Best travel backpack 2022: The best backpacks and daypacks for travelers from £29

You’re probably old enough to remember when baggage means a half-ton suitcase that causes you to hernia every passport stamp. Backpacks were for hikers and wheels were for cars. Real travelers were carrying bags and bruises.

Fortunately, those days are gone with suitcases everywhere, sometimes with wheels. They’re the perfect luggage format, whether you’re outing, honeymooning, or anything in between. Hands-free, weatherproof, customizable, dotted with secure zip pockets, and so much more stylish than the towering husk packages of old stereotypes.

Here, we’ve rounded up the best backpacks for different types of travelers, from business travelers to in-between trailers. Before we reveal our favorites, here’s a quick buying guide.

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How to choose the best travel bag for you

What size should a travel bag be?

How long is a piece of string? It really depends on what you are going to use it for. A camping vacation requires a somewhat larger backpack than, say, a business trip. Here is a rough guide.

10-25 liters: Daypack size. Perfect for keeping your cash, passport, phone and other essentials with you while you’re on the go in a new city all day long.

30-40 liters: Perfect for a long weekend away, or a business trip where you need your laptop and a change of clothes. A 40 liter package can be big enough for an entire week if you don’t expect a major change in the weather.

50-60 liters: This is a travel bag size backpack, large enough to hold everything you need for a week. You’re not likely to be small enough to be kept with you on the plane. Argos has a handy portable volume guide here.

70 liters +: They are difficult to carry unless you are a tall or experienced hiker, so look for detachable carts and wheels to help you carry them.

What other qualities make a good travel bag?

Lots of Compartments: Most of the bags on our list have a secondary zip section at the top. But also look for extra pockets, laptop sleeves, snugly zipped compartments inside, and even on the straps. All of these help you organize and access essential items such as passport, phone, and travel documents.

Multiple access points: Don’t bother with a cheap duffle bag that only has one hole at the top. All your stuff will sink to the bottom and you will never be able to find your socks. The best travel packs have multiple “in” points, including side and front zippers that open like a suitcase.

Security Features: Look for zippers that you can lock and access points that rest on your back while wearing the pack.

Water Resistant: All of the packs on our list feature a water-resistant finish to help protect your belongings when the weather has definitely opened up. However, most are not completely waterproof, so look for packages that have an additional waterproof cover.

Ergonomic design: Backpacks are made to be carried. Even 30-liter weekend packs should have a padded back, padded shoulder straps, and an optional chest strap to help distribute the load and protect your back. The straps must be adjustable to fit. Larger packages should have an inner frame and a hip belt.

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The best travel bags you can buy in 2022

1. Osprey Transporter Zip 30: Best City Vacation Travel Backpack

price: £60 | Buy now from Blacks

The Osprey balances style and function in a package small enough to take on the plane but spacious enough to hold everything you need for a long weekend, including a 15-inch laptop.

The Transporter Zip’s outer shell is made from a TPU treated nylon that Osprey also uses in its toughest Explorer bags. It’s durable and water-resistant but also lightweight, stylish, and made of virtually leather.

The main bucket-shaped compartment is similar to the Tardis in its breadth, and there are plenty of smaller compartments to organize your things. This includes laptop and tablet sleeves, a pocket for glasses, and interior water bottle pockets that you can access from the outside with the smooth and strong zippers.

Most importantly, the Osprey bag is comfortable enough to be worn all day. The back is padded and the shoulder straps are wide, padded and adjustable. There is also a detachable chest belt and hip belt for added support. It’s hard to go wrong.

Key specs – Capacity: 30 liters; Main Material: nylon (waterproof); Suitable handbags: yes; Available colors: 3; Weight (empty): 990 grams

Buy now from Blacks

2. Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 Econyl: The best travel backpack for business trips

price: £152 | Buy now from Amazon

Security specialist Pacsafe decked out the 45-liter backpack with anti-theft features like lockable zippers, a lockable steel cable that wraps around the bag, and even a cut-resistant mesh fabric. Your laptop, prototypes, and top-secret documents are definitely safe out there.

Pacsafe’s safety concerns extend to the environment, too. We love that the bag’s “Econyl” nylon outer shell is made from recycled plastic like discarded fishing nets. It’s waterproof and easy to clean too, so it should last for years.

The Venturesafe EXP45 is at the forefront of pack sizes that meet cabin bag restrictions, so be careful not to overfill it. Side compression straps help reduce bulk. It also gets a bit heavy when fully packed, so you’ll definitely need a padded hip belt to help distribute the weight.

