Top 15 Carry-On Backpacks of 2023: Expert Reviews and Comparisons


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Traveling can be exhilarating, but it also comes with its share of challenges, especially when it comes to choosing the right gear. Among the essentials, a carry-on backpack is a non-negotiable item for the savvy traveler.

In 2023, the array of options can be overwhelming, with each brand claiming superiority. But fear not, for we have sifted through the multitude to bring you the crème de la crème of carry-on backpacks. Whether you’re jet-setting across continents or embarking on a weekend getaway, our comprehensive guide has got you covered.

In the world of travel gear, a carry-on backpack is more than just a bag – it’s a trusty companion. As avid travelers and gear experts, we understand this relationship. That’s why we’ve meticulously tested, compared, and reviewed a variety of backpacks to bring you only the best.

Our selections are based on factors like durability, functionality, comfort, and style. Trust us to help you make an informed decision for your next travel adventure.

These are Our top picks of the best carry-on backpacks for every scenario.

Why You Can Trust Our Reviews

Our team, composed of seasoned travelers and gear specialists, has spent hundreds of hours researching and testing carry-on backpacks in real-world scenarios. We’ve trekked through airports, navigated crowded city streets, and embarked on outdoor adventures, all to gauge the performance of these backpacks under various conditions.

Our reviews are not just based on technical specifications but also on practical, hands-on experience. We believe in providing honest, unbiased insights to help you find the backpack that best suits your travel style and needs.

  • Capacity (Litres) : 2441 IN 3 / 40 L
  • Dimensions (CM): 22H X 14W X 9D IN.
  • Weight (KG): 3.486 LBS.

The Osprey Farpoint 40 stands as a paragon of versatility and ergonomic design in the realm of travel backpacks. Esteemed for its adaptability, it adeptly caters to a diverse array of travel needs, effortlessly transitioning from the rugged, uneven trails of outdoor adventures to the bustling, crowded streets of urban exploration.

This backpack has garnered acclaim not only for its ability to suit various environments but also for its commitment to providing a comfortable and convenient travel experience.

The Farpoint 40’s main compartment is surprisingly spacious, and it includes a lockable laptop and tablet sleeve for the tech-savvy traveler. Its LightWire frame suspension transfers the load from harness to hipbelt, a boon for those long travel days. The mesh back panel improves ventilation, reducing sweat and discomfort.

The ideal blend of spaciousness, organizational efficiency, comfort, and durability. It’s not just a backpack; it’s a reliable travel partner, engineered to adapt to and withstand the varied demands of modern travel.

Read full Osprey Farpoint 40 review here.

  • Versatile for various travel scenarios
  • Comfortable LightWire frame suspension
  • Ample storage with organized compartments
  • Durable and reliable
  • Not suitable for very short trips due to its size
  • Limited external pockets

  • Capacity (Litres) : 45L
  • Dimensions (CM): 56cm x 33cm x 24cm (22″ x 13″ x 9.5″)
  • Weight (KG): 2.05kg

If you’re a traveler who values meticulous organization and efficient packing, the Peak Design Travel Bag is an exceptional choice. Notably favored by photographers for its gear-friendly design, this bag also resonates with anyone who appreciates a well-structured travel companion. It bridges the gap between professional needs and everyday travel convenience, making it a versatile option for various types of travelers.

Boasting a substantial 35-liter capacity, expandable to 45 liters, the bag adapts easily to different travel lengths and requirements. This expandability is particularly useful for those trips where you might accumulate extra items, offering additional space without the need for another bag. A key feature is its padded laptop sleeve, which safely accommodates most laptop sizes, a nod to the needs of the contemporary traveler who often carries tech devices.

Security is thoughtfully addressed with a hidden passport pocket, providing a discreet and secure spot for essential documents. This design aspect offers peace of mind, knowing that your most valuable items are safely tucked away. For further organization, the bag includes several mesh pockets, perfect for sorting smaller items and ensuring everything has its place.

The Peak Design Travel Bag excels in accessibility. It is equipped with side-access pockets that allow for quick entry, and a full-panel opening that mimics the convenience of a suitcase, enabling easy packing and visibility of contents. This thoughtful design simplifies the packing process, transforming it into an efficient and organized task.

Durability is a cornerstone of this bag’s design, featuring weatherproof zippers and robust nylon material to protect your belongings from external elements. This resilience is essential for travelers encountering varied climates and environments, ensuring that your gear remains dry and secure.

In summary, the Peak Design Travel Bag is a thoughtfully crafted travel companion, offering a perfect blend of security, accessibility, and durability. Its focus on organization, coupled with adaptable features, makes it an ideal choice for travelers seeking both functionality and style in their journey.

Read full Peak Design Travel Backpack review here.

