15 Best Travel Backpacks in 2024 For Tackling Long-Distance Travel


Osprey’s Fairpoint backpack feels a little over-designed in places, but it’s definitely ready for hitting the trails (just check out that built-in emergency whistle on the sternum strap). The attractive and streamlined convertible bag is surprisingly lightweight and comfortable, featuring padded, extra-ventilated straps and back panel, making it great for long-haul treks. A lightweight frame distributes weight and holds the bag’s shape, which is ideal for ergonomics and weight distribution but stops the bag from standing up when you set it down.

The first time you use this pack, you’ll notice it has maybe too many straps. Most of these are functional, like compression straps, sternum straps, padded waist straps, load lifter straps, adjustment straps, with a bunch of others made, presumably, to attach even more Osprey products. We do wish the bag were water-resistant, but it’s overall a comfy, light, and easy to pack travel bag. For travelers with a lot of heavy gear to haul, it’s a reliable solution.

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Osprey Fairpoint Travel Backpack, tested and reviewed by Timothy Beck Werth

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Osprey Fairpoint Travel Backpack, tested and reviewed by Timothy Beck Werth


6 More Travel Backpacks We Love

Matador

GlobeRider Travel Backpack

This technical backpack has a waterproof design and heavy-duty construction. It’s the kind of pack you can take around the world and back again, and even the most incompetent baggage handlers would struggle to hurt this bag. Unlike most backpacks, the GlobeRider has an internal aluminum frame to hold its shape and safeguard its contents. For your comfort, it has all-over padding for all-day wear. Finally, it earns bonus points for its many durable handles, exterior daisy chain webbing, and cool colorblocking.

Aer

Travel Pack 3 X-Pac

A minimlist black backpack — on GQ? Hey, we like what we like, and we like AER’s versatile and durable carry-on bag. The high-visibility orange lining looks cool and makes it easy to find your essentials at a glance. We also appreciate the unique technical sailcloth fabric on the outside, as well as the bevy of handles on all sides. For structure, it’s got an internal frame and compression straps. And for comfort, extra padding and load lifter straps. You’ll find plenty of pockets inside and out, with special compartments for 16-inch laptops, luggage trackers, and a water bottle. Plus, a luggage passthrough lets you give your shoulders a break when needed.

Snow Peak

Black 4Way Dry Backpack

This minimalist pack is a major gorpcore flex. But before we rave about the features, we have to say something: This backpack is sexy. We love the clean lines, symmetry, and overall silhouette of this bag as much as the feature set. The Japanese brand has designed a waterproof rolltop pack with multiple carry options, a hidden front pocket, and an air valve. The TPU-coated polyester fabric is durable and waterproof, and it brings to mind the Patagonia Black Hole line. The only thing this bag is missing is a little padding. Choose from a slick 36L backpack or a ginormous 80L large version.

Porter-Yoshida and Co

Force Day Pack

If you’re truly fashion forward, then you know that a Porter-Yoshida pack will earn you more approving nods and jealous looks than a showy designer bag with a fancy label. This Japanese baggage brand is beloved by menswear icons like Todd Snyder, and if you’re all about quiet luxury, you’ve found your new travel backpack. With a modest 17L capacity, it’s better suited for day trips to Malibu or as a carry-on laptop bag, though. It’s got durable materials and plenty of straps to adjust every single dimension and angle exactly to your liking. To sum up: Comfortable, casual, cool.

Tortuga

Travel Backpack Pro 40L

If you’re a traveler who loves big ass backpacks, then this is the pack you need. The best really big backpack (that you can still carry on to the plane) is very reasonably priced for the 40L size and durability. For European backpacking trips, it has a padded hip belt, and unlike the Osprey bag above, it’s removable. Even better, said hip belt doubles as a fanny pack with its own storage compartment. Tortuga loaded this bag with pockets (you’ll find pockets for laptops, tablets, Kindles, pens, passports, etc.), and the waterproof sailcloth keeps your gear dry no matter what.

Patagonia

Black Hole Duffel 40L

Patagonia’s Black Hole duffel has a weather-resistant exterior, made of recycled ripstop materials, keeps your goods dry when rain’s in the forecast, and at $159, it’s also accessible for anyone on a college student budget or beyond. Another big plus: As its name suggests, the depths of its large main compartment feel virtually bottomless. In it, you can make several changes of clothes disappear, along with any camera gear you’re taking off the grid.


What to Look For in a Travel Backpack

Most large travel backpacks come in a standard 40L size, which lets you just squeeze by carry-on restrictions. However, 40L bags can also get unwieldy when you’re on the move, which makes this 35L travel bag a true goldilocks pick (and GQ staff favorite). It’s still big enough that you can pack and open it like a suitcase, and there’s a pocket or mesh compartment everywhere you want one to be. You can easily fit a large water bottle, large laptop (up to 17 inches), dopp kit, and several days of clothing inside.

How We Tested

GQ has been testing and reviewing men’s backpacks for years, and we’re currently conducting in-depth testing on the top travel packs. We’ll continue to update our selections in this guide as we pack, carry on, and rack up air miles with these bags. So far, we’ve tested about half of the bags in this guide in the field. When evaluating a travel backpack, we first consider durability. Does the bag have durable fabric, internal frames, or waterproofing? Next, we consider how easily the bag packs up, and how much gear can be stored inside. Access is also important, and we check to see how easily we can reach our items from the various pockets and compartments.

When we go hands on, we load up the backpacks with gear to see how comfortable they are during long walks. We hate back sweat as much as any traveler, and we’re looking for bags with generous and comfy padding in all the right places. Finally, we check to see how much wear and tear the bag sustains. We subjected the bags to rip tests to see if the material will hold up to abuse on the mountain or in the overhead compartment. Whenever possible, we used the bags as carry-ons during air travel to see how travel friendly they really are.

Since this is GQ, there’s one final test: the fit test. We want to see which bags earn unsolicited compliments and look best on our backs. Call us vain if you like, but we believe looking your best is a sign of self-respect and its own reward.

About the Author: Timothy Beck Werth is an experienced journalist, editor, and product reviewer based in Brooklyn, New York. He has been reviewing bags and backpacks since 2019, and as a full-time freelancer, he regularly travels throughout the year. He uses some type of backpack almost every day and prefers bags that are comfortable and long-lasting. For GQ, Tim primarily covers home goods, smart home products, and men’s accessories and grooming essentials.



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