10 Best Carry On Backpacks | April 2017

We spent 33 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Frequent flyers and those who just hate waiting for checked luggage will find the perfect carry-on backpack from our selection of the most stylish and functional on the market. Coming in a range of styles to suit any taste and in sizes to meet any short-term need, they can also save you from exorbitant checked luggage fees. Skip to the best carry on backpack on Amazon.
10 Best Carry On Backpacks | April 2017
Overall Rank: 5
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Overall Rank: 3
Best High-End
★★★★
Overall Rank: 2
Best Inexpensive
★★★★★
10
The Crazy Ants Military Tactical is simple, yet extremely durable, making it great for those who go on crazy adventures and subject their packs to extreme conditions. It has a breathable mesh backing, MOLLE webbing for pouches, and well padded straps.
  • can be carried like a messenger bag
  • squarish design isn't attractive
  • too big to use as a daily bag
Brand CRAZY ANTS
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
9
The Samsonite Mvs Spinner has a pull handle that extends up to 20 inches and lets you roll the unit down almost any airplane aisle with ease. It holds laptops as large as 17 inches across diagonally, but this means it won't fit under airplane seats.
  • back zipper cover to hide straps
  • may tip if overloaded
  • handle isn't that sturdy
Brand Samsonite
Model 46309
Weight 8.8 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
8
The SwissGear ScanSmart 1900 is very comfortable to wear even for long periods, as it is made free of the edges that can dig into your back or shoulders on many similar items. Unfortunately, the fabric doesn't breathe well and it may make your back sweaty.
  • don't have to remove laptop for tsa
  • an exceptional organizational layout
  • rugged oversized zippers
Brand Swiss Gear
Model 19002415
Weight 3.2 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0
7
The Hynes Eagle 40L is larger than most carry-on backpacks, so if you like to pack a lot, it's a good choice for you. It is made from a combination of polyester and PVC that makes it water resistant, and can easily convert to a duffle when needed.
  • multiple interior pockets
  • side bottle pocket
  • sternum strap for stability
Brand Hynes Eagle
Model HE0691-3
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0
6
The perfect choice for weekenders who travel often or flight attendants who travel daily, the High Sierra Freewheel has an extra long telescoping handle, making it easy on your arms and on your back. It also features a fully-padded cushion zone computer sleeve.
  • convenient headphone port
  • extra large all-terrain wheels
  • shoulder straps can be tucked away
Brand High Sierra
Model 53991-0781
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
5
The eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender has a convenient divider to help you keep items separate, and a full expansion zipper that adds an additional 10% volume capacity when you need it. It comes in several bright colors to suit anybody's style needs.
  • guaranteed for life
  • slings keep laptop in place
  • divider shelf can fold down
Brand eBags
Model EB2146-22-TRQ
Weight 4.1 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0
4
The expandable Tortuga Air can hold a total of 27 liters, which makes it large enough for all of your essentials, but not so big that it becomes bulky and unwieldy. Its main compartment has two straps to keep items securely in place when traveling.
  • has a padded laptop pocket
  • front pocket is easy to access
  • can fit under some airline seats
Brand Tortuga Backpacks
Model pending
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
3
The Timbuk2 Uptown has a sleek design that minimalists will love. It works well whether commuting or traveling, with designated spots for your laptop, iPad, and the accessories that go along with these items. The main compartment is big enough for large jackets.
  • side pockets are stretchy
  • grab handles are reinforced
  • tsa-compliant laptop access
Brand Timbuk2
Model 252-3-7755
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
2
The Cabin Max Metz is designed to perfectly fit the maximum size allowance on IATA flights, so you can take as many personal belongings as will fit into the pack, and then zip it shut, secure in knowing it will make the flight. It's also a great value for the price.
  • made from water resistant materials
  • extremely lightweight
  • adjustable shoulder and side straps
Brand Cabin Max
Model pending
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0
1
The Osprey Farpoint 40 is made from a super durable material that resists tears and punctures. It has multiple storage compartments that make staying organized easy, including a compact, easy access pouch for keys & passport, and the unisex design looks great on anybody.
  • shoulder straps are well padded
  • internal compression straps
  • zipper loops for locking the bag
Brand Osprey
Model 10000295
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

Taking The Stress Out Of Air Travel

In order to have relatively low stress travels, then you will need to plan ahead. That means researching your routes, reading up on your destination, and paying attention to everything from weather to potential activities to how you'll spend your leisure time. Accounting for everything you'll need on your journey is an important part of travel planning regardless of whether you are going for a 48 hour business trip or a two week overseas vacation. Beyond the basics like medications, toiletries, and under garments, the process of choosing which garments and sundry items are necessities, which are important, and which can be left behind is a highly individual process. The manner in which one packs the items he or she chooses to bring is a bit more scientific, however.

