17 BEST Travel Backpacks for Women [2024 Buying Guide]

A light-haired woman seen from behind wearing a black backpack stands on a bluff overlooking the ocean at sunset.

Published on: October 9, 2023

Short on time? Our pick for the best travel backpack for women is the NOMATIC Travel Pack.

Get ready to take on the world with one of the best travel backpacks for women!

There are lots of factors to consider when you’re choosing the best women’s backpack for travel.

How long is your trip? Do you want to use your backpack outside of your travel days? What kind of items do you consistently carry in your bag?

The most common trips I take are weekend trips. I can recall a handful of times when I brought my suitcase and wondered what my journey would have been like with a quality backpack instead.

When I shop for a backpack for traveling, I look for a padded laptop compartment, water bottle pockets, water-resistant materials, and a trolley sleeve.

And I must admit, I also look for fashionable travel backpacks over ones that are purely functional.

In this article, I’ll take you through some of the most popular travel backpacks for weekend trips and beyond. 

Realistically, a travel backpack for hiking may not be equivalent to a backpack for business travel or the right backpack for a digital nomad.

Let’s start by looking at larger travel backpack options that could double as hiking bags or travel backpacks for international travel. 

Then we’ll move into smaller travel bags that will work as personal items when flying or for daily life outside travel.

In the end, you’ll have had a comprehensive look at travel backpacks for women.

Note: this article contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free recommendations.

Best Travel Backpack for Women

Here’s a Quick Look at Our Recommendations

#1 Osprey Ariel Plus 70 Pack

Best Backpack with Detachable Daypack

Product photo for the Osprey Ariel Plus 70 Pack in dark blue.

Dimensions: 32 x 15 x 13 in
Capacity: 70 L
Weight: 5 lbs. 10.4 oz
Features: hip belt, trekking pole attachment, detachable daypack, water-resistant fabric,  rain cover

Osprey only makes bags, so they’re experts on backpacks.

Osprey backpacks have a great bag warranty–they will fix or replace anything, even if you’ve used your bag for multiple years.

The Osprey Ariel Plus 70 Pack has features that make for the best hiking backpack–like padded shoulder straps and a padded hip belt.

Adjusting those breathable shoulder straps and that supportive waist strap will help you get accurate weight distribution. 

Because of the large size (the main compartment is big enough to hold a sleeping bag!), this would make a good travel backpack for international travel.

But don’t be intimidated by the size because the top piece becomes a detachable day bag.

One thing I wish was different is the color options–they are limited to Carnelian Red or Night Jungle Blue.

PROS

  • Suitable for adventures or long periods of travel
  • Detachable day bag
  • High quality and excellent warranty

CONS

  • Huge
  • Minimal color choices
  • Pricey

CHECK PRICE ON:

#2 Osprey Fairview 40 Travel Pack

Best Women’s Backpack for Traveling Europe

Product photo for the Osprey Fairview 40 Travel Pack in dark blue.

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 in
Capacity: 40 L
Weight: 3 lbs. 7 oz.
Features: laptop sleeve, carry-on size, chest buckle, hip belt

Just as Osprey is one of the most talked-about brands for backpacks, the Osprey Fairview 40 Travel Pack is their most talked-about women’s backpack for traveling. 

I’ve seen a handful of people take this bag on international trips such as backpacking through Europe. They’ve returned thrilled with how it held up. 

The bag’s back panel uses Osprey’s AirScape material, which allows maximum ventilation and helps reduce odor. 

The signature neon lining provides a vivid backdrop that makes it easier for you helps your eye to see everything inside quickly.

When it comes to tried and trusted travel backpacks for women, you can’t go wrong with the Fairview.

PROS

  • Opens clamshell (suitcase) style 
  • Compression straps
  • Tried and true option

CONS

  • Limited color options

#3 The North Face Borealis

Best Hiking Travel Backpack

Product photo for the The North Face Borealis in pink.

