The 12 Best Backpacks Every Traveller Needs to Own

2021 Backpack Guide: The 12 Best Backpacks Every Traveller Needs to Own

One handy carry-on is all you need!

Even though there are plenty of benefits to travelling with a sizable luggage bag (extra space for souvenirs, anyone?), I personally prefer travelling light. Even though some may feel that travelling with only travel backpacks can be quite inconvenient, it actually doesn’t have to be that way. It all boils down to choosing the right backpack to bring with you on your trip. 

One quick Google search and you’ll realise that there are more backpacks on the market than you could ever need. From various brands, designs, and types, the choices seem to be endless. If you’re looking for a new travel backpack that suits you, don’t fret. I’ve compiled a list of the 12 best backpacks in 2021 just for you! 

For frequent travellers

1. Tortuga Setout

Image credit: Tortuga

For those who prefer travelling light, the most important features of a backpack are functionality and space. This versatile backpack comes in different sizes: 26L (Setout Divide), 35L, and 45L. Each variation contains multiple compartments that can help travellers easily organise their belongings. The overall clamshell design also makes it super easy to access your stuff when you need to. 

With comfortable straps and a padded back panel, the Tortugo Setout is a backpack that you can carry around for an extended period of time with relative ease. The most impressive part about this backpack? It only weighs about 2kg! This makes it one of the most ideal carry-on backpacks on the list!  

Best features: Perfect carry-in size, organised compartments, detachable waist belt, relatively lightweight

2. Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack

Image credit: Cotopaxi

The Allpa 35L Travel Pack isn’t just a durable backpack. It also doubles up as a lightweight suitcase thanks to its sideway grip! In terms of organisation, the Travel Pack comes with two zippered mesh compartments, a laptop/tablet sleeve, and multiple smaller pockets on the outside to store miscellaneous items. 

Made with 1000D polyester and ballistic nylon, the Travel Pack is flexible and expandable, allowing users to adjust the size of the backpack. This means that whether you’re packing for a short trip or for an extended adventure, the Travel Pack can definitely fit your needs! 

Best features: durable material, side grip, waterproof

3. Aer Capsule Pack

Image credit: Aer

Offering sizes of 35 or 40L, the Capsule Pack comes with a standard laptop/tablet compartment and a small travel organiser. However, the main compartment is a rather simple yet effective space that you can use to store anything you want since there are no separate compartments in there. The zippers and overall material are also highly durable and allows the bag to keep its shape even when empty! 

The Capsule Pack’s minimalist design also makes it suitable for both business and leisure travel. What’s more, like the Allpa Travel Pack, the Aer Capsule Pack is also a backpack-suitcase hybrid. Users can detach the harness to instantly transform the backpack into a duffel or briefcase. How convenient! 

Best features: ample storage space, detachable harness, stylish minimalist design

4. Standard Luggage Carry-on

Image credit: Standard Luggage

If you like the concept of the backpack/duffel hybrid but want a design that stands out, this one’s for you. This carry-on bag by Canada-based Standard Luggage uses simple colour accents to make an otherwise simple design really stand out. Apart from the fresh aesthetic, the bag is also an ideal choice for travellers who spend plenty of time exploring on foot. This is because the padded straps and back panel provide relative comfort even when carried for an extended period of time. 

It also comes with plenty of storage space and compartments, including a secure sleeve for your laptop or tablet. The shoulder strap can be adjusted to switch between backpack and duffel bag mode and it even comes with a raincover!

Best features: Striking design that’s pleasing on the eyes, ample storage, comfortable back panel and shoulder straps 

5. Solgaard Lifepack

Image credit: Solgaard

If you need to work while you’re travelling (a digital nomad of sorts), then the Lifepack by Solgaard has to be your number one backpack. Apart from the slick organisation compartments, it boasts being the world’s first ever backpack that comes with a solar-power USB charger (power bank) that can even be upgraded to include a Bluetooth speaker! 

This weather-resistant backpack also comes with secret pockets to store important documents like your passports. The shoulder straps also have easy-access pockets where you can store and retrieve cash or cards. In terms of safety, the Lifepack also contains an integrated cable lock to keep your belongings safe. Definitely one of my personal favourite backpacks on this list! 

Best features: solar-powered USB charger, secret compartments, good anti-theft measures 

For urban explorers

6. Bellroy Slim Backpack

Image credit: Bellroy

While the Lifepack is my favourite in terms of functionality, the Bellroy Slim Backpack is my favourite in terms of style. At first glance, the backpack looks rudimentary at best thanks to its super minimalistic design. However, it’s actually the perfect marriage of simplicity and functionality! 

The lightweight backpack (which comes with a water-resistant foldover top) actually comes with a padded laptop pocket and plenty of organisational compartments to store items like charges and cables. While it isn’t the biggest backpack around (only 16L capacity), this backpack is perfect for going out and about in the city! 

