Gear Guides

Best Carry On Backpack 

Finding the best carry on backpack is a travel essential. With increasingly strict airline luggage allowances, having a backpack that maximizes your carrying capacity while remaining cabin-compliant is crucial. 

The right bag keeps all your in-flight and destination necessities close at hand while avoiding incurring checked baggage fees.

However, the multitude of carry-on backpack options makes selecting the perfect pack challenging. Between assessing the size, storage layouts, materials, weight, durability, and special features, it’s tricky to identify which choice delivers on all fronts. 

This comprehensive guide explores how to shop for a carry-on backpack tailored to your needs and travel style.

We’ll review how to pick an airline-approved size, evaluate storage organization and capacity, choose comfortable straps and backing, and select purpose-built features.

Best Carry On Backpack, Woman Carrying a Backpack
Best Carry-On Backpack, Woman Carrying a Backpack

You’ll also learn top backpack materials and get tips for packing your carry-on intelligently. Read on to make choosing your ideal carry-on travel companion straightforward.

How to Choose the Best Carry-On Backpack 

Following are the things that you should keep in mind when buying a carry-on backpack. The optimal size, storage, straps, material natures, and the occasions you can use them for are all described in the guide below. 

Read through this and find the one carry-on backpack that will suffice all your needs.

Picking the Optimal Carry-On Size

When assessing backpack size, you should keep the following things in consideration. 

  • Focus on cabin-approved models around 40 liters
  • Dimensions approx 50 x 35 x 20 cm maximize capacity
  • Compression straps reduce volume if needed
  • Detachable daypacks for sightseeing can save space
  • Measure your existing gear to gauge capacity needs

With size limits of around 56 x 36 x 23 cm for carry-on luggage, choosing a backpack nearing this threshold allows you to make the most of allowances.

Evaluating Carry-On Backpack Storage Organization

When buying a carry-on backpack, storage is a very important factor that you should look for. Backpacks with good storage, and large compartments for food, drinks and clothing are the best ones, for any trip. Look for the following factors as well: 

  • A large main compartment for clothing, footwear and bulky items
  • Secondary compartments for electronics, documents and small items
  • Interior pockets and dividers to sort contents
  • External side pockets for water bottles and umbrellas
  • Front organizer sections for easy-access essentials
  • Padded laptop sleeves and tablet pockets
  • Compression straps to stabilize contents

The most functional carry-ons have a place for everything while keeping must-have items instantly accessible.

Choosing Comfortable Carry-On Backpack Straps and Backing

Following are the elements that determine the comfortability of a backpack, if you want a hassle-free backpack you should have the following elements in mind. Also, opt for thick padding and adjustments providing a personalized fit.

Shoulder Straps

  • Adjustability accommodates different torso lengths
  • Wider straps prevent digging into shoulders
  • Contoured S-shaped straps improve ergonomics
  • Cushioned, breathable padding prevents chafing

Sternum Straps

  • Positioning between shoulders optimizes posture
  • Spreads weight distribution across the chest

Waist Belts

  • Bear bulk of the load on hips instead of shoulders
  • Stabilize backpack and prevent shifting during motion

Ventilated Back Panels

  • Permit airflow against the back to minimize sweat
  • Mesh backing maximizes ventilation and breathability
Two Travelers Carrying a Backpack While Walking in the Bridge
Two Travelers Carrying a Backpack While Walking on the Bridge

Selecting Durable and Weather-Resistant Fabrics

Look for reinforced high-weight-wear water-repellent coatings to protect contents from the elements. Carry-on backpacks commonly used:

Nyloused Extremely abrasion abrasion-resistant proof. Used on performance packs.

Polyester – Lightweight and durable though less water resistant than nylon.

Ripstop Fabrics – Tough tightly woven fabric with reinforcements that prevent tearing.

Cordura – Branded extra-durable fabric ideal for high-abrasion areas.

Laminates – Heat-fused waterproof coatings keep the fabric from absorbing moisture.