Dimensions: 11 x 5.75 x 18.75 in
Capacity: 27 L
Weight: 2 lbs 1 oz
Features: chest buckle, hip belt, water bottle sleeves

The North Face Borealis  show you what happens when hiking bags and travel bags meet.

The Borealis is a great hiking backpack, but you can easily use it for school or travel. 

This small travel backpack doesn’t skip out on features like a laptop sleeve or a fleece-lined pocket for your sunglasses or phone.

You’ll be a happy camper carrying this through hiking trails or airports thanks to supportive back padding that the American Chiropractic Association has approved.

PROS

  • Bungee cord expansion or tightening
  • Many color options
  • Organized front pocket

CONS

  • On the smaller side of hiking bags
  • No trolley sleeve

CHECK PRICE ON:

#4 Montbell Tri Pack 30

Best Backpack that Opens Like a Suitcase

Product photo for the Montbell Tri Pack 30 in dark blue.

Dimensions: 9.7 x 13.0 x 5.9 in
Capacity: 30 L
Weight: 2 lbs
Features: laptop pocket, carry-on size, lightweight, padded sleeve

The Montbell Tri Pack 30 uses a durable but lightweight material. 

Where this bag shines is its versatility. It comes with a side handle and shoulder strap, which allows you to carry it like a messenger bag, duffel bag, or shoulder bag.

It also has all the standard features you’d want, like a front zipper pocket, compression straps, and a laptop pocket.

Because it opens like a suitcase, it is one of the best options if you are looking for a backpack-suitcase hybrid style.

PROS

  • Durable materials
  • Folds down completely flat for storage
  • It opens like a suitcase
  • It can become a shoulder bag

CONS

  • Limited color options (navy, black, and khaki green)
  • Logo/letters on the front

#5 Pacsafe Venture Safe Backpack

Best Anti-Theft Backpack for Travel

Product photo for the Pacsafe Venture Safe Backpack in dark grey.

Dimensions: 19 x 12 x 7 in
Capacity: 25 L
Weight: 1.84 lbs
Features: lockable zippers, laptop sleeve, padded straps

The Pacsafe Venture Safe Backpack has assurance in its title.

If you are looking for the best laptop backpack to keep electronics or camera gear safe, there are a few reasons why this bag is for you.

In addition to the standard features you’ll want to look for in a travel bag, their bags come with lockable zippers.

Plus, the zipper locks are built into the bags–you don’t have to purchase (or keep track of) one separately. 

The bag’s cutproof material contains RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) proof material. 

This material protects anything inside (like credit cards and ID) from thieves who try to read your valuable information with scanners.

If your main focus is keeping your belongings safe, this is the bag for you.

PROS

  • Safety focused option
  • Lots of space for packing clothing
  • It can be a carry-on or checked item

CONS

  • Not much aesthetic appeal

#6 NOMATIC Travel Pack

Best Backpack for Business Travel

Product photo for the NOMATIC Travel Pack in dark grey.

Dimensions: 19 x 12 x 7 in
Capacity: 14 L or 20 L (expandable to 30 L) options
Weight: 3.5 lbs
Features: water-resistant materials, hidden pocket, shoe compartment

The NOMATIC Travel Pack is primarily a laptop backpack, making it an excellent choice for digital nomads.

It’s a good backpack for electronics because it has many padded pockets (including a section specifically designed for documents).

 Like the Pacsafe brand bags, there are RFID lockable security pockets. 

And, get this: to keep your (ideally reusable) water bottles secure, the water bottle pockets on either side of the bag are magnetic. That’s something you don’t see every day!

Beyond having the space and organizational features for a trip, it’s a stylish backpack, a good laptop backpack, and an excellent backpack for business trave all rolled into one.

PROS

  • Expandable
  • RFID fabric
  • Good for carrying technology

CONS

  • The luggage/trolly handle makes you turn the bag sideways to use

CHECK PRICE ON:

#7 Away Everywhere Zip Backpack

Best Backpack for Petite Women

Product photo for the Away Everywhere Zip Backpack in black.

