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The perfect carry-on backpack

Best Carry on Backpack for Air Travel

Need some help choosing the perfect carry-on backpack? We've got you covered! Read on and find out what you need to know to make the right choice! 

When traveling, many people face the eternal dilemma of choosing the best carry-on backpack for air travel. The best choice, in any case, mainly relies on each traveler´s needs and the conditions of each particular trip. 

A quality backpack can make a big difference when traveling. After all, if you pack light, it may be the only thing you take with you on your trip. An ideal travel backpack won’t take up much space while traveling and can save time since you won’t have to wait for your luggage to be taken off the plane once you arrive. The right backpack can become a traveler’s best friend, and when you find a good one, it can serve you for years. In this article, we evaluate the best carry-on backpack for air travel for you. Read on to learn more.

5 of the Best Backpacks for Air Travel with Pros-Cons

Finding the backpack that best suits your needs can be a tedious process, somewhat personal, and in some cases complicated. So we put together a wide selection of the best carry-on backpacks for air travel currently available on the market.

Nomatic Backpack

as of June 9, 2024 11:56 am


  • The NOMATIC 20L Laptop Backpack is one of the most practical, high-quality, and stylish backpacks available on the market today. 
  • It is made of resistant and waterproof materials. 
  • Thanks to its strap system, you can carry them as a backpack or as a briefcase. 
  • It gives you easy access to its interior from all sides, thanks to the location of its zippers. 
  • It has 20 different pockets to store everything you need in an organized way.
  • It has practical pass-through holes to load your devices quickly. 
  • Has a retractable key leash. 
  • Magnetic pocket for water bottle and reflective bands on the front and back.


  • It is one of the most functional backpacks currently available on the market.
  • It is stylish and professional looking.
  • It is waterproof.
  • It is made with genuinely resistant materials and YKK zippers.
  • It has a storage capacity of 20L, with a zipper that makes it expandable to a 24L capacity.
  • It has 20 different functional pockets, each with a purpose. A security pocket with RFID closure, several elastic mesh pockets, quick access fleece pocket, and a protective hard shell for sunglasses.
  • It provides easy access to all its compartments through its full perimeter zippers and, at the same time, keeps your things safe.
  • It has shoulder straps designed to be used as a backpack or as a briefcase and a pass-through panel to slide the pack on the luggage handle.
  • It has magnetic water bottle pockets that expand when you use them and retract when you don’t.


  • It may be hard to find due to high demand.
  • It is significantly expensive.
  • It can draw too much attention depending on where you take it.

Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350

as of June 9, 2024 11:56 am


  • In addition to looking good, the Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 backpack is one of the safest that exists. 
  • It has an anti-theft design with lockable zippers and is made of anti-cut materials. 
  • It is comfortable with a padded back and straps for maximum comfort. 
  • It is perfect for taking your laptop wherever you go, and it has several pockets to organize all your belongings. 
  • It is compact and light, but at the same time spacious. 
  • It is made of waterproof and long-lasting materials.


  • This backpack will keep your things safe with its anti-theft design with lockable zippers, as well as its RFID blocking pocket to keep your credit cards or ID protected.
  • It is compact and lightweight yet roomy enough to hold all your belongings. It can easily hold a small laptop, a notebook up to 13″ and an Ipad. The backpack weighs a total of 1.5lbs.
  • It has a 5-year warranty and is made of durable, waterproof nylon and polyester.
  • It’s comfortable to wear, has padded adjustable straps, a padded back, and a suspended padded laptop pocket.


  • It may be a bit small for some travelers.
  • It has a single size and is not expandable.
  • It may look too minimalist for some.

Timbuk2 Uptown Backpack

as of June 9, 2024 11:56 am


  • Expandable, stylish, rugged, and waterproof, the TIMBUK2 Parker Commuter Laptop Backpack is perfect for travel or everyday use. 
  • It can hold up to a 15” laptop and has enough compartments to keep all your things safe and well organized. 
  • Handy extra accessories like a hidden sight loop to attach flashing light when riding, Drain Holes, Waist and Sternum Straps, Magnetic Compression Straps, and Outside Straps for Cinching or Expanding. 
  • It is made of nylon and is resistant to weather and water, with perfect measurements for day-to-day and expandable to an ideal size for weekend trips. 
  • It has a lifetime guarantee.


  • It has a modern, almost futuristic appearance.
  • It is designed with organization in mind.
  • It’s made of Cordura nylon for rugged performance and weather protection with unique ultra-anti-water materials for lousy weather. It also has a reflective panel for when you go out at night.
  • It has a lifetime warranty guaranteed by Timbuk2.
  • It is the perfect size to carry all your things, has a stock capacity of 35L, and is expandable for when you need to take a little more. It has an internal laptop sleeve that can hold up to a 15″ laptop. It has side pockets ideal for water bottles.
  • Easy access front pocket.
  • It has external straps to cinch or expand as the situation requires.
  • It features an internal hidden view loop under the bottom panel for attaching light when riding at night.


  • It was a little expensive.
  • The main pocket is a single large pocket, making it difficult to reach things at the bottom of the backpack is full.
  • The size of the zipper can be a bit narrow to put on your 15-inch laptop if it has a protective case.
  • Some users report an issue with the storm flap of the main compartment zippers.

