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Hero's Journey

The Best Backpacks for One-Bag Travel

by , March 9, 2017

Travel varies for all of us. Some of us dart back and forth across the globe in short bursts for business. Others seek out adventure and travel far and wide for months or even years on end. Some of us do a little of both. But when churning over that one-bag travel backpack to be your companion, five key considerations always spring up.



The lighter a bag is, the less strain there is on your body. You won’t tire as quickly, you’ll be inclined to explore further, and you’ll enjoy the general traveling experience more. Not to mention shedding carry weight helps you avoid overweight baggage fees.

Something to bear in mind though is that lightweight materials can also be expensive, so you may have to pay more for a bag that cuts weight but stills offers reliable durability. While finding a lightweight bag will help you reduce carry weight, it’s also good practice to try and pack less if you can. Every little helps!


The more comfortable your bag is, the happier you’ll be. Traveling is tiring enough without adding an uncomfortable bag to the mix. However, the level of comfort you need will depend on your intended travel. If you’ll be on the go for a long time, have a lot to carry, or will be doing outdoor-type trips, a comfortable backpack with good suspension is important.

Try to look for a bag with a hip belt, great harness and load stabilizing shoulder straps to help with the load and transfer carry weight to your hips. Lighter loads and shorter travel distances however allow for more carry flexibility, and if you need to you can compromise on comfort a bit for other features that are more useful to your needs. It’s always good to try before you buy, so if possible go into a local store and try on different bags to see which ones feel right for you.

Packability and access

This is how easy you can get stuff in and take stuff out. You want to be able to access specific items without having to unpack a lot of your gear in the process. And it’s nice to be able to pack your gear into your pack quickly and smoothly when preparing to skip to new locales.

So consider how the bag opens (for example is it a top-loader, clamshell-style, etc.) and whether it’s right for you. Does it offer easy-access pockets for frequently used items? Do you require a lot of organization? Perhaps you need to keep business and personal items separate? Do you need compression options? These are all useful questions to consider when deciding whether a travel bag is suitable for your requirements.

goruck gr2


Travel can be demanding. Your bag may encounter rough terrain or wet weather, but there’s also the strain of being wedged into tight spaces such as overhead luggage bins, or having to endure unforgiving baggage carousels. Plus general wear and tear. The more durable a bag is, the more punishment it will be able to withstand.

However, greater durability can sometimes come at the cost of greater weight, so you’ll need to decide whether durability or weight is a priority. Your travel activities will also dictate the level of durability you need, for instance short business travel trips (where your bag is unlikely to encounter a lot of demanding environments) versus multi-week outdoor adventures.


As with all of the considerations above, the degree of versatility you require in your carry will depend on its intended use. You may want to mix outdoor and urban travel, in which case your bag will need to be able to handle diverse environments. Perhaps you want the flexibility to carry a variety of loads, so a bag with expandability features could be a good fit. Organization and aesthetics are also important here. For example you may want a business bag that looks the part, keeps your work and personal items separate, and can be carried in a variety of ways for easy movement outside of work settings.

Now that you’ve got some key considerations in mind, here are a few of our top picks to suit a wide range of one-bag travel needs.

Osprey Porter 46 ($130)

Osprey Porter 46

Affordable and accessible

Osprey’s Porter 46 is suitable for carry-on use, and good value for money. At 2 lbs. 6.45 oz. (1.09 kg), it won’t weigh you down and swallows gear like a champ. A good mix of pockets keep items organized, including a padded laptop pocket. Its stowable backpack straps and hip belt help clean up the exterior if you want to carry it by the side handle or need to check it in for any reason. The StraightJacket compression with foam sidewalls is handy for cinching down the load and protecting your gear, and the main compartment’s panel zip access provides convenient packing and access. And this is Osprey, so you know the harness is super awesome.

Dimensions: 58cm (L) x 40cm (W) x 31cm (D)

The North Face Overhaul 40 ($159)

The North Face Overhaul 40

Great all-rounder

The versatile North Face Overhaul 40 can handle both outdoor day trips and urban environments. Coming in at 3 lbs. 3 oz. (1.45 kg), it’s comfy to wear and fitted with cushy straps, a padded harness and waist belt. And if you’re inclined to compartmentalize, it offers a healthy arsenal of pockets for organization, including a lay-flat laptop compartment for smooth transitions through checkpoints. At $159, it’s a solid option.