Dimensions: 12 x 5.9 x 17.7 in
Capacity: 20 L
Weight: 2.45 lbs
Features: water-resistant materials, trolley sleeve, padded laptop pocket

The Away Everywhere Zip Backpack is incredibly sleek.

While it’s not specifically a ladies’ backpack, it has our vote for petite women because of its conservative size.

The main compartment opens like an accordion so it’s easier to view all your items at once. 

The hidden pocket on the front makes a great space for quick grab items like your passport or phone.

It’s on the smaller side, which means it can work as your personal item–but it may not be the right option for longer trips.

PROS

  • Simple and sleek design
  • Organization for everyday items
  • Ventilated back panel

CONS

  • Better for an everyday or personal item bag than your sole travel bag

#8 Beis Expandable Backpack

Best Backpack that Fits under an Airplane Seat

Product photo for the Beis Expandable Backpack in black.

Dimensions: 13 x 15 x 8 in
Capacity: 13.5 L, expandable to 17 L
Weight: 1.67 lbs
Features: trolley sleeve, key leash, top handles, hidden water bottle pocket

Using recycled materials like water bottles, the Beis Expandable Backpack’s signature feature is expansion.

The best way to use expandable features like this is to pack for your trip using the regular allotted space. 

If you shop on your trip or are returning home with more than you left with (I know I always do), you have the luxury of the expansion to fit your new belongings.

There are a set of handles at the top (in addition to the adjustable shoulder straps), making it a versatile option that you can carry like a purse, and it’s good for underneath an airplane seat.

At 1.67 lbs, this is one of the most lightweight backpacks on this list.

PROS

  • Lower cost compared to other travel bags
  • Multiple carrying styles
  • Expandable

CONS

  • Other options appear more comfortable to carry

#9 Vera Bradley XL Campus Backpack

Best Backpack for Organization

Product photo for the Vera Bradley XL Campus Backpack in black.

Dimensions: 12.0 x 16.5 x 8.5 in
Capacity: 30L
Weight: 2.01 lbs
Features: trolley sleeve, adjustable straps, quilted design

If you were growing up in the 2000s and 2010s, Vera Bradley might sound like a blast from the past.

But the brand still carries quality items, and many of the products have updated looks. 

This Vera Bradley XL Campus Backpack has a black quilted pattern, a sizeable front zip pocket, and patterned interior material.

It’s the best backpack for organization because of the multiple separated compartments and handy pockets. 

You won’t have to dig through a jumbled main compartment because you’ll know exactly which section to look in.

PROS

  • Multiple compartments and pockets
  • Designed interior
  • Fashionable backpack

CONS

  • Only some material options include water-resistant materials

CHECK PRICE ON:

#10 Everlane ReNew Transit Backpack

Best Minimalist Backpack for Travel

Product photo for the Everlane ReNew Transit Backpack in dark grey.

Dimensions: 17.5 x 7.25 x12 in
Capacity: 27 L
Weight: n/a (lightweight)
Features: exterior laptop pocket, recycled polyester, trolley sleeve

The Everlane ReNew Transit Backpack is a simple travel pack. 

With a non-fussy design and just enough pockets, a minimalist will appreciate this option.

This backpack’s material is 100% recycled polyester but has a water-resistant finish. The magnetic flip-top closure is a unique feature of this Everlane bag.

The pockets close with zippers, but the bag’s central pocket does not, making it super easy for you  to access but not the best option for a pickpocket-proof bag.

PROS

  • Simple design
  • Sustainable and water-resistant materials
  • Front pocket(s)

CONS

  • Not the most supportive straps

#11 Rains Rolltop Rucksack

Best Waterproof Backpack for Travel

Product photo for the Rains Rolltop Rucksack in black.

Dimensions: 18.8 x 12.6 x 4.3 in
Capacity: 13 L
Weight: 1.85lbs
Features: side access laptop compartment, padded straps, zippered pocket, waterproof materials

The Rains Rolltop Rucksack is a sleek backpack that’s a larger version of the brand’s popular original style. 

