Got a trip coming up? If you’re travelling anywhere for any length of time, you’re going to want to bring stuff with you – everything from the essentials to the possessions every traveler wouldn’t want to leave home without.
If you’re planning for a long-term or long-distance trip, like a gap year from work or college spent gloriously globe-hopping, your luggage and what you fit in it have to be near the top of your checklist. Your packing decisions affect how much stuff you can bring on your trip, how safe your gear will be from thieves and the elements, and how comfortable you’re going to be lugging it along with you – and that’s just for starters!
If your luggage is going to need to do more than the journey from plane to taxi to hotel room, it needs to be robust, lightweight, comfortable and fit your needs. Even if you plan on taking a large suitcase as hold luggage, your carry-on bag should be something you can bring around with you once you’re off the plane.
Luckily for travelers and holidaymakers, the market for travel luggage has grown significantly in recent years. Travelers looking for secure all-purpose travel bags didn’t always have a great deal of choice. Besides the distinctly unsecure weekender and duffel bags, lightweight but fragile daypacks or heavy-duty hiking bags were the best options on the market, neither of them designed with air travel in mind.
Today, a number of manufacturers offer specially-designed backpacks for travel, made to stand up to the constraints of air travel and the demands of a long trip. There’s an impressive range of choice and brands to fit everyone’s needs (including SWISSGEAR, Osprey and Tortuga), so it’s worth doing your homework. If you’re looking for something to keep your stuff safe on the plane as well as on the move, the market’s got plenty to offer.
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|20.1 x 13.4x 9.8||9.4 / 10|
|20 x 14.1 x 6.5|
9.4 / 10
|8.5 x 18.5 x 13.5|
9.4 / 10
|21.5 x 5.5 x 13|
9.4 / 10
|Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack||22 x 14 x 9|
9.2 / 10
|19 x 12.5 x 7|
9.2 / 10
|22 x 13 x 9|
9.2 / 10
|S-ZONE Wheeled Backpack||21.7 x 13.8 x 7.8||9 / 10|
1. Hynes Eagle 40L Flight Approved Carry On Backpack
Hynes Eagle are a relatively new entrant to the bags market, but they’re cultivating a reputation for well-made and attractive products which don’t break the bank. The 40L Flight Approved Carry On Backpack is part of their Flight Approved range, designed with the limitations and constraints of modern air travel in mind.
Its efficient and space-saving design means its impressive 40L capacity doesn’t take it over the carry-on limits for commercial flights; and should you find yourself flying close to the maximum, its compression buckles help you further reduce the bag’s profile. With ample interior and exterior pockets and strong adjustable shoulder straps for hands-free carrying, this Hynes Eagle offering is a solid and effective backpack for air travel; which is all the more impressive given its budget price tag.
- Price: this travel backpack retails at the lower end of the price scale, making it a great option for anyone looking to travel on a budget.
- The 40L Flight Approved Carry On Backpack is available in a choice of black, gray or purple. The backpack itself has an efficient design: it doesn’t look like high fashion but it does look like a solid performer, which is exactly what it is.
- Made from a combination of polyester and PVC, the 40L Flight Approved Carry On Backpack is waterproof; and in the event of any exterior tears, the backpack’s main compartment also features a polyester lining to further protect your electronics and essentials.
- The 40L capacity of this travel backpack has been designed to come under the maximum capacity for most commercial flights. For your own peace of mind and to avoid any unfortunate last-minute incidents, it’s worth doing your own research and checking the limits on your flights before travelling.
- Strong, adjustable shoulder straps make hands-free carrying of this travel backpack a breeze, even over longer distances. A sternum strap also offers the option of additional stability.
- This Hynes Eagle backpack features a host of pockets and pouches to help you pack and readily access your stuff when you’re on the move. In particular, a front zip pocket and side pockets offer quick access to particularly important items.