Bellroy Transit Backpack

as of June 9, 2024 11:56 am


  • If you’re looking for a truly traditional backpack that also looks great, the Bellroy Transit Backpack may be a perfect choice for you. 
  • It has a traditional format designed for comfort and functionality. 
  • It has a padded back and straps, and a durable handle. 
  • It offers easy access to its compartments and has an internal zippered pocket. 
  • It has a padded laptop pocket and another extra special padded pocket to carry your Ipad or documents.


  • It is a functional and light backpack with a design based on comfort.
  • It has padded shoulder straps and a padded back system. It is an easy-to-handle backpack.
  • It has a padded laptop pocket that can hold up to a 15″ laptop and an additional padded pocket that can easily hold an Ipad or A5 size document.
  • It has an external zippered pocket to store valuables and an internal zippered pocket.
  • It has a striking appearance and is available in various colors.


  • Seams and joints may not be as strong.
  • Although it is 20L, the internal organization may reduce the storage capacity.
  • The padding is a bit sparse, so it may not protect your laptop as well.
  • It is a bit expensive concerning price/quality.

Thule Subterra Backpack 34L

as of June 9, 2024 11:56 am


  • The Thule Subterra 34L Backpack is the perfect backpack for those trips of a few days or when you need to carry a little more stuff than usual. 
  • It has a removable packing cube that allows you to keep your clothes organized inside the backpack. 
  • It has a secure construction padded laptop pocket and access from above or from a side zipper. 
  • It has an internal pocket for your power bank and pass-through holes that make it easy to connect your devices right inside the backpack. 
  • It has a pass-through panel to attach it to rolling luggage.


  • It is one of the most durable, resistant, and functional backpacks currently available on the market.
  • It offers easy access and at the same time keeps your belongings safe with its rolltop opening with magnetic closure.
  • It will keep your laptop safe and secure in its padded sleeve for laptops up to 15.6″ with safe edge construction and secure flap closure.
  • It has a side zipper and a top-loading compartment through which you can easily access your laptop.
  • It comes with a removable packing cube perfect for keeping your clothes organized while you travel.
  • It features a special pass-through panel to attach to your rolling luggage.
  • It has internal pass-through holes between pockets designed to connect your electronics to a power supply with ease.


  • It can be a bit expensive.
  • It is a little big for day-to-day use and lacks organizational pockets in the main compartment.
  • The front compartment can be a bit small.
  • The backpack doesn’t stand up on its own.

What to Look for in the Best Carry-on Backpack for Air Travel?

When choosing your next travel backpack, several crucial factors can affect your choice. It is essential that your backpack compliments you and that — like you — it can adapt to all kinds of environments and situations while you travel. 

To make the best choice about which backpack to buy, the most important thing is that you first establish your needs and the conditions of your trip. What’s the purpose of your travel? How many things do you typically need to take with you? Do you usually travel with your laptop? Do you usually travel for business or pleasure? You may even consider a stylish backpack. After all, we all like to have gear that represents us and complements our style. 

Here are some things to consider when choosing your next travel backpack:


Consider weight when finding the best carry on backpack

Since your backpack will most likely be strapped to your back for a long time, it shouldn’t represent an extra burden itself. Some backpacks may have additional decorations or metal hooks to hang more things or perhaps the bag is made of dense and heavy materials. But when choosing your backpack, it is better to evaluate if you need all the components and features it offers and think about practicality while traveling. Sometimes, depending on the conditions of your trip and your needs, a lightweight backpack can beat a pack with elaborate accessories or too many frills.


Comfort when traveling is vital, especially when it comes to your backpack. So it’s good to make sure that your bag is comfortable to carry on your back for extended periods. Make sure that it has padded straps and backing. If it doesn’t have these features, make sure that its design is comfortable. A backpack can look good and be fully equipped with striking accessories and have tons of pockets, but at the end of the day, if it is uncomfortable to wear and wear for a long time, this backpack will likely end up staying in your closet.


Unless you plan on purchasing a different backpack for each trip, you will likely need to find one that suits different needs. Therefore, it is vital that your backpack is versatile, has several functionalities, and adapts to the types of trips you usually take. Think of it this way: instead of having one backpack specifically for hiking and carrying your laptop, it might be more convenient to have a bag you can use in both situations. Choose according to your needs and how your gear could adapt to all of them.

Is your backpack resistant to weather and water,


This is one of the most important aspects to consider when choosing your next backpack. Many brands emphasize the durability and resistance of the materials they use to make their backpacks because it is one of the first characteristics that any customer looks at. After all, it is useless to have a light, functional, stylish, and comfortable backpack if it will break the first or second time you use it. That is why you must verify that the backpack you want to buy is made of resilient materials and that its seams and joints are solid and durable.

Packing capacity

The ideal storage capacity of your backpack is a personal preference since it depends more than anything on the needs of each person. However, it is crucial to consider since not all require the same storage capacity. For example, if you’re just going on a quick weekend trip where you just need to pack a few clothes and maybe your laptop, a small backpack might be more than enough, but if you plan on taking a more extended trip, you might need some gear with higher capacity for packing things like supplements and other extras. 

Look for these features in your ext carry on backpack

Some packs have expandable storage capacity and could work perfectly in different situations. In any case, it is best to establish how many things you usually need to put in your backpack and make your choice based on the answer.

Now that you know what to look for in a backpack, here is a list of pros and cons of the 5 best backpacks for work and travel currently available on the market.