Dimensions: 21″ x 12″ x 7″

GOBAG 2.0 ($175.98)


Compression and modularity for easier travels

The 35L GOBAG (updated to 2.0) has a range of nifty features to help make traveling easier. A waterproof rolltop compression bag inside the main compartment lets you compress soft goods to maximize your packing space. Plus modular components allow you to tailor your carry to different trips, such as a removable and adaptable laptop harness that fits a range of laptop sizes. Further modular components include a wash bag that can be secured to the interior Velcro panel and removed easily at airport security, as well as a removable waist belt. A full edge zip and clamshell opening help you get to gear easily and quickly, and a waterproof document pocket keeps valuable papers safe from the elements.

Dimensions: 50 x 20 x 35cm (L, D,W)

Mystery Ranch Scree ($179)

Mystery Ranch Scree

Outdoor meets urban exploration

Weighing 3.1 lbs (1.4 kg), the nimble Scree is a solid choice if you’re after a smaller multifunctional pack that can roam the outdoors, tag along for overnight travel trips, and serve as an about-town daypack. Mystery Ranch’s innovative 3-Zip design provides great access, and the tough construction ensures it can handle whatever you throw at it. The pack accommodates a hydration bladder as well as water bottles, has crosshatched webbing on the exterior to attach small extras, and includes quick-access pockets for stashing frequently used items. An added bonus is the adjustable yoke which provides a customized fit for superior carry comfort.

Dimensions: 26″ x 14.5″ x 11″ (66cm x 37cm x 28cm)

Rocky Mountain Underground Core Pack ($179.98)

Rocky Mountain Underground Core Adventure Travel Pack

A versatile outdoor adventurer

RMU’s Core Pack is a versatile 35L backpack that lends itself to a variety of outdoor uses. The 270-degree clamshell design opens wide for easy packing and retrieval of gear, and the pack also offers quick-access storage for items such as climbing rope, avalanche safety equipment and ski goggles. Additional handy features include dual hydration ports, an inbuilt helmet holder, as well as diagonal and A-frame ski and snowboard carry options.

Dimensions: 26″ x 11.4″ x 7.9″

Patagonia Headway MLC ($189)

Patagonia Headway MLC

Great access with multiple carry options

The Patagonia Headway MLC (now in the Black Hole range) provides great organization and flexible carry options for trips lasting 3 to 5 days. The main compartment opens clamshell-style for convenient packing and access. There are plenty of interior and exterior pockets for keeping gear neat and tidy and accessing frequently used items easily. The bag weighs 1,425 g (3 lbs 2 oz) and offers three different carry options including stowable backpack straps, a shoulder strap, and carry grab handles.

Dimensions: 22″ x 16″ x 9″

Arc’teryx Blade 28 ($199)

Arc'teryx Blade 28

Short business trips

The Arc’teryx Blade 28 is a sleek choice (and Carry Award winner!) for overnight business trips, and can be carried as a backpack or briefcase-style using the side handle. The understated aesthetics suit urban settings, and the main compartment’s clamshell opening makes packing and getting to gear straightforward. The 1.46 kg (51 oz.) pack is good for storing business and travel essentials separately, with space for a 15″ laptop, clothing and work tools. The build? World class.

Dimensions: 21″ x 12″ x 7″

Tom Bihn Synapse 25 ($200)

Tom Bihn Synapse 25

EDC meets one-bag travel

The Synapse 25 is a comfortable and versatile backpack that works well as both an everyday carry pack and a carry-on backpack. The bag comes in a choice of fabric options including 400D Halcyon®/420D nylon ripstop weighing 1 lb 11 oz / 770 grams, as well as 1000D Cordura® weighing 1 lb 13 oz / 820 grams. Excellent organization means no shortage of pockets for stashing smaller items while retaining a sleek silhouette.

Dimensions: 20″ x 13.4″ x 9″ / 508 x 340 x 230 mm

Aer Travel Pack ($220)

Aer Travel Pack

Sleek urban style with efficient access

With its understated aesthetics and durable construction, the Aer Travel Pack looks stylish for work and holiday trips alike while being tough enough to withstand the demands of life on the go. The main compartment features a handy clamshell-style opening, while dedicated storage for a 15″ laptop, a ventilated shoe compartment, and accessible pockets for smaller items help make packing and retrieving gear easier. The pack weighs 3.9 lbs and can also be cinched down with side compression straps to form a compact daypack.