2. Prottoni Carry On Backpack
Prottoni are a small US-based company who specialize in designing efficient and innovative travel bags. They work with small suppliers across Europe, and yet despite this and their commitment to innovation and quality their products retail at entirely reasonable prices. The Carry On Backpack is no exception, either in terms of its design or the price tag – available at a budget price, this is most certainly not a budget backpack in terms of performance.
Boasting a sleek black ergonomic design and featuring a number of interior and exterior zippered pockets, the Carry On Backpack also features Prottoni’s proprietary Airmesh technology for superior comfort and breathability. With two sturdy grab handles included to give you options when it comes to carrying, and a 45L capacity which still keeps the Carry On Backpack under commercial carry-on limits, this Prottoni offering is seriously impressive; and doubly so at its current price point.
- Price: this is definitely not a budget backpack, but Prottoni have offered it for sale at what amounts to a budget price. In terms of quality and performance, it’s hard to imagine better value for money than this Carry On Backpack.
- This Prottoni travel backpack features a smart black ergonomic design, which is both pleasing to the eye and comfortable on the shoulders and back when carried.
- In total, the Carry On Backpack features a zippered laptop compartment, 3 front zippered pockets, a hidden zippered valuables pocket, and a main compartment complete with compression straps and an internal mesh pocket. In terms of helping you sort and store your possessions while packing – and in terms of keeping them safe and secure on the move – this Prottoni offering is hard to beat.
- Prottoni’s Airmesh technology is featured in the back of the backpack, as well as its contoured shoulder straps – the Airmesh works to keep the bag light and breathable, keeping it comfortable to carry even over longer distances.
- The 45L capacity of the Carry On Backpack is an impressive achievement, given the backpack’s overall low profile. As always, you should do your own research before flying, but the Carry On Backpack has been designed to meet the regulations of most commercial airlines.
- Made from polyester with a PVC lining, the Carry On Backpack is waterproof and will remain so if handled carefully.
- Prottoni’s decision to attach 2 sturdy grab handles to the Carry On Backpack is a sensible one for travellers, giving the option to carry the backpack like a conventional suitcase; useful if you need to carry multiple bags at once, or are loading luggage into overheard bins.
3. SWISSGEAR 1900 ScanSmart TSA Laptop Backpack
SWISSGEAR are perhaps most famous as the inventors and manufacturers of the Swiss army knife; and beyond that, they’re a well-known brand for innovative and efficiently-designed products in a number of fields, including travel and outdoors products and accessories.
The 1900 ScanSmart TSA Laptop Backpack is a trademark SWISSGEAR product, cramming an impressive array of features into a neat, efficient package. The ScanSmart name refers to the backpack’s lay-flat design, which allows laptop-in-case scanning through any TSA X-ray machine. If you want to keep your laptop safe and secure, even while going through airport security, the TSA Laptop Backpack is one of the most effective ways you can do that on the market today.
Besides the ScanSmart design, the TSA Laptop Backpack is riddled with pockets and pouches – most of them zippered and lockable – while being made almost entirely from plush and waterproof 1200D polyester. The ScanSmart TSA Laptop Backpack looks like a SWISSGEAR product; and more importantly, it performs like one. Surprisingly, given the backpack’s quality and the fame of the SWISSGEAR brand, the ScanSmart TSA Laptop Backpack is available at a midrange price point. If you’re taking your laptop travelling, this high-performer should be near the top of your list.
- The ScanSmart design which gives this backpack its name allows laptop-in-case scanning through TSA X-ray machines. The days of removing your electronics, placing them in a separate tray, and trying to avoid the feeling of anxiety that comes when your treasured computer disappears into the X-ray machine might well be over.
- This SWISSGEAR backpack is committed to keeping your electronics safe, with a protective laptop compartment complete with adjustable divider which can secure laptops up to 17” in width. The TabletSafe tablet pocket does the same thing for your tablet.