I almost purchased the original style backpack from Rains but held off because I was worried about the backpack straps being supportive enough.

Luckily, the Rolltop Rucksack has straps that are thicker and padded.

Because of the roll-top design, you have flexibility in how full you want the bag to be. 

It still has the identifiable Rains carabiner clasp to keep the bag closed.

The Rolltop Rucksack is a versatile travel backpack, as you could easily use it for things like a work commute or school. 

The catch about this bag is it comes with a single large compartment. While this is great for space, it also means it’s not the best women’s travel backpack for organization.

PROS

  • Signature smooth waterproof finish
  • Sleek design
  • Versatile bag

CONS

  • Few organization options

#12 Monos Metro Backpack

Best Stylish Backpack for Travel

Product photo for the Monos Metro Backpack in black.

Dimensions: 11.5 × 16.5 × 6 in
Capacity: 18 L
Weight: 2.4 lb (nylon) / 3 lb (vegan leather)
Features: water-resistant, ultra-microfibre vegan leather

When it comes to stylish backpacks for women, look no further than the Monos Metro Backpack.

The best women’s travel backpacks don’t have to be plain and black.

At first glance, you’ll notice a small compartment on the front of the bag. It may look like a pocket, but it’s actually a Metro Folio Kit. You can easily take it on and off using their quick snap technology. 

The folio kit includes credit card slots, a pocket, and cord holders. It’s a great place to store items you reach for often and quickly, like your ID, phone, or chargers. 

Depending on your chosen color, the bag’s material is either nylon or vegan leather.

If you’re looking for a backpack with a shoe compartment or a ​​travel backpack with a trolley sleeve, this bag has you covered.

PROS

  • Modern design
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Shoe compartment

CONS

  • Not the most supportive straps

#13 PARAVEL Fold-Up Travel Backpack

Best Lightweight Travel Pack

Product photo for the PARAVEL Fold-Up Travel Backpack in black.

Dimensions: 9 x 13 x 16 in
Capacity: n/a
Weight: 10 ounces (.63lbs)
Features: zipper pulls, adjustable straps, front pocket

The PARAVEL Fold-Up Travel Backpack would make a great gift for the avid traveler in your life.

I love fold-up items when it comes to traveling. Fold-up laundry bag, fold-up duffel– you name it, I’ll take it.

A fold-up item’s biggest draw is its transportability. You can throw a folded-up item anywhere because it takes up so little space.

The tradeoff means these bags are usually simple by design.

For example, if your heart is set on finding a women’s backpack with a travel sleeve, you’ll be disappointed in this bag as there’s no designated space for a water bottle.

So, it may not be your best option if you’re looking for a travel backpacks for women who love organization.

If you fall in love with this simple bag but you want more bells and whistles, you can always amp it up with backpack accessories like compression straps or a separate padded laptop sleeve.

PROS

  • Transportable
  • Lightweight
  • Sustainable materials

CONS

  • Not very sturdy
  • Better as an additional travel item

#14 Coowoz Large Travel Backpack

Best Budget Travel Backpack

Product photo for the Coowoz Large Travel Backpack in black.

Dimensions: 17 x 31 x 42 in
Capacity: n/a
Weight: 2.2 lbs
Features: unisex backpack, sternum strap, USB charger, water-resistant material, padded straps

The Coowoz Large Travel Backpack is an excellent budget travel backpack because of its affordable price.

It opens like a suitcase–so while it’s not the most traditional backpack, it makes for a good hybrid between a bag and a suitcase. 

There are multiple zipper pockets inside and an outside back zipper pocket. 

This bag comes in a ton of color options, meaning you have a chance to show your personality. (The pro of choosing a bright-colored bag is that it makes it easier to spot… but keep in mind that can also be a con).

PROS

  • Affordable 
  • Lots of room for clothing and shoes
  • Pockets for organization

CONS

  • Quality may not compare to top-of-the-market options

#15 Hynes Eagle 2-in-1 Travel Backpack

Best Wheeled Travel Backpack

Product photo for the Hynes Eagle 2-in-1 Travel Backpack in black.

