- Buyer's Guide
Buyer’s Guide :: Best Travel Backpacks Part 2
Didn’t see anything that really spoke to your needs in Part 1 of our Best Travel Backpacks buyer’s guide? Maybe you just like plenty of choice when it comes to picking a worthy travel companion that’s right for you…and we can respect that. 😉 So we’re dishing up Part 2 which is packed full of more awesome travel carry that will have you itching to get on the move…
CamelBak worked with Mystery Ranch to produce the TriZip which features Mystery Ranch’s adjustable Futura harness and 3Zip design. CamelBak are known for their focus on hydration and the TriZip is no exception, incorporating a 3-liter hydration bladder and a choice of exit ports for the drinking tube. The pack also comes with a removable padded hipbelt, MOLLE webbing for attaching items externally, quick-access pockets on the top and sides, along with inner mesh pockets located high up on the pack’s interior away from crush zones. For more details, check out our TriZip road test.
The Synapse 25 is a good choice for travelers who don’t need to carry a lot of stuff during their journey (think the essentials that you don’t want to put in check-in luggage or alternatively enough for an overnight or short trip). The aesthetics offer leeway for business or leisure travel, with a choice of fabrics and colorways available. The bag features water-resistant YKK zips and a thoughtful design approach to the exterior pockets so the contents don’t reduce the available space in the bag’s main compartment.
If you’re looking for a compact clamshell-style bag, Tom Bihn’s Western Flyer is one to consider. The bag has two main compartments that both open out flat for easy packing, along with a selection of quick-access external pockets. There’s also three ways to carry the bag. Use the top or side grab handles, the backpack straps that can be stowed away when not in use, or hook on a shoulder strap using the strap attachment points (note the bag doesn’t come with a shoulder strap but you can purchase one from Tom Bihn as an optional extra or use a strap from another bag).
Inspired by alpine packs but designed for everyday use, this bag features a streamlined silhouette and stowable shoulder straps if you want to make the profile even cleaner. The pack’s exterior pockets provide storage for items needed on the go, while the water-resistant construction offers protection when showers strike and reflective detailing enhances visibility at night. There’s also the option to exclude the exterior logos if desired.
Traveling with a suit is not the easiest of tasks, especially when using a backpack. The SLICKS Suit25 aims to change this, with an integrated suit cover and hanger that can be removed from the pack if you want to hang the suit separately. The main compartment has a clamshell design for convenient packing, along with interior and exterior pockets and a laptop section on the back panel that accommodates 15-inch laptops. The shoulder straps can be tucked away for a cleaner look when carrying the bag with the side grab handle and a rain cover is also included for protection against the elements.
No matter how much you love your pack, it can start to look a little…well…the same, day in and day out. This isn’t a problem with Ethnotek’s Raja Pack however thanks to a wide choice of threads that can be easily attached to the front panel, so you can alter the look of your pack to suit your mood at any particular time. Not only do the threads provide a way to mix things up with the aesthetics, but the textiles utilized in them are also carefully created by artisans from around the world, so you’re helping to support traditional craft techniques – which is pretty awesome. The pack has plenty of pockets – even pockets within pockets – so gear can be kept tidy, while the laptop section accommodates up to 17-inch laptops. The main compartment has a roll-top opening but items at the bottom can be accessed through a side opening on the pack too.
If you love the ready-for-action durability of tactical packs but want something that doesn’t actually shout tactical, the Khard 30 is a great option. Designed for Arc’teryx’s LEAF (Law Enforcement & Armed Forces) range, the pack has awesome pattern-making, fantastic access, rugged construction and a host of configuration options when using the internal Velcro panels and daisy chains. The external side pockets are large enough for 3-liter hydration bladders or alternatively water bottles. If you’re keen to learn more, check out our Khard 30 road test.
Timbuk2’s Command backpack has a TSA-compliant section for your tech – so you just need to open it out flat and send it through airport security, without needing to remove gadgets. The aesthetics don’t look out of place when you need to travel for business, but they work just as well in casual settings too. The external pockets offer storage for items you require on the go and the bag’s 32-liter volume is large enough for it to serve as the only bag you need for a short trip (or if you’ve nailed the technique of packing light).
Heimplanet’s Monolith Daypack plays between work and leisure travel. It can be carried as a backpack when you need to haul loads comfortably but can also be converted into a shoulder bag for a more businesslike appearance. The interior has zipped pockets for storing smaller items and the external webbing and front straps can be used for attaching extra gear. The bag also incorporates a side-access padded laptop section and water-repellent zips.
The Mission Workshop Rambler is packed full of nifty features. One of the primary ones is that the volume can double in size from 1,350 cu.in. to 2,700 cu.in. – great for when you need to squeeze in extra gear for long trips or you got a bit carried away with souvenir shopping. Another handy feature is that the bag can be utilized in a roll-top format or a flap-down format. If you’re carrying tech, the roll-top section is large enough to fit a 17-inch laptop, while the front pocket fits a 13-inch laptop or tablet.
If you’re happy to roll with a tactical vibe to your carry, TAD’s FAST Pack EDC offers flexibility for carrying a variety of gear. The external webbing and removable Transporter Tail are a handy combo for attaching oddly-shaped items or extra gear to the pack. There’s a range of exterior zipped pockets including side and top pockets, a hydration bladder pocket and what TAD calls the Flashlight Cave (a bottom exterior pocket that when combined with a gear retractor makes accessing gear quick without taking the pack off). In addition, the pack’s padded hipbelt can be removed if you’re not using it or want to shed some carry weight. If you’re interested in the pack, our road test provides further details on it.