Backpacks are a great way to transport your travel gear around with you. They are particularly useful on longer or more adventurous trips where you are hopping on and off public transport all the time and need to have a manageably sized bag to carry around with you.
They are also good as you do not have to worry about the conditions underfoot like you do with wheeled luggage (think dragging along the beach or along uneven roads).
In this post, we will review some of the best lightweight backpacks for travel so that you can find the right pack to suit you and your travel style.
This post is one of our travel gear reviews where we aim to help you find the right product to make your travels go that bit smoother.
How to Choose Your Backpack
Your first decision will be to pick the size of backpack that you need. Obviously, you will want one that can carry all the belongings you need. You probably don’t want to buy a really big one ‘just in case’ as you will end up hauling around loads of things that you don’t really need.
So it is probably a good idea to prepare a packing list and have a think about what sized bag would work best. I do not necessarily think that the length of your trip is a huge consideration as we generally pack the same things whether we are on a weekend away or spending months travelling overseas.
Type of Travel
You will need to factor in the type of travelling that you plan to do and also the weather. Consider things like whether you be staying in budget accommodation that means you will always need your own towels or whether you can expect these to be provided when you get there. Is it likely to be cold at times?
If so you will have bulky clothing and will need more space to pack it, this is a particular problem if you think you might spend time at altitude in countries that are otherwise quite hot.
If you have children, are they old enough to carry some of their own luggage or will you have to transport it all yourself (we now use a combination or rolling luggage and backpacks to transport everything for our whole family)
Is it important to you that the backpack is small enough to go as hand luggage? If so you will need to check dimensions carefully with the airlines that you use most often.
Backpacks are generally not the most efficient hand luggage as they are relatively long and thin compared to the carry-on luggage maximum dimensions. They are still handy though and we often take our Osprey daypack as hand luggage.
Shape and Size of Backpack
You need to ensure that your backpack is a good fit for your body shape and height. Having a backpack that is not the right size will mean that it is uncomfortable to wear for long periods and could result in back or shoulder pain. Often packs will come in male and female versions with the sizing adjusted as appropriate.
Packing and Unpacking
Top loading or front loading. For a long time, backpacks were always loaded from the top but recently more and more manufacturers are developing backpacks that unzip all the way around and allow you to see and access your clothes more easily – like you would with a normal suitcase.
This is known as a front-loading backpack and we think that this is a better design as it removes the need to rummage around feeling for your things or to pull everything out before finding what you are looking for.
Do you regularly travel with a laptop or specialist camera equipment? If so there are plenty of backpacks that offer special pockets for these items that provide extra padding and security.
You are unlikely to find a backpack without shoulder and hips straps (!) but the quality does vary and you will want ones that have a good amount of padding and that are made from good quality robust materials.
The hips strap is particularly important to ensure that the weight load is spread between your hips and shoulders. A strap across your chest is also a really good feature to get the balance right and keep the shoulder straps in place.
Are you likely to want to carry a tent, sleeping bag or other equipment? If so you might want to look for a pack that has plenty of extra straps that you can attach things with.
Best Lightweight Travel Backpacks Review
Osprey Farpoint 70
Capacity – 70 Litres | Weight – 1.81 kg |
We are big fans of Osprey backpacks and have built up a small collection of them now. The Osprey Farpoint 70 is one of the best travel backpacks.
It is a great sized travel bag to get all your things in without being so big that you overload yourself.
This ultralight backpack has a really large opening panel so you can quickly and easily pack your gear away and keep it nice a flat so it doesn’t get all creased and crumpled.
The zips used on the backpack are sturdy and feel like they will stand up well to repeated use and the battering that a pack tends to take on extended trips, the zips can be locked with your own lock.
A great feature for travelling is the closable back panel which neatly closes over the straps making it better for checking in at the airport, you don’t have to worry about the straps getting caught on the conveyor belts, and it gives the bag more of a secure, closed feel.
The backpack has a great lightweight frame that is really effective at transferring the load to the hip belt, thus lightening the load on your shoulders. As someone who suffers from a bad back, this is a really important feature to minimise the difficulty in moving our things around.
All the straps are good quality with plenty of padding making it a very comfortable backpack and generally, the materials used are of high quality creating a luxurious backpack.
One of our favourite features is the detachable 13-litre day bag that comes with it. This has a special laptop and tablet sleeves a well as a scratch-free pocket for your glasses.
The fact that you are able to attach your day bag to the main pack is great for allowing you to have your hands free when travelling around. If you prefer to be able to see your small bag, there are hooks to attach it to the straps of your main pack so that you can wear it on your front.
For more details on the Osprey Farpoint 70 Travel Pack, please click here
- Good quality materials throughout
- Detachable daypack
- Easy to pack with a large zipped opening
- No integrated rain cover
Osprey Fairview 70
Mountain Warehouse Traveller
Capacity – 60 + 20 Litre | Weight – 2.6kg
The Mountain Warehouse Traveller is a similar concept to the Osprey pack above with a 60-litre main pack and a 20-litre detachable daypack.
The larger size of the day bag means that it could be more useful as your main day pack as it has that bit more space to include everything you need.
This extra space could be particularly useful for parents of babies and toddlers who need a constant supply of food, nappies, wipes etc. It also has a couple of bottle holders which always come in handy.
The main pack has all the adjustable straps that you would expect, including an adjustable back system that allows you to match the pack to your torso length. The pack has a flight cover to keep your straps tucked away in transit, and also includes a rain cover to keep your things dry when you are out and about in the wet.
