice too. But if you’re anything like me, you may not know exactly which one to choose.
There are so many types of travel backpacks! Some are very big and others are specifically made for one or two purposes.
Because there are so many options that it’s easy to get confused and end up buying the wrong backpack, I’ve made a list with information about them. Once you’re done reading this article, you’ll know all you need to buy the right backpack for your needs.
Let’s get right into it, shall we?
1. Traditional Daypacks
The very first travel backpack on our list is the traditional daypack. These backpacks are made to be lightweight and affordable with simplistic designs. Despite being fairly plain, they offer quite a lot of room, which is why many students like to use them for school and university.
This is the most popular type of travel backpack and it’s readily available at many shops. Although they’re used mostly by students, many folks like these bags when hiking because they’re so roomy.
Typically, traditional daypacks can handle a load of about 20 to 40 liters but they’re not waterproof despite being durable. They have a main compartment and one or two pockets on the outside.
2. Leather Backpacks
Leather backpacks are much more expensive than traditional daypacks because, well, they’re made of leather. That means they’re a lot more durable and heavy and can handle a lot of wear and tear. You may pay hundreds of dollars for a leather backpack, but it is likely to last you a lifetime.
The downside of these backpacks is that they don’t offer the kind of space that other travel backpacks do. They’re fashionable, for sure, but they’re not as comfortable as you’d want them to be.
Leather travel backpacks are great for durability, but if you’re going to be wearing your bag a lot, you may want to choose a different type.
3. Laptop Backpacks
Although a laptop backpack might not immediately come to mind when you think about travel backpacks, they’re beloved by business-orientated travelers everywhere. These bags are designed to protect laptops during travel and are ideal for anyone traveling with their laptops or tablets.
Laptop backpacks are padded, so if you have anything fragile you’d want to have with you on your travels, you could store it in one of them.
You’ll find that these backpacks are very organized with many pockets and a compartment or two, and they’re much more affordable than leather backpacks.
4. Mini Backpacks
Mini backpacks may seem useless because they’re so small and compact, but it’s their size that makes them so popular. If you don’t like walking around with a purse or handbag, you can choose a mini backpack instead.
These travel backpacks are usually highly affordable and lightweight, though they don’t have a lot of space. Still, you can store all your travel documents and most important valuable items in them with ease.
Also, these backpacks tend to be really cute, so if you want a unique backpack for your smaller items, you should definitely consider them.
5. Carry-on Backpacks
If you’re looking for travel backpacks that are comfortable and convenient for use on flights, you should consider carry-on backpacks.
These backpacks are ideal for digital nomads, business travelers, or folks who like to travel often. They are usually not very expensive but are still durable and offer quite a lot of space. Carry-on backpacks can be neatly organized and they are just the right size to take on a flight.
If you plan to buy one of these, just make sure you choose one with padded shoulder straps and backsides for the most comfortable experience.
6. Personal Item Backpacks
This is another lightweight type of travel backpack that is very popular with regular travellers. They can be secured on top of suitcases and are generally quite spacious. Personal item backpacks are also lightweight and affordable while being surprisingly comfortable.
You’ll find that these backpacks are also impressively durable and some of them are even waterproof. They have a good number of compartments and built-in pockets. A feature you should look out for is an additional strap that you can wrap around your suitcase’s handle for easy storage and use.
7. Wheeled Backpacks
If you’re looking for travel backpacks made with comfort and ease of use in mind, you’ll love wheeled backpacks. They may be heavier than normal backpacks because of the additional wheel feature, but they make traveling a lot easier. Also, they’re not very expensive although they’re durable.
Business travelers tend to prefer wheeled backpacks because they can just drag them along rather than get backaches from carrying them on their backs.
They are ideal for travelers who don’t want to hurt their backs or recently suffered an injury or underwent surgery.
8. TSA-Friendly Laptop Backpacks
The problem with many laptop backpacks is that you don’t always know if they are TSA-friendly. What does that mean? Well, often, travelers are asked to take their laptops out of their backpacks because the x-ray machines can’t see through them.
With a TSA-friendly laptop backpack, that won’t be an issue. These backpacks unzip all the way around, so the laptop compartment can be opened 180 degrees. This will make going through security a lot easier, especially if you travel frequently.
You don’t have to worry about the safety of your laptop either. These backpacks are made to protect and keep your electronic devices secure.
9. Lightweight Foldable Daysacks
If you’re a traveler who likes to hike or walk long distances, chances are you’re going to have to pack a daysack along with your other luggage. But this is a big hassle, and that’s why I appreciate foldable sacks so much.
These backpacks are lightweight, can be folded into a small sack, and can be stored inside your luggage without taking up lots of space.
Once you need it, simply take the backpack out of its sack and fill it with the items you’ll be using on your hike or walk. When you’re done, pack it up again and store it in your luggage.
It’s as simple as that! They’re not super durable, but these backpacks don’t cost a lot, so getting one every year or so isn’t so bad.
10. Drawstring Gym Sacks
Okay, drawstring gym sacks may not come to mind when you think about travel backpacks, but they’re actually quite useful.
In addition to being affordable and lightweight, they’re impressively spacious. Sure, they don’t have organized compartments and aren’t very comfortable, but if you need a backpack for socks and gym clothes, these sacks are a great option.
11. Frameless Camping Backpacks
Backpacks made for campers are available in two main categories: framed and frameless. The frameless backpacks are lightweight and spacious but can cost quite a lot, so they’re not ideal for travelers on a tight budget.
