Courtesy of Caraa/Everlane/Monos
travelandleisure – 75 Available at Everlane
Best for Organization
travelandleisure – 215 Available at Monos
Best Drawstring Top
travelandleisure – 228 Available at Madewell
travelandleisure – 160 Available at Caraa
travelandleisure – 195 Available at Matt & Nat
travelandleisure – 128 Available at Lululemon
travelandleisure – 65 Available at Paravel
Best for Personalization
travelandleisure – 100 Available at State
travelandleisure – 115 Available at Amazon
travelandleisure – 18 Available at Eddie Bauer
travelandleisure – 90 Available at Amazon
travelandleisure – 275 Available at Tumi
travelandleisure – 125 Available at Nordstrom
travelandleisure – 100 Available at Herschel
Backpacks are one of the most versatile bags out there — use one to tote around your things while enjoying an amusement park, hiking, or using as a luggage substitute. No matter your plans, slinging a backpack over your shoulders adds elements of ease and comfort so you can explore hands-free.
Our all-time favorite travel backpack is Everlane’s ReNew Transit Backpack thanks to its ample pockets, water-resistance, and gorgeous appearance. But if you had something a little smaller, lower priced, or more luxurious in mind, our list of the best backpacks for women is worth checking out. Take a look below.
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T+L Top Picks
Best Overall: Everlane ReNew Transit Backpack
Why We Love It: It’s so stylish, it makes even sweatpants and a hoodie look chic.
What to Consider: The material is soft, so it’s a bit floppy when empty.
This backpack may be incredibly sleek and stylish, but it’s more than just a fashionable accessory to tote around. Featuring a water-resistant finish, a luggage handle pass-through strap, and seven pockets including one for a 15-inch laptop, this backpack is a must-have for everything from travel to daily commutes to errands around town. And that’s exactly why it’s our top pick — while most backpacks offer a pocket or two and a sleeve for a small laptop, the ReNew truly gives you space for everything, including an oversized laptop. You can tell it was designed with travel in mind, but it works as an everyday bag as well thanks to its durable build. Not to mention, it’s made entirely of recycled materials, and it’s super easy to clean.
Material: Recycled polyester | Dimensions: 17.5 x 12 x 7.25 inches
Best for Organization: Monos Metro Backpack
Why We Love It: It opens clamshell style, so you can easily find what you’re looking for.
What to Consider: The straps are only lightly padded.
This monochromatic pack is two bags in one thanks to a small Metro Classic Kit attached to the front. The backpack itself features plenty of interior compartments, including a zippered pouch, a mesh pocket, a privacy compartment for clothes, and a felt sleeve that fits laptops up to 15 inches long. The Metro Classic Kit perfectly stows away a phone, passport, powerbank, and keys. Both bags are made of water-resistant and scratch-resistant materials.
Material: Vegan leather, nylon | Dimensions: 15.9 x 11.4 x 6.6 inches
Best Drawstring Top: Madewell Transport Rucksack
Why We Love It: The leather is designed to burnish with wear, so it just looks better over time.
What to Consider: It’s on the pricier side.
This timelessly gorgeous rucksack deserves a place in every wardrobe — especially if you’re often on the go. The bag features a trendy drawstring top with a stud-closure flap for extra security, while an external pocket and three internal pockets expertly hide away all your essentials. The rucksack even received a coveted Gold Rating from the Leather Working Group, which promotes sustainable practices in the leather industry.
Material: Leather | Dimensions: 14.5 x 10.5 x 7 inches
Related: Packable Backpacks for Travelers Who Always Bring Home More Than They Packed
Best Lightweight: Caraa Cloud Stratus Backpack
Why We Love It: It’s one of the lightest options on the market.
What to Consider: It’s on the larger side.
It doesn’t get much lighter than Caraa’s Cloud Stratus pack, which weighs in at just one pound. Made of an ultra-light waterproof Italian nylon, it’s the perfect pick for minimalists, travelers, and frequent gym-goers. While it makes the perfect carry-on thanks to its built-in luggage strap, laptop sleeve, and multitude of pockets, it’s also collapsible, so you can easily pack it away. Snag it in half a dozen colors, including silver and neon yellow.
Material: Nylon, vegan leather | Dimensions: 17 x 12 x 5 inches
Best Vegan: Matt & Nat Brave Vegan Backpack
Why We Love It: The material is so sleek, it could pass for leather.
What to Consider: The skinny straps may not be quite as comfy on the shoulders as wider straps.
