Travelling has always been a common dream for people from all walks of life, but now it’s becoming increasingly common to make this dream come true. Travelling has become commonplace, and with its normalcy, people are becoming more aware of the different types of travel gear to make their travels that much more convenient and comfortable.
Looking for a good carry on backpack is an absolute necessity for anyone travelling – whether it is a short distance or a long one. On short flights on budget airlines, you’ll have to fit everything in this luggage. It has to look presentable enough as you’ll be carrying it on the streets. Above all else, it has to be functional.
- Best Carry On Backpack Summary
- What to look out for in every travel carry on backpack
- Travel carry on backpacks for the budget-friendly traveller – $
- Travel carry on backpacks for the average Joe – $$
- Travel carry on backpacks for the high roller – $$$
- VERDICT: Best carry on backpack for international travel ?
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Best Carry On Backpack Summary
- Best Overall Travel Backpack – Osprey Packs Farpoint 40
- Best City Backpack – Peak Design Everyday Tote Bag
- Best Waterproof Camera Backpack – Endurax Waterproof Camera Backpack
- Best Carry On Bag for Women – Eagle Creek Women’s Travel 40L Backpack
- Best Backpack For Hiking and Camping – Camel Hiking Backpack Travel Backpack
Here’s a lowdown on the essential features of a proper carry on backpack and that you should look out for!
What to look out for in every travel carry on backpack
Size and weight
When picking a carry on backpack, the first thing you should pay attention to is the size and weight of your backpack.
You want a carry on backpack size to meet the size criteria of all airlines to save you any headaches at the airport. You also want the backpack to be lightweight and durable when empty to make the most of the usual 7kg weight limit for carry on backpacks.
The second thing to pay attention to is the durability of the carry on backpack. Will it rip easily? Is it waterproof? Can it survive being tossed around in the overhead compartment or chucked on the floor for a limitless amount of time?
The third and last thing to pay attention to is functionality. There are many different styles of travelling and each style of travel will find you packing different items. Your carry on backpack should be able to hold and protect the items you need to pack efficiently and effectively.
Are you carrying electronics? Are you carrying all your clothes? Do you have a lot of small items?
It should also be comfortable to carry for long periods of time. Are the straps wide enough? Is there an internal frame? Do you need back padding? You’ll want to spend some time thinking about what you will be doing while using the bag on your travels to find one with the right functionality.
After perusing and wearing through dozens of carry on backpacks for my Europe travels, I’ve handpicked some of my best recommendations. Here are the best carry on backpacks for every budget.
- Made up of lightweight polyester fibre material
- Multiple compartments to keep stuff organized and accessible
- Best for hiking and camping plans
- Best carry on backpack size that weighs only 1.3kg (when empty)
- Great budget option
- Perfect for a few days’ worth of clothes only
- Doesn’t have an internal frame
This 40L Camel Crown backpack is a great budget option for anyone needing to keep all their stuff with them but also keep to most airline’s carry on backpack size restrictions.
40L is perfect for a few days’ worth of clothes and the lightweight polyester fiber material makes this a durable option for anyone planning on actually hiking and camping at their destination.
The carry on backpack weighs in at only 1.3kg when completely empty, which is really amazing when you consider the detachable back support. It doesn’t have an internal frame, but to get a hip support that’s detachable at this price is a bargain.
I also like the many compartments to keep your things organized and easily accessible while travelling. You don’t want to be digging through all your clothes to get lip balm at the bottom of your backpack!
- Best carry on backpack that is budget-friendly
- Best for international travel because of its large carrying capacity
- Perfect for anyone with a smaller frame
- The whole interior is padded, keeping your stuff from breaking on impact
- It has a lower compartment for your DSLR camera – thus perfect for photography addicts
- It can carry electronics safely
- It can be made into a dual compartment or kept as one whole compartment
- Best carry on bag for a woman
- The smaller size limits how much you can fit inside
The best budget carry on backpack for international travel is this CADEN DSRL backpack, which I personally use a lot.
The carry on backpack size is perfect for anyone on the smaller side. I have a small frame and this bag fits perfectly on me while still carrying all of my electronics safely inside. The entire interior is padded enough for you to casually chuck your backpack down anywhere without worrying about your stuff breaking.
