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The six best backpacks from carry-on to really big!

No matter where your next trip is going and no matter how long you will be traveling for, you should definitely have the right backpack with you! Because a backpack should be able to do a lot more than just have space and look good. The most important is that it fits well! In this post I will tell you what to look for when choosing a backpack and which backpack I can recommend for your next trip!

No adventure without the right backpack!

When traveling your backpack is your best friend! That is why choosing the right backpack is an important decision for which you should definitely take enough time. The backpack should first and foremost fit your back well, so it makes sense to go to a store and literally try on different models.

Often you will have weights placed into the backpack so you can tell if the backpack is comfortable to wear for you when it is fully packed. A well fitting backpack really is essential because depending on the length of your trip you will be carrying it around for several weeks or even months!

Next to the really big backpacks the trend nowadays is to travel with a carry-on only. Backpacks are becoming smaller but ever more thoughtfully designed so you can actually fit a lot into seemingly small backpacks. I have been traveling with a carry-on backpack only for several years now and have been able to save a lot of time and money doing so.

To help you decide on the right backpack for yourself I have compiled an overview of what I consider to be the best backpacks out there at the moment, including all their pros and cons! 

Modern backpacks in comparison

1. Crumpler Director’s Cut Board Backpack

The Crumpler Director’s Cut Board Backpack is perfect for you if you have to work a lot when traveling. It is designed to carry your office along wherever you go and to properly hold all the necessary equipment. This backpack withstands the weather, is multifunctional and looks really cool in classic black!

What immediately stands out are the many compartments this backpack has. Be it inside or outside, there are zippers everywhere behind which you can store every kind of object of any size from small to large. There even is a special IT compartment with fixtures for powerpacks and charging batteries for a smartphone, compartments for the tablet or your laptop. My 15’’ MacBook Pro for instance fits really well in there!

Thanks to the two-compartment-system it is very easy to separate this part from your clothes and thanks to the integrated expansion crease you can even add more volume. So this carry-on backpack really can fit a lot!

Also, this Crumpler backpack can be carried in 5 different ways: classically as a backpack, as a shoulder bag, but also as a cool sports bag. The back padding with breathable netting and the optional waist strap make for ultimate carrying comfort. And don’t worry, if you get caught out in the rain then you can simply use the rain cover!

The carrying straps can be packed away with a zipper which is super practical, you can then carry the backpack without it getting caught anywhere or check it in as a regular piece of luggage. The compression straps inside also help you pack the content even tighter so that you can fit more!

Details of the Crumpler Director’s Cut Board Backpack
– size: 38 x 56 x 23 cm
– weight: 2,05 kg
– price: 299 Euros

Advantages of the Crumpler Director’s Cut Board Backpack
– many separate compartments
– thanks to the two-compartment system IT stuff and clothing is separate
– it compartment for all electronic devices
– integrated expansion crease for adding volume
– great padding for utmost comfort
– compression straps for effective packing
– low-fi modern design

Disadvantages of the Crumpler Director’s Cut Board Backpack
– fairly pricy

Conclusion: The Crumpler is my current favorite! It simply is super functional if you work while traveling and want to have everything stored in an orderly fashion. And even if you don’t work the Crumpler still offers lots of space for all your things and you still travel minimalistically. And I also really like the sleek design! In terms of pricing it is pretty expensive but the quality matches the price!

2. Minaal Carry-On 2.0 Bag

The Minaal Carry-On 2.0 Bag was designed by digital nomads for digital nomads. So there are various compartments for documents, laptop, tablet or cables. Thanks to the zipper that runs along the entire backpack you can open it from any side and don’t have to unpack half of your stuff to reach the things on the bottom. You also have a rain cover included which keeps the Minaal dry in bad weather.

Unfortunately, apart from the compartments for travel gadgets and technology, there are no other compartments dividing up the main compartment which makes packing a little difficult. And it might take some time getting used to packing your backpack like a suitcase, not a backpack, as you can open it all the way to unfold the two halves. But the sides of the backpack are a bit too low to hold everything in while packing when it is open like a suitcase. That is why packing cubes like those by HOPEVILLE or Eagle Creek are pretty much a must!

The waist strap only takes very little weight from the shoulders so you can’t really comfortably walk around with it for too long.