The bag can be opened up like a suitcase to be front-loaded. Unlike the Osprey pack, this one comes with a divisible main compartment that allows you to separate your gear. This can come in useful to keep your shoes or toiletries separate from the rest of your things or if you have more than one person’s clothes in the bag.
Each compartment has a separate zip and can be secured using your own locks, but this does mean you have to have 2 of them and will take you slightly longer. We also found that the elasticated zip on the bottom section was quite hard to use when the bag was full.
For more details on the Mountain Warehouse Traveller, please click here
- Large detachable daypack
- Integrated rain cover
- A bit heavy
Have you Chosen a Backpack? Where will you take it? Have a look at these posts for some ideas
Deuter Quantum 70L
The Deuter Quantum 70L is more of a traditional style hiking backpack with a drawstring top loader, It makes a great option if you think that you might head out into the hills for a bit of hiking on your travels. As it loads from the top it is a bit harder to pack it and may not be the best choice if you want your clothes to stay crease free.
It is a strangely named backpack, the main section is 70 litres but then you have a 10-litre pocket right at the top and another 10 litres in the detachable daypack.
All in all, it is a big pack so you have no worries about fitting all your stuff in, and you could make use of the separate section at the bottom of the main compartment to store your sleeping bag, towel, toiletries or things that you need quick access to.
There is generous padding on the shoulder straps and waist belt making this one of the most comfortable pack to carry and there is a good weight transfer through the frame to pass the load onto your hips.
The Vari-Quick back system is easily adjustable and allows you to move the shoulder straps up or down to fit shorter and taller people. The back panel of this pack promotes airflow with a breathable mesh and an open section along the spine.
The mini pack that clips to the outside of the pack and can also be clipped to dual rings on the shoulder straps allowing you to wear it on your front. This is a great feature if you’re going to be walking through crowded areas and want to keep your valuables safely in sight.
The daypack itself is decent but not quite a well featured or comfortable as the Osprey Farpoint daypack – there are no straps across the chest or waist and the padding isn’t as good. However, it does clip onto the main pack a bit quicker than the Osprey one which is attached by zips.
The pack comes with a duffel bag that doubles as a rain cover when you pull the main straps out.
For more details on the Deuter Quantum 70L, please click here
- Great for both travel and hiking
- Detachable daypack
- Integrated rain and travel cover
- Top loading makes it harder to pack
Deuter makes a women’s version of this pack that is 10 litres smaller.
Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP65
Capacity 65 litres |Weight: 2.9kg
If you are looking for a backpack that goes the extra mile to keep your possessions safe then you may want to consider the Pacsafe Venturesafe backpack. This backpack incorporates a number of specialist anti-theft features that set it apart from the other packs in this review.
As a measure to prevent ‘slash and run theft’, Pacsafe have included stainless steel wire mesh slash guards hidden within the fabric of all the external panels of the backpack.
The zips on the backpack are well made and have a puncture-resistant design aimed at stopping thieves from cutting through the traditionally weak zip area. There are great interlocking zip pullers and a Roobar locking system which allows you to lock the main compartment and front compartment using one central locking point.
A particularly useful feature of this is the ability to attach the bag to railings, beds or seat legs on trains using the included locking cable. This will be enough to give you peace of mind to relax on the train and will stop most opportunist grab and run thefts.
Aside from the anti-theft features, you get a well designed and high spec backpack with good padding, a wide opening front-loading pocket for easy packing, a lightweight ergonomic aluminium inner frame, adjustable back with 6 different settings, a few internal pockets for sorting your things nicely, and decent shoulder and waist straps.
The only area where this pack is lacking is that there is no attached day pack. You will surely need one for your travels so will need to use your own or look to buy a new one (check out our handy guide to the best daypacks for travel).
You will have to carry this separately or find a way of attaching it so you will need to think about how you travel and whether being able to attach your daypack is of great importance to you or not.
For more details on the Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP65, please click here
- Loads of great anti-theft features
- Good design with lots of pockets, straps etc
- Front loading through a large zipped opening
- No integrated rain or travel cover
- No attached daypack
The North Face Terra 50
The North Face Terra 50 is a traditional style backpack but with a wide zipped top loading pocket, and a separate section at the bottom. It has the premium feel that you would expect from a North Face product and has good quality padded straps and waist belt.
We found it comfortable and the materials seem to be durable. It is a smallish pack at 50 litres and does not come with a daypack but if you like to pack light and think you may want it to double up as a trekking backpack then this is a great option.
For more details on the North Face Terra 50, please click here
- A good looking backpack that does everything well
- No integrated rain or travel cover
- No attached daypack
Best Lightweight Backpacks for Travel 2020
We hope that you have enjoyed reading our review of the best lightweight backpacks for travel! All the packs featured in this review are worthy of their place in a ‘best backpack’ list, but for once we found it pretty easy to pick out favourite product out of all the ones we have looked at.
The Osprey Farpoint is a clear winner having all the most important features and being put together in a nicely designed and excellently built package.
The fact that it comes in a range of sizes and the specifically designed women’s version means that everyone should be able to find their perfect pack from the range.
We also like the Pacsafe Venturesafe Backpack and if you are carrying lots of valuables or just want a bit of extra peace of mind then this pack would also do you proud.
Thank you for reading and we hope you enjoy your next travel adventure. Have you tried any of these backpacks, or do you have another favourite pack? Please let us know in the comments below.