Dimensions: 21.5″ (55 cm) x 13.5″ (34 cm) x 8.5″ (22 cm)

Gregory Covert Extended Mission ($235)

Gregory Covert Extended Mission

Business functionality with carry flexibility

Urban-friendly aesthetics, good organization and a range of carry options make the 22L Gregory Covert Extended Mission a handy partner for overnight or two-day business trips. The bag weighs 1.2 kg and can be carried as a backpack, briefcase or shoulder bag, with multiple pockets and compartments for organizing business items and personal gear.

Dimensions: 28cm (H) x 42cm (L) x 15cm (D)

Osprey Farpoint 55 ($240)

Osprey Farpoint 55

Backpacking in search of adventure

The Farpoint 55 offers excellent versatility for outdoor adventures, round-the-world trips and multi-week city stays alike. The M/L size weighs in at 3 lbs. 14.4 oz. (1.77 kg), and is too large to serve as a carry-on (check out the smaller Farpoint 40 for that). However, the stowable suspension system allows for a sleek silhouette when checking the bag in. The Farpoint 55 offers a range of handy features including a detachable 13L daypack (which could be used as carry-on) that can also be attached to the main pack’s harness for keeping valuables and frequently used items within easy reach. The daypack is great for roaming with the essentials when it’s time for sightseeing or a day hike. There’s also panel zip access to the main bag for easy packing and access throughout.

Maximum dimensions (M/L): 65cm (L) x 32cm (W) x 32cm (D)

Tortuga Outbreaker 45 ($249)

Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack

A portable suitcase for round-the-world travel

While the Tortuga Outbreaker also comes in a 35L option ($224), the 45L still falls within maximum carry-on size and is a good choice for longer trips or when you need the option to carry more gear. It’s constructed with four-layer sailcloth to keep the elements at bay, and offers handy access with a clamshell-style opening for the main compartment and a lay-flat laptop compartment for getting through airport security quickly. It’s on the heavier side, coming in at 5.1 lbs (2.3 kg), but the good suspension system keeps you comfortable on the go. The shoulder straps can be moved up or down to accommodate different torso heights for a better fit, and there’s also a removable hip belt to transfer carry weight to your hips. Plus there’s no shortage of pockets for organization.

Dimensions: 22″ x 14″ x 9″

Pacsafe Venturesafe X40 PLUS ($250)

Pacsafe Venturesafe X40 PLUS

Safety on the move for security-conscious travellers

If you’re after a host of understated security features that protect your gear on the go without drawing unnecessary attention to your bag, this pack is king. With features such as eXomesh® slashguards, an RFIDsafe™ pocket, lockable zippers, and a hook to attach the pack to a secure fixture, you can enjoy peace of mind on the move. But the pack offers a range of other handy travel features too, such as an inbuilt rain cover, space for a 15″ laptop, and a removable divider in the main compartment to separate your gear. It’s fairly lightweight too at 3 lbs. 14.8 oz. (1.8 kg).

Dimensions: 55cm (H) x 30cm (W) x 22cm (D) / 21.7″ x 11.9″ x 8.7″

Arc’teryx Khamski 38 ($259)

Arc'teryx Khamski 38

Versatility for snow seekers and hikers

Not what you first think of when you think ‘travel backpack’, but the Khamski works super well for adventurous vagabonds who leg it from tarmac to mountain top. At 38L the Khamski is designed for overnight and day trips in the backcountry, with diagonal or A-frame carry for skis and vertical carry for snowboards (or anything else you can latch on). The pack weighs 1.56 kg (55 oz.), with a weather-resistant and durable construction and simple storage for mid and small-sized items. However, it lends itself to general outdoor exploration and hiking too, offering a top-loading design with a full-length side zip for convenient access to gear.

Dimensions: 8″ x 13″ x 27″

Red Oxx Sky Train ($275)

Red Oxx Sky Train

Tough as an ox for demanding use

Travel can be demanding on your carry, which is why the Red Oxx Sky Train is built to take a beating. Made by hand in the USA, the bag comes with a lifetime warranty and features durable 1000D Cordura construction. The Sky Train can be carried in a variety of ways such as using the grab handles, the removable shoulder strap or the stowable backpack straps. The bag weighs 4 lbs (1.81 kg) and provides two compartments that unzip flat for easy packing.