Choosing Purpose-Built Specialty Backpack Features

Some useful extras include:

  • Lockable zippers deter theft
  • RFID-blocking pockets prevent digital skimming
  • Luggage straps for attaching to rolling suitcases
  • Integrated luggage scales show packed weight
  • USB ports allow charging devices on the go
  • Hidden passport pockets provide discretion
  • Integrated rain covers protect in downpours
  • Reflective accents boost visibility at night

Seeking security, connectivity, and convenience-boosting enhances the utility of any carry-on backpack.

Picking Carry-On Backpacks for Different Travel Scenarios

Certain trips demand more specialized features, therefore it is one you must buy per your trip and the one that keeps up with your travel. 

Business Travel

  • Laptop sleeves, tablet pockets and tech organization
  • Luggage trolley pass-throughs
  • Professional styling in black or grey
  • Checkpoint-friendly models speed airport screening

Adventure Travel

  • Abrasion-resistant fabrics that can withstand rough handling
  • Athletic cut with straps that won’t inhibit movement
  • Weatherproof construction including waterproof rainfly
  • Attachment points for trekking poles/ice axes

Weekend Getaways

  • 35-40 litres provides ample room for short trips
  • Lightweight models under 1 kg prevent airline upcharges
  • Sections suited to minimalist packing lists
  • Detachable daypacks for exploring destinations

Finding a carry-on equipped with the features your trips call for makes travel more convenient.

Tips for Packing Your Carry-On Backpack Efficiently

Pack strategically using these tips:

  • Place heavy items like footwear at the bottom to stabilize the bag
  • Put items needed in-flight at the top for easy access
  • Wrap fragile objects in soft materials to prevent damage
  • Use packing cubes and folders to compartmentalize contents
  • Pack clothes loosely to maximize the use of space
  • Flatten bulky items like jackets to optimize room
  • Fill extra space with rolled socks and underwear
  • Keep electronics in protective cases and sleeves
  • Empty unnecessary items to avoid exceeding weight limits

Careful packing prevents disorganization, damaging belongings and straining your back.

A Man with a Travel Backpack Near the Mountain Cliff
A Man with a Travel Backpack Near the Mountain Cliff

Best Carry-On Backpack Reviews

Following are the top carry-on backpacks with their reviews and their pros and cons. With so many backpacks in the market, it can b,e difficult to choose one for yourself. 

That is why we have reviewed one of the best backpacks for you so that you can easily choose the one that is right for you and your trip. 

AmazonBasics Carry-On Travel Backpack Review

Offering outstanding value, the AmazonBasics Carry-On Backpack maximizes packing capacity in a budget-friendly bag. Though lightweight at just 1.65kg, the backpack features a large 64L volume.

Interior compression straps and a zippered mesh compartment optimize usable space. The deep front organizer compartment provides ample storage for travel necessities while also allowing easy access.

Equally suited for backpacking and hand carried-carrying pack convertibly functions as a duffel with included shoulder straps. The rear laptop sleeve and side water bottle pocket provide added convenience. An expansion zipper increases storage as needed.

For those seeking an affordable, high-capacity carry-on backpack, AmazonBasics delivers abundant storage and versatility at a wallet-friendly price point.


  • Budget-friendly pricing
  • Large 64L capacity with compression straps
  • Front organizer pocket for easy access
  • Functions as a backpack or duffel bag


  • Heavier than higher-end backpacks when empty

Bellroy Carry-On Backpack Review

Featuring environmental sustainability and smart organization, the Bellroy Carry-On Backpack makes packing easy with its 28L capacity and multitudes of compartments. The backpack is fashioned entirely from recycled plastic bottles.

A dedicated wet/dry compartment isolates damp items like bathing suits. A padded laptop sleeve protects tech while a front pocket stores quick-access essentials like tickets and passports. Side stretch pockets hold water bottles and umbrellas.

On the interior, dual compression straps cinch clothing into place while preventing shifting during transit. Padded back panels maximize user comfort even on lengthy wear. For eco-conscious traveller organizations, Bellroy’s carry-on backpack delivers.