  • Exceptional organization system
  • Easy access with side and full-panel openings
  • Expandable and weatherproof
  • Comfortable, stowable straps
  • Secure laptop sleeve
  • The capsule-like design may not appeal to everyone
  • Over-organization might limit packing space

  • Capacity (Litres) : 28L
  • Dimensions (CM): 12” x 6.5” x 19.5” (30.5 cm x 16.5 cm x 49.5 cm)
  • Weight (KG): 2 lbs

The North Face Borealis backpack distinguishes itself as a premier choice for urban commuters and students, blending a sleek, modern design with practical functionality. Its well-thought-out layout and user-friendly features make it a go-to option for those who navigate busy city environments or bustling campus life.

At the core of the Borealis’ design is the FlexVent™ suspension system, a hallmark of The North Face’s commitment to ergonomic comfort. This innovative system features custom injection-molded shoulder straps and a padded mesh back panel with a spine channel for maximum support and ventilation. The result is a backpack that not only looks good but feels comfortable even when carried for extended periods, making it an ideal companion for daily commutes.

The backpack’s storage capabilities are equally impressive. A dedicated, fleece-lined laptop sleeve safely houses most 15-inch laptops, providing a cushioned and secure compartment that is easily accessible. This feature is especially beneficial for tech-savvy individuals and students who regularly carry electronic devices. Beyond the laptop sleeve, the Borealis offers a variety of compartments and pockets, allowing for efficient organization of textbooks, notebooks, and other essentials. The front compartment includes additional pockets, pen slots, and a key fob, making it easy to keep smaller items orderly and within reach.

Externally, the Borealis is just as thoughtfully designed, featuring reflective elements for enhanced visibility and safety in low-light conditions. The side compression straps allow for size adjustments and load management, while the external bungee cords offer additional storage options for items like jackets or a bike helmet.

In summary, The North Face Borealis backpack is a perfect blend of style, comfort, and practicality, catering to the needs of urban commuters and students with its durable construction and intelligent design. With its capacity to organize and protect essential items while providing ease of carrying, it stands out as a top choice in its category.

Read full The North Face Borealis review here.

  • Excellent suspension system for comfort
  • Fleece-lined laptop compartment
  • Reflective detailing for safety
  • Water-resistant material
  • May be too small for long-term travel
  • Limited color options

  • Capacity (Litres) : 40L
  • Dimensions (CM): 12” x 6.5” x 19.5” (30.5 cm x 16.5 cm x 49.5 cm)
  • Weight (KG): 2 lbs

The Tortuga Setout Backpack emerges as an exemplary choice for travelers who favor the convenience and mobility of a backpack over the constraints of traditional luggage. Ingeniously designed, it strikes a harmonious balance between the rugged functionality of a hiking backpack and the sleek, minimalist style of an urban backpack, making it a versatile companion for a wide range of travel experiences.

Boasting a generous 40-liter capacity, the Setout Backpack offers ample space, rivaling the storage capabilities of a small suitcase. This makes it an ideal choice for longer trips where you need to carry more items but want to avoid the bulk and hassle of wheeled luggage.

The thoughtful design extends to the backpack’s organization features. It includes dedicated and padded sleeves for both a laptop and a tablet, ensuring that your electronic devices are not only securely stowed away but also easily accessible during your travels.

The internal organization is further enhanced by various compartments and pockets, allowing for a meticulous packing experience. These features enable travelers to keep their belongings organized and readily accessible, which is particularly beneficial during transit or when passing through security checkpoints.

The Setout Backpack is designed with the modern, tech-savvy traveler in mind, providing a practical solution that doesn’t compromise on style or functionality. Whether navigating city streets, boarding planes, or embarking on outdoor adventures, the Tortuga Setout Backpack is designed to cater to the dynamic needs of contemporary travelers.

Read full Tortuga Setout Backpack review here.

  • Spacious 40-liter capacity
  • Dedicated laptop and tablet sleeves
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Excellent internal organization
  • Might be too large for some airlines’ carry-on dimensions
  • Heavier than some other options

  • Capacity (Litres) :  40 litres
  • Dimensions (CM):50 cm x 30 cm x 22 cm
  • Weight (KG):  1.88 kgs

For travelers who prioritize security without sacrificing comfort, the Pacsafe Venturesafe X40 stands out as a stellar choice. It is meticulously engineered to offer unparalleled peace of mind, making it an ideal travel companion in environments where safety is a concern.

The backpack is equipped with a suite of advanced anti-theft technologies, ensuring that your belongings remain protected wherever your travels take you.

A key feature of the Venturesafe X40 is its eXomesh slashguard technology. This innovative system involves a lightweight, hidden stainless steel wire mesh that is integrated into the most vulnerable areas of the bag, thwarting any attempts at slashing. This feature is particularly reassuring in crowded places where pickpockets and thieves often target unsuspecting tourists.