Dimensions: 20″L x 9″W x 13″H (50.8cm L x 22.7cm W x 33cm H)

Triple Aught Design Meridian Transport Case 25L ($300)

Triple Aught Design Meridian Transport Case

Tactical chic for urban missions

With its discreet aesthetics, good organization, and multiple carry options the Meridian Transport Case can adapt to changing needs and environments with ease. The bag weighs 43.20 oz. (1.23 kg) and offers a functional design with a range of compartments and pockets to keep your gear tidy and quickly accessible. In addition, the bag can be carried as a backpack, shoulder bag or using the top grab handles, allowing you to alternate accordingly for shorter and longer travel distances and diverse load weights.

Dimensions: 18″ (45.72cm) W x 11″ (27.94cm) H x 6.5″ (16.51cm) D

Alchemy Equipment AEL008 ($320)

Alchemy Equipment AEL008

Perfect for the plane to your hotel

The AEL008 scores on both the style and performance fronts. This Carry Award winner‘s clean silhouette looks right at home in urban settings, while the versatile and durable design can be carried as a backpack, shoulder bag or duffel. The bag weighs 1.5 kg and is suitable for carry-on use, with a clamshell-style main compartment and internal compression straps. A range of pockets provide storage for your smaller items, and the laptop sleeve features a handy ejecting mechanism. This is a chic piece for transporting your gear from the airport to a hotel or resort. However, you’ll likely want to pair it with a smaller packable day bag for carrying the essentials at your destination.

Dimensions: 55cm x 35cm x 25cm

Mission Workshop Vandal ($325)

Mission Workshop Vandal

Expandability for urban adventures

The Vandal merges sleek urban style with great expandability, allowing it to shrink or grow with changing carry needs and handle diverse loads with ease. The pack weighs 4.4 lbs. (2 kg) and can expand from 1,800 cu.in. to 4,000 cu.in. (29L to 64L). It can be used in either a rolltop or flap-down configuration and fits up to a 17 inch laptop. Further features in this pack’s favor include a lifetime warranty and weatherproof construction.

Dimensions: 15″ x 21″ x 6″

GORUCK GR2 ($395)


A bombproof build for demanding use

If durability is a key priority, the GORUCK GR2 should definitely be on your radar. This former Carry Awards’ winner is built to take a beating, the pack is constructed from 1000D Cordura and tough enough to handle demanding use on a daily basis. Suitable for carry-on use, the GR2 opens flat for easy packing and offers multiple compartments, pockets, and internal and external MOLLE for organization. Two size options are available, 34L and 40L, weighing 4.35 lbs and 4.75 lbs respectively. This is one tough bit of kit.

Dimensions 34L: 12.5″ (W) x 20.5″ (H) x 9″ (D) / 40L: 12.5″ (W) x 22″ (H) x 9″ (D)

Tom Bihn The Hero’s Journey ($480)

Tom Bihn The Hero's Journey

A modular multitasker

The thoughtfully designed Hero’s Journey is actually two bags in one. The main bag suits maximum carry-on size and the smaller Top Pack qualifies as a personal carry-on item. At your destination they can be zipped together to form a 55L backpack. Alternatively the Top Pack can be used as a day bag at your destination, with the remainder of your gear stored in the main pack. The Hero’s Journey includes a removable hip belt, plus a removable shoulder strap for the Top Pack (which can also be carried as a waist pack or daypack). Carry options are also available with the main pack which can be carried as a backpack, duffel or shoulder bag (a shoulder strap is not included). The main bag weighs 3 lbs. 1 oz. (1.39 kg), while the Top Pack comes in at 1 lb (445 grams). It’s also worth considering that the price tag is pretty hefty, but you get a lot of bag for your buck. Tom Bihn make carry to last.

Dimensions Main Bag: 22″ x 14″ x 9″ / 55.5cm x 35.5cm x 23cm

Dimensions Top Pack (Pocket or Daypack Mode): 14″ x 9″ x 5.5″ / 35.5cm x 23cm x 14cm

Dimensions Top Pack (Shoulder Bag Mode): 14″ x 9″ x 7.5″ / 35.5cm x 23cm x 19cm

Outlier Ultrahigh Duffelpack ($750)

Outlier Ultrahigh Duffelpack

Ultralight urban luxury

If you’re keen to shed the carry weight while still maintaining some slick city style, the Ultrahigh Duffelpack is a fine choice. Constructed with Ultrahigh Dyneema Composite fabric, the bag comes with two Double Action straps and weighs a total of 1045 g with the straps (775 g without). Lightweight while still retaining strength and durability, the bag provides a versatile expandable design with a maximum 50L volume closed and 78L open. In addition to its expandability and rolltop compression, the bag can be carried as a backpack, duffel or unrolled shoulder bag (stylist mode). The wide opening also makes packing and access simple. An obvious flag, this is an expensive investment, top tier hardware and materials come at a price. 😉

