I didn’t get into the backpack craze until in college when I started hanging out with well-to-do international students who always looked like K-Pop idols ready for the red carpet. Mind you, it was a different time, and strapping monograms like the interlocking “G” on your back kept us more alive and on-the-radar than being elected the president of Alpha Phi Alpha. The pressure I felt to fit in! So I did my best to stock up: Off-White for lecture halls, Lululemon for the gym, Prada for after-school hangs, Tumi for travel—and absolutely no mixing-it-up.
Thankfully, this paint-by-numbers approach was cut short when I broke free from the fad and realized: Hey, if it’s got space and style, it can go anywhere. So I picked one with a large capacity to bring with me, well, everywhere. Needless to say it was a travel backpack that values form over function—just not by a large margin, because looking good always matters.
I’m also going out on a limb to say that any on-the-go occasion demands a travel backpack, from commuting to the office to going through customs. It’s the U-Haul of accessories—spacious and tough. And the good thing is that you don’t always have to pack it to the brim. But not every backpack is a travel backpack; you might think you can trek around downtown in a Jansport half-pint or a Ferragamo leather good, but should you need a water bottle, some snacks, and a warm cardigan for the flight, a travel backpack with extra capacity and compartments is even better.
So if you’re like me—someone who recognizes this travel gear’s compatibility for any mode of transportation from bicycle to spaceship, for any occasion from a night at the Ritz or a weekend in the backcountry—we’ve got 10 best travel backpacks for men to get you packing and moving.
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Best Budget Travel Backpack
Travel Laptop Backpack
- Can slide over luggage handle
Lots of pockets? Check. Laptop-friendly? Check. Snug and sturdy? Check. Large main compartment? Check. Great for work as well as day-tripping around Europe? You bet.
Best Basic Travel Backpack
Carry-On Travel Backpack
- Ample pockets and dividers
A life on the road goes better when you’ve got the basics down first before paddling into the stunting, features-packed realm. While you certainly won’t take this travel backpack to parade around the lobby of MGM, for a casual weekend getaway it’ll more than do the trick.
Best Travel Backpack for Commuting
The ReNew Transit Backpack
- 27L capacity
- Made from recycled plastic bottles
- Water-resistant finish
Everlane’s backpack will go well with an afternoon of thinking about life on the subway or just trolling around the city. Not only does it simply look sleek, but it’s sized for keeping a laptop, water bottle, sunscreen, lunch box, wallet, and some more stuff secure under the flap closure.
Best Travel Backpack for Packing Light
Rover Pack Classic
- Rugged nylon base
- Right amount of pockets
- Only 20L, not for long trips
You probably want to pack light for a rock-climbing in Yosemite or an adventure in the Tongass. Smart. Leave the heavy work to the style then, Topo Designs’ Rover pack, with its color-blocked, vintage-inspired exterior, is spot-on for a day enjoying Mother Nature.
Best Casual Travel Backpack
Classic Little America Backpack
- 25L capacity
- Doesn’t look so busy with pockets
- Covering-your-whole-back big
Herschel’s signature backpack ain’t, by any measure, “little,” we can tell you that. Moreover, it’s actually a mountaineering backpack reimagined for casual day-to-day stuff. That’s pretty cool.
Best Travel Backpack for Packing Heavy
Approach Travel Pack
- Packs like a beast at 30L or 45L
- Tough and durable
- Quick-access pockets
Oh, to carry 30 litters of good shit—45L if you wanna rough it—wherever your road takes you. L.L.Bean’s Approach opens wide like luggage, has mesh sections like luggage, can fit clothes and toiletries like luggage—get it? It’s like luggage! The kind you carry on your back, that is.
Best Travel Backpack for Adventurers
- 25L capacity
- Water-repellent fabric
- So many pockets, in and out
- Thin straps, plastic closure
Wanna wade deep into the woods to see some unicorns? Or mount the Himalayas and make contact with the Yeti? Or hike the John Muir Trail and befriend some monkeys? Yes? Great. Do that. Just make sure you fill some survival gear in a backpack that both looks and does the adventure part, like Lululemon’s Wunderlust.
Best Suitcase-Alternative Travel Backpack
Travel Pack 3
- 35L capacity
- Quick-access pockets and smart interior
- Can pack everything for a short trip
- A bit heavy at 4.2 pounds
A businessman with a platinum status always travels smart by ditching the wheeled luggage to avoid luggage delays. To top that off, enter Aer’s Travel Pack, a suitcase-backpack hybrid. It’s got a lay-flat main compartment, along with some top pockets for the quick stash before TSA checks. All it’s missing is two wheels and a handle.
Best-Looking Travel Backpack
Econylon Mini Rogue 2.0 Utility Backpack
- Made in 100% sustainable econylon
- Spacious without looking bulky
Grab and go your own way, folks! But do it stylishly. This one fits the handsome-but-not-ostentatious bill to a T. And there’re so many interior and exterior compartments for really packing it in.
Best Luxury Travel Backpack
Alpha 3 Brief Pack
- Slides over luggage handle seamlessly
- So many pockets in and out
- Great for business trips
- Expensive, and a bit heavy
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