In addition to physical security, the Venturesafe X40 addresses digital safety with an RFIDsafe blocking pocket. This specialized pocket shields your credit cards and passports from unauthorized scanning, protecting you from identity theft and electronic pickpocketing. This added layer of security is essential in today’s digital age, where RFID-skimming has become a common concern.

Lockable zippers further enhance the backpack’s security, ensuring that each compartment can be securely fastened. This feature is especially useful in transit or when the backpack is out of sight, such as during air travel or stored in hotel rooms.

Despite its focus on security, the Pacsafe Venturesafe X40 does not overlook the importance of comfort. The ergonomic design includes padded shoulder straps and a supportive back panel, which distribute the weight evenly, reducing strain on your shoulders and back. This thoughtful design ensures the backpack is comfortable to carry, even when it’s fully packed, making it suitable for long days of exploration or travel.

Overall, the Pacsafe Venturesafe X40 offers a harmonious blend of robust security features and thoughtful ergonomic design, making it a top-tier choice for travelers who seek both protection and comfort in their journeys.

Read full Pacsafe Venturesafe X40 review here.

  • Advanced anti-theft features
  • Comfortable ergonomic design
  • RFID safe blocking pocket
  • Durable and weather-resistant
  • Higher price point due to security features
  • Limited style options

  • Capacity (Litres) :  32L
  • Dimensions (CM):20.5″ x 11″ x 8.3″
  • Weight (KG):  760 g (1 lb 11 oz)

For those who tread the line between adventure and environmental stewardship, the Patagonia Black Hole 32L emerges as an exemplary choice. This backpack, celebrated for its robust durability and eco-friendly ethos, is adept at navigating both the demands of daily urban commutes and the unpredictability of outdoor adventures.

Crafted from 100% recycled materials, the Black Hole 32L stands as a testament to Patagonia’s unwavering commitment to environmental responsibility. This sustainable construction does not come at the cost of performance; instead, it enhances the backpack’s appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. The fabric used in the backpack is not only recycled but also weather-resistant, ensuring that it can withstand diverse climatic conditions, from sudden downpours to harsh sun exposure, without compromising the safety of your belongings.

The spacious main compartment of the Black Hole 32L provides ample room for a variety of essentials, whether it’s gear for a hike or necessities for a day at the office. The design of the backpack balances a rugged readiness for the outdoors with a sleek, unassuming appearance suitable for city life, making it a versatile choice for a broad spectrum of users who value sustainability as much as functionality in their travel gear.

Read full Patagonia Black Hole 32L review here.

  • Highly durable and weather-resistant
  • Eco-friendly, made from recycled materials
  • Versatile design for various uses
  • Comfortable and spacious
  • Minimalist design may lack advanced organizational features
  • Not specifically designed for tech gear

  • Capacity (Litres) :  34L
  • Dimensions (CM):23 x 31 x 52 cm
  • Weight (KG):  1.25 kg

The Thule Subterra Backpack 34L is an ideal match for tech-savvy travelers who desire a blend of contemporary style and functional practicality. Its modern and sleek design is not just about aesthetics; it’s about providing a secure and methodically organized space for various gadgets and tech essentials. The backpack is a testament to Thule’s commitment to creating travel solutions that cater to the needs of modern urban explorers and professionals.

At the heart of its design is a padded laptop sleeve, meticulously crafted to protect your laptop from bumps and shocks encountered during travels. Accompanying this feature is a dedicated tablet pocket, ensuring that smaller devices are also safely stowed away. Multiple additional compartments are intelligently integrated into the backpack, offering organized storage solutions for a range of electronic accessories, from chargers and cables to headphones and power banks.

The choice of durable materials in the Thule Subterra Backpack 34L further accentuates its appeal. These materials are selected not only for their robustness but also for their ability to withstand the rigors of daily commutes and frequent travel. The backpack’s durability, combined with its contemporary look, makes it an excellent choice for those who navigate the urban landscape but also require a reliable companion for their technological gear.

In essence, the Thule Subterra Backpack 34L stands out as a premium travel accessory for the tech-oriented individual. It is a backpack that doesn’t just carry your devices but does so with an assurance of safety, organization, and style – a true dream for any traveler who moves with a suite of technology at their back.

Read full Thule Subterra Backpack 34L review here.

  • Dedicated compartments for tech gadgets
  • Sleek and modern design
  • Durable construction
  • Comfortable carrying system
  • Limited capacity for non-tech items
  • Premium pricing

  • Capacity (Litres) : 38 L
  • Dimensions (CM):H 57 cm x 33 cm L x W 25 cm
  • Weight (KG):  1.42 kg

The Kathmandu Litehaul 38L expertly bridges the gap between lightweight design and functional versatility, making it a fitting choice for a diverse group of travelers, from those embarking on short weekend getaways to those undertaking extended nomadic journeys. Its innovative design caters to the varying demands of modern travel, ensuring both comfort and practicality.

