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The 10 Best Travel Backpacks According to Reddit‘s Savvy Globetrotters

When it comes to choosing the perfect travel backpack, the options can seem endless. Every major outdoor gear brand offers multiple pack options in different sizes, styles and price ranges. Flashy marketing copy promises innovative features and optimal comfort. But which backpacks actually live up to the hype and perform well in the real world?

To cut through the noise, many travelers turn to Reddit, the massive online discussion forum, to get honest and unfiltered opinions from their fellow wanderers. With subreddits like r/onebag, r/travel, and r/backpacking boasting hundreds of thousands of members, these communities serve as an invaluable resource for crowd-sourced backpack reviews and recommendations.

I analyzed the most popular and frequently mentioned travel backpacks across Reddit to bring you this definitive top 10 list. Whether you‘re a minimalist adventurer, an organized over-packer, or a budget backpacker, you‘re sure to find your ideal travel companion below.

How Reddit Can Help You Find the Perfect Pack

Redditors are a discerning bunch who don‘t hesitate to give their brutally honest takes. When a piece of gear doesn‘t live up to expectations, you‘ll definitely hear about it on Reddit. This straightforward, no-holds-barred approach to product reviews is extremely useful when evaluating pricey items like travel backpacks.

Reddit reviews often go beyond just listing a bag‘s features and specifications. You‘ll find detailed feedback on how the backpack performs in different real-world travel scenarios like:

  • Navigating busy airports and cramming into overhead bins
  • Withstanding rugged conditions of backcountry trails
  • Being comfortable to carry for long stretches
  • Keeping your valuables safe and secure
  • Holding up over years of heavy use

This type of practical insight gives you a much clearer picture of a bag‘s strengths and shortcomings compared to product descriptions from manufacturers and retailers. Plus, you can interact with reviewers to ask specific questions about how the pack might suit your individual needs and preferences.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Travel Backpack

Before diving into the top picks, it‘s important to understand the key factors that separate the best travel backpacks from the rest. Here are the main criteria I used to evaluate the packs on this list:

Carry Comfort: Hauling your belongings around on your back for hours on end can become uncomfortable real quick if your backpack doesn‘t have a well-designed suspension system. The best travel packs have padded, adjustable shoulder straps, breathable back panels, and balanced weight distribution to reduce strain.

Storage Capacity: Your travel backpack needs to fit all your clothes, toiletries, gadgets and gear without being too bulky to manage. Packs that are carry-on compatible, meaning they meet major airlines‘ size restrictions for cabin luggage, are ideal for avoiding checked baggage fees. Look for bags in the 35-45 liter range for optimal versatility.

Organizational Features: Having a place for everything and everything in its place makes packing and accessing your stuff on the go much easier. Quality travel backpacks have a good mix of interior and exterior pockets, divided compartments, and straps for securing your load. Bonus points for laptop sleeves, laundry bags, and hidden pockets.

Durability: Your trusty travel pack needs to withstand being tossed around, shoved under seats, and exposed to the elements. Check what materials the backpack is made from, the quality of the zippers and buckles, and if it has any extra reinforcement in high-stress areas. Bags backed by lifetime warranties offer extra peace of mind.

Style: Even the most functional travel backpack is no good if you feel ridiculous wearing it. While style is subjective, the best bags manage to balance technical features with tasteful, understated design that looks equally at home in the city and the countryside. Neutral colors like black and navy tend to be the most versatile.

Now that you know what separates the cream of the crop from the rest of the pack, let‘s count down the top 10 travel backpacks according to Reddit. I‘ve included the key specs, standout features, and a summary of feedback from Reddit reviews for each one.

The 10 Best Travel Backpacks Recommended by Reddit

#1: Osprey Farpoint 40 ($160)

The Osprey Farpoint 40 is the gold standard, topping just about every "best of" list for travel backpacks and receiving glowing reviews across Reddit. This 40L pack has a large panel-loading main compartment, a separate zippered laptop/tablet sleeve, and dual front mesh pockets for organizing smaller items. The LightWire frame suspension transfers weight to the comfortable hip belt, while the padded shoulder and chest straps are adjustable to ensure a perfect fit. Compression straps, a top and side handle, and stow-away backpack straps round out the thoughtful feature set.

Redditors rave about the Farpoint 40‘s ability to fit a surprising amount of stuff without feeling bulky, its carry-on friendly size, and sturdy build quality. If you‘re looking for one bag to rule them all, you can‘t go wrong with this versatile pack.

