Selecting the best travel backpack to travel around the world can be one of the most important decisions you make. You might be living out of the travel backpack for a year on your, you guessed it, gap year. It’s vital that you get it right and get a rucksack or backpack that is not only a great design but a good fit for you. Scroll down to see the full guide or if you’re in a rush you can click to jump to the section you need.
- The Top 10 Best Backpacks
- Best Carry On Backpacks
- Best Day Packs
- Best Laptop Backpacks
- Best Wheeled Backpacks
- Best Ultralight Backpacks
Here’s me and my trusty travelling backpack at a border crossing in El Salvador. I have been using it for years!
A lot of people ask “what’s the best rucksack for 3 or 6 months of travel?“ or “what’s the best backpack for a trip to South East Asia or Australia?“ Both of these questions are somewhat irrelevant. Going on a very short trip might mean you only need a small backpack such as 30/40lt IF you travel light but I take the same backpack on one month trips as I do 12 month trips. Just because you have 60 litres, doesn’t mean you have to fill it completely.
You might want to consider that you will do a month trip now and then end up getting the bug and travelling for longer. Why not just buy one decent bag for life? I’ve been using the same backpack for years. Sometimes it weighs 8kg, sometimes 22kg. Having a bigger backpack that’s slightly empty just means you’ll have more room to find things.
The same advice goes for destinations. If you get a decent backpack, like the brands listed below, they will be suitable for all countries that you visit. The Berghaus Backpack I use has been to 7 continents! So let me help you choose the best backpack for you.
What Size Backpack Do I Need? Is a 40 Litre Backpack Enough?
Yes boys and girls, size does matter, especially on a long round the world trip or Gap Year. However, it all really does depend on you and your travel style. Some people are flashpackers and must take 6 pairs of shoes in which case you might want a bigger backpack. Some people purposely take a smaller backpack to limit how much they are carrying around with them in case they get tempted to shop. General rule of thumb would be anything around the 60 litre mark if you’re doing a round the world. I know some guys who travel light with 50 and some girls who travel with 70.
I’m Travelling Light and Need a Minimalist Backpack. What is the Best Carry On Backpack and Rucksack?
If you’re doing a short trip or going for the minimalist approach to packing, a 60 litre bag will be too much. You can also save money if you have a backpack that is the right size for a carry on and can avoid checked luggage fees. The backpacks below should be the right size for carry on but please be aware that luggage restrictions can vary by airline so please check both size and weight limitations.
What is the Best Day Pack?
These days a lot of backpacks come with a 10-20 litre detachable day bag. Pretty good idea for when you need a small bag for treks or excursions. I’ve found it useful to have my own day pack in addition to the one that comes with my backpack. If you’re looking for the best day pack check out our Top Day Packs list for recommendations. I personally use a Berghaus Freeflow as it has a fixed curve back that allows air flow. Great for hot climates! Other day pack options include:
- Berghaus Remote
- Berghaus Twenty Four Seven
- The North Face Jester
- The North Face Borealis
- Osprey Talon
- Osprey Women’s Tempest
- Osprey Quasar
What is the Best Laptop Backpack?
If you’re a fellow digital nomad or perhaps will be working while you’re away, chances are you’ll need a suitable backpack for your trip. Your laptop is more than likely one of the most expensive items that you’ll travel with so it’s important to get a laptop backpack that is fit for purpose and will provide adequate protection. Here are some of the best laptop backpacks from trusted brands:
Do I Need a Rucksack or Backpack With Wheels? Are Wheeled Backpacks Necessary?
I am personally against wheels. I think it is part of the backpacking experience to lug around my 22kg backpack. (I have no idea how it got so heavy. When I left Heathrow it was 14kg). Let’s be serious though. Wheels are a good idea in principle. Sure they take a load off but they also can add an extra 2 or 3kg of weight to your backpack. If you are taking cheap internal flights, Air Asia for example, you will be eating into your weight limit and risk having to pay extra. However, if you are going somewhere ‘western’ where there will be nice pavements and flat roads a backpack with wheels might not be a bad idea. Wheeled backpack options:
Ultralight Backpacking? You’ll need a Ultralight or Lightweight Backpack!
For long distance hikes or multi-day backpacking you’ll need a lightweight backpack that not only is large enough to fit all of your food and gear, but also be functional, comfortable and be suitable for all types of temperatures and terrains. Most importantly, if you are doing a thru-hike reducing weight is at the forefront of your ultralight backpacking gear goals. Below are the best lightweight backpacks:
What is the Best Backpack Design?
The most important design feature of the backpack is how it opens. From my own research they are commonly called travel packs as opposed to rucksacks. These are backpacks that open like a suitcase. After backpacking for a long time I’ve found that ones that zip most of the way round are the easiest to travel with as you have faster access to all of your belongings. The alternative is to buy a backpack that’s a top loader but a lot of these will also have access from the bottom (such as the Berghaus Verden). As they are both travel packs, I recommend either the Osprey Farpoint or the Berghaus Motive.
Fitting your Backpack or Rucksack
I hate to get all Harry Potter on you but you don’t pick the backpack. The best backpack picks you. Make sure that you are getting the correct sexed bag. Female backpacks tend to suit, well females. We’ve compiled a list of best backpacks for women. If you are a tall female it might be worth looking at a male backpack as it might be a better fit. Go in to your local outdoor store and try the backpacks on. You’ll just feel which one is right for you. If in doubt just ask the sales assistant who looks like he doesn’t want to be there.
The Top 10 Best Backpacks and Travel Rucksacks
As I have stated before, the best backpack is one that opens like a suitcase to allow easier access and packing. All of these backpacks are available on Amazon. As there are various stockists and prices, all of the links below link to all available options for the mentioned backpack so that you can search for the cheapest price.
For our North American readers, Berghaus products can be harder to find over on that side of the pond so I would strongly recommend the Osprey Farpoint (below).
1. Osprey Farpoint – Our Recommendation!
The Osprey Farpoint zips round and opens like a suitcase. Osprey is also a very reputable company producing a bunch of excellent products.
Check out the Osprey Farpoint on Amazon
A newer backpack to the Berghaus Jalan, the Berghaus Motive is also a travel pack that opens like a suitcase. Berghaus are a reputable brand I have used their products for years.
Check out the Berghaus Motive on Amazon.
Check out the Men’s Berghaus TrailheadÂ and the Women’s Berghaus Trailhead on Amazon.
Check out the Berghaus Verden on Amazon.
Check out the Men’s Berghaus Ridgeway and the Women’s Berghaus Ridgeway on Amazon
Check out the Men’s Berghaus Wilderness and the Women’s Berghaus Wilderness on Amazon.
Check out the North Face Terra on Amazon.
Check out the Lowe Alpine AT Carry-On 45 on Amazon.
Check out the Vango Freedom on Amazon.
10. Vango Pumori
Check out the Vango Pumori on Amazon.
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you buy a product after clicking on these links, I earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you) which helps payÂ for the upkeep of this website.