If you want to make the travel portion of your time away as easy as possible, work backwards when packing. First pack those items you know you need to bring but that you won't need to access while en route, such as certain items of clothing or a charger for your computer or other devices. Next account for those items you have to bring and may well need to access during travel, such as a tablet or your medicines. Make sure to leave room for these items, but note that they should be packed last, so you know right where they are and so they are easy to access. And if you are traveling via air, make sure your baggage and everything in it is fit for flight.

The best thing you can do to make airline travel as easy and obstacle free as possible is to make sure both you and your luggage are ready to comply with all rules and regulations. That means meeting and restrictions as imposed both by the Transportation Security Administration (or TSA for short) as well as with the guidelines and rules imposed by the airline with which you'll be traveling.

You can ensure that you speed through the airport security checkpoint (when it's your turn, at least) by having your travel and identity documents at the ready as you approach the TSA officers, and by wearing outer clothing and footwear that is easy to remove if required. As you pack, make sure you know where your properly portioned liquids are stashed in your bag, and be ready to quickly remove your laptop or other larger electronic devices. The more you plan ahead and pack your items strategically, the faster and lower stress the security checkpoint will be.

The same approach holds true when you board the aircraft at your gate: by taking the time to ensure you are only trying to bring approved carry on bags onto an airplane, you avoid the hassle of negotiating with a gate agent and potentially having your bag taken away to be checked under the plane. An approved carry on backpack won't become overstuffed like a duffel bag can, and it won't be too inflexible to be fitted under a seat or into an overhead like many roll aboard bags tend to be.

The Right Carry On Backpack For Business Travel

The savvy business traveler is all about efficiency. That means direct flights, travel apps, and bags picked for ease of movement.

Many modern carry on backpacks are more like compact roll aboard bags in disguise, featuring wheels and telescoping handles and, almost as an afterthought, backpack straps. This type of carry on backpack can be perfect for the business traveler who likely has multiple files and a laptop to bring along on the trip, items which can quickly add weight and might be better toted via wheels than by shoulders for as long as possible. The drawback with a backpack that also features wheels and and a handle is that those accessories take up room, limiting carrying volume when compared to a backpack alone.

As business travel often happens to be much shorter than travel for leisure, a reduced carrying capacity is no problem in most cases, and there tradeoff of smaller storage space for more toting options is a fine one to make.

And for the professional traveler more concerned about keeping a suit or blouse crisp than storing documents in their baggage, there are even carry on approved backpacks that operate like a smaller standard suitcase, zipping open to reveal a rectangular interior with sturdy walls that can help prevent clothing from being crushed and wrinkled.

The Right Carry On Backpack For The Adventurer

If you're strapping everything you need on your next backpacking adventure (or just on a vacation for which you're just packing light) onto your back, then you had better be sure that backpack is airline carry on approved, because you can't afford to be separated from your bag (and potentially to have it lost) when it has all your clothing and gear inside it.

Choosing the right backpack for a long trip means balancing carrying capacity and comfort. A bag without proper and easily adjustable support is a poor choice for long trips even if it can carry lots of stuff. So too is a bag with modest capacity and great ergonomics. Look for the right balance, and consider accessories like waist straps and water bottle pouches.

And keep in mind that while a backpack that can roll on wheels might seem like a convenience, as soon as your trek takes to across sand, mud, or grass, those wheels will be useless. If you're heading out for a long trip, choose a carry on backpack that will feel great on your back and don't worry about such bells and whistles.



Statistics and Editorial Log

0
Paid Placements
5
Editors
33
Hours
60,005
Users
33
Revisions

Revision History


Thanks for reading the fine print. About the Wiki: We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page. For our full ranking methodology, please read 'about this wiki', linked below. The Wiki is a participant in associate programs from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Target, and others, and may earn advertising fees when you use our links to these websites. These fees will not increase your purchase price, which will be the same as any direct visitor to the merchant’s website. If you believe that your product should be included in this review, you may contact us, but we cannot guarantee a response, even if you send us flowers.
Last updated on April 25 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.