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The 13 Best Travel Backpacks for Day Trips, Weeks-Long Adventures, and Everything in Between



The 13 Best Travel Backpacks for Day Trips, Weeks-Long Adventures, and Everything in Between

As a frequent traveler, I used to opt for suitcase luggage until I found the right travel backpack.

It’s one that actually maximizes storage while minimizing friction. It keeps heavy jackets, shoes, and accessories from causing shoulder and back pain, and allows room for more travel clothes. It’s weatherproof or water-resistant for getting caught in the rain, and it’s definitely easier to manage while traversing cobblestones, trains, and other areas where a roller suitcase just doesn’t cut it. That’s the gold standard for travel backpacks — and we found 13 that fit the job.

Whether you prefer a tried-and-true laptop backpack for a work-from-vacation weekend or a standard bag for longer trips, read on for the best travel backpacks as determined by editors, travelers, and shoppers alike.

Best Travel Backpacks Under $75

Matein Travel Backpack


With 80,000+ five-star ratings, this backpack is praised for its storage and organization, including a laptop pocket, front pocket, hidden anti-theft pocket for passports and other essentials, and a roomy interior. Its memory foam padding provides comfort across the straps, top handle, and back panel. Plus, it has a built-in USB charger and cable for easy access to your technology.

“I traveled with it for a weekend trip and didn’t need to pack any other bags because all my clothes, toiletries, tablet, and everything else fit in it,” one shopper wrote. “It’s durable and the straps are thick …so it’s really comfortable to wear.” 

Materials: Polyester, metal | Dimensions: 12 x 18 x 7.8 inches | Colors: 23

Calpak Kaya Mini Backpack


In lieu of a traditional travel purse, consider this stylish mini Calpak backpack for day trips and excursions. Its faux leather exterior, outlined stitching detail, and attractive hardware look sleek, and it has plenty of space for belongings on a day away from your luggage. It also has adjustable straps and a trolley sleeve for airport or train days. Some shoppers compliment its functionality for daily use, too, such as commuting to a coffee shop or office without having to lug a big laptop bag.

Materials: Faux leather | Dimensions: 10.65 x 8.5 x 4.25 inches | Colors: 6

Aloha Keep It Light Hana Hou Backpack


PEOPLE associate shopping director Erin Johnson lives in Hawai’i, so she relies on a water-resistant bag capable of handling a variety of day trips. “The Aloha Keep It Light Hana Hou Backpack is great for traveling because it has a laptop sleeve for those who can’t live without their computer, and its water-resistant fabric means it can double as a beach or pool bag,” Johnson says.

Available in three whimsical prints and a basic black, the lightweight ripstop backpack fits everything without feeling overwhelming. It has side pockets for a water bottle, a front storage zipper pocket, and a trolley sleeve for convenience.

Editors Say

“This recently-released water-resistant nylon backpack has become my new go-to. (Seriously, I’ve worn it almost every day since the moment it arrived.)”Erin Johnson, associate shopping director

Materials: Ripstop nylon | Dimensions: 12 x 5.5 x 16.5 inches | Colors: 4

Bagsmart Quick Access Carry On


For those packing largely within one backpack, this machine-washable pick will satisfy most of your needs for under $100. The 180-degree flat computer compartment has multiple organizers for tech chords and the like, with several straps and six external pockets. Inner and outer compression straps allow you to stuff the bag full while meeting most airlines’ personal item requirements. Its compartments also keep shoes, laundry, and more separated — ideal for a longer trip.

Materials: Nylon | Dimensions: 12.2 x 16.5 x 10.2 inches | Colors: 3

Best Travel Backpacks Under $150

Beis The Backpack


“Shay Mitchell really thought of everything when she was designing this bag,” says PEOPLE shopping writer Alyssa Brascia. It’s clear the new travel show host has a serious interest in making luggage look good. Brascia used this backpack for three years before a zipper malfunction caused its early retirement. 

That said, she plans to buy another one and specifically recommends it for overpackers. Its full-zip feature grants you complete views and access rather than having to rummage from just a top opening. And yes, there is a trolley sleeve — and even a key leash in the front pocket.

Editors Say

“This bag is so unassumingly spacious. I could pack for an entire week-long beach trip in just this one bag: shoes, makeup, hair tools, and everything. (An incredible feat for an overpacker like myself!)”Alyssia Brascia, shopping writer

Materials: Cotton body, PVC trim, polyester lining | Dimensions: 13 x 19 x 5.5 inches | Colors: 8

Patagonia 26L Refugio Daypack


Entertainment shopping director Laura Gurfein swears by the Patagonia brand, and the handy features of this Refugio daypack speak to why. It has a hydration hanger, pass-through access, breathable back panel, and bike-light clipping point, too.

Made of 100-percent recycled polyester, this durable backpack has a removable padded laptop sleeve, ideal for hitting the trails or commuting to the office. One shopper praised this versatility: “I use this all week for work, and switch it out as my day/diaper/hike bag on the weekends.” 

Materials: Recycled polyester | Dimensions: (26L) 18 x 12 x 6.5 inches, (30L) 19 x 12 x 6.5 inches | Colors: 6

Calpak Luka 15-Inch Laptop Backpack


For remote workers and digital nomads, a dedicated laptop-friendly backpack is a must for protecting your tech and peace of mind when on vacation or traveling through another city. The Calpak Luka collection gives you security and a little dash of panache. The backpack’s trendy, puffy exterior is both lightweight and scratch-resistant, and it has a padded laptop pocket, a water bottle pocket, and a shoe compartment for commutes or weekend trips.

