12 Best Carry-On Travel Backpacks

If you’ve traveled with only one bag before, you may already know how important it is to find the best carry-on bag for your trip. Or maybe you’re about to go on your first trip and want to calm your fears by traveling the world with just carry-on luggage.

No matter what, sorting through the huge number of choices is not easy. Of course, a lot of carry-on bag brands say that they are the best.

From modular to minimalist, Here are today’s best carry-on backpacks for one-bag travel:

  1. Peak Design Travel Line Backpack
  2. Aer Travel Pack 3
  3. Osprey Carry-on Travel Backpacks
  4. Nomatic Carry On Travel Bag
  5. PacSafe Venturesafe X40
  6. Patagonia Carry-on Backpacks
  7. Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Duffel Bag
  8. Vancropak 40L Travel Backpack
  9. Topo Designs Travel Bag
  10. Cotopaxi Allpa 35
  11. Eagle Creek Global Companion
  12. Incase EO Travel Backpack

1. Peak Design Travel Line Backpack

The Peak Design Travel Bag is perfect for you if you like to keep your belongings in order while on the road. Peak Design is an industry veteran that has made a name for itself by producing luggage suitable for photographers. Therefore, those who intend to transport photo equipment should purchase their goods. But if you’re not a photographer, don’t run away.

The 35 liters offer a plethora of compartments and bags. (expandable up to 45 liters). Everything you need for your trip can be safely stashed in the bag thanks to the padded laptop compartment, hidden passport/document pocket, numerous mesh pockets, and padded dividers.

All of this stuff is easily available thanks to the full-panel opening and side pockets, and it is protected from the elements thanks to the top-notch weatherproof zippers and nylon construction.

Quick Takeaway

This backpack’s ability to retain its shape and sit upright when empty is top-notch. The smart organization of this bag makes it a great choice for those who prefer to carry only one bag on trips to urban areas, rural areas, or even excursions.

Impressive pocket and organizing systemOver-organizing may limit the amount of gear
Side access and full front panel opening
Collapsible design
Comfortable hip belts

2. Aer Travel Pack 3

The Aer Travel Pack is a great option for a man looking for a carry-on backpack. The Aer Travel Pack 3 has been carefully crafted with every detail in mind to ensure that your journey goes off without a hitch.

With the first generation of its travel pack, Aer established its reputation as a competent bag designer; with the third generation, it has surpassed even its own high standards. Aer’s latest upgrade, the Travel Pack 3, is a major improvement.

It can hold a 16″ laptop (instead of a 13″) and is marginally larger (35 liters vs. 33 liters). In addition to the new load lifters, the compressed design has been enhanced to allow for quicker entry to the main compartment in the midst of your busy day.

The durable Cordura fabric ensures that your belongings will stay put as you explore the globe. This resilience is offered by Aer in a stylish package that, while possibly too boxy for some tastes, will look and feel at home in an urban environment.

Also, if your bag ever goes missing, you can use the special hidden smart tracker pocket to conceal a device like an Airtag or Tile and easily trace it down. This is especially comforting for people like me, who bring a lot of expensive photos or computer equipment when traveling.

Quick Takeaway

Aer eliminated the shoe compartment to make the bag more compact, so that’s the only item that’s missing. If you do decide to pack them, though, you’ll have two additional liters of room to work with. This is only suitable for use in urban areas and should not be taken on treks or climbed mountains.

Keep in mind that its 35-liter capacity is on the lower end of the spectrum when compared to the other bags here, so you’ll need to plan your packing carefully. However, it is a highly effective tool and probably the finest travel backpack you’ll ever have!

Fantastic organizationCapacity is smaller than other packs
Sleek and stylish designOnly for urban travel
Very organized interiorDoesn’t have a dedicated shoe compartment
Extremely durability
Tons of pockets

3. Osprey Carry-on Travel Backpacks

This is the finest carry-on bag for hikers. When it comes to trekking backpacks, Osprey’s Farpoint bag is practically the standard bearer.

To begin, this bag comes in a men’s style called The Farpoint and a women’s style called The Fairview. Gender distinctions may or may not be meaningful to you, however, based on your physical characteristics.

Second, this backpack provides unbelievable ease of movement. Osprey’s finely tuned mesh hip and shoulder straps work in tandem with a low-profile frame to spread the weight as evenly as possible, making it feel like you’re not lugging around a heavy box.