- The TSA Laptop Backpack looks great, with a smart and stylish SWISSGEAR design – black polyester, ergonomic curves and the iconic Swiss flag logo, all in 1200D polyester. Smart, waterproof and durable: that’s the ScanSmart TSA Laptop Backpack.
- The zips on this SWISSGEAR backpack are larger and more rugged than those on most comparable backpacks, making them both easier to padlock and more difficult to break through either wear-and-tear or brute force.
- The shoulder straps on this backpack for air travel are padded, adjustable, comfortable and convenient, with a breathable mesh and an integrated reflective element for added safety when walking at night.
- It wouldn’t be a SWISSGEAR product if it wasn’t crammed full of features and extras, and the ScanSmart TSA Laptop Backpack doesn’t disappoint. It features a sunglasses holder, padded Airflow back panel, compression straps, accessory pockets, file holder, front zippered pocket, media pocket with headphone port; and SWISSGEAR have even thrown in a carabiner for added value.
- A reinforced carry handle gives you options when it comes to transporting your gear around, as well as making it easier to stow the TSA Laptop Backpack away in an overhead bin on the plane.
4. eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible
eBags are, as their name suggests, an online bag retailer: they’re committed to thoughtful design and exceptional value, which should bode well for the TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible, a fully-featured travel bag which is available at a midrange price point. When it comes to backpacks for air travel, there’s plenty of quality out there at the budget end of the price scale; but the Mother Lode Weekender Convertible does a good job of justifying its price tag.
With a huge number of interior and exterior pockets, padded shoulder straps and carry handles, an 840D polyester exterior and a high-visibility orange interior lining to make packing and unpacking easy in low-light conditions, there’s no denying that eBags have designed the Mother Lode with the modern flyer in mind. There’s even eBags’ own Laptop Sling (patent pending), adjustable to secure laptops up to 19” wide. Designed to come under all major airlines’ carry-on limits and weighing less than 4lbs when empty, this eBags travel backpack is a natural companion for the frequent flyer. The Mother Lode Weekender Convertible is available in either brushed indigo or solid black, and has an attractive, clean aesthetic in either style.
- Available in a choice of either brushed indigo or solid black, the TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible is a smart and good-looking bag.
- The TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible can be expanded or contracted as your needs dictate, with a full expansion zipper which allows you to create extra storage space once you’re on the right side of the baggage check. All the zippers on this backpack for air travel are double-side, increasing durability as well as security.
- The eBags Laptop Sling can be adjusted to secure laptops up to 19” in width, keeping them safe even when on the move.
- With an interior zippered mesh panel, a fold-down partition shelf, and tie-down and compression straps for added convenience and security, the Mother Lode is undeniably a bag designed with travellers in mind. If you’re going on a long expedition or taking valuable electronics with you – or both – the Mother Lode is an option well worth considering.
- The Mother Lode also features a mini pocket, travel organizer pockets, front pockets and a hidden ID pocket. If you need to know where everything is in your bag at all times, this eBags product has got you covered.
- The padded grab handles on this travel backpack make a big difference when it comes to carrying and loading, while a padded shoulder strap gives an alternative tote-bag-style carrying method in addition to the backpack shoulder straps.
- The interior lining of this backpack for air travel is high-visibility orange, which makes a big difference when it comes to packing or unpacking in low-visibility conditions. Whether you’re exploring the wilderness or urban environments, this is a simple design choice which can make a real difference. The backpack’s exterior is made using 840D polyester, both lightweight and waterproof.
- The TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible has been designed to meet airline regulations for carry-on luggage, including the infamously restrictive European budget airlines. Including compression straps can work to further reduce the backpack’s profile; and in terms of weight limits, the Mother Lode weighs a mere 3.7lbs when empty.
5. Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack
Osprey are known for their backpacks: their main focus is on heavy-duty gear for travellers, hikers, adventurers and explorers, but the Porter range is a nod to the more casual traveller and holidaymaker which nonetheless reaps the benefits of Osprey’s years of experience. Available at a midrange price point, the Porter 46 is a 46L capacity travel backpack (a Porter 65 is available for the more adventurous among us, although it’s too large for adequate use as carry-on luggage).