Dimensions: 10″ (W) x 21″ (L) x 20″ (H)

SDR D3 Traveller Duffel ($985)

SDR D3 Traveller Duffel

Discreet and off the grid

Need to fly under the radar? The D3 Traveller Duffel is a discreet and ultralight bag that will help you avoid drawing unwanted attention to yourself. The bag weighs 1.10 lbs. (500 g) and offers a great balance of strength, light weight and low-key design. Plus it’s easily packable for storage or carrying in another bag. The bag is constructed with two layers of weatherproof SDRT Grade Dyneema, with one of the layers suspended inside the other for support, protection, and to create a relaxed exterior even if the bag is fully packed. The downside? This is a couple of notes off a grand, so you better be sure you need this kind of delicious performance.

Dimensions: 21.5″ (L) x 10.5″ (W) x 10.5″ (H) (57cm x 27cm x 27cm)

*If you found this article valuable, you might also like:

The 8 Best Packing Cubes To Help You Organize Your Travel

Best One Bag Travel Ultralight Gear & Packing List

The Best Gear for Travel

*Feature image via Tom Bihn

  • BortLicensePlatez

    The outlier is nice, but so comically priced its not even in the same category. I mean yeah outlier can be, say, a $100, $150 premium on other companies’ product. but a $500 premium for some dyneema materials and a rolltop? No thanks.

    • AA

      I agree the Outlier duffle is horrendously overpriced (especially as the older duffle was about $550 or so) and I wouldn’t buy it having tried the previous version but there are no cheap dyneema duffles unfortunately. They all cost quite a bit.

      Also doesn’t your complaint also apply to the D3, the daddy of overpriced bags? I’d say the Outlier duffle delivers more features/premium materials at a lower price point.

      • BortLicensePlatez

        Somebody, somewhere should make a good cheap-enough dyneema duffel. Flowfold comes close but not enough. And given that cuben/dyneema fabric can be had for not much more than x-pac or silnylon, I’m not sure why nobody has done it.

        And absolutely – D3 is a hilarious joke of a bag. I can’t imagine anyone taking that anywhere other than to an instagram shoot. Its uncomfortable, floppy, and the zipper is shit.

        • AA

          Yeah but no one does, except for Cecil Goods and I wasn’t entirely convinced by their offer (sizing on their documentation didn’t match up to the sizing on their website for example. Really lacking in detail).

          Also I have no idea where the black dyneema as an exclusive came from, you’re right to call it out. But, you’re wrong to shit on Outlier generally. Some of their clothes are overpriced for what you get, others like SDs etc are excellent, and I live in them. They’re definitely better at making pants than anything else. They’re also a lot cheaper than similar high end brands. Also, I own Outlier bags and HMG bags, and the Outlier bags are noticeably better for city use. They also cost a ton more so it’s not entirely fair, but the difference in comfort and quality is very noticeable. That’s not to crap on HMG’s quality.

          Yeah the D3 is…Not great. Especially not at that price point. At least the Outlier bag has structure, their armordon framesheets are excellent, miles better than HDPE or similar. I had the misfortune of getting the duffle iteration that didn’t have that armordon framesheet and it was terrible.

          • BortLicensePlatez

            Thanks for this, very interesting! I find the HMG windrider (is that the backpack you have) such an excellent comfortable pack, and love the 150d cuben/dyneema hybrid – which if I recall from a recent /r/outlier thread, was the same material they use in their various packs (in fact i believe that HMG at one point made outlier’s bags for them?). Again, it can’t be tough to make more basic, more interesting duffels/weekenders with this material. If i had time and/or sewing skills I’d sure as shit put something together to hit that $2-300 MAX pricepoint.. it would sell crazy better than outlier’s jokily expensive stuff.

            And lol @ people in this thread comparing this to veilance – I mean veilance is pretty shitty, made in sweatshops, and its only popular because the cool techbros think they’re in a spy movie or something (i guess working for Palantir in silicon valley, they kind of are?).

          • AA

            I have the Hypercity International Backpack (secondhand for a very good price) and it is very comfortable. When i was referring to less comfortable HMG bags, I should have specified I meant the ones without the separate padded shoulder straps, so the Stuff Pack and the Summit Pack, both of which are less comfy than Outlier’s options, the shoulder straps are attached too close together. HMG did used to make Outlier’s bags, and since Outlier started sourcing them directly you can see a jump in the quality of the materials used other than the dyneema fabrics.