#2. Cotopaxi Allpa 35L ($200)

The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L is a rugged yet streamlined pack made from lightweight, weather-resistant TPU-coated polyester and durable 1680D ballistic nylon paneling. A full-wrap zipper allows the bag to open like a suitcase for easy packing and access. Inside you‘ll find two zippered mesh compartments, a padded laptop sleeve, and internal compression straps. Contoured shoulder straps, an airmesh back panel, and a removable hip belt provide stable, breathable support.

Reddit users appreciate the Allpa‘s modern, minimalist aesthetic, superior construction quality, and well-designed strap system. Many say it has become their go-to bag for nearly all types of travel. At $200 it‘s on the pricier side, but most find it well worth the investment.

#3. REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 ($140)

The REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 delivers excellent functionality and comfort at a reasonable price point. Zip-away mesh shoulder straps and hip belt, a padded back panel, a sternum strap, and load lifters provide a dialed-in fit. Organization is a breeze with the large J-zip main compartment, secondary compartment with built-in pockets, and padded laptop sleeve. Lash points let you attach extra gear to the outside.

Reviewers on Reddit like the Ruckpack‘s REI build quality, convenient pocket layout, and clean look. It is praised for being one of the best value options, offering many of the premium features of pricier packs.

#4. Tortuga Setout Divide ($179)

The Tortuga Setout Divide is thoughtfully designed for the urban traveler who appreciates understated style. The bag expands from 26L to 34L so you can adjust capacity as needed. Inside the clamshell main compartment are two large packing cubes for organizing clothes and gear, plus a separate tech compartment for your laptop and chargers. External pockets on the top and sides provide quick access to essentials. The height-adjustable suspension system ensures a comfortable carry.

Feedback from Reddit praises the Setout‘s premium materials, smart expandable design, and sleek aesthetic that doesn‘t scream "tourist." Many love using it as their personal item in addition to a rolling carry-on.

#5. Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30 ($300)

The Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30 is a versatile hybrid bag that can be carried as a backpack, shoulder bag, or suitcase. The 30L capacity and sub-20" length make it compatible with nearly all airline carry-on requirements. With three spacious compartments and multiple pockets, there‘s a dedicated spot for everything. The main compartment can be divided in two with an optional Aeronaut 30 Packing Cube Backpack. 1050d ballistic nylon exterior and YKK zippers ensure lasting durability.

Reddit users praise the Aeronaut 30 for its exceptional build quality, smart utilization of space, and polished look. While expensive, Tom Bihn‘s bags are known for their top-notch craftsmanship and loyal following.

#6. Aer Travel Pack 2 ($230)

Aer‘s Travel Pack 2 has a sleek, minimalist design equally suited for business trips and weekend getaways. The bag features a a padded laptop pocket, a main compartment with compression straps, a shoe compartment, a front-loading tech compartment, and a quick-access top pocket. Adjustable shoulder straps, back panel padding, and a removable hip belt provide maximum carry comfort. A luggage pass-through sleeve makes it a breeze to secure to your rolling suitcase.

Reddit reviewers are impressed with the bag‘s premium look and feel, comfortable carry, and surprising capacity for its size. Tech-savvy packers appreciate how the multiple compartments keep their gadgets protected and organized.

#7. Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L ($200)

The Patagonia Black Hole MLC (Maximum Legal Carry-On) is a burly 45L pack made from weather-resistant TPU-coated recycled polyester ripstop with a DWR finish. The main compartment has room for plenty of clothes and gear, while the secondary compartment has a padded laptop sleeve and built-in organizational pockets. Removable, padded shoulder straps let you carry it as a backpack or duffel. A reinforced base protects against abrasion.

Reddit users love the Black Hole MLC‘s "bombproof" construction, ample capacity, and versatile carry options. It consistently ranks as one of the best bags for adventure travel that might involve rough conditions. Patagonia‘s Ironclad Guarantee backs it up for life.

#8. Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L ($300)

Peak Design‘s Travel Backpack is a feature-rich bag designed to adapt to changing needs on the road. The 45L capacity can be expanded to 35L or compressed to 30L. Thoughtful details like 360-degree grab handles, stowable shoulder straps and hip belt, hidden external carry straps, and a magnetic slip pocket for quick access set this bag apart. The main compartment opens up suitcase-style and has a zippered dividing panel for separating belongings. Weatherproof 400D nylon canvas is durable and sleek.