46L is more than most backpacks for air travel, but the Porter 46 still stows comfortably within any commercial airline regulations: this is due in large part to Osprey’s StraightJacket compression system, wherein semi-rigid foam walls can be compressed inwards, working to compress the bag’s overall profile while also securing and protecting whatever’s loaded inside.
With specially-padded laptop and electronics pockets in addition to the protection offered by the StraightJacket foam walls, the Porter 46 is a truly innovative take on the travel backpack, which offers an attractive combination of convenience and security. It even looks modern, with an elegant and stylish design that’s available in a choice of black, red or green – put simply, it’s hard to find a weak point on this Osprey offering, so long as you can afford the cost of entry.
- The foam-wall StraightJacket system used in the Porter 46 works to compress and protect any load, doing wonders both for the backpack’s profile and the security of whatever’s packed inside. One additional benefit of the StraightJacket system is that the semi-rigid foam side walls help the bag keep its shape, compared to conventional duffels – a big help when it comes to packing and unpacking.
- Available in a choice of black, hoodoo red and nitro green, the Porter 46 boasts an attractive, modern design which wouldn’t look out of place in the city or the jungle.
- The StraightJacket system isn’t the only evidence of Osprey’s experience designing adventuring gear: the Porter 46 features a rapid deploy harness and hip belt for ease of access on the move, as well as a sternum strap for occasions when additional stability is needed.
- Osprey have made several nods to the modern flyer in the design of the Porter 46, including padded laptop and electronics pockets, exterior pockets and an internal key attachment clip.
- The 46L carrying capacity is on the higher end for carry-on luggage (something that’s possible thanks to the StraightJacket compression system), while still stowing down comfortably within commercial airline regulations.
6. Tortuga Air Travel Backpack
Tortuga are known for making stylish travel gear and accessories: this is an expensive travel backpack, bearing the Tortuga name as it does, but it does offer something most other travel backpacks don’t – the organizational capability of a suitcase, twinned with the convenience of a backpack. This is achieved by marrying a stiff back to a zippered front opening, so the Air Travel Backpack can be placed on its back and packed or unpacked as if it were a conventional suitcase.
Compared to rooting around in the bottom of a duffel bag, this is a major victory for convenience; and the option to use the Air Travel’s expansion zipper to expand the capacity of the backpack by up to 30% is even more useful when it’s time to get packing. Made from 100% nylon, the Air Travel Backpack is waterproof and lightweight; but it has to be said that, for an expensive backpack from a luxury brand, this is not an eye-catching or attractive bag. Large plastic buckles against black nylon creates the impression that this backpack is anything but luxury: the Air Travel itself is a quality travel backpack which offers plenty in the way of convenience, but it doesn’t look like a bag which justifies its price tag.
- The Air Travel Backpack’s 100% nylon construction ensures that this Tortuga bag is both waterproof and lightweight, although it does make it somewhat fragile.
- This backpack for air travel comes within the carry-on limits for all major airlines, including European budget airlines.
- The Air Travel Backpack can be packed and unpacked as if it were a conventional suitcase, due to its stiff back and zippered front opening.
- Tortuga designed this travel backpack with the modern flyer in mind: the Air Travel Backpack features a padded laptop and tablet pocket, a quick access front pocket, and an internal hanging pocket for those items which are most precious or sensitive to water damage.
- The front compartment on this Tortuga backpack can be expanded (by using the expansion zipper) to give up to 30% more packing space, or contracted in the event that you find yourself over the carry-on limitations. The zippers on the Air Travel Backpack are both rigid and lockable, scoring this Tortuga product points for security.
