One of the most versatile pieces of travel gear, a great backpack or over-the-shoulder travel bag can serve a variety of purposes. We found the best, top-rated backpacks and shoulders bags you can buy for summer 2022.
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If traveling by air, a backpack or shoulder bag is typically considered a personal item if it’s small enough to fit underneath the seat in front of you. This makes the right-sized backpack or shoulder bag a convenient way to keep your travel essentials on hand at all times. (For other carry-on options, check out our guide to the. And be sure to check out our picks for the , too.)
So, which backpacks and shoulder bags would be perfect for your next? Glad you asked.
Best backpacks for travel
We found a number of top-rated backpacks at Amazon and other online retailers. All are available to buy right now.
Fjallraven Kanken classic backpack
A sturdy, roomy backpack that doubles as a carry-on and carry-all, the Fjallraven Kanken offers versality. This backpack is 16 inches tall — large enough to fit most laptops, tablets and any other personal belongings. The zippers are covered by thick, water-resistant flaps; they make it that much harder for water (and pickpockets) to get in your bag. Available in 39 colors.
State Kane kids travel backpack
This cleverly constructed backpack for kids seamlessly transitions from a school bag to a travel backpack. The main compartment holds a 13-inch laptop, along with books, pencils and folders. Side pockets can house two water bottles, while a front pocket adds even more storage space.
Looking to purchase a matching piece of luggage? Add on the Logan suitcase ($220), available in 12 coordinating colors and patterns.
Amazon Basics carry-on backpack
In case your checked luggage doesn’t make it to baggage claim, this carry-on backpack from Amazon Basics can be called on to store a day or two worth of your clothes. Its padded pockets help protect your laptop, while zippered pockets keep everything from water bottles to your passport easily accessible.
Dagne Dover Dakota neoprene backpack
This stylish neoprene backpack is perfect for everything from trips to the gym to jaunts across the world. The Dagne Dover Dakota offers tons of storage space for all your essentials. Stash your electronics in the external zipper laptop pocket, and/or in the interior slip tablet sleeve. Available in several colors, and in small, medium and large sizes. The price listed below is for the large model.
Dakine Split Adventure 38L
The Dakine Split Adventure backpack offers tons of space and compartments for all your belongings. Its unique, split-level design makes organizing your items a breeze. Compartments include a laptop sleeve (big enough for a 17-inch computer), a tablet pocket, a shoe pocket, organizer pockets and a bonus storage compartment. The pack is made of recycled nylon and polyester, and features a water-repellent finish — handy in case you get caught in the rain. Prices vary by design.
Travelpro Platinum Elite women’s backpack
The Platinum Elite women’s backpack coordinates with the popular Travelpro Platinum Elite luggage collection. The slender backpack boasts a roomy interior with a built-in padded laptop and tablet sleeve, lots of organizing compartments, multiple exterior pockets and a special pocket with magnetic closure (that can be used to keep your smartphone secure).
Prince Herschel Heritage Backpack Pro
Going on a tennis trip? Herschel Supply collaborated with Prince on this court-inspired backpack. It offers everything from a racquet compartment to a laptop sleeve (big enough for a 16-inch screen). Once you get to the court, hang up the bag with a removable carabiner.
Away The Everywhere Zip backpack
Looking for a backpack to coordinate with your Away luggage? The similarly styled Everywhere Zip offers a minimalist look. It’s constructed of water-resistant nylon material with leather trim, and is available in navy, black and asphalt gray. As for functionality, an interior, padded laptop pocket holds a 15-inch computer (with the help of a magnetic locking zipper). Other pockets hold water bottles, travel documents and miscellaneous essentials.
One of the coolest features? The backpack zips open like a clamshell, offering easy access to all your items.
Monos Metro backpack
Constructed out of water-repellent nylon twill, the Monos Metro features a convenient clamshell design, and boasts lots of pockets and compartments (including a 15-inch laptop sleeve). The front of the bag has a detachable modular kit system — the better to keep small items, such as electronics and liquids, organized.
Athleta Kinetic backpack
Wherever your destination, this recycled nylon backpack gets you there in style. Organizational features include a laptop back pocket, a zippered front pocket, a shoe storage bag and compartments for two water bottles.
Bellroy Transit backpack
This extra roomy backpack boasts enough space for a weekend trip. Its organizational perks include a padded, 16-inch laptop sleeve, internal compression straps (to keep everything secured) and discrete external pockets for your travel essentials. Available in four colors.
Best shoulder-style bags
If a shoulder bag is more your style, good news: You can bring one on your next flight as a personal item (just as you would a backpack). Here are some top-rated shoulder bags for your consideration.
The roomy Bellroy Weekender shoulder bag offers lots of compartments: a front zipper pocket for toiletries; a padded sleeve for a laptop; internal pockets for water bottles or shoes; and, a side zipper pocket for travel documents and magazines. Carry the bag however you please — either via its leather handle straps, or detachable shoulder strap.
Paravel Cabana Tote
This great Paravel carry-on doubles as a beach-slash-pool bag. The roomy, chic tote holds everything needed for a day of traveling. The bag is available in three sizes and four color combinations — each with a preppy stripe down the side. Get it monogrammed with your initials for as little as $25 extra. The price listed below is for the small tote (with no monogram).
Filson Pullman suitcase
Designed to fit under the seat of a Pullman railroad car, this vintage-inspired carry-on from Filson features a roomy interior and elastic straps to keep everything in place. The bag, with a rugged, water-resistant twill exterior, has bridle leather straps and accents.