One of the standout features of the Litehaul 38L is its convertible harness system. This unique design allows the harness to be neatly tucked away, transforming the backpack into a duffel bag in moments. This versatility is ideal for travelers who need a bag that can adapt to different travel scenarios, from airport terminals to rugged outdoor settings.

The main compartment of the backpack offers generous space, accommodating everything needed for a journey. This spaciousness is complemented by additional pockets, providing ample opportunities for organized storage. These pockets are designed for easy access and efficient packing, ensuring that essentials are always within reach.

Whether used as a backpack or a duffel, the Kathmandu Litehaul 38L remains a testament to smart travel design, where lightness and functionality converge to meet the needs of today’s versatile traveler.

Read full Kathmandu Litehaul 38L review here.

  • Versatile and convertible design
  • Lightweight yet spacious
  • Tuck-away harness system
  • Good organizational features
  • Not as rugged as some outdoor-specific models
  • Limited laptop protection

  • Capacity (Litres) : 30 L
  • Dimensions (CM):19″(H) x 11.25″(W) x 7″(D)
  • Weight (KG):  1.12 kg

The Herschel Little America Backpack has garnered widespread popularity, particularly among casual travelers and students, thanks to its unique blend of classic vintage aesthetics and contemporary functionality. This backpack stands out for its iconic design, which echoes the nostalgia of traditional mountaineering gear while incorporating the practical features required by modern users.

With a generous 25-liter capacity, the Little America Backpack provides sufficient space to accommodate the daily essentials of urban adventurers and students alike. This space is ideal for books, clothes, and even tech gadgets, making it a versatile option for various day-to-day activities. A key feature of this backpack is its fleece-lined laptop sleeve, which offers a safe and snug compartment for laptops, protecting them from bumps and scratches during transit.

In addition to its storage capabilities, Herschel has placed a strong emphasis on comfort. The backpack boasts a padded back panel, which ensures cushioning against the back, reducing strain during prolonged periods of wear. This feature, combined with contoured shoulder straps that adapt to the body’s shape, provides an ergonomic wearing experience. The straps distribute the weight evenly across the shoulders, making the backpack comfortable to carry, even when it’s fully packed.

The Herschel Little America Backpack, therefore, is not just a fashion statement but a practical companion for everyday use, offering a spacious interior, protective features for electronics, and a comfortable wearing experience. Its timeless design and functional attributes make it a favored choice for those who appreciate a blend of style, comfort, and practicality in their daily carry.

Read full Herschel Little America Backpack review here.

  • Stylish vintage design
  • Comfortable to carry
  • Spacious main compartment
  • Fleece-lined laptop sleeve
  • Limited weather resistance
  • Not ideal for rigorous outdoor activities

  • Capacity (Litres) : 25.5L
  • Dimensions (CM):12.4″ x 7.2″ x 17.5″
  • Weight (KG):  2.8lbs

Away The Backpack exemplifies the perfect fusion of minimalist design and functional practicality, making it an excellent choice for those who appreciate simplicity and efficiency in their travel gear. Its sleek and uncluttered aesthetic appeals to modern travelers, while its well-thought-out features ensure that it meets the demands of various travel scenarios, from quick day trips to acting as a supplementary carry-on.

The backpack is equipped with a padded laptop pocket, offering secure and cushioned storage for your electronic devices, essential for those who travel with tech. Additionally, it features a unique waterproof umbrella pocket, providing a dedicated space to store wet items separately, thus protecting the rest of your belongings. Another standout feature is the trolley sleeve, which allows for seamless integration with wheeled luggage, making airport navigation a breeze.

Away The Backpack’s streamlined design doesn’t just add to its visual appeal; it also makes it a versatile choice suitable for a wide range of travel occasions. Whether you’re heading out for a casual city exploration or needing an additional bag for your travel essentials, this backpack adapts to your needs without sacrificing style or space. Its combination of minimalism and functionality makes it a go-to choice for travelers seeking a compact, stylish, and practical backpack.

Read full Away The Backpack review here.

  • Sleek, minimalist design
  • Padded laptop pocket
  • Convenient trolley sleeve
  • Waterproof umbrella pocket
  • Limited capacity for longer trips
  • Fewer organizational compartments

  • Capacity (Litres) : 35L
  • Dimensions (CM):46 x 32 x 27 cm
  • Weight (KG):  1.65kg
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The Fjallraven Travel Pack is a quintessential representation of Scandinavian design ethos, blending simplicity with functionality in a way that appeals to both urban travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. This backpack’s standout feature is its use of Fjallraven’s signature G-1000 material, renowned for its durability and resilience.

