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Finding the best carry on backpack means prioritizing what is important to you.
For some people, all that is required is simply a backpack to take with them in addition to their main luggage. For others (and frequently myself) carry on baggage is all there is! Therefore, you will need something that fits either criterion (or both).
Below you will find some fantastic choices for backpacks in 2018. There really are some great bags available to make travel with carry on baggage as pleasant as it can be.
There’s a lot of carry on backpack or carry on travel bag options. To help make selecting a travel bag easier we’ve identified the best
|Name||Image||Capacity (L)||Empty weight (lbs)||Laptop section (Y/N)||Our Rating (/5)||Price|
|Kelty Women's Redwing 40-Liter Backpack||40||2||N||4.5||$$|
|Osprey Packs Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack||40||3||Y||5.0||$$$|
|Cabin Max Metz Backpack||44||1.6||N||4.5||$|
|SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack||31||3.2||Y||4.5||$|
|High Sierra Powerglide Wheeled Book Bag||38.5||2.4||Y||4.5||$$|
|eBags eTech 2.0 Weekender Convertible||50||2.9||N||5.0||$$|
|Kelty Redwing 32 Liter Backpack||32||2.8||N||4.5||$$|
|Osprey Porter Travel Backpack Bag||46||2.6||Y||5.0||$$$|
|Osprey Comet Backpack||28||1||Y||5.0||$$|
Of most importance when selecting the perfect carry on backpack is the size of the bag. With strict carry on regulations on airlines, it is important that your bag fits these requirements.
This will also dictate whether or not you can fit your bag under the seat in front of you, which may be convenient, or in the overhead bin.
Also important is how large the bag is in comparison to you. The best carry on travel backpacks will be designed to fit your body shape and height appropriately. Note the length of the bag in comparison to your own height. If the backpack seems too big, it probably is.
The backpack’s capacity will determine how much carry on luggage you can take with you. Higher capacity is not always better in the best backpacks for carry on if you only plan to use the bag in addition to your check in luggage. Therefore, you will need to decide how you will be using the bag.
Most carry on luggage bags will be between the 30-40 liter range, which will be sufficient for most short, and sometimes long trips.
A carry on backpack is only as useable as you make it. This means finding what is important for you. Some bags allow for the versatility to be carried over the shoulder, as opposed to just the back.
Other bags are simply a suitcase design that can be carried on the back. This can be convenient for weekend trips but less comfortable for longer trips. Therefore, your motivations are important to find the best travel backpacks for carry on.
Backpacks now are more segmented than ever for the ever-increasing complexity of our lives. This means some bags come with dedicated pockets for important documents like your passport and boarding passes, phone, wallet and other important items within easy reach.
Another great feature of many backpacks is a laptop and tablet compartment. These compartments help to keep one of the most important items whilst travelling safe and secure and are definitely beneficial for both organizing yourself and saving space.
The Kelty Women’s Redwing 40-Litre Backpack is the first bag in the list of best carry on bags. This bag has many great features that make it so useable whilst travelling with carry on baggage.
The backpack is loaded from the top to use the maximum amount of space within the bag and also has a handy U zip for easy access to everything. Compression straps help keep the bag secure, and water is easily accessible from the side sleeves. There is a laptop sleeve in the back.
This bag could easily be used as your main luggage, and therefore its comfort is important. The bag has a strap around the waist for comfort, taking the load off your shoulders and back and spreading weight more evenly over the body.
Although the Kelty Redwing is intended for women, there is also a 44L version of the travel backpack for carry on intended for men.
The bag has a mesh back and is comfortable for longer journeys. For me, this is the best carry on bag for women and it is what Sharon uses.
Another bag in the running as the best carry on travel backpack is the Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack. A great carry on bag needs to be useable and sometimes that means being versatile. This is a versatile bag that allows you to carry it from either your back or on the side, making it perfect for carry on allowing for flexibility.
The backpack has a padded, mesh back that keeps the bag breathable and comfortable with large straps that help with weight distribution.
The best backpack for air travel needs to be compliant with regulations. This is the perfect size for carry on and is packed from the top to maximize space. This backpack also includes the convenience of a separate laptop compartment.
You’ll be impressed how much you can really squeeze into this bag!
The eBags eTech is the one of the best carry on backpacks for every trip. This is a great bag designed for maximum convenience when using solely carry on.
The bag is designed similar to a suitcase that can be carried making it an easy hands free option.
The bag includes a front zippered pocket with several compartments to organize yourself whilst travelling. The main compartment opens up to a large area that will allow you to pack everything you need. The bag includes straps to evenly spread weight, but these are small and it can be heavy when packed full.
The bag doesn’t have as great access as other backpacks, but you do get the convenience of a suitcase on your back.
This is still a brilliant bag, and it is the best carry on backpack for travelling on shorter trips.
The next best carry on travel bag is the Osprey Comet Backpack.
This backpack keeps it simple with an easy front stash pocket and a large main area. The bag also includes the convenience of a dedicated laptop sleeve. An elastic pocket is found within to hold a laptop up to 15.4 inches, and in addition to this is a tablet pocket too.
This is a smaller backpack with room to organize all the essentials. This backpack would be my recommendation for an addition to carry on luggage, as it is smaller and allows for easy organization.
Long pockets are found on the side for a water bottle making this the best travel carry on backpack for day trips too.
Although the bag is small, it does hold a fair amount and will be sufficient for most people in addition to checked in luggage or for shorter trips.
Osprey clearly has some great bags in 2018. The Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack is another great backpack.
This is one of my favorite backpacks as carry on luggage as I can see it being used as either a daypack or primary luggage. The bag feels very secure and although it is firm, it still flexible. The pack is also lightweight and comfortable.
This is one of the best laptop carry on bag, as the bag includes a laptop and table sleeve in the back. I found the straps of this bag are large and very comfortable, too.
Do note, however, that packed full the bag may be considered too large for some airlines.
Packed appropriately, this bag is still one of the best carry on travel bags in 2018.
What’s your pick for the best carry on backpack 2018?
You can also read our full guide to the best travel backpacks. If you are not sure if backpacks are for you, check out our guide to the best carry on luggage. You can also read our guide to best dry bags which is also an option for a day pack.
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