This makes it ideal for any adventure, whether you’re hiking through the rainforest or the mountains or just striding confidently through the airport.

Carrying this backpack over paved roads or dusty trails won’t be a problem thanks to the hip belt’s stash compartment and the shoulder straps’ mesh construction.

The substance used to construct the bag is quite sturdy. Its ripstop nylon construction ensures that it will survive the abuse it will receive on trips and in airports without compromising its good looks for city adventures.

Quick Takeaway

The Farpoint’s dedication to superiority does not end with its interior design. Easy entry to the bag’s interior is ensured by its fully open front panel.

Among the many pockets and a stash pocket on the detachable hip belt is a padded compartment specifically designed to hold your laptop or smartphone. If you still need more room after 40 liters, the 55-liter version has a 15-liter daypack that can be removed.

Lifetime warrantyMuch fewer internal pockets
Rugged and comfortable design for hiking
Stylish enough for trail or city travel

4. Nomatic Carry On Travel Bag

Traveling as a digital nomad? The Nomatic Travel Bag is made especially for you. With plenty of pockets for your laptop, tablet, and other electronics and a sleek, durable exterior, this is the perfect bag for taking your job on the road. Let’s start with the obvious: artificial space.

The padded laptop sleeve can fit any computer up to 15 inches, and there is a smaller sleeve right next to it for your tablet. The bag also has a special section with lots of pockets for other mobile devices.

The bad thing about putting all of your tools in one bag is that they could leak or be stolen. But Nomatic tries to solve this. Nomatic has made sure that the inside of the bag has a nice, waterproof pocket for water bottles, toothpaste, sunscreen, etc.

As for protection, the zippers on the main compartment and the laptop compartment are partly hidden, making it harder to get to your valuables. On top of that, these features are wrapped in a dura flex cloth, which is very strong and doesn’t get wet.

Quick Takeaway

But for some reason, I don’t know, the main back panel is made of a different material that lets some water in. This is a clear downside that can make your bag less waterproof, so keep this in mind before putting it down on a wet surface.

Packable laundry bag RFID blocking pocketThe back panel utilizes material that is not weatherproof
Dedicated shoe compartment
Internal waterproof pocket
Very space efficient

5. PacSafe Venturesafe X40

PacSafe was started in 1998 by two travelers who had been in a lot of dangerous situations. Robbing is the worst thing that can happen on a trip. PacSafe knows that people have more fun when they feel safe on their trips.

Their whole business is based on the idea that their travel bags make traveling around the world safer. The PacSafe Venturesafe X40 is full of features, especially when it comes to safety.

PacSafe Venturesafe X40 could be the best backpack for you to keep your valuables from being stolen. Thieves can’t cut your bag because it has steel wire mesh screens built in.

The interlocking zipper sliders are resistant to being punctured, and the anti-theft anchor lock and wire let you lock your zippers and straps in a safe place. Extra compartments, a key/wallet clip, and two more open mesh pockets can be found in the front pocket.

Quick Takeaway

On top of that, it’s comfy! The bag has padded, adjustable straps, a sturdy waist belt, and a sternum strap.

Super secureThe outer zip pocket is hard to access
Good organization, especially in the front pocket
Flap cover to disguise locking system

6. Patagonia Carry-on Backpacks

The Patagonia Arbor Roll-Top Pack is a simple 30L pack made from recycled materials that can be used for general travel. The main part of the pack is made of 100% recycled fabric that has been solution-dyed. This 600-denier cloth is strong enough to handle whatever you throw at it every day and will last for a long time.

The backpack also has a PFC-free DWR water-resistant finish and a PU-coated liner to protect the goods from the weather. Inside the main compartment of the Arbor Roll-Top Pack is a padded sleeve that fits most 15″ computers.

The Laptop sleeve can be reached through both the main pocket and the zipper on the outside. There is a full-height pocket on the front to keep things in order, as well as side pockets for water bottles or other small items.

Quick Takeaway

While this is one of the amazing options available out there. The bag might not fit in the carry-on box so keep that in mind if you tend to pack too much.

Long-lasting, durable, and reliableA little expensive
Comfortable to wear and carry
Variety of styles and colors
Environmentally friendly

7. Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Duffel Bag

The Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Backpack Duffel has one big main compartment where you can put a lot of things. It also has a few nice features that make it stand out from a regular backpack.

