You want the best travel carry-on backpack for your next adventure. Well we've got a good place for you to start. We've been traveling the world for two years using only carry on bags. This has helped us avoid checked bag fees and forced us into a more minimalistic lifestyle. We recommend carry on bags for anyone considering long term travel as it'll make moving around much easier. Read below to see the results of the trials and errors we've come across from our years on the road. These are our favorite carry on backpacks available on the market for 2015.
Our Top Pick: The Osprey Porter 46
(Wish we had 6 stars)
Details: $113.00 | 46L | perfect | Buy HERE
After years of testing, trials and errors we finally ended up choosing the Osprey as our main bag for our two years of nonstop travel around the world. As far as I'm concerned this is the perfect carry on backpack. They made it as big as they possibly could while still meeting the airline requirements allowing this bag to carry all of our gear across the world without paying any checked baggage fees! The average checked bag is $50 and at 3 flights per month... so we've saved over $1500 this year alone from this little wonder.
Osprey has a cult following as a brand for their insane attention to detail and quality behind their products. This pack has TONS of small compartments hidden throughout for your cables/ electronics. It's also one of the ONLY bag of this size to include a padded hip belt for extra comfort. Trust me you'll need a hip belt, it was actually one of the key reasons we ended up choosing this as our main bag.
But the true beauty of the Osprey lies within it's build quality and customer service. Any time I've had a question I was able to get through to a kind real human being from the company to accommodate my needs. Not that you'll need any customer service as this bag will likely last your entire life without any issues or breaks. It feels incredibly sturdy and is made from a very thick material that has never shown any signs of wear after my years of use. Not to mention it's one of the best looking backpacks I've ever seen making me feel slightly less awkward walking city streets alone at 4am after a long bus ride.
Finally, you can rest assured knowing your investment will always be safe. They offer a the famous 'Osprey Mighty Guarantee' that ensures they will repair your bag for free for life. Basically once you buy this bag you have a perfect bag that's going to last you your entire life without ever having to pay airline checked bag fees again. There are other options on the market for carry on backpacks but none can compare to the Osprey Porter 46. The only reason we'd recommend a different bag would be if your budget can't handle it, in which case we recommend you read below for cheaper options under $100.
Cabin Max Metz Carry-On Bag: The Budget Option
Designed to Fit the Maximum Flight-approved Size
Water Resistant Material
No Elastic Bands or Zippers to Keep Things in Place
Soft Outer Frame
No Waist Belt
The Cabin Max Metz provides you with the absolute most space possible in a carry-on bag, and is a sturdy, lightweight and easily packable alternative. For the price you wont find a better carry-on sized backpack.
The bag consists of one large main compartment, a flat front pocket and a small front pocket. It is a front loader, which means you can pack the bag like a suitcase lying it down flat, since the zipper opens up to about 70 of the circumference. WAY better than any top loader - don't we all hate looking forever for the other sock?
With it's mere 800 grams (1.5 lbs) Cabin Max Metz allows you to pack even more and still not exceed the carry-on demands for weight. On the other hand this light weight is largely due to the bags soft frame, which for some is a minus, since it doesn't provide much shape.
The big minuses are the lack of a waist band, leaving only the adjustable shoulder straps as a support, and its lack of dividers or other controlling parts in the main compartment. A lot of people complain that the lack of zippers/dividers/elastic bands leave all your belongings to tumble around freely in the main compartment. This problem is easily solved using travel cubes, though. Using cubes, like eBags Packing Cubes, lets you divide the content of your backpack into easily manageable separate compartments.
Value for $$$:
The Cabin Max Metz Carry-On Bag is possibly the best budget option out there. If you're looking for a cheap alternative you found it. On the other hand, if you're willing to spend a bit more, there are definitely better alternatives out there (see below reviews).
As you can see in the picture, this square backpack with its large "Cabin Max" logo doesn't exactly come off as sexy. But Cabin Max made up for its beauty flaws by creating no less than 21 different color schemes for the bag, so you can get Cabin Max Metz in everything from bright neon to sleek navy.
eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender: Medium Budget
Extreme Amount of Compartments
Not Water Resistant
Not Extremely Comfortable
This bag is the Swiss Army Knife of backpacks! Forget about lacking compartments; with the eBags TLS Mother Lode you will discover new hidden compartments weeks after you start using it! We have chosen the Junior version, as this one is suitable as a carry-on bag.
When it comes to functionality the TLS Mother Lode rocks the scene of compartments. In this bag you can find a compartment for each one of your items, keeping everything nicely separated and in place. Boasting a detachable bag for toiletries, a foldable water holder and a hidden ID-card compartment this bag lives up to its reputation as the swiss army knife of travel bags. Throw in lockable zippers, and you have the perfect backpack!
Being a long term traveler the nice organization options really does it for me. On the other hand a few people has reported, that although the bag has a waist strap (another plus) it can feel slightly uncomfortable. And it indeed is the heaviest bag on the list. But wether this is an issue is up to the individual.
Another heads up: Do not get this bag if you're expecting thunderstorms on your trip. The polyester material looks sexy and is very durable, but it is not good with rain as it soaks the water rather than repel it.
Value for $$$:
The bag is definitely worth its price. eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekend Convertible is of medium price range, but has excellent features! The many compartments make sure there is no need to purchase travel cubes to keep your stuff in place. If you’re more partial to wheels, they have a great spinner wheel version to take the weight off your back!
The shiny material and sleek design makes the TLS Mother Lode a pretty sexy travel buddy. How could it not be, when you can get it in colors like "sinful red" and "green envy"? Actually you can get it in 6 different sexy colors.
Osprey Farpoint 40: The Quality Option
Compression Straps Block Main Compartment
Not Many Compartments
If you're looking for a good carry-on sized backpack you have probably read a lot about the Osprey Farpoint 40 already, and with good reason. This very popular backpack has the quality of the highly esteemed brand Osprey behind it and boasts all the features any travel backpack should have.
This extremely light-weight backpack is loved by many travellers for several reasons: First of all, it is sooo comfortable because of the nice, padded shoulder straps and the great waist strap. To make it even more comfortable Osprey sells two versions of it: a M/L (for people 5'8 or taller) and a S/M (for smaller than 5'8). If you are shorter (under 5'3) it can be hard to find any backpack that fits your frame. Well here you have your soul mate! The S/M version of the Osprey Farpoint 40 is no less than perfect for the shorter traveler. The alloy frame provides an even stronger hold.
The backpack consists of two main compartments inside the bag and a small zippered pocket in the front, as well as two mesh water bottle holders. I could wish for more compartments, although the great quality of the backpack largely makes up for this downside. Some people also find it annoying that the compression straps lock in front of the main compartment zipper, making access more difficult than it should be.
Value for $$$:
While the Osprey Farpoint 40 is awesome - no doubt - it is also in the expensive end of backpacks. Being the eternal budget backpacker I can't help but looking at the above alternatives and ask myself if this backpack is really worth the extra cost. But then again I often let my budget mindedness bias me. This backpack is of incomparable quality and great durability and comes with a lifetime guarantee. If you have the extra money there is no reason to settle for a cheaper alternative: Osprey Farpoint 40 is a safe choice!
Osprey Farpoint 40 is sexy, mostly because it's Osprey. In my opinion you could find better looking backpacks, but of course it gives you street credit just to carry an Osprey. But come on... Two logos? Is it really THAT sexy?...