This neutral and uniquely boxy pick is lined with a vegan, eco-friendly nylon made from 100 percent recycled water bottles — which comes as no surprise, considering Matt & Nat is a completely vegan and cruelty free company. The backpack has a compartment for your 15-inch laptop and three interior pockets for items like phones, keys, pens, and small electronics. We love the olive shade, but there are three other rich colors to choose from, too.
Material: Nylon | Dimensions: 16.5 x 13 x 5.75 inches
Most Versatile: Lululemon City Adventurer Backpack
Why We Love It: You can use it as a gym bag one day and a travel carry-on the next.
What to Consider: Lululemon recommends spot cleaning only.
The perfect commuting bag, this water-repellant backpack can fit a 16-inch laptop and so much more. Several interior pockets hold small items like your phone and wallet, and the bottom compartment separates your dirty gym clothes from your lunch and other essentials. Reinforced shoulder straps allow you to comfortably carry a heavy load all day, while a luggage strap converts the backpack into a carry-on. No matter where you’re headed, the City Adventurer makes the journey easier.
Material: Polyester | Dimensions: 16.1 x 11.4 x 7.1 inches
Best Foldable: Paravel Fold-up Backpack
Why We Love It: You can take it with you virtually anywhere thanks to its compact size when folded down.
What to Consider: The material is, understandably, much softer and more pliable than that of other options on our list.
Convenience meets style in this sporty fold-up backpack from Paravel. While expanded, the sturdy pack fits everything from a 15-inch laptop to a day’s worth of clothes — but when it’s not in use, it folds down into a small, 6- by 6-inch pouch. Each backpack is made using 15 recycled plastic water bottles, and the whole thing weighs less than a pound when empty. You can personalize it with a custom embroidered monogram for just $15, too.
Material: Nylon| Dimensions: 16 x 13 x 9 inches
Related: The Most Stylish Mini Backpacks With Just Enough Room for the Essentials
Best for Personalization: State Lorimer Backpack
Why We Love It: If you’ve ever longed for a backpack featuring cartoon hot dogs, rocket ships, or croissants, this one can make that happen.
What to Consider: While it is water-resistant, it’s not fully waterproof.
This simple-yet-stylish backpack is made of durable material you can personalize with monograms, patches, and fun symbols like roller skates or palm trees. But no matter how you customize the outside of the bag, the inside will always impress with a 13-inch laptop sleeve, a spacious main compartment, and plenty of interior and exterior pockets. The feature we love most? The sneaky side zipper entry that allows you to grab what’s in the bottom of your bag without having to rummage.
Material: Nylon, polyester | Dimensions: 16.93 x 12.6 x 5.12 inches
Best Anti-theft: Pacsafe Citysafe CX Backpack
Why We Love It: You can travel essentially worry-free when you’ve got this backpack in tow.
What to Consider: The main zippered compartment is a bit rigid and requires both hands to zip and unzip.
You’d never know by looking at it, but this bag has all of Pacsafe’s thoughtful security features built in: RFID-blocking technology, a cut-proof mesh liner, and interlocking zippers to name a few. In addition, the backpack also boasts a padded laptop sleeve, two card slots, an expandable umbrella or water bottle pocket on each side, and plenty of interior pockets. We love the style and that it comes in several trendy hues.
Jamie Hergenrader, Editorial Director of commerce content at Travel + Leisure, has owned this bag for years and takes it on most trips. It’s also her go-to bag for work. “Whether I’m riding the subway to work or transiting around on a trip, I feel like my belongings are safe,” she says. “I particularly love the subtle zipper security on both exterior pockets, meaning someone can’t quickly unzip to access anything. I also like the feature that allows me to hook one of the straps to a stationary object (like a chair leg or a pole on public transit) for extra security.” She also appreciates the trolley sleeve for slipping it over the telescopic handle of a suitcase.
Material: Nylon, polyester | Dimensions: 15.4 x 10.6 x 6.3 inches
Best Budget: Eddie Bauer Stowaway 20L Packable Pack
Why We Love It: It’s affordable, versatile, and folds down into a tiny, practical carrying case.
What to Consider: It’s not available in neutral colors like black or beige.
If you need a backpack with sufficient features that won’t hurt your wallet, consider this option from Eddie Bauer. It’s lightweight, water-repellant, and equipped with plenty of exterior and interior pockets. It even features four loops on the front for a carabiner or clip light attachment. When you’re not using the pack, you can fold it up into a handy little carrying case that easily stows away.