Details of the Minaal Carry-On 2.0 Bag
– volume: 35 liters
– size: 55 x 35 x 20 cm
– weight: 1,4 kg
– price: 299 USD (plus shipping)

Advantages of the Minaal Carry-On 2.0 Bag
– special compartments for various gadgets
– low-fi design
– fast access to everything inside
– rain cover

Disadvantages of the Minaal Carry-On 2.0 Bag
– not easy to pack
– uncomfortable when carried for longer
– small volume
– high price

Conclusion: The sleek Minaal is pretty expensive considering its size but it is ideal if you don’t need quite as much space. Especially if you combine working and traveling then you can store all your gadgets orderly in it. This backpack really forces you not to take too much along!

3. Jack Wolfskin EDS Dynamic 38 Pack

This backpack by Jack Wolfskin is especially made for several-day hikes and real adventures, but you can also travel the world for many months with it. It’s dynamically shaped carrying system which can be adjusted to fit you personally and has a signal whistle for emergencies. You can carry this backpack on your back for hours without pain or strain.

The main compartment of the toploader is very spacious. With 38 liters you can fit a lot if you pack smart. There is a separate bag on the inside for a hydration system. You also have three additional inside compartments to safely store smaller items. The bottom compartment can be accessed separately so that you can easily reach the things in the lower part of the backpack!

Details of the Jack Wolfskin EDS Dynamic 38 Pack
– volume: 38 liters
– size: 70 x 30 x 31 cm
– weight: 1,650 kg
– price: starting at 189,95 Euros

Advantages of the Jack Wolfskin EDS Dynamic 38 Pack
– large main compartment
– very comfortable dynamic carrying system
– separate access to lower compartment
– tear-resistant, robust material

Disadvantages of the Jack Wolfskin EDS Dynamic 38 Pack
– toploader is a little impractical
– no laptop compartment

Conclusion: The EDS Dynamic 38 Pack by Jack Wolfskin is ideal if you need something in between a large backpack and a carry-on. It is light, very comfortable to carry and made of high quality material. One disadvantage however is that it has to be packed from the top.

4. Osprey Farpoint 40

Osprey is a backpack company from the US which has established itself on the market in the last couple of years. The Osprey Farpoint 40 really scores points for its convenience and its super comfortable carrying system. The shoulder straps are well padded and the wide waist strap unburdens your back perfectly! The straps can be conveniently closed off with a zipper if you want to check the backpack as luggage. It is really comfortable even when carried for long stretches of time, very robust and with 40 liters offers more space than the Minaal and really good compartmentalisation.

I immediately noticed the large main compartment: here you have lots of space for your clothing, IT, cosmetics and whatever else you might need. Thanks to the compression straps everything can be tightly packed and thus you have even more space. Thanks to the high quality zippers you can also stuff in a little more. The three pouches are also very useful, there is one for your documents, one for your up to 15’’ laptop and an extra compartment for smaller items.

The Farpoint 40 has the measurements for EU carry-on luggage and can really pack a lot. And you also won’t have any problems in countries like Asia or Australia.

Details of the Osprey Farpoint 40
– volume: 40 liters
– size: 53 x 35 x 30 cm (max. EU measurements for carry-on luggage)
– weight: 1,3 kg
– price: starting at 108 Euros

Advantages of the Osprey Farpoint 40
– big volume, lots of space
– ideal compartmentalisation
– great padding of the straps for ultimate comfort
– padded back
– durable material and workmanship
– good price

Disadvantages of the Osprey Farpoint 40
– look: due to its size you often look unreasonably overpacked

Conclusion: The Osprey Farpoint 40 is our favorite in terms of carry-on backpack, there really isn’t anything to criticise. With 40 liters you have a lot of space, the compartments are smart and it is super nice to carry, even if you have a long hike ahead of you. You really get the most bang for your buck with this one! You might know this backpack from many of our vlogs because Line has been carrying this backpack on her back for more than one and a half years now!

5. PacSafe VentureSafe 45 liters

The PacSafe brand was founded by two adventurers in Australia but is not really known yet it Germany. All their backpacks focus on security from theft which is an important point when traveling, especially if you travel to countries like Nicaragua or South Africa!