The fabric’s robustness ensures that the backpack can endure a variety of travel conditions, from the daily hustle of city life to the unpredictable elements of wilderness exploration, all while retaining its stylish and classic appearance.

The backpack’s design is thoughtful and user-centric, featuring a spacious main compartment that provides ample room for essentials, whether it’s for a day in the city or a weekend in nature. A padded laptop sleeve is a nod to modern needs, offering a safe and secure spot for electronic devices. This feature is particularly beneficial for professionals and students who need to carry their tech with them.

In addition to these compartments, the Travel Pack includes several organizational pockets, allowing for efficient sorting and easy access to smaller items like travel documents, chargers, and snacks.

Fjallraven has not overlooked comfort in this design. The ergonomic shoulder straps are shaped to fit comfortably, reducing strain on the shoulders and neck. A ventilated back panel promotes airflow, mitigating the discomfort of prolonged wear and making the backpack a comfortable companion for all-day adventures.

The Fjallraven Travel Pack, with its blend of durability, functionality, and Scandinavian sleekness, is an ideal choice for those seeking a reliable and stylish backpack for diverse travel experiences

Read full Fjallraven Travel Pack review here.

  • Durable and stylish G-1000 material
  • Comfortable and ergonomic design
  • Versatile for urban and outdoor use
  • Spacious with good organization
  • Premium price point
  • May be too large for some airline carry-on standards

  • Capacity (Litres) : 31L
  • Dimensions (CM):18.5 x 13.25 x 9 in
  • Weight (KG): 3.3 lbs

The SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 stands out as an ideal solution for tech-savvy travelers who value both technological compatibility and robust durability. Designed to endure the challenges of frequent travel, it caters exceptionally well to those who carry tech gadgets and require a reliable protective shell for them. The backpack’s rugged construction is purpose-built to withstand the rigors of transit, be it daily commutes or more adventurous journeys, making it a dependable choice for tech-oriented adventurers.

Key to its appeal is the padded laptop compartment, providing a secure and cushioned space for laptops, which is crucial for travelers who need to stay connected on the go. Additionally, the organizational front pocket allows for systematic storage of smaller tech accessories, ensuring easy accessibility and order.

To complement its functionality, the SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 features a weather-resistant exterior, safeguarding your tech and other belongings against the elements. The backpack is also designed with comfort in mind, incorporating an airflow back system and padded straps.

This ergonomic design ensures that even when loaded with heavy tech gear, the backpack remains comfortable to carry, reducing strain on the back and shoulders. This combination of tech compatibility, durability, and comfort makes the SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 a top contender for those seeking a reliable backpack for their technology-laden travels.

Read full SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 review here.

  • Durable and tech-friendly design
  • Padded compartments for electronics
  • Weather-resistant build
  • Comfortable airflow back system

  • Bulky design may not suit minimalist travelers
  • Heavier compared to simpler backpack models

  • Capacity (Litres) : 46L
  • Dimensions (CM):18H X 15.75W X 12.2D IN
  • Weight (KG): 3.4 lbs

The Osprey Porter 46 stands out as an exemplary model combining urban elegance with practical travel features, ideally suited for city dwellers and business travelers.

This backpack presents a polished, modern aesthetic while offering a spacious 46-liter capacity, making it perfect for accommodating the needs of weekend jaunts or professional engagements. Its sleek design cleverly conceals its generous space, ensuring you don’t have to compromise on carrying capacity for style.

Notably, the Porter 46 integrates a stowaway harness and hipbelt, which can be neatly tucked away to present a more streamlined, less bulky profile, particularly beneficial in crowded urban environments or during transit. Additionally, its padded sidewalls are strategically designed to not only protect the contents from impacts and jostles but also to maintain the backpack’s form and structure, adding to its overall durability and longevity.

In terms of organization, the Osprey Porter 46 is well-equipped with a dedicated laptop sleeve, safeguarding your device while on the move. This feature, along with various other organizational pockets, ensures that all your travel essentials, from electronics to travel documents, are easily accessible and well-arranged.This blend of functionality, capacity, and sleek design makes the Osprey Porter 46 a top-tier choice for travelers who seek both efficiency and style in their journey.

  • Stylish urban design with ample space
  • Stowaway harness for a sleek profile
  • Padded sidewalls for protection
  • Not as rugged as outdoor-specific models
  • Limited external storage options

  • Capacity (Litres) : 22L
  • Dimensions (CM):9 x 13.5 x 22 inches
  • Weight (KG): 8.8 pounds

The High Sierra AT3 22-Inch Carry-On Wheeled Backpack offers the ultimate blend of convenience and versatility for travelers. With its compact 22-inch size, it usually meets carry-on size restrictions for airlines.