Each side of the pack, or the top and bottom if you’re wearing it, has its own zippered pocket. On the bottom is a water-resistant section for shoes or laundry, and on the top is a similar-sized, more flexible compartment.

The tech pocket doesn’t do everything it should. You can get to it through a zipper on the side of the back panel. It’s big enough to fit a 17-inch laptop, but there are no pockets for extras and it doesn’t open flat.

This pack needs more pockets for organization and a place to put travel papers that is easy to find, but that’s what you get with a duffle-style bag.

Quick Takeaway

The shoulder straps were too wide for my small shoulders, but they shouldn’t be a problem for someone with wider shoulders. The chest strap can be moved up and down, and the hip belt helps spread the weight of the load quite well.

Adjustable closureLack of organizer pockets
Hand WashSticky zippers
Internal and external compression straps

8. Vancropak 40L Travel Backpack

This 40-liter pack has everything you need, and it’s a great deal. One of my friends said that it fits everything, even though she had packed quickly and not very well.

It’s great for a weekend trip when you want to bring extra clothes or things “just in case”. It even gets bigger to give you more room. It has a detachable and storable backpack strap system, additional pockets, a bag-like opening, multiple carry options, and a zippered closure.

Compression straps also help the pack get smaller again after it has been filled.

Quick Takeaway

And if that wasn’t enough to convince you, it also comes with packing cubes. It looks great for a short work trip and is business casual.

It comes with packing cubesNo laptop sleeve
Great organization

9. Topo Designs Travel Bag

This Travel Bag from Topo Designs might be the best carry-on backpack for one-bag travel that won’t break your back if you keep track of how much you pack. The backpack has a lot of storage space, pockets for organization, and well-padded shoulder straps.

It is made of sturdy, water-resistant nylon and weighs only 3.65 pounds. When you open the front all the way, you’ll find a large main section where you can easily put all the clothes you need for a long trip abroad.

But extra mesh pockets and a special section for organization make it easy to store everything from toiletries to socks.

Quick Takeaway

Have delicate or pricey items like a portable laptop? The security pockets are perfect for storing your passport and other essential documents, and the laptop compartment can fit a laptop up to 15 inches in size. For peace of mind when traveling, the bag is equipped with a heavy-duty YKK zipper and a lockable safety ring.

Excellent water-repellent finishThe color choice is not cool
Lightweight for such a large bag
Duffle strap for versatile carrying
Load lifter straps

10. Cotopaxi Allpa 35

The Cotopaxi Allpa 35 is a feast for the eyes if you’re planning on doing some serious fashion-forward touring in the near future. This compact bag is extremely durable and well-organized inside, making it a breeze to prepare for any trip.

It can withstand light precipitation without being damaged, and there is protection from heavier downpours. Despite the extra weight caused by all the safeguards, your luggage is now virtually indestructible.

Plus, the organization is top-notch. Once inside the suitcase-style zippered bag, you’ll find a main zippered mesh compartment for your larger items (clothes) and several smaller zippered mesh pockets on the opposite side for all your additional gear.

All external zippers feature security mesh to prevent anyone who might open your bag and slip out any valuables.

Quick Takeaway

Do you see all the zippers? This can be annoying if you’re in a rush or just don’t like having to button and unzip your clothes all the time.

The intuitive arrangement makes up for this shortcoming, as there appears to be a dedicated location for all of your equipment, including your laptop. A trip to the city or the great outdoors won’t bother this delightfully stylish backpack.

Heavy-duty TPU-coated polyesterHeavy
Theft-proof webbing across all openings
Very durable
Wonderfully organized

11. Eagle Creek Global Companion

Those who have always carried their bags by hand need not worry about making the transition to a backpack. The Eagle Creek Global Companion is a well-thought-out backpack with the same opening and packing mechanisms as conventional luggage.

There are two big mesh compartments for packing the bulk of your goods, and the bag has a full-perimeter zip opening so it can flop open like a suitcase.

This is the perfect size for a suitcase full of clothes, toiletries, and duty-free alcohol! But don’t worry if you need a couple of extra pockets for storage.

The exterior of the backpack features a variety of velcro and zippered compartments, as well as a shoe storage area for keeping your boots separate from the rest of your clothing. In addition to the main compartment, the bag’s side panels feature mesh pockets for organizing smaller items.

