Finding the perfect carry-on backpack can require a lot of research and shopping around. I spent 1 month searching for the perfect carry-on backpack for my travels. I wanted one that would fit heaps of items, be comfortable, have lot of support, but also be lightweight.
There’s a lot of things to think about when searching for the perfect carry on backpack. Things such as waterproofing, anti theft, weight, style, wheels or no wheels. These are all things to keep in mind when searching. But also you need to ask yourself which things are most important and which attributes would be best for your style of travel.
The backpack suggestions in this post, are ones I came across and researched myself. I think they would be fantastic options to consider when you are on the hunt for your own! I am not an expert in this department, these are just my suggestions. So it is recommended that you do your own research as well!
What is Carry on size?
Carry-on luggage that is smaller than 21″ x 15″ x 9” (45 linear inches), usually meets the requirements for every Airline. Although I would check with the airline you are flying with. Thi includes all handles and wheels. The weight limits range between 5-10kg, depending on the carrier.
You can also usually take a personal item with you, such as a laptop, camera, handbag or small backpack. Some budget airlines only allow a personal item that will fit under the seat, so again its best to check with your carrier.
Carry-On Size – Pros and Cons
- Save money on airfares – This is the biggest perk of travelling with only carry on luggage in my opinion.
- Save time at airports – You won’t need to wait for luggage after a flight, which is always a plus! Also this means you don’t need to worry about loosing your luggage.
- Better security – Your backpack will always be on your person, so you won’t have to worry about your luggage being stolen or tampered with.
- Less to carry around – I usually travel with my backpack and a smaller personal backpack, this leaves me hands free but also means I don’t have a massive suitcase/backpack to lug around!
- Less packing space – You will have to cut down on what you travel with in order for it to fit into the weight limits for carry-on.
- Not all carry on luggage limits are equal – Some airlines are pretty generous with carry on sizes and being a little over, some are very strict. If you don’t meet the correct limits, you may need to pay for checked in luggage.
- Limited liquids – Because you are only taking a carry on, you have to be mindful of your liquids.
My Top Picks at a Glance
|Best all Rounder||Osprey Fairpoint/Fairview 40L Backpack||$128-150 USD|
|Best Carry-On Luggage||Eagle Creek Tour Travel 40L Backpack||$250 USD|
|Best for size/Compression||Osprey Porter 46 Backpack||$110 USD|
|Best Anti-theft Backpack||Venturesafe X40 Anti-Theft Backpack||$329.95 USD|
|Best on Wheels||Osprey Sojourn 45L Wheeled Travel Pack||$275 USD|
Best All Rounder
Osprey Fairpoint/Fairview 40L Backpack
- Fairpoint and Fairview are similar, the Fairview is made especially for women
- Compression Straps
- Can be a duffle bag or backpack
You would have seen this backpack pop up on multiple blogs when searching for carry on backpacks and for good reason! First of all Osprey is a reputable brand, and well known for the comfortability and durability of their backpacks.
The Fairpoint and Fairview are similar backpacks, the Fairview is made especially for women. What does this mean? That there is better compatibility and sizing for multiple body types. Both these backpacks can also be doubled up as a hiking backpack, which is an excellent benefit!
This backpack is 40L which is the perfect carry on size. The backpack also meets all carry on size dimensions. It can be carried as a backpack or duffle bag, making it great for easy transportation. This bag is very well designed and has heaps of pockets for organisation. This is one of the most popular backpacks from long term travellers and digital nomads.
Best Carry-on Luggage
Eagle Creek Tour Travel 40L Backpack
- Suitcase/Clam shell Opening
- Compression straps
- Plenty of organisation
If you are looking for a backpack which has the same feel as a suitcase, this is the one for you! This backpack opens like a traditional suitcase, so you have access to two sides once the backpack is open. This makes it really easy to organise and very accessible.
The backpack fit into carry on size requirements, but also has a compression strap around the front, to help minimise size. There are two lockable zip compartments on the front of the backpack, which will help keep your items secure.
There are plenty of pockets for organising in this backpack. Like the Osprey Fairpoint/Fairview, this backpack can be carried as a duffle bag or a backpack. Eagle Creek is a well known hiking backpack brand, so you know the shoulder strap system on this backpack is going to be good!
This backpack isn’t too bulky either, which gives a nicer sleek design. If you want a fantastic in depth review of this backpack, check out the full review on PackHacker.com.
Best for Size/Compression
Osprey Porter 46 Backpack
- Excellent compression
- Plenty of space for packing cubes and organisation
- Larger than most carry-on backpacks (while still being in limits)
I did A LOT of research into trying to find a backpack for my world tour that was going to be big enough to fit everything I needed for two years AND be carry on size – this is the backpack I ended up choosing!
This backpack has heaps of space inside, while still meeting carry on requirements. What I liked most about this backpack is the compression strap. It is strong and really does compress your bag down about 1/4 -1/3 of the size.
The back support on this pack is very good, and it doubles up as a duffle bag. The backpack straps can also be tucked away, which makes it great for storing in the overhead bins.
There is a laptop compartment which easily fits my 14″ MacBook Pro, as well as heaps of other pockets for organisation. This backpack came close to being my number one pick! It has come in as a close second due to the strap system not being as compatible to body shapes as the Fairview and Fairpoint.
Best Anti-Theft Backpack
Venturesafe X40L Anti-Theft Backpack
- Slashproof technology
- Meets most International carry on standards
- RFIDsafe blocking pockets and material
If safety is your number one priority, then this backpack is for you! This backpack is designed to protect your backpack, belongings and identify. Pacsafe are renowned for their slash proof technology.
This backpack fits into most carry on requirements, with heaps of packing space inside. The only downfall with this backpack is how it opens, it can make if difficult to pack/unpack.
There are external pockets and hooks, making it easy to carry items on the outside of your backpack. Inside the pack are compression straps, to help secure and stabilise your gear.
Another downfall of this backpack is its weight. Because of its slash proof technology, this does add extra weight to the pack. This may not be the backpack for you if you don’t like to pack light!
Best on Wheels
Osprey Sojourn 45L Wheeled Travel Pack
- Backpack and roller suitcase
- Internal compression straps
- Removable suspension
If you are looking for a suitcase which is also a backpack, this is for you. This would be a great option if you still wanted to choice to wheel your luggage and carry it.
Similar to all Osprey backpacks, this pack has daisy chains, where you can strap items to the outside of the pack. It also has a compression strap system or ‘straight jacket compression’ on the front of the pack, allowing you to secure your belongings.
This pack has good ventilation on its backpack strap system and plenty of pockets for organisation. As this pack is both a wheeler and backpack, it does weigh on the heavier side, coming in at 3.6kg.
Nevertheless this would be an excellent choice if you can’t choose between a backpack or suitcase for your luggage!
This list only shows 5 backpacks, there are heaps of others on the market. My two favourites for this list are the Osprey Porter pack 46 – mainly for its compression strap system. And the Eagle Creek Tour travel 40L – for its organisation and book style opening.
I know this guide was basic and not in depth (as I am not an expert), but I hope it gave you 5 great options to consider on your hunt for your new carry on backpack. Happy shopping!