What sets this backpack apart is its innovative design, which includes a detachable daypack. This feature is a game-changer for travelers, as it allows you to use the backpack for both short getaways and extended journeys.

Furthermore, the built-in wheels and telescoping handle enhance airport navigation, reducing the strain of carrying a heavy backpack. Whether you’re exploring a new city or embarking on a business trip, the High Sierra AT3 22-Inch Carry-On Wheeled Backpack is a reliable and adaptable travel companion.

Read full High Sierra AT3 review here.

  • Three bags in one
  • Retractable handle and inset skate wheels
  • Hidden backpack straps
  • Large compartments design
  • Heavier than typical backpacks
  • May not meet all airline size restrictions
  • Higher than simpler backpack designs

  • Capacity (Litres) : 35L
  • Dimensions (CM):22 x 12 x 10″ (56 x 30 x 25cm)
  • Weight (KG): 3lb 8oz (1588g)

The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack is a game-changer for savvy travelers seeking a blend of durability, organization, and comfort.

Crafted from tough, weather-resistant materials, it stands up to the rigors of travel. Its 35-liter capacity is ingeniously divided into various compartments, including a laptop sleeve, making packing and accessing gear a breeze.

The full-wrap zipper opening allows for suitcase-style packing, a convenience not found in many travel backpacks. Comfort is a standout feature, with a weight-distributing harness system that eases the burden on your shoulders. Its size is generally accepted as carry-on by most airlines, a huge plus for frequent flyers.

However, its stylish design doesn’t compromise on functionality, offering both a sleek look and practical features. Overall, the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L is a top pick for those who prioritize organized, comfortable, and secure travel.

Read full Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack review here.

  • Full-wrap zipper opening allows for easy packing and access, similar to a suitcase.
  • Generally accepted as carry-on luggage by most airlines, making it ideal for air travel.
  • Offers a modern and attractive look.
  • The back panel may lack adequate ventilation for long hikes or hot climates.
  • acks an expandable option, limiting packing flexibility for longer trips.

1. What is a Carry-On Backpack?

A carry-on backpack is a type of luggage designed to comply with the size and weight restrictions set by airlines for overhead compartment storage. Unlike traditional suitcases, carry-on backpacks offer the flexibility and convenience of hands-free travel, merging the portability of a backpack with the storage organization of a suitcase. They are typically characterized by their ergonomic design, adjustable straps, multiple compartments for organization, and sizes that fit within the standard carry-on dimensions allowed in airplane cabins.

Carry-on backpacks have evolved to meet the diverse needs of travelers. They often feature dedicated laptop compartments, waterproof materials, anti-theft provisions, and innovative storage solutions. These backpacks are not just limited to air travel; they are versatile enough for various travel scenarios, including road trips, commuting, hiking, and short-term leisure travel. The ideal carry-on backpack balances functionality (with enough space to carry essentials) and comfort (easy to carry without strain), making it an indispensable travel accessory for the modern traveler.


2. How Can I Choose the Right Size for a Carry-On Backpack?A Quick Guide

  • Typical Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches
  • Note: Always check with specific airlines as sizes can vary.

  • Short Trips: Smaller backpack may be sufficient.
  • Longer Journeys/Extra Gear: Opt for a larger backpack.

  • Larger backpacks can lead to overpacking.
  • Be mindful of airline weight limits.

  • Consider backpack use beyond air travel (e.g., day-to-day activities, outdoor adventures).
  • Choose a size practical for various scenarios.

  • Find a balance between carrying capacity and convenience.
  • Ensure the backpack can hold essentials without being cumbersome.

Choosing the right size for a carry-on backpack involves balancing your packing needs with airline restrictions. The standard carry-on size for most airlines is 22 x 14 x 9 inches, but it’s essential to verify the specific guidelines of the airlines you plan to use, as these can vary.

When selecting the size, consider the length of your trip and the items you need to carry. For short trips, a smaller backpack might suffice, but for longer journeys or if you require extra gear (like tech gadgets), a larger backpack might be necessary. Remember that a fully packed larger backpack may tempt you to overpack, potentially exceeding weight limits and becoming cumbersome to carry.

Additionally, think about the backpack’s use beyond air travel. If you’re planning to use it for day-to-day activities or outdoor adventures, opt for a size that’s practical for those purposes too. The key is to find a balance between a size that can carry all your essentials and one that won’t cause inconvenience during your travels.


