best travel backpacks of the year
(Photo: Inga Hendrickson)

The Best Travel Backpacks for the Restless Adventurer

Bomber bags for air travel, daily commuting, or any adventure off the beaten path


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Finding a backpack to handle your on-the-go whims isn’t an easy feat. To keep your stuff organized, you need ample space with storage compartments. To ensure it stays secure, comfortable straps and reliable closure technology are a must. That said, your pack can’t be so bulky or heavy you’ll never use it. Here are the best travel backpacks of the year—all engineered to get you from point A to point B, worry free.

4 Best Travel Backpacks for Adventurers

Best Crossover Potential

(Photo: Courtesy REI)

REI Co-op Flash 18L ($40)

Our minimalist testers were drawn to this year’s version of the Flash 18. The pack’s drawstring closure makes it easy to secure and get out the door in a jiff. Want to cut weight? Leave the chest strap and waist belt behind. Planning a multi-pitch climb? With its streamlined profile, you’ve got an exceptional follow pack. It can also be flipped inside out to serve as a stuffsack in a pinch.

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Best for Local Adventure

(Photo: Courtesy Outdoor Research)

Outdoor Research Field Explorer 20L ($99)

Equipped with reflective webbing and 600-denier polyester, this was our favorite for tough commutes. We loved the padded sleeve inside the roll-top main compartment, which kept our laptop secure, and a second, zippered opening allowed us to slip it out with no fuss. External flaps and a zip pocket kept sundries organized, while the weather resistant body and padded shoulder straps played nicely on trails and trains.

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Best for Long Days

(Photo: Courtesy Mammut)

Mammut Lithium 15L ($100)

The Lithium (and the women’s Lithia Speed 15) squeezes a stunning array of features into a modestly sized pack. Four small pockets (three with zippers) accommodate all manner of essentials, a rain cover tucks into its own dedicated space, and the padded hipbelt includes a phone-size pocket for quick access. In the main body, dividers keep crumbly snacks separate from your favorite puffy.

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Best for Fast-and-Light Missions

(Photo: Courtesy CamelBak)

CamelBak Cloud Walker 18L ($80)

Following a recent redesign, the classic Cloud Walker now offers a sleeker profile while still boasting 18 liters of storage space. CamelBak tapered the body, added breathability courtesy of a vented mesh back panel, and used recycled materials for that panel and the shoulder straps. To trim ounces for long outings, you can remove the waist strap. Slide the pack under your airplane seat, then throw it on for hours of comfortable trekking.

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From March/April 2022 Lead Photo: Inga Hendrickson

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