A travel backpack can help ease the load and is a versatile accessory for your adventures. They usually have various storage compartments, are adjustable and will keep your hands free to carry your other devices.
We spoke to travel bloggers to learn about the best travel backpacks and what to look for when buying one.
Our top picks
- Best overall/editor’s pick: Lo & Sons Rowledge
- Best splurge: Wandrd Prvke 21L
- Best budget pick: Targus Balance 15.6-Inch Backpack
How we picked the best travel backpacks of 2023
To pick the best travel backpacks we consulted travel bloggers and experts. Here is what they recommend keeping in mind as you shop:
- Multiple compartments: Every travel backpack we recommend below has an easily accessible compartment for your laptop or tablet. There are also extra compartments on the inside for your passport or wallet.
- Adjustable straps: Every travel backpack has adjustable back straps so you can modify their length to your desired height for comfort.
- Lightweight: Every travel backpack weighs below five pounds.
The best travel backpacks of 2023
Here are the best travel backpacks that come highly recommended by our experts.
The Lo & Sons Rowledge is a favorite of Maggie Espinosa, a travel blogger and journalist. “This backpack is both stylish and useful, “ she says. “It has leather handles, a separate laptop compartment and fits under an airline seat." The luggage comes in small and large sizes, though the small size can only store electronics that are nine by 12.75 inches, so your laptop may not fit. The zippers and nylon exterior are water-resistant too, so a simple coffee spill or light rain shouldn't damage them, according to the brand. The backpack is also available in several colorways.
Material: Nylon | Weight: 2.9 lbs (small) 3.2 lbs (large) | Water resistant: Yes
The Wandrd Prvke 21L is recommended by Nadine Sykora, a travel video content creator who’s been traveling for more than 13 years. She called it her “go-to camera bag” as it has removable cubes for keeping gear during her adventure-style shoots. She’s also used it for several years and finds it durable. It also has a passport pocket, a water bottle sleeve and a fleece-lined pocket for your sunglasses or tech. The bag, which comes in three sizes, has both a removable sternum strap and magnetic tote handles, should you want to hold your bag instead of wearing it as a backpack.
Material: Waterproof tarpaulin and nylon | Weight: 2.8 lbs | Water resistant: Yes
The Targus Balance is the most affordable backpack on our list. Sykora recommends it for its protective features, like the inbuilt cradle that suspends your laptop to save it from impact if the bag ever falls. There’s a sternum strap if you want a more snug fit, and padding on the lower back and shoulders, which the brand says makes this bag more ergonomic. This travel backpack will also sit upright when you place it on the floor, making your belongings easy to access.
Material: Re-polymerized plastic spun into yarn | Weight: 2.61 lbs | Water resistant: Yes
This travel backpack comes with a detachable day bag ideal for shorter day trips or excursions during your vacation. It’s also convenient: “This backpack opens like a suitcase for easy packing and access to items, and is very comfortable for wearing for long periods, “ says Sykora. The handles are padded for comfort and there are two internal compression straps to protect your electronics and other items. There’s both an adjustable sternum strap and a hip belt to keep your bag snug during any activities, and an included rescue whistle on the sternum strap if you’re lost or in danger. There are multiple internal zipped pockets for extra storage and external attachable loops, to clip your portable speaker to.
Material: Polyester | Weight: 4.5 lbs | Water resistant: NA
Sykora loves this bag for its multiple compartments that make it convenient to organize your travel essentials, like your passport, sunglasses and e-reader. There are expandable side pockets to store your water bottle, a zipped top pocket for your passport and internal zippered mesh compartments for any electronics. There are padded waist and shoulder straps for comfort and padded foam surrounding the exterior to protect it from scratches. a waterproof bottom and a weatherproof exterior build, according to the brand.
Material: Nylon | Weight: 4.5 lbs | Water resistant: Yes
How to shop the best travel backpacks
While shopping for the best travel backpacks, our experts recommended considering the following:
- Organizational features: Look for multiple compartments on the interior, so you can store your devices, travel documents and cosmetics separately. “Separating electronics and gear from clothes, liquids or items prone to getting dirty during travel is essential,” says Sykora.
- Water resistance: We prioritized options with a water resistant exterior.
- Compression Straps: If you’re prone to overpacking, a compression strap will help keep your bag compact.
- Zippers: You’ll want to choose a bag with zippers that can accommodate locks, this way you can add extra security to your belongings. You also want to avoid bags with open exterior compartments, as items may fall out.
- Durable materials: Look for backpacks with fabrics that are water and scratch resistant, like nylon, says Sykora.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Maggie Espinosa is a travel journalist and author. She’s been featured on Travel Channel, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, USA Today, Huffington Post and more
- Nadine Sykora is a leading travel video content creator, with over 500k+ subscribers.
Why trust Select?
Nishka Dhawan is an associate editor at NBC Select. For this piece, she interviewed travel bloggers and journalists on what to look for in a travel backpack, and the best travel backpacks to shop for in 2023.