3. What Are the Essential Features to Look for in a Carry-On Backpack?

When shopping for a carry-on backpack, several key features should be considered to ensure a practical and comfortable travel experience:

  • Size and Weight: It should comply with airline carry-on standards while providing adequate space for your items.
  • Comfort: Look for padded shoulder straps, a breathable back panel, and a design that distributes weight evenly.
  • Durability: High-quality materials and sturdy construction are essential for withstanding the rigors of travel.
  • Organization: Multiple compartments, including a laptop sleeve and pockets for smaller items, help keep your belongings organized and accessible.
  • Security: Features like lockable zippers and RFID-blocking pockets offer added security for your valuables.
  • Versatility: A good carry-on backpack should be suitable for various types of travel, from business trips to outdoor adventures.
  • Style: While functionality is paramount, the backpack should also reflect your personal style.

Considering these features will help ensure that the backpack you choose meets your travel needs and lasts through many journeys.


4. How Should I Pack My Carry-On Backpack Efficiently?

Packing a carry-on backpack efficiently requires strategic organization and making the most of the available space. Here are some tips:

  • Use Packing Cubes: These help organize and compress your clothes, making it easier to find items and saving space.
  • Roll Clothes: Rolling instead of folding clothes can minimize wrinkles and save space.
  • Prioritize Items: Pack essentials and heavier items at the bottom of the backpack to distribute weight evenly.
  • Utilize All Spaces: Make use of side pockets, front compartments, and under-flap areas for smaller items.
  • Limit Bulky Items: Choose versatile and lightweight clothing and items to reduce bulk.
  • Electronics and Valuables: Keep these in easily accessible but secure compartments.
  • Last-Minute Items: Reserve top or side pockets for items you might need to access quickly, like travel documents or snacks.

Efficient packing not only maximizes space but also makes it easier to manage your backpack during your travels.


5. How Can I Maintain and Clean My Carry-On Backpack?

Proper maintenance and cleaning can significantly extend the life of your carry-on backpack. Here’s how to do it:

  • Empty the Backpack: Remove all contents and shake out any debris or dirt.
  • Read the Manufacturer’s Instructions: Some materials require specific cleaning methods.
  • Spot Clean: Use a mild detergent and a soft brush or cloth to spot clean stains.
  • Hand Wash: If a deeper clean is needed, hand wash the backpack in lukewarm water using a gentle detergent. Avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Air Dry: Hang the backpack to air dry. Avoid direct sunlight and heat sources, as they can damage the fabric.
  • Regular Checks: Periodically check for wear and tear, especially on straps, zippers, and seams.

Regular cleaning and maintenance will keep your backpack in good condition, ensuring it remains a reliable travel companion.


6. Are Carry-On Backpacks Suitable for Hiking or Outdoor Use?

Many carry-on backpacks are designed with versatility in mind, making them suitable for light hiking or outdoor activities. These backpacks often feature durable materials, comfortable straps, and sufficient storage space for day hikes. However, for more intense outdoor activities, a specialized hiking backpack, designed for ergonomics, weight distribution, and additional outdoor features like hydration reservoirs or rain covers, might be more appropriate.

When considering a carry-on backpack for outdoor use, assess features like material durability, weather resistance, comfort during extended wear, and the ability to store necessary hiking gear. While a carry-on backpack can suffice for casual outdoor activities, dedicated hiking backpacks offer specialized features that enhance the outdoor experience.


7. How Do I Ensure My Carry-On Backpack Complies with Airline Restrictions?

To ensure your carry-on backpack complies with airline restrictions, the first step is to familiarize yourself with the size and weight limits of the airlines you plan to fly with. These restrictions can vary between airlines, so it’s essential to check the specific requirements for each flight. Typically, the standard dimensions for a carry-on bag are around 22 x 14 x 9 inches, but some airlines may have slightly different limits.

Measure your backpack when it’s packed to make sure it fits within these dimensions. Be mindful of the potential for expansion; a backpack that fits when lightly packed might exceed limits when fully stuffed. Also, consider the weight of the backpack, as airlines also impose weight restrictions on carry-on luggage.

If your travel involves multiple airlines, plan according to the most restrictive limits. It’s also wise to check for any changes in airline policies before each trip, as these can change. By staying informed and choosing a backpack that aligns with these guidelines, you can avoid any surprises or additional fees at the airport.


8. What are the Benefits of Using a Carry-On Backpack Over Traditional Suitcases?

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Using a carry-on backpack over traditional suitcases offers several benefits, particularly in terms of mobility, convenience, and flexibility. Backpacks allow for hands-free travel, making it easier to navigate through crowded airports, public transportation, and uneven terrain. This mobility is a significant advantage for travelers who need to move quickly or cover some distance on foot.

Backpacks also tend to be more flexible than hard-shell suitcases, allowing them to fit into tight overhead compartments or under seats more easily. They can be a better option for travelers who prefer to keep their luggage close rather than checking it in.