            I’m sure it’s possible to produce a duffle for 300 max, but it won’t have the same extra quality material touches Outlier is good for. I think if Outlier actually made a decent larger travel backpack then yeah, totally worth it.

            I’ve heard Veilance build quality is crazy high and they’re made in Canada. I don’t think goretex should cost that much though. Outlier also largely uses North American or western production.

          • BortLicensePlatez

            Interesting conversation – and more informative than most of the claptrap I read on carryology – though I confess I just like the pictures 😉

            You should start a blog!

          • AA

            Thanks, if I ever actually used my gear fully or had a decent camera I would

          • TeamCarryology

            100% correct, @aarora17:disqus. Veilance is all made in Canada. No sweatshops there. And oh-so-epic build quality!

    • Tom Ford

      With Outlier you’re getting a direct to consumer price, no retailer in-between doubling the markup. Not sure where you’re getting this $100-$150 premium from, certainly not an in-class product. Five minutes of Googling will show you Outlier costs significantly less than what their competitors; Nanamica, ACRNM and Veilance charge.

      Also, the black dyneema featured in the dufflepack is a seriously new product. It was only recently made available in 2015 so just like any new technology there’s an early adopted fee that (when combined with high fashion) doesn’t make sense to the average consumer. Compare something like the dufflepack to a leather shoulder bag from HARDGRAFT and you’ll think you’re getting a steal.

      • BortLicensePlatez

        You can get the exact same fabric (a dyneema or “spectra” cuben hybrid) for much, much cheaper also “direct to consumer” (a fetish that you should unpack) from the cottage ultralight backpack industry, such as HMG, Z-Packs, Six Moon, MLD, etc. Or a totally custom pack from Zimmerbuilt. All those are at the 350-500 range.

        What outlier charges is a joke, and they can only get away with it because people really think that they’re something unique (in some senses they encourage this with their limited “drop” business model).

  • zkim

    Thank you for the article. This is really striking the nerve in my quest of finding the “better” bag to travel etc. with.
    Along the criteria (weight, comfort, packabilty/access, durability, versatilty) it’s surprising how few companies seem to have paid attention to this area.
    Some interesting finds so far which I would suggest adding:
    Salomon X Alp 30
    Millican Miles the Duffle 27
    Heimplanet Motion Series (they have the right tech and will be interesting in the near future)

    • sygyzy

      I feel like the size of the Motion Series would not lend itself well to One-Bag travel. Also, as the name implies, it’s for active (motion) movement. Not for travel. Usually onebaggers are willing to put up with more weight/bulk to have more storage and comfort.

      • zkim

        Yess, I missed to specify that the Heimplanet Motion Series is “not suitable but” will be interesting in the near future. As in: they demonstrate the right resources with the Motion series and the right spin to build a great “one-bag” which would hit a sweet spot combining weight and storage, all with a versatile design.

  • http://alldayruckoff.com/ Brian – All Day Ruckoff

    There Hero’s Journey is such an interesting pack… would love to see one of them in real life.

    • sygyzy

      That makes two of us.

      • https://alldayruckoff.com/ Brian – All Day Ruckoff

        Might have to make a trip down to Tom Bihn in the future just to check it out… we’ll see!

  • Graeme

    My usual travel pack is a Defy Verbockel. It’s the perfect size for carry-on in Australia, however, the thick canvas makes it a really heavy bag, and the padded laptop compartment takes up a lot of space.

    I find weight, rather than volume, to be the limiting factor for hand luggage. If I was getting something custom, I’d be tempted by a Rivendell Mountain Gear Larkspur in Cuben. I’d try to get it shrunk down slightly too, to match the dimensions of the Verbockel when rolled.


    • sygyzy

      You don’t mind the extra weight and bulk of the Austrialpin buckle? Or was it a selling point for you?

      • Graeme

        The buckle’s weight isn’t a problem, and it’s pretty sweet. I don’t have a fetish for them, as some of the Carryology team do, but it was a selling point.

        It’s more that the sack is built out of a heavyweight canvas, and there’s a lot of material in it.

        If I was doing it again, I’d get a Cordura version. Defy offer it in their Rogue Camouflage, and sometimes have different variants in their Freaky Friday releases. That would result in a lighter pack.