The top compartment is small and easy to access, making it perfect for papers while traveling through an airport. If you store items in these pockets, it will reduce the volume of the main storage area.

The Eagle Creek Global Companion is the perfect carry-on bag because it combines the convenience of a suitcase with the freedom of a backpack.

Quick Takeaway

The large, suitcase-style storage area is perfect for stowing all your stuff in the way you prefer, without the distraction of numerous secondary pockets. Therefore, if you’re looking for a backpack/luggage hybrid, I highly suggest this one.

Dedicated shoe compartmentThe hip belt isn’t removable
Can accommodate large 17″ laptopsSmall compartment
Urban and hiking capable

12. Incase EO Travel Backpack

The Incase EO is your one and only companion on quick getaways. The primary compartment can expand to hold enough clothing for three days, and the bag can be converted into a day pack for use on the go.

The Incase EO, at a maximum of 25 liters, is the tiniest bag on the list of carry-on backpacks, but it can conceal a surprisingly large amount of gear. It’s a small but well-organized backpack that can serve as a one-bag option for those who travel lightly and frequently take short trips.

The primary compartment is front-loading and can hold a few changes of clothes, but you should also make use of the organizer pocket for additional items. The organizer pocket’s compartments are top-opening, allowing for easy insertion of whatever you need to store there.

The complete back panel is devoted to a tech pocket that zips open flat for TSA inspection. You can store a laptop up to 16 inches in size in the padded compartment that’s coated with microfleece.

Quick Takeaway

When fully loaded, the weight of this pack is noticeable despite its compact size because there is no hip belt included and no means to attach one. The sternum strap can bend so it doesn’t dig into your chest as you move, and the shoulder straps are padded with air mesh.

Expands to fit more clothesHeavy
Budget-friendlySmall Compartment

Tips For Buying A Carry-on Travel Backpack

best carry-on travel backpacks

Finding the best backpack for your needs requires prioritizing factors. The following are some of the most important aspects to consider when selecting a carry-on backpack for travel:

1. Price

There is a broad range of prices for carry-on backpacks, so it’s important to prioritize your most important requirements.

A large travel backpack can be found for under $100, and frequently for under $50; however, if you plan on braving harsh outdoor settings, you may want to spend a little more on something waterproof.

If you really care about having a leather bag, you should know that it can cost hundreds of dollars. While anti-theft travel bags can be pricey, they are often necessary for busy cities.

2. Style & Design

You could spend days just looking through all the available options in bag designs. How exactly are you planning on utilizing this backpack?

Look for something simple and stylish that doesn’t flaunt a million pockets if you’ll be meeting with customers or business partners. Lean into your pockets if your backpack will be your primary mode of transportation for the duration of your journey.

For simple loading and unloading, a backpack with a zipper that opens flat like a suitcase is recommended. (Going through security checks is also simplified as a result of this).

3. Fit & Size

You should look for a hiking backpack with an adjustable and detachable hip harness if you plan on using it as a carry-on bag. Find a backpack with adjustable straps and a padded back if you only intend to wear it informally, such as in the airport or at the office.

If you carry a lot of weight, this will be particularly helpful in relieving back pain. When putting on a backpack, put some rocks in it to simulate the weight and feel of the straps. Is there sufficient cushioning? Do you worry that the fabric will irritate your shoulders? Does the backpack seem to have a breathable rear panel?

Mesh exteriors are commonly helpful in this regard.

4. Weight

We all know that the heavier a bag is, the more difficult it is to carry through the airport in a hurry. On the other hand, the weight of the backpacks varies widely.

Some of them may make you feel like you’ve already carried a brick or two, even when they’re empty. So, what would I suggest?

Take into account the bag’s total weight and the type of harness system it employs. Quality materials may add some extra weight, but investing in them is always worth it.

More Travel Bags:

Best Travel Backpacks For Adults

Final Thoughts

Carry-on travel backpacks are more complex than the suitcase you used in middle school, with many features aimed at reducing the strain on your back and shoulders.

When it comes to short travels, an Incase EO Backpack is all you need for carry-on luggage. You can put three days’ worth of clothing in the main compartment, and you can convert it into a day pack in a snap.

Also, the Timbuk2 carry-on travel backpack has one large main compartment, allowing you to store a lot of things however you like, and it also includes some small side pockets and a shoe pocket, increasing its utility.