  • Constructed from 100% recycled materials
  • Wet/dry compartment prevents leaks
  • Quick-access front pocket for essentials
  • Padded laptop sleeve


  • More expensive than non-eco-conscious brands

Osprey Farpoint 40 Backpack Review

Travellers seeking the ideal carry-on companion need look no further than the Osprey Farpoint 40. Weighing just 1.36kg, this lightweight pack boasts a 40L capacity and durable 210D nylon construction.

The backpack’s innovative design allows the bag to open suitcase-style for easy packing access. The LightWire frame and mesh hip belt keep loads stable and balanced. The dedicated laptop and tablet sleeve protect protectics.

On top of the superb organization, the Farpoint offers rugged performance with water resistance and Osprey’s reputation for hardwearing quality. For the traveller’s ultimate comfort and convenience in a carry-on backpack, the Farpoint 40 delivers.


  • Innovative design allows suitcase-style packing
  • Lightweight at 1.36kg
  • Laptop and tablet sleeve
  • Mesh hip belt keeps loads stabilized


  • Lacks included rain cover

Pacsafe Venturesafe G3 Backpack Review

Ideal for security-conscious travelers the 25L Venturesafe G3 backpack builds protection into its design through special anti-theft features. Cut-proof steel meshes integrated into the fabric deter slashing attempts. Lockable zippers fully se secure contents.

The lightweight 0.9kg backpack carries comfortably with padded, adjustable shoulder straps. A loop-and-lock feature allows securing the bag to chairs and fixtures for added peace of mind. The RFID-blocking pocket shields passports and cards from wireless scanning.

Versatile and comfortable enough for daily use yet equipped with mission-critical security, the Venturesafe G3 safeguards valuables without compromising packing utility. Pacsafe’s meticulously engineered backpack fortifies travels from airport to destination and beyond.


  • Cut-proof steel mesh deters theft attempts
  • Loop-and-lock feature for added security
  • Lockable zippers prevent unauthorized access
  • RFID-blocking pocket shields personal data


  • 25L capacity is quite small for packing

Kelty Redwing 44 Backpack Review

Featuring ample storage and signature Kelty quality, the Redwing 44 backpack optimizes organization and comfort in a rugged carry-on companion. The 44L capacity provides substantial packing room for extended trips.

An array of pockets neatly sorts gear while protecting electronics like laptops. Breathable back panels prevent sweat and overheating during wear. Sturdy but lightweight at just 1.7kg, the backpack carries comfortably mile after mile.

Kelty built the Redwing to perform across any environment or activity. For a traveller’s durable, feature-packed carry-on backpack, the Redwing 44 delivers ready-for-anything versatility and storage.


  • 44L capacity
  • Breathable back panels prevent sweat
  • Pockets galore for organization
  • Durable, lightweight 1.7kg design


  • Zippers are not lockable

Asenlin 40L Travel Backpack Review

The Asenlin 40L Travel Backpack combines convenience, versatility, and value in a budget-friendly carry-on backpack. Despite the low cost, the 40L capacity provides substantial packing room for extended trips.

The clamshell design allows the backpack to completely open suitcase-style for easy access and packing. External compression straps cinch down bulky items while preventing strain on the zippers. Shoulder straps tuck away to convert the backpack into a duffel bag.

Optional add-on storage bags (sold separately) help organize belongings neatly within the cavernous main compartment. For bargain hunters needing a hardworking carry-on backpack, Asenlin delivers utility at an ultra-affordable price point.


  • Extremely budget-friendly pricing
  • 40L capacity
  • Clamshell opening for packing access
  • Converts to duffel bag


  • Uneven weight distribution when heavily packed

Mark Ryden 23L/40L Business Backpack Review

Combining a sleek, minimalist aesthetic with travel-friendly functionality, the expandable Mark Ryden Business Backpack caters to work trips and daily commuting alike. The spacious main compartment contracts from 40L down to a 23L laptop bag.