7. Portal Navigator Hybrid Backpack
Portal are perhaps best known for their work on outdoor living products, including outdoor furniture: with the Navigator Hybrid Backpack they’ve turned their experience with lightweight and waterproof designs to the travel bag market, with interesting results. The first thing to be said about the Navigator Hybrid is that it’s not pretty, with an ugly chunky black-and-gray aesthetic; but this rather utilitarian appearance is a result of Portal’s imaginative design.
The Navigator Hybrid is so-called because it’s a hybrid of two bags; a wheeled carry-on backpack and a detachable daypack. The wheeled component of the Navigator Hybrid is more like a trolley case with attached shoulder straps than a true backpack, but it’s sized to serve as carry-on luggage and features (along with the daypack) a number of interior and exterior pockets and carrying handles.
It should be noted that on some commercial airlines – particularly the notoriously stingy European budget airlines – you may struggle to get both parts of the Navigator Hybrid on as one person’s carry-on luggage; but if this is the case, the daypack can simply be detached, either to serve as someone else’s carry-on or to sit in the hold. There might be better trolley cases and travel backpacks on the market, but at the low price at which the Navigator retails, it’s hard to imagine finding a better hybrid of the two.
- Price: available with a surprisingly low price tag, the Navigator Hybrid offers a huge amount of versatility for a relatively small investment.
- The Navigator Hybrid is essentially a trolley case, or piece of rolling luggage, which can be carried as a backpack (due to integrated shoulder straps) and which also features a zippered detachable daypack. If you know you’ll want a small bag when you’re on holiday but don’t fancy taking your carry-on luggage around with you day after day, this Portal product might be the answer you’ve been looking for.
- The Navigator Hybrid features a lightweight polyester design, including a breathable mesh: these work to keep the bag waterproof and comfortable to wear.
- With multiple carrying handles and interior and exterior pockets, the Navigator Hybrid’s commitment to flexibility extends to your packing options. The zippers used on the travel backpack are reassuringly heavy duty; important if you plan on padlocking your bag.
8. S-ZONE Wheeled Backpack
S-Zone make low-cost luggage, and their Wheeled Backpack is unapologetically that. Available at an impressively low price, there’s no getting around the fact that the Wheeled Backpack looks cheap: this is not an attractive piece of luggage, with chunky black plastic against a black fabric lining.
However, in terms of design and build quality, the S-Zone Wheeled Backpack is a well-made piece that’s both durable and high-performing: three large internal compartments (including a laptop compartment which can secure laptops up to 17” wide) and mesh pockets work to keep your stuff secure and partitioned, even on the move; and when you are moving, you have a choice between carrying it with its shoulder straps and rolling along on its retractable wheels.
The Wheeled Backpack is a fusion of rolling luggage and a travel backpack, and while its appearance justifies its price tag its performance most certainly does not. If you want hybrid luggage and don’t want to spend a lot to get it, there are worse places to start looking than the S-Zone Wheeled Backpack.
- Price: the Wheeled Backpack is the cheapest piece of luggage covered in this article, and although it does look like it (with an ugly design that’s heavy on cheap black plastic), it’s both durable and more than serviceable.
- Three large internal compartments include a laptop compartment able to secure laptops up to 17” in width. The Wheeled Backpack also includes mesh pockets and a key hook, for added convenience.
- When you’re on the move, you can either carry the Wheeled Backpack using its comfortable shoulder straps or extend the retractable wheels and roll it along like a trolley case. The wheels, although plastic, provide smooth rolling (if only on hard surfaces, like those in an airport).
- S-Zone’s Wheeled Backpack will pass most airlines’ carry-on limitations, although as with all such cases you should be advised to do your own research before committing to a purchase.
What is a backpack for air travel?
Backpacks for air travel, or travel backpacks, are bags which have been designed specifically for the needs and difficulties of travel. The humble backpack was named in the early 20th century in America, but bags designed to be worn over the shoulders go back way further. By distributing the weight of the bag and whatever it’s holding, shoulder straps make carrying larger loads much easier on the arms, as well as helping the bearer maintain a comfortable and healthy posture.