Editors Say

“Despite the plush appearance, the material is incredibly durable. These bags have so many compartments for storage and are fairly lightweight. I’m a huge fan of anything in the Calpak Luka collection and this bag is no exception!”Madison Yauger, shopping editor

Materials: Polyester | Dimensions: 16 x 12 x 7 inches | Colors: 23

Best Travel Backpacks Under $200

Lululemon Wunderlust Backpack


PEOPLE senior shopping editor Erika Reals flagged this Lululemon find for its aesthetic and functional features. As she frequently travels, details like its water-repellent fabric, zippered pockets, and adjustable exterior straps (for yoga mats, jackets, and the like) caught her interest immediately.

Buckled closures keep items locked in tight while a drawstring top allows for quick access when needed. The backpack has a bulky, utilitarian feel that traditional backpacking brands embody — in a smaller size — yet is polished with that Lululemon touch.

Materials: Polyester, nylon | Dimensions: 14.2 x 6.1 x 20.1 inches | Colors: 2

Dagne Dover The Dakota Backpack

Dagne Dover

Dagne Dover is known for its unique neoprene material, bold colors, and reliable durability, so it’s not a shocker that its backpack is a favorite, too. Details like a key leash and air mesh tablet sleeve offer basic organization, but this backpack is best for those wanting simplicity and a striking design. It’s available in three sizes, to store the bare-bones essentials up to a day’s worth of gear.

Editors Say

“I’ve had this backpack for two years and the neoprene material is such a game changer: It’s water-resistant, cushioned, and sturdy for holding heavy items such as laptops and insulated water bottles. It doesn’t have a ton of compartments, but it’s built to last.”—Madison Yauger

Materials: Neoprene | Dimensions: (S) 9.5 x 5 x 13 inches, (M) 11.5 x 5 x 17 inches, (L) 13.25 x 5.25 x 17.5 inches | Colors: 13

Calpak Terra 26L Laptop Duffel Backpack


I’ve tested dozens of bags, but the Calpak Terra 26L Laptop Duffel Backpack has stolen my heart. Its clamshell opening makes it easy to pack for week-long trips or a quick day away, and its many pockets allow me to stow dozens of gadgets and gizmos the way I prefer: separately. 

Its padded straps prevent aches while I’m standing for hours in a Border Customs line, and I appreciate that it minimizes the physical impact of my overpacking. A compression sleeve helps with underseat storage, even when I think I can’t possibly fit it under the airline seat in front of me. It’s now my go-to personal item, and I always get complimented on the stunning icy blue color. And did I mention it’s water resistant? It’s been soaked in the rain and still protected my books, sketchbooks, and other precious, fragile items.

Materials: Ripstop polyester, TPU laminate | Dimensions: 18 x 12 x 7.5 inches | Colors: 10

Away Outdoor 25L Convertible Backpack


Similarly, I’ve often opted for this convertible backpack for big trips, as it functions as a backpack or a duffel. Years in, I still reach for my Away Carry-On for most trips, and this backpack from the brand’s outdoor line embodies its same resilience and style. The water- and abrasion-resistant fabric is lightweight and has a sheen that’s oddly beautiful.

Although the design is meant to be protective, there isn’t as much structure in this backpack as in others. Despite its many pockets, organizers, and included compression straps, the 25-liter bag feels more flexible, which will appeal to shoppers seeking a lightweight and unobtrusive backpack. It packs flat, and it’s the most comfortable one I’ve tried.

Materials: 100% polyester | Dimensions: 13 x 17 x 7.6 inches | Colors: 2

Best Travel Backpacks to Splurge on

Yeti Crossroads 27L Backpack


Yeti is not just for coolers and water bottles. Like the rest of the brand’s offerings, this everyday backpack is simple yet solid. It’s inspired by motorcycle gear, so it’s meant for rough-and-tumble use — and yes, it fits your tumblers, too. Multiple access points make it easy to get to any supplies right away, with a full-zip ability that lets the bag go wide.

PEOPLE shopping editor Kayla Kitts has brought this Yeti backpack on many adventures “from local festivals and park days to weekend trips and air travel.” She loves that the exterior is incredibly durable and easy to wipe down, and the interior is packed with a slew of organizational features and compartments.

Editors Say

“Most recently, I took this bag to a music festival and filled it with a 10- x 9-foot outdoor blanket, two water bottles, various toys and books, and the Yeti Daytrip Lunch Box filled with snacks. It even toted a soccer ball to the park!”Kayla Kitts, shopping editor

Materials: Tuffskin nylon exterior, PU-coated base | Dimensions: 12.2 x 9.4 x 20.3 inches | Colors: 4

Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack


For longer trips stretching into weeks rather than days, adventure travelers rave about Cotopaxi’s sustainable — made from leftover fabric — and durable backpacks. The brand’s funky mix of unique fabrics are distinctive and made for any adventure. The bag’s clamshell opening is ideal for suitcase-like packing, while divided interior pockets and anti-theft zippers keep everything in place when you’re hailing buses, planes, and changing your itinerary on a dime. 

Most importantly, this backpack is built to withstand the elements and inclement weather, including an additional rain cover for protection, so you’re not worried about sacrificing your belongings. Load-lifter straps and a mesh suspension system keep this bag comfortable when your travel circumstances are anything but.

Materials: TPU-coated polyester, ballistic nylon paneling | Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 11 inches | Colors: 5

Why Trust PEOPLE?

Grace Smith is a contributing travel and shopping writer who, as a frequent hotel reviewer, spends as much time as possible wandering through various destinations. She’s used to living out of a suitcase or backpack, having moved every few months for several years. And yes, she is an overpacker, so finding the right bag for quick trips, endless flights, and long stints away has been a crucial mission. With PEOPLE editor selections, shopping insights, and her own globe-trotting experience in mind, Grace curated this list of the best travel backpacks for all of your 2024 destinations.

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