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Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Arc’Teryx Granville 20 Backpack at Amazon
"A sleek, urban-centric flip-top bag with a simple central buckle."
Best Value: Mystery Ranch Booty Bag at Backcountry
"An upgrade of your typical, farmer’s market tote bag — with an equally approachable price point to match."
Best Lightweight: Cotopaxi Batac Del Dia at Amazon
"Only weighs 12 ounces and has ultralight mesh shoulder straps."
Best for Storage: Mission Workshop The Rambler at Amazon
"It’s geared to handle harsh climates, with a bevy of waterproof compartments reinforced by weather-proof zippers."
Best Multi-Purpose: Osprey Daylite Plus at Amazon
"A front pocket allows for easy organization, with a mesh pocket and a key clip."
Best Eco-Friendly: Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Pack at Patagonia
"Designed to deliver all your day-traveling needs without doing serious damage to the environment."
Best for Photographers: Peak Designs Everyday Backpack at Amazon
"Allows photographers to haul their cache of equipment and easily access them."
Best for Women: REI Co-op Workload Max Pack at REI
"The harness system is engineered to contour to a woman’s body."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Arc’Teryx Granville 20 Backpack
From renowned outdoor brand Arc'Teryx, the Granville 20 is a sleek, urban-centric flip-top bag with a simple central buckle. It's constructed from the brand’s proprietary Advanced Composite material, a bomber weatherproof, laminated fabric reinforced with taped seams to protect the bag’s contents from rain, sleet, and snow. But the real magic comes when you pop open the one-hand-release buckle. Inside, the 20-liter capacity includes a padded section for a 15-inch laptop along with slots for documents and magazines, a stretch mesh zippered pocket to stash cables and chargers, and pockets with a key clip for your wallet, smartphone, and other must-haves.
A center sternum strap helps distribute the weight and will keep the bag from sagging off your shoulders, while a padded back panel provides comfort. Curved, adjustable shoulder straps conform to the natural shape of your physique, eliminating sore spots, with a top grab handle that makes it easy to maneuver in and out of an overhead compartment. True to its messenger bag inspiration, the Granville 20 also includes a clip-in point to secure a bike light.
Best Value: Mystery Ranch Booty Bag
Think of the Booty Bag from Mystery Ranch as an upgrade of your typical, farmer’s market tote bag — with an equally approachable price point to match. This top-loading pack rests on two, thin adjustable shoulder straps and is constructed of weather-resistant 500D ripstop fabric.
Rather than overload the pack with organizational features, it’s essentially a 15-liter sack with a zippered, internal compartment that’s big enough to store most tablets. Note that the bag doesn’t have any sort of zip closure for the main compartment, relying instead on tension from its shoulder straps — so it’s not a go-to for hour-long hikes through the rain. And this isn't the bag to carry your laptop or other fragile equipment, though the padded back panel makes it comfortable when hauling heavier loads. For a simple, lightweight pack, however, it’ll fit most traveler needs.
Best Lightweight: Cotopaxi Batac Del Dia
Those who like the convenience of carry-on packs will appreciate the ease of storing the Batac Del Dia backpack in larger, luggage items. This unstructured pack only weighs 12 ounces, with ultralight mesh shoulder straps and a 16-liter main compartment that’s sealed against the elements via the main zipper. Plus, a ripstop nylon shell amps its weatherproof capabilities.
You also get a front vertical-zipped pocket and two mesh water bottle pockets, along with an internal sleeve divider for carrying a hydration bladder or a tablet. An adjustable sternum strap helps center the load. As with most Cotopaxi products, the Batac Del Dia boasts bright, fun colors, each made by remnant materials selected by its employees — so no two backpacks are exactly alike.
Best for Storage: Mission Workshop The Rambler
If you typically end up acquiring more items during your travels, The Rambler is your ideal bag. This bomber backpack comes from San Francisco-based Mission Workshop, who makes some of the highest-quality travel/bike products on the market, so it’s geared to handle harsh climates, with a bevy of waterproof compartments reinforced by weather-proof zippers. The main compartment can be configured in traditional flap-down mode or in a roll-top mode for modest size adjustments. But when you need to haul big loads, unzip the side section and the pack balloons from 1,350 cubic inches to a voluminous 2,700 cubic inches.