  • Rigos Ramas

    Well, that is an interesting list, but quite at the very high end, I have personal experience with 2 packs that I would highly recommend.

    1. Osprey Farpoint 40. I do not understand why it is not included in the list. I think it is much better to carry around than Porter 46 (and others perhaps in the list), and the best carry-on pack for me, since it combines the maximum volume under or at the limits for carry-on for all airlines (and I am talking about Europe with the most infamous low-budget companies).

    2. Deuter TransAlpine 30. It is impressive that I do not see this pack being commented at all. It is a cycling pack mainly, although I find it a great all-rounder for daily use and travel (ok you have to be more minimalistic). But is has great support, a waistbelt that when not used it doesn’t bother, good balance between organization and space, straps to stabilize and squeeze the pack (keeping its profile very slim when not needed), and a great ‘secret’ pocket at the back (perfect for passport). It can handle a lot of abuse and it comes with a separate raincover. [I can say much more, but I prefer to trigger TeamCarryology to test it also!]

    The price of each pack is close to ~$100, which I think it is a decent price to pay for a quality pack.

    • TeamCarryology

      Hey @rigosramas:disqus, thanks for joining the conversation! We’ll check out the Deuter, for sure. It sounds like great value. Re: the Farpoint, we did include the 55, a very similar pack to the 40, just a little bigger for those keen to check in. Anything from that series is super special. Nice one!

      • Rigos Ramas

        Hi! It would be amazing to see a review on the TransAlpine. Deuter has many other interesting packs.

        As far as Farpoint 40, it is just that when I think of one-bag travel then check in is out of the question. So by definition the pack should be carry-on and, unfortunately, the Farpoint 55 is not officialy a carry-on (although there are many people saying that they have taken it onboard, so probably you can get away with it, but it is not absolutery certain).

        ps: I think that is a mistake at the volume of Rambler, it says: “expand from 1,800 cu.in. to 4,000 cu.in. (29L to 64L)” – it should be up to 46 lt not 64 🙂

        • TeamCarryology

          Hey @rigosramas:disqus, you’re definately right when it comes to carry-on and one-bag travel, the two are entwined. But in some cases, like adventure travel when you’re lugging gear, a carry-on sometimes doesn’t cut it. PS: I think we’re right on the Vandal, the Rambler is the size up. 😉

          • Rigos Ramas

            Ohhh…yes indeed Vandal goes up to 64 lt (just wow!). I remember 40+ but this applies to the “smaller” Rambler.

  • http://www.wraith808.com/ wraith808

    Used a Eagle Creek Gear Hauler on my last trips to Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. One bag for a week, and still had clean clothes both times.


    • TeamCarryology

      Looks solid @wraith808:disqus. Nice one. We’ll check it out.

    • Randy Chow

      Another vote for the Gear Hauler. Used it for a trip to Machu Picchu and to London/Paris/New York. Used in conjunction with packing cubes its a great bag!

  • gtdmouse

    no mention of Minaal’s bag? really?

    • TeamCarryology

      Hey @gtdmouse:disqus, we’re yet to see a sample in the flesh. Have you carried one? If that’s a heck yeah, give us the scoop!

      • gtdmouse

        I think it’s a great bag, although I may be biased. I have the first version, and they’ve already made a second version with improvements on the first. you can fit a lot more in the bag than you might think. I also have their smaller daily bag, which is great too. You guys should ask them for a sample of their second one so you can review it.

  • christian kaegi

    Sure, some great bags, but it generally surprises me that none of the brands mentioned addresses sustainability. I think this should be common sense nowadays. I personally use the organic cotton Backpack of small swiss brand QWSTION (http://www.qwstion.com/ch_de/backpack-organic-jetblack.html#thumb). Besides the use of materials from renewable resources wherever possible, the functionality for me works perfectly for weekend-city-trips.

    There are definitely lower priced options if you don’t mind less healthy main materials… But I’ll admit I’m completely biased, being involved with the design and development of the brand.

    • sygyzy

      When you say sustainable, do you mean upcycling? Or using new materials that come from renewable/sustainable sources to begin with? I think in general, Carryology gives *a lot* of love towards Qwstion (http://www.carryology.com/?s=qwstion). It’s impossible to include all bags and one-bag travel in particular is a very specific sub-grenre that has even stricter criteria.