Material: Polyester | Dimensions: 18 x 10 x 9 inches
Best Eco-friendly: Fjallraven Water-resistant Re-Kanken Backpack
Why We Love It: Its production process uses less water, energy, and chemicals than similar backpacks.
What to Consider: It’s one of the smaller backpacks on our list.
This rectangular bag is so sleek and stylish, you’d never guess it’s made entirely of polyester recycled from plastic water bottles (11 of them, to be exact). It’s got a spacious main compartment, a front pocket with a zipper, and two side pockets for easy transport of water bottles, umbrellas, or other essentials. Unlike most backpacks, it boasts dual top snap handles so you can carry it with one hand without discomfort or worrying it’ll break. It’s available in several colors ranging from black to electric blue.
Material: Polyester | Dimensions: 14.9 x 10.6 x 5.1 inches
Related: 5 Travel Bags for Every Type of Trip, According to a T+L Editor
Best Luxury: Tumi Hilden Backpack
Why We Love It: It has a pocket for everything.
What to Consider: It’s the most expensive option on our list.
This pack by Tumi manages to look polished and practical at the same time, making it easy to pair with both comfy travel clothes and more stylish looks for exploring cities. It’s got room for a 13-inch laptop, a change of clothes, and all your other belongings thanks to a crazy amount of pockets, including one that can be accessed from the inside and outside of the bag. It also features a sturdy luggage strap, a waterproof finish, and an option for monogramming.
Material: Nylon, leather | Dimensions: 14.3 x 11.5 x 5.5 inches
Best Mini: Longchamp Le Pliage Backpack
Why We Love It: It’s compact yet spacious.
What to Consider: It’s too small to fit a laptop.
If you typically travel light, this cute mini pack by Longchamp may be the pick for you. At just 12 inches tall, it’s the smallest option on our list, but it packs a powerful punch. Constructed with a surprisingly roomy main compartment and an interior pocket, the little backpack offers ample room to fit everything you need for a day of travel or commuting. It also has a water-resistant lining and leather trim, meaning it’s equally functional and stylish.
Material: Nylon, leather | Dimensions: 12 x 10 x 3.75 inches
Best Fleece-lined: Herschel Supply Co. Little America Mid-volume Backpack
Why We Love It: Its leather straps, metal pin buckles, and striped interior liner make it look and feel like a luxury item.
What to Consider: Its minimalistic design features less pockets than other backpacks on our list.
You may be wondering why fleece is necessary on a backpack. Well, on this particular bag, the fleece lining is in the laptop sleeve — which means your computer will remain free of scratches, dents, and weather-related damage while you’re on the go. The backpack also features a zip front pocket, a drawstring closure, and unique magnetic fastened straps that help keep the bag secure.
Material: Polyester, leather | Dimensions: 16.25 x 11 x 5.25 inches
Tips for Buying a Travel Backpack
Choose Materials for Your Intended Use
If you anticipate using your backpack outdoors often, consider a backpack made with waterproof or water-resistant materials like polyester, nylon, or a fabric treated with a water-repelling lining. If your main concern is style, however, you can never go wrong with a sleek leather or vegan leather bag. Leather also happens to be an easy material to clean.
Decide If You Want Something Minimalistic or Flashy
Stiff and sturdy backpacks tend to keep their chic, shapely appearance for the long haul, while slouchy bags typically lose their shape with time. While other features and embellishments are up to personal preference, backpacks with buckles, studs, and straps easily elevate any ensemble.
Look for Pockets and Other Functional Features
If you use backpacks for school or work, padded laptop sleeves are a must-have. If your backpack is mainly for travel, look for options with anti-theft features like interlocking zippers and cut-proof straps. And no matter what purpose your backpack serves, a bag with lots of pockets will never let you down.
Frequently Asked Questions
What size backpack can you bring on a plane?
Most airlines limit carry-ons to 22 inches long by 14 inches wide by 9 inches deep — which means every backpack on our list can be used as a carry-on.
What essentials should you pack in a travel backpack?
In addition to obvious things like your phone, wallet, and keys, it’s wise to also pack a reusable water bottle, laptop or tablet, device chargers, travel documents, and writing utensils in your backpack. Depending on your agenda, you may want to bring along a change of clothes, headphones, and a book or magazine as well.
Why Trust Travel + Leisure
Travel + Leisure writers are shopping, fashion, and product experts who use personal experience and customer recommendations to choose the best items for shoppers. For this article, Hillary Maglin researched the best women’s backpacks and used her expertise as a travel writer to highlight the function and features that frequent travelers care about most.
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