Hauling all of the clothing, toiletries, and gear you need for a monthlong trip in a backpack might sound like a nightmare, especially if you’re used to rolling luggage. But there are plenty of instances when traveling with a backpack is easier, especially if you’ve got plans to hop on buses or trains, or are going to cities where paved roads (and therefore surfaces for easy luggage-rolling) are in short supply. The challenge is to find a travel backpack that’s big enough to fit everything you might need, yet is still comfortable to carry. So to help you find the best carry-on and travel backpacks for long trips, I spoke with seven frequent travelers, who spend weeks on the road (or the hiking trail) at a time, about the bags they’re most excited to pack up and strap onto their backs.
“I would highly recommend the High Sierra Titan 55L Frame Backpack. I’ve used it on my travels from Bolivia to Botswana, and it’s a great pack: lightweight, relatively inexpensive, sturdy, and stylish. It also has an ergonomic design; I love the fact that I can adjust the straps, so the bag fits my body perfectly. I like it because it has a top compartment, which I typically reserve for undergarments, and the bottom front compartment, which I’ll reserve for shoes. Because the middle compartment is very large, it’s ideal for clothing. I can pack quite a lot of things in the bag, but because it’s tall and narrow, it still remains sleek and fairly easy to carry.” —Oneika Raymond, travel journalist and host, Travel Channel’s Big City, Little Budget and One Bag and You’re Out
“We’ve tried a lot of backpacks during our travels, and we keep coming back to the Osprey Farpoint 55 — it’s just about the perfect backpack for long-term travel. It has some of the best and most comfortable shoulder straps and harness we’ve used. It’s lightweight, it has a detachable day pack, it looks nice, it is pretty affordable, and we like Osprey’s lifetime warranty. It’s technically a few inches too big for some budget European airlines’ carry-on requirements, but we’ve never had an issue. That said, the Osprey Farpoint 40 is essentially the same backpack, but it’s small enough to comply with every airline’s carry-on requirements.” —James and Susan Fees, bloggers, The Savvy Backpacker
“I have a slightly older version of this pack. I love it because it is lightweight with tons of space for multiday treks. It is available in different torso lengths, which is great for me since I am short. It has extra-comfy padding on the hip belt, which is also adjustable. I also really like that it has a detachable top pouch that I can use for taking just the essentials to explore around camp. I’ve taken it on a five-day, 45-mile trek in the Glacier Peak wilderness of Washington and packed my tent, sleeping bag, food, and more.” —Ashley Gossens, adventure writer and blogger, Alpine Lily
“This bag fits carry-on requirements and is also built with space for ample photography gear as well as clothing and toiletries. I like that it looks good. But more important to me is that it doesn’t scream ‘photography backpack,’ because that often makes you a target for robbery in certain places. It also has a ton of safety features that make it much more difficult for your average thief to get into (such as mesh wiring in the fabric and easily lockable zippers and pouches) … I got this bag after realizing on a recent weeklong trek through Kyrgyzstan that my current bag (a Lowepro) was terrible. I’ve only had the chance to drag my Venturesafe through Thailand and Angkor Wat for a few weeks so far, but the difference has been incredible. The construction is solid. The design, including comfortable hip straps and chest harness, makes it ideal for carrying heavy loads over long distances.” —Matt Gibson, blogger, XpatMatt
“The bag is great as it gives me easy access to my camera gear. It is very cleverly designed with side zips opening for different compartments, and you can easily swing it around from your shoulder to quickly grab something, which is great for when you are on the go!” —Louis Cole, travel vlogger, Fun for Louis
“I’ve been traveling with this backpack for a year and a half, and I love it! It’s big enough to fit all of my essentials while being small enough to fit as a carry-on on all airlines. It has great padding on the back and straps, which means I can wear it for hours comfortably, and there is a padded laptop sleeve, which makes it easy to pull out my laptop at airports, no matter how stuffed the bag is. It also fits more than you might think!” —Raya Encheva, travel and lifestyle vlogger, Raya Was Here