Modern bags come in a wide range of designs and styles, some of which are better fit for air travel than others. They can also be fashioned from a variety of materials. The most common material used for travel backpacks is polyester, favored among travelers for its lightweight and waterproof qualities.
Most travel backpacks use zippers, often in combination with securing compression straps, to open and close the various compartments while keeping the bag’s contents safe and dry. A common feature on travel backpacks in particular is oversize zips, which are large and sturdy enough to allow the affixing of a padlock for extra security. It should be noted, however, that on any kind of bag the zip itself (whether padlocked or not) is a weak point for security, as a sharp edge or even brute force can be enough to break the zipper and gain access to the backpack’s contents in this way.
Travel backpacks are also notable for their efficient approach to storage space in their design. Most feature a large number of interior and exterior pockets and panels, some containing their own compression straps, making planned packing straightforward and ensuring you should always have easy access to your backpack’s contents.
The shape of travel backpacks further facilitates this ease of access. Backpacks designed for air travel are shaped so that they have no difficult to reach areas, while still being sized appropriately for major airlines’ carry-on regulations.
If treated well, travel backpacks are durable and can last for years, making them a wise investment for casual holidaymakers as well as for hardcore travelers. Other luggage solutions certainly exist – among them hiking backpacks, rucksacks, weekenders and tote bags, duffel bags, suitcases and trolley cases.
For modern travelers, the travel backpack is a hard option to beat. Designed to sit at the crossroads of capacity, comfort and convenience, backpacks for air travel should be near the top of the shopping list for anyone looking to holiday in safety and security.
As with any purchase, it pays to do your research and think about your particular needs before getting down to comparing items. With travel backpacks, that includes checking the luggage size and weight limits for your chosen airline(s). If you take the time to think it through, you’ll find the luggage market packed with competitively-priced quality products, and backpacks for air travel are no exception.
Why buy a backpack for air travel?
If you’re on the lookout for carry-on luggage that makes your life easier on the move, travel backpacks are one of (if not the) best option available. But why not rely on a conventional backpack? They tend to be cheaper, after all. Unfortunately, conventional bags have a few drawbacks compared to the variants designed with air travel in mind. Here are some reasons you should opt for a travel bag instead:
- Limited access. Most conventional backpacks open from the top, or only partially from the front. This makes it tricky to get to whatever you’ve packed at the bottom of the bag without having to unload everything you packed on top. This is fine if you’re at home or in your hotel room, but irritating if you need quick access to something while you’re out and about.
- Hiking backpacks and rucksacks allow for much easier and convenient access because they’ve been designed with outdoor use in mind. Where they fall down in comparison to travel backpacks is their heavy-duty design, being littered with straps, belts and buckles, which not only increase the bag’s profile (making it more likely to fall foul of stricter airlines’ luggage limits) but also add to its weight. Not ideal for those who plan on using your backpack on a daily basis.
- Hard to pack. The long narrow style of many conventional and hiking backpacks makes them comfortable for use over longer distances and periods of time, but it’s a style that’s difficult to pack, while creating the same access issues as putting the bag’s opening in the top. For most travelers, packing and space is the number one thing they look at when purchasing a backpack.
If a conventional backpack isn’t going to get the job done, what about a suitcase or trolley case? These certainly share some of the advantages of the travel backpack: they provide more space and better security than standard backpacks or rucksacks, but their increased capacity is also a major downside.
Suitcases simply aren’t designed with mobility in mind for most travelers, and tend to be oversized for use as carry-on luggage. Even the wheeled trolley cases, easy enough to push around airports and hotels, aren’t portable enough for anything more demanding and are usually too large for personal luggage. On the other hand, backpacks for air travel have a number of reasons behind their recommendation.
- Easy access, easy to pack. Travel backpacks are front-opening rather than top-opening like traditional backpacks and rucksacks. This means that if you lay the bag on its back, it can be opened and packed exactly like a conventional suitcase, making packing and access very easy.
