A backpack may be the most essential piece of travel gear there is for men (and anyone, really). Whether you’re an adventurer seeking the main pack for your next hike or a business traveler who prefers a backpack over a briefcase for safely storing your laptop, these recommended travel backpacks for men – compiled with the help of travel experts and consumer reviews – will have you covered.
If you’re unsure about what type of men’s backpack you need, check out the FAQ section at the bottom of this page for things to consider when making your purchase, as well as as general tips for packing a backpack.
(Note: Prices below were accurate at the time of publication; they may fluctuate due to inflation or supply chain issues.)
Best Overall Travel Backpack
(Courtesy of Thule)
Thule Aion 28L Travel Backpack: This versatile pack is an environmentally friendly buy: Available in two neutral colors (nutria brown and black), it’s made entirely from recycled materials. The Aion backpack is superb for short to mid-length trips away. Its back section can be unzipped suitcase-style for easy packing, and the 28-liter bag can be expanded to a 32-liter capacity for additional space. It has smaller pockets for electronics and a water bottle, too. With waxed canvas fabric on the outside, this men’s travel backpack is durable, and a flexible TPU lining means your possessions are protected from moisture. Travelers say they appreciate the bag’s spacious interior and comfortable straps. This backpack also comes in a 40-liter size.
Best Carry-on Travel Backpack
(Courtesy of Peak Design)
Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L: If you’re looking for convenience during air travel, the Peak Design Everyday Backpack is made to provide easy access to everything you need. This bag has a weatherproof shell and offers quick access to its top pocket with an easy-to-open latch. There are three interior dividers for maximum organization and separation. You’ll also find a number of internal pockets for your smaller possessions and a sleeve for a 15-inch laptop. The bag comes in two sizes: 20 liters (around 5 gallons) or 30 liters (around 8 gallons). Its side pockets expand to hold water bottles or a tripod, and the backpack’s straps tuck out of sight when needed. Travelers say the bag works great for everyday use, as well as short trips and weekends away.
Best Laptop Backpack
Nomatic Navigator Travel Backpack: This expandable pack is full of useful features for international travelers: Its front pocket helps you store your devices, cables and other small objects, while the neatly divided main compartment has plenty of space for your clothes and larger possessions. A laptop up to 16 inches can fit inside. The bag can be expanded from 32 to 41 liters in capacity, so it’s easily large enough to serve as your primary luggage for a multiday trip – or perhaps even longer if you’re a light packer. Travelers love that it has plenty of space with a supremely well-designed layout for organization.
Best Large Travel Backpack
Tortuga Outbreaker 45L: If you’re looking for a men’s backpack that can hold all your possessions for a longer trip, the 45-liter Tortuga Outbreaker is a formidable choice. It can be treated like a suitcase with its front-loading main compartment (which opens clamshell-style). With mesh pockets breaking up the main compartment as well as two front pockets, two external water bottle pockets, and special laptop and tablet sleeves, the bag is highly organized despite its large size. It also has padded straps plus hip and sternum belts to help you carry the fully loaded pack with ease. Customers report that they’ve been able to travel for lengthy trips with the Outbreaker, calling it compact and well designed. A smaller 35-liter option is also available if you’re traveling on airlines with strict carry-on size restrictions.
Price: $349 or less
Shop now: Tortuga
Best Small Travel Backpack
ZOMAKE Lightweight Packable Backpack: For a small, lightweight option, you can’t beat this travel backpack for men (or its price tag). Aside from a spacious main compartment, the ZOMAKE backpack features five a combination of zippered and mesh external pockets, including a privacy pocket for a passport wallet, phone and other important items. When not in use, this backpack can be folded into the size of a sandwich bag, making it a good packable option as well.
Price: $21.99 or less
Shop now: Amazon
Best Leather Travel Backpack
(Courtesy of Leatherology)
Leatherology Parker Backpack: For a stylish leather option, consider the Leatherology Parker Backpack. Available in colors like cognac and onyx, the 17.7-inch-tall backpack has a front zippered pocket and two main compartments. You’ll also find a laptop sleeve that zips, plus two open pockets on the sides. Opt to have your initials debossed or hand-painted onto the leather for a personal touch if you order from the Leatherology website. Consumers say the bag is well crafted and an excellent size.