With that said, they come with waterproof covers in most cases, so if you’re a traveler who loves the outdoors, these backpacks are worth investing in.
They are most suitable for short trips that won’t require a lot of gear, and you shouldn’t use them if you’re planning to carry more than 30 lbs.
12. Framed Camping Backpacks
Framed camping backpacks are a lot heavier than the frameless options, but are more suitable for people with back problems. They are also spacious and ideal for hiking, but can — like the frameless backpacks — be quite expensive.
The design of these backpacks ensures even weight distribution and they’re great for longer hikes and adventures. You can pack a lot more in these backpacks than in the frameless ones.
Just make sure you choose a framed camping backpack with a chest strap and hip belt so it’s not uncomfortable when carrying it for hours on end.
13. Tote Backpacks
Although tote backpacks are more popular with students and office workers, they actually make pretty decent travel backpacks. That’s mainly because they’re so affordable and lightweight.
These bags aren’t great for organization or super comfortable to wear for long periods, but they’re spacious enough to make up for that. Also, tote backpacks can be quite fashionable, so if you like looking cute on your travels, you will love this type of travel backpack.
14. Crossbody Sling Backpacks
Crossbody sling backpacks are a unique alternative to normal travel backpacks that have one strap instead of two. The strap goes around your right shoulder and then wraps around your left-side hip.
Typically, these backpacks are quite spacious but they don’t come with many pockets that allow easy organization of smaller items. They’re pretty comfortable and look cool, but these backpacks aren’t suitable for hikes or long excursions.
15. Military/Tactical Backpacks
Are you looking for a travel backpack that is extremely durable and awesome for organizing all your items? Then you should definitely consider buying a military or tactical backpack. In addition to being rugged and spacious, these backpacks tend to be surprisingly affordable too, I have found.
They are perfect for travelers who want to go on long hikes, and they’re waterproof as well. Typically, the design of these backpacks ensures comfort at all times, although they can be a bit heavy.
If you like to go on adventures and spend time outdoors when traveling, I would recommend you invest in a military backpack.
16. Compression Sacks
Yet another great travel backpack for adventurous folks, compression sacks are perfect for camping and hiking. They tend to be affordable and lightweight, and you can easily attach them to camping backpacks for extra storage.
These backpacks (technically sacks, but who wants to get technical?) are great for storing sleeping bags, clothes, and tent fabric. They can be compressed into neat and tight sacks with compression straps and save a lot of space.
Although there are many cheap compression sacks on the market, I would recommend that you find a good one. If you go for the cheapest option, you will likely end up with a sack that will tear easily and won’t be waterproof.
17. Hydration Packs
Cyclers and runners will be familiar with hydration packs, which are lightweight and ideal for storing water without the need for a bottle.
If you plan to cycle, climb mountains, or spend time exploring nature, you should definitely consider buying a hydration pack. Although it’s not really a travel backpack, it’s a pack that I think all travelers should have.
Generally, these packs can hold about 2 liters of water and you drink through a plastic tube attached to a shoulder strap, making them very convenient. Again, despite being highly affordable, I think that you would be better off choosing a more expensive hydration pack so you can use it for longer.
18. Running Backpacks
You may have noticed by now: I’m recommending sporty travel backpacks a lot. That’s because I think the best traveling adventures don’t happen indoors — they are waiting for you out there in foreign countries and the outdoor activities you can enjoy.
Running backpacks may seem like it’s only good for athletes or bicyclists, but they’re great for short hikes. These backpacks are lightweight, very comfortable, and affordable. They don’t offer a lot of space (just about anything between 5 to 10 liters), but you’ll be able to comfortably fit everything you’ll need for a short time outdoors.
19. Skiing/Snowboarding Backpacks
Snowboarding backpacks make really awesome travel backpacks because they are super spacious. You will be able to pack a lot of gear and items into this backpack and have a bit of space to spare!
Snowboarding/skiing backpacks are a bit pricey, but when you consider how durable and spacious they are, they’re absolutely worth every penny spent. Most of them are water-repellant and very comfortable because they’re designed for long-term use.
20. Hunting Backpacks
Although hunting backpacks are best suited to camping and hunting, they also make for perfect travel backpacks because of their designs. They can be quite expensive, but if you’re a frequent traveler who needs lots of space and comfort, I am certain they’re worth investing in.
These durable and rugged backpacks are well-organized and spacious, and they are generally weatherproof as well. Hunting backpacks are also made to distribute weight more evenly, so they can be used for prolonged periods without causing aches and pains.
21. Duffle Backpacks
Duffle backpacks offer all the ease of use and space you get with a duffle bag, but with more comfort. These backpacks come with additional straps that make carrying them on your back easy. It’s for that reason that I included it on my list of travel backpacks. They’re awesome for traveling!
On average, you’ll find that duffle backpacks are quite durable, and they’re very easy to pack. On top of that, they’re not very expensive, so a traveler on a budget can still afford to buy one.
22. Messenger Bag Backpacks
I know what you’re thinking: why would a messenger bag be on a list of travel backpacks?
But hear me out.
These backpacks are affordable and lightweight, and they are great for storing all those extra little tidbits that you never plan to store on your travels.
They’re not the most comfortable backpacks, and they don’t have a lot of space to offer, but they’re great if you just need a good backpack for storage, because they tend to come with smaller pockets for better organization.