- Comfortable and convenient. Backpacks for air travel are designed to be both convenient and comfortable, made of soft material (usually polyester) and featuring padded shoulder straps and ergonomic designs. Travel backpacks are lightweight and designed to be carried for long periods of time, so they won’t become uncomfortable after a long day on your feet.
- Safety and security. The zippers on travel backpacks are usually lockable, which greatly reduces your risk for becoming a victim of opportunistic crime. Zippers are a weak point on any bag, but the lock protects you from smash and grabs while increasing your peace of mind. The waterproof materials for most travel backpacks also make it easy to keep a travelers gear safe from the weather.
- Durability. If looked after, backpacks for air travel with their modern materials and designs can last for years. But remember that polyester isn’t exactly a hard-wearing material, so it can rip and tear if handled roughly and not taken care of. Be careful to avoid overfilling your travel backpack, as this is an easy way to cause lasting damage.
- Travel-friendly. All of the above features add up to make travel backpacks unsurprisingly easy for travel. Whether you’re planning for a gap year or just want something comfortable and waterproof for easy urban exploration, travel backpacks can get you there in style, offer lots of space, and keep your stuff secure while doing it.
Things to consider
If you’ve decided to invest in a backpack for air travel, there are a few things worth considering before laying down your hard-earned cash.
- Travelers needs. This might seem obvious, but your travelling needs will greatly affect which bag is best for you. How frequently and regularly do you travel? When you do, what kind of destinations are you headed for – urban, rural, exotic – and for what length of time? What is your most common reason for travelling. Is it business or pleasure? When you’re on holiday, how do you like to spend your time? How much space will you need in your backpack? You need to know what you’ll need before you start shopping for a pack to fit your needs. So think about your travelling needs and you’re sure to end up happier with your purchase than you would have been otherwise.
- Material. The material used in the backpack’s construction is of primary importance for how well it’ll stand up to the elements. Most travel backpacks make heavy, if not exclusive use of polyester, a lightweight and waterproof material. But pay particular attention to any other materials used. A bag is only as waterproof as its least waterproof component, so be wary of anything that fuses polyester with other, more permeable materials.
- Zippers and accessibility. Travel backpacks use zippers for good reason – they’re quick, easy to use, and lockable. However, cheap and flimsy zippers can greatly degrade a backpack’s lifespan, as well as create security weak points and potentially allow water and moisture into an otherwise waterproofed bag. Look closely for secure and durable zippers: how durable and secure are they?
- Extra pockets. Any extra pockets can offer more space, but also need to be examined before making a purchase. A safe and secure travel backpack should not have any external pockets which can’t be zippered closed at the very least. Internally, compression straps work to fit your stuff precisely where you stored it, which is not only of benefit in terms of quick access and convenience, but also a security measure which lets you readily confirm your essentials are still in place.
- Storage and Capacity. Does the travel backpack have enough storage and space to meet your needs, without it being too large or unwieldy to work as carry-on luggage? You might be surprised by the amount of difference innovative and space-efficient designs can make when it comes to getting the maximum potential from your carry-on. Fortunately, backpacks for air travel make packing easy and can fit all your essentials for travel.
- Quality and durability. Once again, the materials used in a backpack’s construction and style will make a big difference here, as will the build quality of any internal frame or components. A travel backpack that’s been designed and manufactured with quality materials and attention to detail should remain serviceable for many to years to come, especially if it’s primarily used when travelling. So you shouldn’t be tempted to settle for something which will only last for a few uses.
- Comfort and convenience. Travel backpacks are popular because they marry capacity and convenience with something too often missing from carry-on luggage and luggage in general – comfort. Padding on the back of the backpack and the shoulder straps can make a real difference when wearing the bag for longer periods of time. The high-quality polyester typically used in such bags is soft and lightweight. Many backpacks for air travel also boast ergonomic or contoured designs, which aim to ensure the bag remains comfortable for wear. The more time you’ll be spending out and about while travelling, the more important a comfortable travel backpack will become.