So the PacSafe VentureSafe really scores points with its security features: a steel rope lets you fasten it securely and the zippers can be held together with a magnet so they cannot simply be opened on the quick. With this backpack you will feel safe and don’t have to worry about leaving it at your accommodation for a few days.

This backpack is the largest of the three carry-on backpacks and thus offers lots of space. It can be opened like a suitcase which makes packing and unpacking from any side easy. Compared to the Minaal the main compartment is deep, so packing is a lot easier. You don’t even really need packing cubes unless you like having everything well in order.

Next to the main compartment the backpack has two other compartments, one large one inside for a laptop which is only made of mesh so it doesn’t really hold the laptop tight or protect it, and another outside with three small separate pouches.

Just like the Osprey Farpoint 40 all shoulder and waist straps as well as the back are well padded and are easy on your back. The straps can be conveniently covered if you want to check the backpack as luggage.

The backpack can be a little problematic because of its size but only if someone really were to measure or has a good eye for centimeter measurements. Because it is exactly one centimeter too long for most airlines’ standards!

Details of the PacSafe VentureSafe 45 liters
– volume: 45 liters
– size: 56 x 35,5 x 23 cm
– weight: 1,56 kg
– price: starting at 225 Euros

Advantages of the PacSafe VentureSafe 45 liters
– most volume
– nice design
– fast access to contents
– well-padded straps and back
– safe anti-theft security features
– good compression straps

Disadvantages of the PacSafe VentureSafe 45 liters
– no real laptop compartment
– highest tare weight
– larger than the standard

Conclusion: The largest of the carry-on backpacks offers maximum space to store things which is easy to load, has well-padded straps and useful anti-theft features. But with all that space and the high tare weight the kilos really add up!

6. Deuter Traveller 60 + 10 SL

You need even more space? Then get the Deuter Traveller 60 + 10 SL! The first thing you notice is the detachable daypack with a small inside compartment for valuables. It feels extremely well on your back and is very useful if you go on a little weekend excursion and don’t want to bring along everything.

The waist straps are anatomically formed for comfortable carrying. Thanks to the x-frame of the entire backpack the weight is placed onto the hips rather than the back. The shoulder straps too are padded well and adjustable and three handles allow for easy lifting of the backpack. The breathable back padding is especially great when you have to cover long distances on foot and get a little sweaty.

Packing this backpack is really fun, it can be comfortably loaded like a suitcase because the main compartment can be opened all the way round. The fixation straps and various mesh compartments inside offer lots of space and allow you to pack your things nice and orderly. Thanks to the compression straps on the outside you can also attach additional gear and make sure that the weight is ideally positioned close to your body.

The Deuter Traveller 60 + 10 SL is perfect for women thanks to its short back and the carrying system on the SL models is a little shorter than on the regular ones like the Traveller 70 + 10.

Details of the Deuter Traveller 60 + 10 SL
– volume: 60 + 10 liters
– size: 70 x 36 x 28 cm
– weight: 3,05 kg
– price: starting at 239,95 Euros

Advantages of the Deuter Traveller 60 + 10 SL
– more volume
– packs like a suitcase
– well-padded straps and back
– handy compression straps
– straps can be covered for flying
– high-quality durable material
– useful separate daypack

Disadvantages of the Deuter Traveller 60 + 10 SL
– fairly pricy
– fully loaded daypack is hard to attach to the backpack

Conclusion: The Deuter Traveller 60 + 10 SL is made first and foremost for women, it is well thought out and offers various features to make it easier on your back. For men like me with a standard broad back the 70 + 10 version is perfect! But most of all the integrated daypack is really useful!

Choose your best backpack as an ideal partner for your adventures!

Traveling minimalistically with a carry-on only makes everything so much easier and you really feel free. Be it the Osprey Farpoint 40, the Crumpler, the Minaal or the PacSafe, the decision is yours in the end. I can recommend all of these carry-on backpacks for your next adventure. If you do decide to take a big backpack, try the Jack Wolfskin or the Deuter.

One thing you should pay attention to: take your time for the decision because your backpack should become your best friend when traveling, not your enemy!

Which backpack to you travel with? Do you have any experience with the models we recommended? Share your experience with us in the comments!

Sebastian Canaves
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