8 of the Best Backpacks for Adventure Travel
Whether you're looking for an ultralight trail pack, a heavy-duty hauler for a multi-week international trip or a more agile replacement to your existing roller bag, we've got you covered.
It's never a good feeling to get to your destination and realize you've packed the wrong bag.
Even if you're an ultralight packer, you still need a good strap system to avoid waking up with back pain that can ruin your trip. If you're in need of an upgrade, donate your old luggage and check out these backpacks purpose-built for adventure.
Keep in mind: Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money from these links.
Gregory's new Praxus and women-specific Proxy packs might just be the last piece of luggage you ever need to buy. It's essentially a super-organized duffel with heavy-duty backpack straps and a hip belt, so you can easily carry all your gear for a week or more (including several pairs of shoes) without major back pain on the horizon. The hip belt is removable and the straps tuck and zip away for checking, so there's no need to worry about them snagging and breaking. The main compartment opens like a suitcase so you have easy access to everything inside. An "Activeshield" compartment keeps muddy, dirty, smelly or wet clothes and shoes isolated from your clean, dry stuff and wipes clean easily. A front "office" section offers easy access to and sleeves for your laptop, tablet, phone or battery pack and other essentials. It's also available with a smaller, 45-liter capacity.
BUY IT: Amazon, $169.95
With straps that tuck away into their own zippered compartment, United By Blue's Summit Convertible Tote Pack, made from 100 percent recycled polyester, is a true hybrid. Internal organization, like a zippered pouch and padded laptop sleeve, keep everything easy to find, and a generous main compartment fits everything from groceries to small dogs (seriously. Our dog tester loved riding around in this bag). The two external side pockets are great for both water bottles and easy access to cell phones. One criticism: this pack doesn't vent well, so you'll get pretty sweaty if you use it as a trail pack on a hot day. But there's a bonus, too: For every product purchased, United By Blue removes a pound of trash from the world's oceans and waterways.
BUY IT: Amazon, $87.95
Cotopaxi's Allpa adventure travel pack opens flat like a suitcase, so you can pack and unpack easily. A full-length side zip allows you to access clothes quickly without opening the whole pack, and the external zipper for the padded laptop sleeve makes going through security a breeze. Keep your passport, phone and other small essentials in the external top pouch, and keep everything safe in the rain with the included rain cover. Straps and the hip belt tuck away when you need to check it, and handles on all sides of the pack make it easy to grab from a carousel. The 16-liter ultralight Batac pack folds inside perfectly and makes a great city or trail daypack. The Allpa also comes in a 28-liter size for shorter trips and lighter packers. I recently spent a month traveling Europe and fit everything I needed into the Allpa and another small carry-on. I easily got past strict luggage restrictions on Europe's budget airlines. Add on the accessory kit if you want an external water bottle pouch and additional internal organization.
BUY IT: Cotopaxi, $210
Eagle Creek's 40L Global Companion pack is the ultimate in travel organization. If you're looking for a weekender pack with lots of external pockets, this is it. A padded laptop sleeve accessed from the top of the pack fits computers up to 19", and a zippered compartment on the bottom of the pack is great for keeping shoes separate from clean clothes. It opens flat like a suitcase, revealing two separate, large compartments behind zippered mesh. Pouches in the front of the pack unzip to reveal organization for small items like pens, keys, and memory cards. Pack more efficiently with Eagle Creek's Pack-It cubes, which help you organize and then find what you need super-quickly.
BUY IT: Amazon, $159
Photographers will love this super-camera-friendly backpack. So, too, will packers who like organization and easy access. The top lid opens wide, and both sides of the pack unzip from the top and bottom to reveal the interior of the pack as well as hidden zippered compartments and storage for memory cards and other small pieces of gear. The Everyday Backpack is full of other secret compartments, too, like one hidden in the inside front panel that closes with a magnet and is perfect for passports. Thanks to removable padded dividers for camera gear, this pack is great for both day use and weekend getaways.
BUY IT: Peak Design, $259.95
Matador's Hydrolite Hydration Backpack pairs an ultralight backpack with a water bladder and built-in Swayer filter. That means that with this pack, you can fill up the water bladder from a stream and drink from it immediately, as the water is filtered as you drink. It's removable for days in the city when you don't want to pack as much water. A removable, inflatable back panel helps you customize the fit for added comfort.
BUY IT: Matador, $149.99
If you're looking for a TSA-friendly personal item, Flowfold's Center Zip Pack, made in collaboration with L.L.Bean, is it: This pack is lightweight and features a super-convenient laptop pocket accessible by an external zipper. Side clips and cinches compress or expand the pack to suit your needs, and an external front pouch is ideal for accessing passports and other small items without taking the pack off completely. It's made in Maine with lightweight, waterproof material, so a little rain won't do you any harm. (The seams aren't waterproof, though, so don't submerge it.)
BUY IT: L.L. Bean, $149
Thanks to a super-ventilated trampoline back panel, you can pretty much say goodbye to hiking and backpacking with a sweaty back with Deuter's Futura Pro 34 SL pack. I wore it all day, every day on a recent backpacking trip to Jordan in the brutal desert heat, and it ruined normal daypacks for me. Even in heat approaching triple digits, I wasn't thinking about carrying this pack. It just works.
BUY IT: Amazon, $161.50 - $170