Key specs – Capacity: 45 liters; Main Material: recycled nylon (waterproof, cut resistant); Suitable handbags: Yes (but check airline limits); Available colors: 1; Weight (empty): 1.81 kg

3. Lowe Alpine AT Roll-On 40: Best Travel Backpack with Wheels

price: £133 | Buy now from Amazon

There are quite a few wheeled backpacks on the market, but the Lowe’s Smart Cabin Bag was the best we tried, thanks to its smooth, durable wheels and a wide rubber trolley handle that made it easy to pull quickly, even while jogging. Solid floor.

The lightweight aluminum stroller is easy to fold down and works like a standard backpack frame when you want to wear the detachable strap. A harness doesn’t seem like an afterthought—the straps and back are padded—but you wouldn’t want to walk miles with it either. It’s a hybrid travel bag, not a roving backpack.

Key specs – Capacity: 40 liters; Main Material: nylon (waterproof); Suitable handbags: yes; Available colors: 1; Weight (empty): 2.37 kg

4. Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack: The best travel bag under £30

price: From £29 | Buy now from AlpineTrek

Osprey is not joking with “Ultralight”. This day bag is on the odd side – only 18 liters, about the capacity of a carry-on bag – but nonetheless, its impressive 90g weight. It even folds up like a cagoule for easy storage.

The packaging looks very sturdy actually. The nylon shell is thin but strong and rip-resistant, the back and adjustable straps are padded for comfort, and the compartments include a zipped pocket for storing valuables and a side pocket for water bottles. You even get a waterproof cover. Perfect for trips in hot weather, when you want to carry a few small items but need to keep your cargo as light and breathable as possible.

Key specs – Capacity: 18 liters; Main Material: nylon (waterproof); Suitable handbags: yes; Available colors: 4; Weight (empty): 90 grams

Buy now from AlpineTrek

5. Ortlieb Atrack: The best waterproof backpack for all-weather adventures

price: From £185 | Buy now from Ortlieb

This indestructible pack from Ortlieb is guaranteed to stay underwater for up to half an hour. Finally, you can fulfill your dream of zipping over Niagara Falls wearing a backpack. You may not survive it, but at least your luggage will be dry.

The main zipper is on the back (for example, it is worn on your back), so the bag prevents pickpockets as well as water. When we opened it, we were pleased to find zipped compartments and internal drawstrings to keep things in place, so it’s not the duffel bag we thought at first glance. The harness system is also well designed, with full adjustment and padding for comfort.

Key specs – Capacity: 25 liters, 35 liters, 45 liters; Main Material: nylon (waterproof); Suitable handbags: yes; Available colors: 3; Weight (empty): 1.56 kg (25 liters)

Buy now from Ortlieb

6. Osprey Arcane Large Day Pack: The best daily commuter travel bag

price: £80 | Buy now from Ellis Brigham

We can’t wait to describe the new, elegant Osprey package as “casual chic”. (Sorry, Osprey.) It’s true, though. This compact 20L bag fits anywhere: city commute, night out with a friend, hike through the woods or urban vacation. They look elegant yet are durable and built to last. There’s even a quick-release safety hook to securely tie the bag to the leg of a chair, whether at a job interview or a Continental Café.

The exterior is made from a recycled polyester fabric that feels soft but is very durable, and the large zipper, which runs all the way down, is satisfyingly soft and chunky. We like the expandable exterior pocket, which is big enough for a modest water bottle, but we liked some of the extra sections inside. Most of our stuff ended up mixed together in the main section. The padding is designed just enough to protect your laptop, but it won’t protect your back when it’s full of books.

Most retailers only have the bag in Stonewash Black, but Osprey has four more colors on its website.

Key specs – Capacity: 20 liters; Main Material: recycled polyester packaging (waterproof); Suitable handbags: yes; Available colors: 1 (plus 4 more from the manufacturer); weight (empty): 744 grams

Buy now from Ellis Brigham

7. Lowepro ProTactic 350 AW II: The Best Everyday Travel Bag for Photographers

price: From £139 | Buy now from Amazon

Keep all your camera tools safe and close at hand with this bundle from professional photography specialist Lowepro. The outer shell is sturdy and solid yet really light, and we found it more comfortable than carrying a DSLR in a shoulder bag.

Once all of the velcro dividers are in place, there isn’t much room inside, so you’ll definitely need another bag too if you’re traveling. But spacers are necessary to cushion and separate certain pieces of equipment such as lenses, flash, tripods, and even drones, all of which are easily accessible via multiple compact access points. The main opening is worn on your back for security and the package includes an all-weather cover to keep out rain, dust and sand.

Key specs – Capacity: 16 liters; Main Material: Nylon “FormShell” (weatherproof); Suitable handbags: yes; Available colors: 1; Weight (empty): 2.12 kg

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