Another great feature is the lower compartment for your DSLR camera. You obviously don’t need to use it for a DSLR camera but you can easily fit your camera, a spare battery, your cords and camera lens.
The design allows you to choose whether to change the bag into a dual compartment backpack or keep the whole interior as one compartment, but even if you choose dual, you can still carry a 13’ Mac and your DSLR at the same time.
- The best carry on backpack size
- Easier to comply with airline luggage restrictions
- It has multiple compartments to store your electronics safely
- It has waterproof zippers
- It has a laptop sleeve big enough to fit a 17’ laptop
- Its size makes it a bit wider
- It isn’t geared for hiking or camping purposes
This Eagles Creek Global backpack is also 40L, which would be almost the maximum size for a travel carry on. The shape of this carry on backpack compared to the Camel Crown is more boxed which makes it easier to comply with airline luggage restrictions, but it also makes it a bit wider.
This backpack isn’t geared for hiking or camping purposes which means the inside has more compartments to store your electronics safely, including a laptop sleeve big enough to fit a 17’ Laptop.
One of the great features of this backpack is the waterproof zippers that will keep everything dry in any sort of torrential rain. Something the Camel Crown lacks.
- This backpack has a bigger capacity
- Thicker design and more durable
- Multiple compartments to organize your stuff
- Shoulder straps and back piece are well-padded
- It has a mesh lining to make it more breathable
- It has an additional camera bag that is removable
- Perfect for long-haul flights
- Might be too bulky for small trips since the bag capacity won’t be fully maximized
This is similar to the CADEN backpack but the capacity is bigger with a slightly thicker design and with more compartments to organize your things.
The craftsmanship is also more durable than the CADEN with full zips to access the lower compartment and additional loops to hook a tripod or anything on a carabiner. The shoulder straps and back piece are well padded with a mesh lining to make it more breathable.
But the best part of this travel pack is the additional camera bag you can take out. The camera bag comes with a shoulder strap so you can use it on its own and it’s perfect for long-haul flights to keep your liquids or any cosmetics separate from the rest of your stuff.
- Perfect if you’re looking for some city-hopping
- Best carry on backpack size that makes it easier to pass airline restrictions
- It has an internal frame that helps shift the weight from the shoulder straps to your hips
- It has compression straps that slim down this backpack to fit the overhead compartments on aeroplanes
- It has compression straps that automatically cover the side zips
- Best carry on backpack for international travel because of its big size that can store multiple changes of clothes and personal items, proving it to be a versatile backpack for every traveller
- Might be too bulky for small trips since the bag capacity won’t be fully maximized
This 40L Osprey backpack is perfect for anyone looking to do some city hopping. The size is perfect for a few changes of clothes and any personal items you need to bring. The back panel can be stowed away which makes this backpack easier to pass airline restrictions.
You also have an internal frame that helps shift the weight from the shoulder straps to your hips which is a must for anyone backpacking for extended periods of time. The design also features compression straps at the front to really help slim down your carry on backpack to fit the overhead compartments on an airplane.
But my favourite feature of this carry on backpack is the compression straps that automatically cover the side zip, which runs along the full length of the bag. Your zippers are less vulnerable to breaking or getting damaged this way.
- It has enough room to carry your laptop, drone, DSLR camera and other personal items.
- It has interior pockets and flexible dividers to segregate your items
- It provides maximum protection for electronics
- Best carry on bag for women wanting a proper yet stylish carry on bag
- A tote that can also double up as a backpack when you adjust the straps
This last one is a little different compared to the rest. It’s a tote that you can carry as a backpack when you adjust the straps. This tote has more than enough room to carry your laptop, drone and DSLR camera all at the same time while still leaving you room for your other personal items.
The best thing I like about the design is the interior pockets and the flexible dividers. The dividers provide a more flexible use of the space inside while still giving you maximum protection for your electronics.
But the biggest draw to this tote carry on is the ability to use it normally while on your travels. Carrying a backpack everyday isn’t everyone’s first choice. I always end up looking like a high school student with a backpack on and this tote will provide both functionality and style for woman wanting a proper carry on bag.
VERDICT: Best carry on backpack for international travel ?
Out of the 6, I would say the Osprey 40L Farpoint travel backpack to be the most worth it, for anyone looking to travel to multiple international destinations in one go. The design of the backpack makes it the most comfortable and practical to carry your stuff around.