Dimensions:  22 x 9 x 14.2 in (Wheeled Backpack) 17.7 x 6.7 x 11.8 in (Detachable Day Pack)
Capacity: 43 liters (Wheeled Backpack) and 20 liters (Detachable Day Pack)
Weight: 5.7lbs (Wheeled Backpack) 1.8lbs (Detachable Day Pack)
Features: USB charging port, compression straps, 2 bags in 1 

A wheeled backpack is the closest option to a combination of a backpack and a suitcase. 

You get easy mobility because of the wheels, however, those built-in wheels make them bulkier ladies’ backpacks. 

The Hynes Eagle 2-in-1 Travel Backpack set doesn’t just come with the wheeled backpack but a separate backpack that can slide on top of the metal bar handle.

If you wanted to travel with both of these bags simultaneously, you could use the smaller backpack as a personal item and the large travel backpack with wheels as your carry-on.

This wheeled backpack has straps that can easily zip up and hide the expanding metal handle.

Plus, this set comes with three packing cubes. As someone who has traveled extensively, I know firsthand that packing cubes are always helpful!

Looking for more wheeled backpack options? Check out our full list!

PROS

  • 2-in-1
  • The wheeled option increases mobility
  • It comes with packing cubes

CONS

  • Bulky

#16 Fjallraven Travel Pack

Best Carry-On Travel Backpack 

Product photo for the Fjallraven Travel Pack in black.

Dimensions: 18 x 13 x 11 inches
Capacity: 35 liters
Weight: 3.64 lbs
Features: unisex, padded shoulder straps 

You may recognize Fjallraven from their popular Kanken bag.

The Fjallraven Travel Pack is much more subtle but still has the signature fox accent on the front pocket.

The main compartment has packing cubes built into the bag, which is why I’ve named it the best carry-on backpack on this list.

In front of the laptop sleeve is a slip pocket that will fit a tablet or phone.

The recycled polyester, organic cotton, and adaptable Greenland wax make this bag durable, water-resistant, and windproof. 

While it’s not a cheap travel backpack, it’s worth the investment.

PROS

  • Classic backpack look
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Suitcase-like interior

CONS

  • Pricey option

#17 Delsey Paris Backpack

Best Travel Backpack with a Laptop Compartment

Product photo for the Delsey Paris Backpack in brown.

Dimensions: 16 x 12 x 7 inches
Capacity: liters
Weight: 2.30 lbs
Features: padded shoulder straps, vegan leather, odor control

If you love a classic look for your travel gear, then the Delsey Paris Backpack is for you.

The quickly accessible padded laptop section and organizational pockets make this a good laptop backpack.

The vegan leather accents and eco-friendly chevron pattern showcase the materials’ quality. 

This attractive bag proves that stylish travel backpacks can also be functional. (p.s. If you like this design, the Delsey brand makes a matching suitcase option).

PROS

  • Sustainable, durable materials 
  • Signature style
  • Something different from the everyday black travel pack

CONS

  • The style may not appeal to everyone
  • No trolley sleeve

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Travel Backpack

A man and a woman wearing backpacks, seen from behind as they walk through a beige archway with a sign that says, "Marine Emporium Landing," and a harbor visible beyond.

What to Look for in Women’s Travel Backpacks

The best backpacks will be durable and contain features suited to the items you typically travel with. Here are a few keys features to look out for when you’re shopping.

Padded Pocket

When I’m traveling, I always bring my laptop, and so I always look for a padded pocket when I’m choosing a travel bag. A laptop compartment is an essential feature for most travelers.

Durability

Durability is essential because you face a variety of environments, terrains, and temperatures when traveling.

You can gauge durability based on the materials in the bag, the quality of the brand, as well as customer reviews. Often (but not always!) a bag’s sturdiness will correspond with the price. 

