The Best Travel Backpack

The Best Travel Backpack

Though it may be possible to get these picks into an overhead compartment, they’re really designed to be checked luggage. If carry-on is your only intended use, we have other recommendations.

Our pick

REI Co-op Ruckpack 65 - Men’s

REI Co-op Ruckpack 65 – Men’s

The best travel backpack for people with longer torsos

Thick padding and highly adjustable straps make this the most comfortable and easy-to-fit pack sized for people with longer torsos.

Buying Options

$190 from REI
REI Co-op Ruckpack 65 - Women’s

REI Co-op Ruckpack 65 – Women’s

The best travel backpack for people with shorter torsos

Thick padding and highly adjustable straps make this the most comfortable and easy-to-fit pack sized for people with shorter torsos.

Buying Options

$190 from REI

With any backpack, getting the right fit is crucial. This is where the REI Co-op Ruckpack 65 – Men’s and the REI Co-op Ruckpack 65 – Women’s really shine. Each version comes in two sizes, as do our previous picks (and current runners-up), the Osprey Farpoint 55 and the Osprey Fairview 55. But the thickly padded, stowable straps on the Ruckpack are also fully height-adjustable, whereas those on the Osprey packs are not. REI says both Ruckpacks, which are made from rugged, ripstop nylon and guaranteed for up to a year, hold about 63 liters (despite their name), which gives you noticeably more space than our other picks while still keeping the overall dimensions manageable. The main pack unzips like a suitcase, and a week’s worth of clothes, underwear, extra shoes, and toiletries all fit easily inside. The daypack, which mounts to the front of the larger pack in a marsupial pocket, has room for camera gear, daily essentials, and a small laptop in a built-in sleeve.

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Runner-up

Osprey Farpoint 55

Osprey Farpoint 55

Larger daypack sized for longer torsos

Although it’s comfortable enough, this backpack is not as adjustable as we’d like. It does, however, have the most spacious removable daypack of any of the backpacks we tested, as well as a stellar warranty.

Buying Options

$180 from Backcountry
$180 from Osprey
$180 from Amazon
Osprey Fairview 55

Osprey Fairview 55

Larger daypack sized for shorter torsos

Although it’s comfortable enough, this backpack is not as adjustable as we’d like. It does, however, have the most spacious removable daypack of any of the backpacks we tested, as well as a stellar warranty.

Buying Options

$180 from Backcountry
$180 from Osprey
Buy from Amazon

The Osprey Farpoint 55 (which is marketed toward men) and the slightly smaller Osprey Fairview 55 (aimed at women) are still excellent backpacks—they’re just not quite as comfortable or as adjustable as the newer Ruckpack. As with all of our picks, these bags have stowable straps and can be fully unzipped like a suitcase. Like the Ruckpack, this bag is made from a strong ripstop nylon, and each version comes in two sizes (the larger of the two holds 55 liters, the smaller 52 liters). However, the daypacks on both the Farpoint and the Fairview are larger than the one on REI’s Ruckpack (even though the bags have less capacity overall), and Osprey offers a lifetime warranty, the best of any of our picks.

Budget pick

Highlander Outdoor Explorer Ruckcase 45+15

Highlander Outdoor Explorer Ruckcase 45+15

For less-frequent travelers

Offering many of the same features as the pricier bags we tested—a removable daypack, stowable straps, a main compartment that opens like a suitcase—the Explorer is a great deal if you don’t mind sacrificing some comfort, durability, and warranty support.

Buying Options

Buy from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $102.

If you’re not sure about this whole “traveling with a backpack instead of rolling luggage” thing, the sub-$100 Highlander Outdoor Explorer Ruckcase 45+15 gives you a great opportunity to try out the concept. This highly adjustable unisex bag has all the features we liked in our other picks, such as a detachable daypack, stowable straps, and a front zipper that lets the bag open like a suitcase. But it’s made of cheaper polyester fabric, which isn’t as durable as the nylon in our other picks, and it lacks any sort of official warranty support. Also, the daypack is too small to hold most laptops. This bag has all the features you could want and need from a travel backpack, but you may end up having to replace it sooner rather than later.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

REI Co-op Ruckpack 65 - Men’s

REI Co-op Ruckpack 65 – Men’s

The best travel backpack for people with longer torsos

Thick padding and highly adjustable straps make this the most comfortable and easy-to-fit pack sized for people with longer torsos.

Buying Options

$190 from REI
REI Co-op Ruckpack 65 - Women’s

REI Co-op Ruckpack 65 – Women’s

The best travel backpack for people with shorter torsos

Thick padding and highly adjustable straps make this the most comfortable and easy-to-fit pack sized for people with shorter torsos.

Buying Options

$190 from REI

Runner-up

Osprey Farpoint 55

Osprey Farpoint 55

Larger daypack sized for longer torsos

Although it’s comfortable enough, this backpack is not as adjustable as we’d like. It does, however, have the most spacious removable daypack of any of the backpacks we tested, as well as a stellar warranty.

Buying Options

$180 from Backcountry
$180 from Osprey
$180 from Amazon
Osprey Fairview 55

Osprey Fairview 55

Larger daypack sized for shorter torsos

Although it’s comfortable enough, this backpack is not as adjustable as we’d like. It does, however, have the most spacious removable daypack of any of the backpacks we tested, as well as a stellar warranty.

Buying Options

$180 from Backcountry
$180 from Osprey
Buy from Amazon

Budget pick

Highlander Outdoor Explorer Ruckcase 45+15

Highlander Outdoor Explorer Ruckcase 45+15

For less-frequent travelers

Offering many of the same features as the pricier bags we tested—a removable daypack, stowable straps, a main compartment that opens like a suitcase—the Explorer is a great deal if you don’t mind sacrificing some comfort, durability, and warranty support.

Buying Options

Buy from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $102.

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter

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