Chances are if you’re an experienced traveler you already own a great travel backpack. For those of you planning or about to embark on your adventure – this is for you.
When I first decided to quit my job to travel I knew the first step towards my goal was to start saving money. This left me with an incredible amount of free time – no more big bar tabs, no more fancy dinners, no more Sephora shopping sprees. I figured I should use all of this new-found free time to research my upcoming adventure.
Buying a travel backpack wasn’t something that had even crossed my mind. “I’ll just use my big suitcase with wheels,” I thought to myself. That notion changed very quickly. After reading travel blog after travel blog I realized that I didn’t think this suitcase thing through at all.
Check it – you have cobblestone streets, foreign airports, and never-ending dirty staircases- and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. my rolling monster-of-a-suitcase isn’t going to cut it.
In an effort to help all of you aspiring backpackers out there, I’ve taken the liberty of comparing some of the top-rated travel backpacks on the market. All of the below backpacks have 5-Star or nearly 5-Star reviews, so it really comes down to the details. Please note that these backpacks meet most carry-on requirements.
Tortuga travel backpack
The Tortuga Travel Backpack has a great manufacturer warranty against manufacturing and fabric defects. Essentially – if it’s their fault the backpack broke, they’ll give you a brand new one. If you drop it off a cliff, however, that my dear is your fault.
This backpack is my personal favorite. It opens like a suitcase instead of like a traditional top-loading backpack, which means you have more space. As a lady who enjoys her makeup, I need as much space as I can get. This pack will also fit in the overhead bins on most commercial airlines, so you won’t need to check a bag.
Interestingly, this backpack was created by two travelers. This thing has everything a world traveler could want: zip-away sternum-straps, backpack straps, and padded waist belt; a padded laptop sleeve, two internal mesh pockets and 2 compression pockets. It even has two waist belt pockets and two side pockets that you can reach while it’s on your back. These guys thought of everything.
An important thing to note is that the Tortuga Travel Backpack‘s laptop sleeve is located in the back of the pack. This means that the laptop is against your back, which helps you keep your center of gravity. It also makes it harder for someone to come along and steal your laptop right off your back.
I feel it’s also important to note that the zip away straps are very important. Unlike when you are hiking, a lot of external straps are not a good thing. On the off-chance you need to check your bag, you don’t want straps getting caught on the luggage carousel.
The only cons with this backpack is that it may not be great for people who are vertically challenged. Per the manufacturer’s website, you must have a torso of at least 18″+ for this backpack to fit you comfortably. Also, there is no organizing pouch like some other models. For me, the organizational pouch wasn’t a deterrent.
eBags tls mother lode weekender convertible
The eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible backpack is a great budget-friendly option. If you click the link to the manufacturer’s website, they even have a fabulous video showing all of this bag’s highlights.
This backpack comes with a lifetime warranty (exchange or return), which is huge. It offers a hidden laptop sling towards the back of the pack (remember that center of gravity thing?), it opens like a suitcase, a unique divider shelf to keep things from shifting, removable waist belt, padded zip-away backpack straps, exterior compression straps, and a great organization pouch.
“It sounds great! Why isn’t this your first choice?” The waist belt. Sadly the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible does not offer a padded waist belt. If you plan to be traveling a lot or be wearing this backpack for hours, you absolutely must have a padded waist belt. The waist belt transfers the weight off of your shoulders for maximum comfort. One more thing to note is that you will not be able to reach any of the pockets on the pack while you are wearing it. If you’ll be trekking around Rome or Paris all day to see the sights, you may want to be able to grab your guide-book or tickets without having to take the thing off. If you’ll only be wearing this from point A to point B, this is still a fantastic option for you.
High Sierra AT2 Carry On Wheeled Backpack
The High Sierra AT2 Carry On Wheeled Backpack is a great option for someone who won’t be carrying around their bag on their back all day. This is 3 bags in one: a backpack, a rolling suitcase and a detachable day pack.
The main pack opens like a suitcase and you never have to worry about what to do with it if you get tired- just roll away! It also offers zip-away padded backpack straps and exterior compression straps. The removable day pack boasts a zippered organizer pocket, media sling and headphone port.
The High Sierra AT2 Carry On Wheeled Backpack comes in just under 9 pounds in weight thanks to the wheels. You may not think you’ll need to carry the backpack very much, but again, if you are going to be walking around Prague for hours, you don’t want to add 9 pounds on top of your belongings. Wheels don’t pair well with cobblestone and stairs. Additionally this pack doesn’t offer a secure laptop sleeve. As a blogger, the security of my laptop is important.
Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack
The Osprey Porter 46 offers a zip away padded mesh shoulder harness and padded hip belt suspension system, meaning if you need to cover a lot of ground, this pack is a good option. The suspension system will keep the weight of the pack evenly distributed on your torso. It also has great exterior compression straps to keep that center of gravity on point. This pack also offers a padded laptop sleeve, accessible top loading accessories pocket for easy-access, front panel organization pocket, and it also opens like a suitcase. The best part? It only weights 3 lbs!
There are a few things to note about the Osprey Porter 46 starting with the fact that it has a very small laptop pocket – about the size of an iPad. Sadly this just won’t work for me and my MacBook Pro. Also, the small laptop sleeve is located on the front of the pack. This makes for easier theft and may skew your center of gravity if you have a small-but-heavy tablet.
As you can see there are some really great options out there. Once you decide how much you’ll be walking around with your backpack you can make the right choice for you. As I mentioned before, my personal favorite is the Tortuga Travel Backpack because there is very little compromise. It has the suspension system, it has the laptop storage, it has easy access pockets, and it has the amount of space I need for my makeup and clothing to join me overseas. Happy backpacking, friends!