Style

A backpack’s aesthetic appeal is another important aspect to consider. You wear a backpack on your body, so it’s essentially a part of your travel outfit! I, for one, am more likely to get the most use out of a backpack that I find visually appealing.

Size

Size is another key feature to take into account when choosing a backpack for travel. You want a bag that’s big enough to fit everything you need, but small enough to adhere to airline regulations. 

If you’re planning to use your backpack as a personal item, it will have to fit under the seat in front you.

Each airline has it’s own particular size restrictions for personal items, so be sure to check those dimensions against the bag’s measurements.

FAQs About Travel Backpacks

A woman wearing black leggings, sandals, and a dark orange backpack seen from behind as she walks along a sparsely-planted seaside trial.

What size backpack is best for taking on a plane? How do I know if my backpack is TSA-approved?

On a flight, you can bring your backpack as a personal item or a carry-on backpack.

The difference between a personal item and a carry-on is the size: if your travel bag can fit underneath the seat in front of you, it’s a personal item. 

Each airline will have individual guidelines, so I cannot stress enough the importance of checking your specific airline.You may face an extra cost if you bring a bag over the size limits.

Are backpacks good for travel? Is it better to carry a suitcase or backpack when traveling?

Backpacks are great for specific kinds of travel or a specific type of traveler. By design, they offer more mobility than a suitcase.

I think of myself as an ‘ambidextrous traveler’; I enjoy both. 

I tend to use a backpack for shorter, more casual trips. I use a suitcase for longer trips where I don’t need to move around as quickly.

What size pack is best overall for travel?

Overall, a good travel backpack will hold anywhere from 20L to 40L.

Here’s a video that breaks down each size of a travel bag, so you can gauge which may be best for you based on the length of your trips:

What size backpack do I need for a seven-day trip?

Two women wearing leggings and backpacks hiking up a rocky, tree-lined trail in the mountains.

For a seven-day trip, the best backpacks will meet the carry-on size requirements (22 x 14 x 9 inches). 

A bag for everyday carry will likely start at 15L, and a personal item for travel begins around 20L.

Should I roll or fold clothes in a backpack?

Rolling or folding is a personal preference–one isn’t necessarily better than the other.

Due to the limited space in a backpack, more people tend to roll their clothes.

Should I wear a backpack high or low?

You’ll want to ensure to distribute the weight to your hips and not overload your shoulders. A good indicator for weight distribution is 80% in your hips and 20% in your shoulders.

Watch out for pressure points–if you notice them on one part of your body, loosen or tighten your straps as needed. This is why having a backpack with adjustable straps matters.

If you can, try on a backpack in person. After all, a backpack for women is like a pair of shoes–some will naturally fit you better than others.

If you go to a store that carries many travel backpacks for women (such as REI), they should have a spine-measuring tool to help you determine which size backpack best fits your frame.

Conclusion: Our Pick for the Best Travel Backpack for Women

A woman wearing a backpack and green pants walking away though a mountainous, desert landscape.

Across the many different travel backpack brands, no two backpacks are entirely alike. Ultimately, the best backpack for women will have the features and design that matter most to you.

My pick for the best travel backpack for women is the NOMATIC Travel Pack. 

Besides unique design options, it has many vital features you need in a travel backpack for women. 

Durable, water-resistant, and RFID-protected materials? Check. Shoe compartment? Check. Trolley sleeve? Check. Works as a laptop bag? Check.

Beyond that, this bag has features you don’t always see in a backpack for women, like the document section and the magnetic water bottle sleeves.

As a 20-30L bag, it can handle a weekend trip and beyond–depending on how efficiently you pack or choose to use the expansion feature. This backpack with hidden pockets keeps your belongings safe and organized.

Alright, now choose a bag and get traveling!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Monroe Dziersk

Monroe Dziersk is a twenty-something American who has lived in the USA, Italy, and Czechia. A self-proclaimed Europhile, she has a passion for international education, traveling, and becoming a global citizen, having visited more than twenty countries. You can often find her accompanied by a good book and her calico cat.


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