- Design. As with any luggage or carried bag, your travel backpack is unavoidably a fashion item, so style matters. It forms part of your look, so it should be something you’ll feel happy and comfortable wearing, and will fit with at least some of your clothes. Some of us care more about style than others, and if you plan on trekking into the wilderness you may not be particularly bothered about what the wildlife will think of your bag. But many of us will want to bring the travel backpack’s style and personal fit into consideration when making our choice.
- Price. As with style, price matters more to some of us than others. Whatever your budget, you’ll be well served by having a rough idea of what you’d like to spend before you start shopping. Budget travel backpacks are available from around $50, with high quality backpacks for air travel starting at about $100. Specialist designs and luxury brands offer travel backpacks at prices of $200 or more, but when it comes to backpacks for air travel there are quality examples available at every point on the price scale.
Risks and warnings
There are some basic principles to be aware of when purchasing and using a travel backpack for the purposes of air travel.
- Carry-on issues. Make sure to thoroughly check the carry-on regulations and maximum limits for any and all airlines you plan on flying with. Do this with respect to both size and weight; and if your maximum limits are the same coming in as they are going out, make sure you’re under the maximum on the way out if you’d like to be able to bring any souvenirs home with you.
- Don’t overfill. Respect the limits of your travel bag and don’t overfill it to the point that the material and the zips are straining. This may cause the bag to rip or tear, and even if the results aren’t that catastrophic overfilling will degrade the backpack and shorten its lifespan over time. Travel backpacks, with their myriad pockets and compression straps, are also designed to keep your gear secure inside – if you overfill, you prevent the backpack from doing the job it was designed for.
- Stow securely. If stowing your travel backpack on a plane, take care to properly secure it; especially if you’re stowing it in an overhead bin. Unsecured luggage can fall or be propelled across the cabin during take-off or turbulence, potentially causing damage to your bag, your stuff, other travelers stuff and other travelers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How to pack a backpack for air travel?
When packing your bag for air travel or any type of long trip, you always need to make sure to pack the essentials and not go overboard with any extras. Before you pack, think about where you’re going and what you need to bring on your trip. How much weight will you be able to carry? The type of bag you buy will be important to think about. Pack the items that are necessary and if you have extra room, then you can pack any extra things for your trip. Remember, no matter what the trip entails, you’ll always want to pack light to increase durability and be able to carry your bag all day long if needed.
Where can I check the size of my backpack for air travel?
Before you purchase your bag, you’ll want to know where you’re going, how you’re getting there, and what your trip will consist of. If you’re traveling by car, train or bus, the size and weight of your bag won’t matter too much – as long as you make sure it’s light enough for you to carry. However, if you’re traveling by air, it’s important to check your local airlines luggage regulations to ensure you stay within the size and weight limit. It needs to fit on the planes overhead luggage containers and not go over the weight limit, so having one that’s properly sized is crucial.
What is the best backpack for air travel?
This all depends on the travelers needs and destination. How long will your trip last? How many trips do you plan on taking? Will you be carrying it daily? If so, how much can you carry/how light will your bag need to be? How much weight fits in your bag? All these questions and more are important to consider. Take a look at our reviews above to see which bag fits your needs as a traveler.
How much weight can I carry in my backpack?
Weight is not only important for size regulations, but also for yourself. How much are you willing to carry on a daily basis when traveling? You never want to overdo it, so make sure the bag you purchase fits your travel needs. There are many bags that can fit a lot of items, but if you’re not prepared to carry the load, then keeping the weight light will be much more convenient.
How to pack a backpack for international travel?
Obviously weight and size limits are important to consider. However international travel, depending on where you’re headed, can require a lot more research before you leave. Make sure to check the airline you’re traveling with as all airlines have different regulations. The last thing you want is for your trip to get sidetracked by something that was easily unavoidable.