Durably constructed of water-repellent fabric, the backpack includes an integrated USB charging port that connects to an internal power bank. Breathable shoulder straps alleviate pressure during wear while adjustable waist straps distribute load.

Three exterior pockets grant easy access to phones, keys, and other everyday carry items. With its understated style and adjustably compact design, the Mark Ryden backpack delivers versatile, tech-savvy utility.


  • Expands from 23L to 40L
  • Integrated USB charging port
  • Water-repellent fabric
  • Adjustable straps distribute weight


  • Lack of water bottle pockets

KROSER 22L Travel Laptop Backpack Review

From its multitude of pockets to its tech-friendly features, the KROSER 22L Travel Laptop Backpack optimize organization and convenience for tech-focused travellers water-repellent exterior protects gadgets while an integrated USB port allows charging on the move.

Roomy enough for laptops up to 17”, the main compartment features padded sleeves and dividers to protect devices. An RFID-shielded pocket safeguards passports, credit cards, and IDs from wireless theft. Front and side organizers provide specialized storage options.

Comfortable padded shoulder straps alleviate strain while luggage straps allow securing the backpack atop rolling suitcases. For the tech-focused traveller, the traveller backpack blends protected storage with optimal portability.


  • Built-in USB charging port
  • RFID-shielded pocket
  • Padded laptop sleeve for up to 17″ laptops
  • Luggage straps for attaching to suitcases


  • Fairly plain, unisex aesthetic

BANGE Expandable 26L-45L Travel Backpack Review

Uniquely designed to open suitcase-style, the BANGE Expandable Travel Backpack hybridizes duffel and backpack functionality. The large main compartment unzips clamshell-style for packing ease. Integrated compression straps reduce bulk, while a wet/dry pouch isolates toiletries.

The waterproof exterior protects contents from the elements. Spacious when expanded from 26L to 45L yet compressing down for carry-on compliance, the backpack caters to short weekend trips or extensive travel alike. Multiple handles allow lifting or hand carrying of the bag with ease.

For those wanting luggage that opens for packing like a suitcase yet carries like a backpack, the BANGE convertible backpack delivers the best of both formats.


  • Expands 26L to 45L
  • Opens suitcase-style for packing access
  • Waterproof exterior
  • Multiple carry handles


  • Heavy when maximizing expanded capacity

Kaka 40L Carry-On Duffel Backpack Review

Equipped for versatility and durability, the Kaka 40L Duffel Backpack toggles between backpack and duffel configurations. The abrasion-resistant Oxford fabric withstands wear and tear from frequent use.

Spacious enough for extended trips, the 40L main compartment has room for clothes, tech, and other travel necessities. The “S” shaped shoulder straps cushion stress while a reinforced bottom withstands being set down roughly.

By hiding the backpack straps, the bag quickly converts into a duffel for hand carrying. For travelerstravellersrugged luggage that works as both a backpack and duffel, the Kaka carry-on bag delivers flexibility and hardworking performance.


  • Toggles between duffel and backpack
  • Durable, abrasion-resistant Oxford fabric
  • 40L capacity
  • Padded “S” shaped shoulder straps


  • Bulkier and heavier than some ultra-lite backpacks


Choosing the optimal carry-on backpack for your air travels ensures all your on-the-go necessities stay close at hand without needing to check luggage. 

Look for a size, material, storage layout and features catering to your common itineraries and packing habits. Prioritize back support through adjustable, padded shoulder straps, a ventilated back, and a waist belt.

Also, we have reviewed the top backpacks for you so that so can easily choose the one that is right for you. After reading this guide you are now equipped with enough information to buy yourself the best carry-on backpack that will suffice all your needs.

Avoid pack weights exceeding 2 kg empty. With the advice in this guide, identifying a hardworking yet comfortable carry-on backpack ensures essentials make the flight straightforward. 

The right pack keeps vacations seamless and business trips stress-free. Your destination adventures start the moment you grab your backpack and go.


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