Price: $380 or less
Shop now: Amazon
Best Travel Backpack With Wheels
Samsonite Detour Convertible Wheeled Hybrid Backpack: Designed with organization in mind, this rolling backpack has a laptop compartment large enough to hold a 15.6-inch laptop and smaller stash pockets for devices and accessories, plus a padded back and straps for comfort. Constructed from durable fabric with water-resistant coating, the bag has a stowable wheel cover and an aluminum telescopic handle. If you use a luggage tracker, this wheeled backpack has a built-in holder for an Apple AirTag. Users of this bag say they like the durability and amount of space that the bag has.
Travel Backpacks FAQ
There are many details to consider when it comes to choosing the perfect travel backpack. Whether you want it big or small, stylish or functional, or equipped to protect laptops and other important items, one of the most important features to look for is the bag’s organizational layout.
Rudy Maxa, host of the TV series “Rudy Maxa’s World” and a convert to travel backpacks, likes options with lots of nooks and crannies to hold everything from earphones to magazines to travel documents. Wendy Perrin, travel expert and founder of travel planning site WendyPerrin.com, agrees, saying she’s a fan of compartments when it comes to her travel backpack and likes the ability to get to her items quickly.
Tom Wahlin, travel gear expert and founder of Pack Hacker, says he prefers a backpack that combines spacious sections with smart organization. He recommends using packing cubes to organize items in the backpack’s main compartment.
Weight should be a consideration as well. While you may need something more durable for long outdoor adventures or round-the-world trips, a lightweight travel bag can be easier and more comfortable on your back for daytrips, sightseeing or day-to-day travels. Wahlin errs on the side of going lighter, noting a backpack can be both lightweight and durable.
He also suggests choosing a bag with durable zippers. “We typically look for Japanese YKK zippers,” Wahlin says. “They’re tried and tested and are on most of the best bags out there.”
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question – the perfectly sized backpack might depend on whether you’re a heavy packer, whether you need it for multiday trips or quick flights, and various other factors. However, there are still some general guidelines to consider. Take note: Backpacks are usually measured by volume in liters, even in the United States.
If you only need a smaller backpack – for example, for daylong excursions or to carry on the plane while most of your stuff goes in a separate suitcase – a 20-liter (5.3 gallon) backpack should suffice. If you’re using a backpack as your primary baggage, you’ll want to choose something a little larger. Bags in the 25- to 30-liter range are usually considered good for shorter trips, from an overnight or weekend away up to five nights (at least if you pack wisely). For longer trips where your backpack is your main luggage, you may need a pack with a volume of up to 40 or 45 liters.
But, pay attention: If your travel plans involve flying, make sure that you’re bringing a backpack that fits within the carry-on limits of every airline you’ll be taking. This is particularly important if you’re flying with budget airlines, as they tend to have more restrictive rules on baggage size. Backpacks with a volume of less than 35 liters should be accepted on most airlines, and you may be able to take a backpack of up to 45 liters on airlines with a more generous allowance – so check with your carrier before you leave.
Think about two things when preparing your backpack for travel: what to pack, and how to pack it. If you’re bringing a backpack in addition to other luggage such as a suitcase, try to put only the necessities in the backpack. For a long flight, for example, these items could include important travel documents like passports and boarding passes; a few basic toiletries such as your toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant; a laptop or tablet for work or entertainment; some extra clothing (especially if you’re going someplace with a different climate); and snacks.
If you’re flying, remember to comply with the Transportation Security Administration’s rules for liquids in your carry-on: Containers can’t exceed 3.4 ounces each and must fit in a quart-sized bag, so you can’t bring drinks through airport security, although an empty water bottle is allowed.
When you’re packing your bag, keep the items you’ll need more often in the most accessible places. So, consider putting your passport, headphones and lip balm somewhere close, such as the exterior pocket – and definitely not at the bottom of the main compartment underneath all your other possessions.
Once you’ve put those necessities in easy-to-reach places, you can pack the rest of your belongings. Think about weight distribution here: Ideally, you’ll want to put the heaviest items (for example, laptops) close to your body, so your backpack won’t weigh so heavily on your shoulders and will be more comfortable. Pay extra attention when packing delicate or breakable items, like sunglasses or electronics. It’s best to put these in the exterior pockets of your pack so they can’t be crushed by heavy items in the larger, main pockets. Of course, if you’re carrying a laptop or tablet and your backpack has dedicated pockets or sleeves for these items, use them.
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