The design of carry-on backpacks often includes multiple compartments and pockets, which aids in better organization and quicker access to items like travel documents, electronics, and snacks. Additionally, the vertical nature of backpacks distributes weight more evenly across your back, which can be more comfortable and less strenuous than pulling or carrying a suitcase, especially over long distances or when navigating stairs.

Finally, carry-on backpacks are versatile and can be used for various types of trips – from business travel to outdoor adventures – making them a more flexible option for people who travel for different reasons.

9. How Can I Protect My Valuables in a Carry-On Backpack?

Protecting your valuables in a carry-on backpack involves both choosing the right backpack and packing wisely. Opt for a backpack with dedicated compartments for valuables, such as padded sleeves for laptops or tablets, and secure pockets for passports and wallets. These compartments should ideally be close to your body or hidden to deter theft.

Consider using backpacks with anti-theft features such as lockable zippers, RFID-blocking pockets, and slash-proof materials. These features add an extra layer of security, especially in crowded places or when traveling in areas with high rates of pickpocketing.

When packing, place your most valuable items deep inside the backpack, rather than in easily accessible outer pockets. Be discreet when accessing your valuables in public places to avoid drawing attention.

Finally, maintain awareness of your surroundings and keep your backpack in sight and within reach, especially in crowded or unfamiliar places. By taking these precautions, you can significantly reduce the risk of theft or loss of your valuables while traveling.

Frequently Asked Questions of carry-on backpacks

What Should I Look for in a Carry-On Backpack?

When choosing a carry-on backpack, consider size, comfort, durability, and organizational features. Ensure it meets airline size restrictions and suits your travel style and needs.

How Can I Maximize Space in My Carry-On Backpack?

Utilize compartments and pockets effectively. Consider packing cubes or compression bags to organize and compact your items. Roll clothes instead of folding to save space.

Are Expensive Carry-On Backpacks Worth the Investment?

This depends on your travel frequency and requirements. Higher-priced backpacks often offer better materials, advanced features, and durability, which can be a worthwhile investment for frequent travelers.

Can I Use My Carry-On Backpack for Hiking?

Many carry-on backpacks are versatile enough for light hiking. However, for more demanding outdoor activities, a backpack specifically designed for hiking might be more suitable.

How Do I Maintain and Clean My Carry-On Backpack?

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally, it’s recommended to clean with mild soap and water, avoiding harsh chemicals. Let it air dry and avoid direct sunlight.

Is a Water-Resistant Carry-On Backpack Necessary?

A water-resistant backpack is beneficial if you frequently travel to destinations with unpredictable weather, ensuring your belongings stay dry.

How Do I Protect My Belongings From Damage in a Carry-On Backpack?
To protect your belongings from damage, use padded compartments for electronics, wrap fragile items in clothes or bubble wrap, and place heavier items at the bottom. Using separate pouches for liquids can prevent spills, and packing items tightly can prevent excessive movement and potential damage.

Can I Bring a Carry-On Backpack and a Personal Item on a Plane?
Most airlines allow one carry-on backpack and one personal item (like a small handbag or laptop bag). However, check your airline’s specific policy, as sizes and allowances can vary. Ensure that your personal item fits under the seat in front of you.

Are There Any Tips for Speeding Up Security Checks With a Carry-On Backpack?
To speed up security checks, pack liquids in a clear, accessible pouch, keep electronics in easy-to-reach compartments for quick removal, and avoid packing prohibited items. Wear easily removable shoes and minimal metal accessories to expedite the process.

How Can I Make My Carry-On Backpack More Comfortable to Carry?
Adjust the shoulder straps for a snug fit, use chest and waist straps to distribute weight, and pack heavier items close to your back. Regular breaks and alternating carrying positions can also help reduce fatigue.

Is It Better to Roll or Fold Clothes in a Carry-On Backpack?
Rolling clothes can save space and reduce wrinkles, making it a preferred method for many travelers. However, for items prone to creasing, such as dress shirts, folding might be more suitable. Experiment to see which method works best for your items and backpack.

How Do I Choose a Carry-On Backpack for Business Travel?
For business travel, look for a backpack with a professional design, a padded laptop compartment, and sufficient space for documents and business essentials. Consider additional features like a USB charging port and easy access compartments for travel convenience.


Choosing the right carry-on backpack can significantly enhance your travel experience. By considering factors like size, weight, comfort, durability, organization, security, versatility, and style, you can select a backpack that not only meets airline requirements but also suits your personal travel needs. Remember to balance practicality with convenience, ensuring that your backpack is a reliable companion on your journeys, whether they take you across cities, through wilderness trails, or on frequent flights. With the right carry-on backpack, you’re well-equipped to embark on your travels with confidence and ease.

Happy travels, and may your journeys be as rewarding as the destinations!



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