Reviewers on Reddit are continually impressed with Peak Design‘s attention to detail and quality. While not cheap, most find it to be a worthwhile splurge for the innovative convertible design and premium materials.

#9. Timbuk2 Wander Pack ($179)

Timbuk2‘s Wander Pack is a well-rounded option at an attractive price point. The boxy 40L compartment is spacious and easy to pack, while the ventilated shoe compartment and expandable water bottle pocket are handy extras. The flap-down front organizer panel has a padded laptop compartment and multiple zippered and slip pockets. A removable hip belt and sternum strap provide additional stability.

Reddit users are pleasantly surprised by the Wander Pack‘s exceeding functionality and comfort despite its streamlined look. The side access laptop compartment is a favorite feature among reviewers. Timbuk2‘s lifetime warranty offers extra peace of mind.

#10. Minaal Carry-On 2.0 ($299)

Minaal‘s Carry-On 2.0 is a sleek and durable 35L pack built for minimalist one-bag travel. A full-perimeter zip allows front panel access to the spacious main compartment. The bag also features a separate 3L laptop compartment, top quick-access pocket, elastic side pockets, and an internal mesh organizer. The shoulder straps and removable hip belt are contoured and cushioned for a comfortable carry. A luggage pass-through sleeve and top and side grab handles add versatility.

Reddit reviewers praise the Carry-On 2.0‘s superior build quality, comfortable suspension system, and well-designed interior organization. While the price is steep, most find the materials and craftsmanship to be top-notch.

How to Choose the Right Travel Backpack for Your Needs

Now that you know Reddit‘s favorite picks across a range of styles and price points, how do you determine which bag is best for you? Here are some tips:

  1. Consider your primary use case. Will you mostly be taking short weekend trips, longer multi-week journeys, or something in between?

  2. Domestic vs. international. Bags in the 35-40L range tend to work well for domestic trips, while larger 45L+ bags are better for international travel where you may need more space for extra layers and gear.

  3. Packing style. If you‘re an overpacker, look for bags with compression straps and expandable capacities. Minimalists should opt for streamlined packs with less bulk.

  4. Tech needs. If you‘ll be traveling with a laptop and multiple gadgets, look for packs with dedicated tech compartments and pockets for organization.

  5. Mode of transportation. Will you mostly be flying or traveling via bus, train, or car? Certain bags are optimized for air travel with carry-on compatible sizes and laptop compartments that lay flat for TSA screening.

  6. Activities. If you plan to do a lot of hiking or adventuring with your pack, look for bags with comfortable, adjustable suspension systems. For urban exploration, sleek packs with theft-deterrent features are ideal.

  7. Budget. In general, pricier bags offer premium materials and smarter designs, but there are plenty of solid options under $200 if you don‘t need all the bells and whistles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size travel backpack is best?
Most airlines accept carry-on bags up to 45L, but 35-40L tends to be the sweet spot for flexibility and functionality.

Do I need a backpack with a separate laptop compartment?
While not strictly necessary, a dedicated padded laptop sleeve helps protect your computer and makes going through airport security easier.

How do I know if a bag is carry-on compatible?
Check the bag‘s dimensions against your airline‘s posted carry-on size limits. Most bags under 22 x 14 x 9 inches will be accepted, but there are no guarantees.

What‘s the difference between "rucksack" and "travel backpack"?
A rucksack is a large, rugged backpack with a drawstring closure originally used for military purposes, while a travel backpack is any bag designed for general travel use.

Do I need a frame or hip belt on my travel backpack?
An internal frame and hip belt help distribute your pack‘s weight off of your shoulders and prevent back strain, which is important for heavier loads and long periods of wear. But they add bulk and aren‘t always necessary, especially if you‘re a minimalist packer.

The Takeaway: Reddit Knows Best

Scouring through endless online reviews can make choosing a travel backpack feel overwhelming. But when you know where to look, the answer becomes clear. As this top 10 list shows, Reddit‘s well-traveled users can provide a wealth of honest insight to help you make an informed decision.

Whether you‘re looking to invest in a premium bag with all the bells and whistles for heavy frequent travel, or just want a solid budget option for occasional trips, there‘s a Reddit-approved pack out there for you. By choosing a bag that fits your individual packing needs and travel style and has been road-tested by real people, you can buy with confidence.

No matter which bag you choose from this list, you‘ll be equipped with a sturdy, comfortable, and thoughtfully-designed pack that will become your trusty companion on many journeys to come.