  • Graham

    I cannot believe the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30 and/or Aeronaut 45 are not on this list. After trying many of the bags on this list, the Aeronaut is so thoughtfully designed, so customizable (with the ability to add/remove end pocket dividers, clothes straps, backpack straps, waist straps etc.), and made with such quality materials and construction (in the USA) – it easily bests most of these bags and is in the same price range at ~$300. It’s a classic bag and I’m not sure why it’s not given more love on Carryology. Sure, maybe it’s not the most eye-catching bag, but the ‘anonymous’ styling is arguably very good when traveling.

    • http://www.popwuping.com/ Clark

      Can you conveniently put a laptop inside?

      • Graham

        This is arguably one of the biggest weak points of the bag, although I normally don’t bring a full-size laptop when I travel so it doesn’t bother me. You can conveniently store a laptop in the back panel pocket that holds the backpack straps, but the pocket was not designed for this purpose and doesn’t provide a ton of padding. If you use a protective sleeve you’ll be fine. There is obviously also a ton of room in the main compartment for a laptop, but then you need to open the main compartment each time you want to access it, which can be a pain depending on your environment.

    • TeamCarryology

      Hey @disqus_EClIoYwMBk:disqus, we’ve heard good things about the Aeronaut, but unfortunately we haven’t had the opportunity to test it. It does fail our sweet spot though: it has to nail function and aesthetics. To be honest, we’ve always been turned off by the look, even if it is ‘anonymous’. That being said, we love the Synapse 25 and the Hero’s Journey.

      • Graham

        I understand and thanks for the reply. Love you guys – keep up the good work!

  • GuodanGR

    How can it be that a Bag for 750$ and one for over 900$ is in the list. The text under Comfort disqualifies the overpriced bags anyway.

    More than 30 liters of volume are, in my opinion, not necessary for One-Bag Travel. If the bag also needs to be multifunctional, only “real” Backpack can be used. Travel backpack are usually not suitable for longer hikes(1h+) oder walks in a City.

    For short trips and daily use, I use the Exped Mountain Pro 20. This waterproof 20 liter backpack is very simple and has enough space for clothes and equipment. http://www.exped.com/switzerland/en/product-category/backpacks/mountain-pro-20-bark-brown

    For all other trips, I use the Exped Backcountry 30. This 30 liter backpack has large front/side access, but is still waterproof. The 30 liter version of the backcountry is unfortunately no longer produced. http://www.exped.com/switzerland/en/product-category/backpacks/backcountry-45-m-black

    I’ve been looking for a waterproof carry-on backpack with front access and organization pockets. As long as I find nothing suitable I use the Exped backpacks.

    I like your website, but the presented products are partly massive overpriced.

  • Kyle

    A couple additions I don’t see…Aer Travel Pack and Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 Anti-theft 45L carry-on travel pack. I just recently purchased the latter and will be taking it on a 10 day trip to Europe next week!

    • TeamCarryology

      Hey @kylecarlos:disqus, we’ve tested the Aer and it definately deserves a spot! We’ll add that in (this is an organic list, so we’ll keep updating as we go). As for the EXP, we’ll have to get out hands on a sample. 😉

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  • Trader

    Agree with Graham. I have used the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 for the last few years. OS and domestic travel and best bag I have used. Well made. Tough . And I have many bags/cases to choose from!
    It has strap for carrying as well as concealed straps for on your back.

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  • Motorhead

    I’ve been using a Burton Traverse backpack for years & it’s another great option. Bang on as large as you can take with no wasted space, tough but light, opens up like suitcase so you can easily divide up your clothes. Separate laptop stash & good external pockets & bottle holder. The stretchy wetsuit like material around thee zippers mean you can cram a bit too much in & still not worry about busting a zipper & of course good straps, handles & padding.

  • Josh

    I looked up this list because I’m trying to find a replacement for my stolen Chrome bag that I loved, but is no longer made by the company (I didn’t know tech specs or the model name because it was a gift). I’m really impressed by the info here, and surprised at the number of brands I’m not familiar with outside of hiking brands.

    So two questions: Why no Chrome products on this list? Second, if I’m just looking for a clamshell, minimalist-as-possible design that can fit under an airplane seat but still carry a climbing rope and gear, where do I turn/what kind of internal capacity am I looking for?

    • TeamCarryology

      Hey @disqus_JqVuJ4pI8A:disqus , try the Aer Flight. It’s super minimal, clamshell, and has awesome external compression, so it can shrink in size when you want it to.

      Chrome are awesome for everyday and bike, but haven’t really played a lot in travel until recently. So there’s some improvement to come. But we’re sure it won’t take long.

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