A front-zippered drop pocket can handle a 15-inch laptop or tablet, while the rear rooftop section accommodates laptops up to 17 inches. A smartly-engineered, vertical zippered external pocket makes it easy to stash quick-grab items like your phone or point-and-shoot camera. All that extra weight is easy to carry, thanks to a carbon fiber reinforced internal frame suspension system that includes an adjustable sternum strap. Color options range from the conservative (black, grey, army green) to the bold (orange, bright green).
Best Multi-Purpose: Osprey Daylite Plus
For a daypack you can use on a hiking trail, your next flight, or any travel adventure, look no further than Osprey's Daylite Plus. The 20-liter pack is constructed of weather-resistant 210D Double-Diamond Ripstop Nylon, with 400HD Nylon Pack Cloth to reinforce the accents and bottom compartment, and has a large, panel-loading zippered main compartment. A front pocket allows for easy organization, with a mesh pocket and a key clip, along with side mesh pockets wide enough to accommodate water bottles.
Inside the main pocket, an internal sleeve rests against the pack to carry a hydration bladder or tablet, while a mesh-covered back panel keeps the wearer cool. A vertical “slash” pocket on the outside panel is great for quick-grab items and attaches to the rear of the pack with adjustable straps and clip-on buckles, while a stretchy front panel pocket is great for carrying your rain jacket. Osprey is known for their award-winning backcountry backpack harness systems, and this one inherits much of that logic, with its adjustable sternum strap and thin hip strap.
Best Eco-Friendly: Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Pack
The Ultralight Black Hole Pack is designed to deliver all your day-traveling needs without doing serious damage to the environment. While the Black Hole line has been in Patagonia’s arsenal for years, they just introduced a 100 percent recycled upgrade with recycled nylon and polyester lining on the packs. But that eco-friendly move doesn’t sacrifice any of the Black Hole’s award-winning features, which include its highly weather-resistant and packing capabilities.
This top-loading pack comes with 20 liters of storage space, a drawstring/buckle closure, and a zippered stash pocket that the entire bag can collapse into — a feat for a pack with a padded back panel. Mesh shoulder straps keep things breathable, and there's a micro daisy chain for accessorizing clip-ons. The pack also includes deep stretchy side pockets to handle extra layers or water bottles, along with a center grab-handle for easy hauling.
Best for Photographers: Peak Designs Everyday Backpack
The ideal camera daypack allows photographers to haul their cache of equipment and easily access them — without making anything vulnerable to theft. Kickstarter success story Peak Design nails just that with their Everyday Backpack. Available in 20- and 30-liter sizes, the pack was designed with a working photographer in mind, from theft-deterrent zippers to fully-hinged openings that let you find what you need without scrambling through the pack. The interior can be custom-organized and includes padded sleeves for your cameras, along with a dizzying array of smaller pockets for chargers, memory cards, dust cloths, and filters.
But perhaps the most ingenious decision is the pack's access to its interior via zippered panels that line on both sides of the pack. Shrug off one of the two padded shoulder straps, swing the pack onto your chest, unzip, and you can grab your camera and start shooting. Up top, you get a MagLatch (a magnetic buckle with four anchor bars) for easy access, a padded laptop sleeve large enough to carry a 16-inch device, and for hydration, the shoulder strap includes a loop for a hydration hose. The whole pack is encased in a waterproof 400D nylon shell with DWR, poly-coated weatherproof zips. It's supported by twin adjustable shoulder straps resting on an EVA foam back panel, with a variety of strap attachment points to harness your tripod and other accessories.
Best for Women: REI Co-op Workload Max Pack
For female travelers, REI Co-op's Workload Max Pack features a harness system that's engineered to contour to a woman’s body, so you can haul heavier loads for longer duration without enduring hot spots or fatigue. The pack comes with all the expected travel essentials, including a 15-inch padded laptop sleeve, a sternum strap and removable waist strap, padded top handles, side pockets for water bottles, and four exterior zippered pockets — including a quick access top compartment with ample organizational options. Inside, things are simple, with one internal organizing section for quick-grab items, as well as plenty of space within its cavernous 32-liter main section. Compression straps run from the outer back of the pack to the main panel to help tighten the load.