Best features: super stylish design, lightweight, ideal for day trips

7. XD Design Bobby Urban Anti-theft Backpack

Image credit: XD Design

Exploring a foreign city is no doubt a thrilling experience. I like it too! However, we can’t deny that in certain destinations, especially ones that are perpetually crowded, it’s super important to keep our belongings safe. Thankfully, XD Design’s Bobby Urban Anti-Theft Backpack provides the security that allows you to explore the city with peace of mind. 

The water-repellant fabric material isn’t just cut-resistant, it’s also durable enough to store a fair amount of stuff. In addition, the backpack also contains hidden RFID-protected zippers and a steel combination lock for the main compartment. It’s no wonder that many backpackers consider this one of the most reliable anti-theft backpacks on the market! 

Best features: cut-proof fabric, expandable net on the back, steel-reinforced combination lock

8. Nomatic Mckinnon Camera Pack 

Image credit: Nomatic

If you’re an urban photographer who likes nothing more than capturing snapshots of city life, don’t give the McKinnon Camera Pack a miss. This sleek yet functional backpack comes in sizes of 35L and 42L with fully customisable storage spaces. The durable, water-resistant material also makes it a safe storage option for more outdoorsy locations too. 

As you would expect, the compartments are mainly for storing camera gear, including a tripod compartment. That being said, it also has a separate compartment where you can store your clothing or miscellaneous items. There’s also a laptop sleeve, water bottle pocket and easy-access side compartments. Most importantly, it’s also comfortable to carry around for long periods of time. 

Best features: perfect for storing camera gear, customisable compartments, comfortable and durable tension straps

Also read: A Guide to The Best Luggage and Backpack Brands for Every Traveller

For outdoor adventurers

9. Topo Designs Rover Pack

Image credit: Topo Designs

One of the most essential features of a great outdoor backpack is durability. That’s because you’ll likely be trekking through harsh terrain at the mercy of the elements. That’s why it’s essential to get a backpack that can last. The Rover Pack is made using Cordura fabric that can withstand almost anything you throw at it, making it the perfect companion for a hiking trip, for example.

Despite its near-indestructible exterior, it is a surprisingly lightweight backpack that can store your stuff easily. It has a secure and spacious main storage space with a laptop sleeve along with handy side pockets for easy-access to your essentials. And, as a bonus, the colour combination and designs are also pretty attractive. After all, you gotta look good for your outdoor photos! 

Best features: extremely durable material, lightweight, attractive design options

10. Sandqvist Harald Backpack

Image credit: Sandqvist

For a sportier backpack that’s beautifully designed and practical, check out this masterpiece by Sandqvist. Made using Cordura EcoMade polyester, the Harald Backpack is long-lasting and water-resistant, giving users true value for their money. 

Aside from the attractive design (and colour options!), the backpack is also quite practical. It has outer pockets on either side, a laptop back compartment and several easy access pockets with zippers. In addition, the shoulder straps are also adjustable to give you more comfort and flexibility. While it does not contain any super special features, it does the basics well and looks good too! 

Best features: stylish exterior, durable, water-resistant material, long-lasting quality

11. Osprey Talon 22

Image credit: Osprey

Speaking of hiking, avid hikers will no doubt be familiar with (or at least have heard of) the Osprey brand. After all, its reputation as one of the best outdoor backpack makers is well-deserved. The Talon 22 certainly keeps up this tradition of excellence. 

This versatile backpack is perfect for casual hikes. Lightweight, practical, and long-lasting, the Talon 22 comes with multiple pockets and compartments to store everything you’ll need for a simple hike. The back panel is also made with a breathable material and easy on your back. It also has hiking-specific compartments to store trekking poles, and water bottles too! 

Best features: Lightweight and durable, pockets for trekking poles, comes with a hydration sleeve for easy access to water bottles

12. Matador Freerain24 Waterproof Packable Backpack

Image credit: Matador

Another important feature of an outdoor backpack is being waterproof. This is especially the case if you’re trekking through humid areas or simply trudging along in the snow during winter. Naturally, there are plenty of backpacks on the market that fit that description. However, what sets Matador’s Freerain24 Backpack apart is that you can fold this 24L backpack down into a small package that fits in your hand! Impressive!

Obviously, this backpack is also incredibly light and surprisingly durable. While it doesn’t have as many compartments as some of the other backpacks on this list, it certainly gets the job done in terms of keeping your belongings safe and dry! 

Best features: Foldable and easy to store, weight-distributing shoulder straps, completely waterproof rolltop

Time to pack up! 

And there you have it, the 12 best backpacks in 2021 for every kind of traveller! While we’re not sure when we can start exploring and travelling regularly again, now’s as good a time as any to find a backpack that suits you just right!

About Author

Darren Yeoh
Darren Yeoh

Darren enjoys the finer things in life and loves exploring unfamiliar places on foot, guided with nothing but instinct and a good-old fashioned map. He enjoys cultural experiences and exciting adventures and is not a stranger to travelling alone. When he's not putting his travel experiences into words, he's probably sitting behind his laptop, planning his upcoming adventure.


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