Best Carry-on Backpacks for 2024

We trawled the various travel websites to see which backpack is voted the best for carry-on luggage when you travel by air.

Airline regulations

The largest backpack that would be allowed on a domestic flight would be 22” x 14” x 9” for it to be considered a carry-on bag. If taking a large backpack on an international flight, the largest backpack can not be bigger than 21.5 “ x 15.5” x 9” as a carry-on item. If the backpack is bigger than either of those measurements, it must be checked in as luggage.

Best Carry-On Backpack for International Travel: Peak Design Travel Bag

If you’re an organized traveler, the Peak Design Travel Bag is just what you need. Peak Design has been in the pack industry for years, and it places a special emphasis on photography-compatible travel bags. So their products are ideal for those who plan on carrying camera gear. But don’t turn away if you’re not an avid photo taker.

The Peak Design Travel Backpack has pockets and sleeves galore in the 35 liters (expandable up to 45 liters). The laptop sleeve, hidden passport/document pocket, multiple mesh pockets, and dividers all work together to make sure that every single piece of your travel gear is securely stowed. The side-access pockets and full-panel opening also ensure that all this gear is accessible, while the impressive weatherproof zippers and nylon keep everything dry.

The cons? Over-compartmentalization in the Peak Design Travel Backpack can sometimes limit the amount of travel gear you can bring if you’re continually trying to shoehorn items into dividers and pockets.

Still, while the Peak Design Travel Backpack is a little boxy, this backpack will hold its shape and sit upright even when empty, which can be a pro or con depending on your travel style. Speaking of style, this bag can be an ideal companion for one bag travel to cities, countrysides, or even safaris where camera users can really see the compartmentalization design shine.

While I wouldn’t recommend it for extreme hiking, The Peak Design Travel Backpack is the best option for international travel.

Reviewed by

The best carry-on backpack: Cotopaxi Allpa 35l Travel Pack

Why we like it: The Allpa 35L Travel Pack from Cotopaxi is our best carry-on backpack—a durable, easily stowable option with thoughtful organizational features and anti-theft zippers.

The no-nonsense, adjustable harness system tucks away neatly into a slotted back panel during transit, while four reinforced grab handles make pulling the backpack out of an overhead bin child’s play.The bag opens suitcase-style for efficient packing, but a side zipper also provides on-the-go access.

High-visibility backing in the front compartment makes searching for small items less challenging, and there’s convenient side access to the padded 15-inch laptop sleeve, which has a false bottom to protect devices if dropped. There’s a rainfly included, should you arrive at your destination to unexpected wet weather.

Keep in mind: Flimsy and lacking structure, it doesn’t hold its shape unless it is full. The lack of an external water bottle pocket may be a deal-breaker for some.

Product details: Sizes available: 28L, 35L, 42L | Materials: Recycled polyester and nylon | Frame type: Frameless | Number of external pockets: 2

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Best Carry-On Backpack Overall: Monos Metro Backpack

Dimensions: 11.5 x 16.5 x 6 inches (without the metro kit add-on) | Weight: 2.4 pounds | Volume: 18 liters | Material: Nylon or vegan leather options | Laptop compartment: 15 inches

Monos’ Metro Backpack is one of our favorite carry-ons for every type of travel; in fact, Forbes contributor Hannah Singleton has used it on every trip she’s taken since she started testing it three months ago—and as a daily commuter bag, too. It’s big enough to store an outfit and everyday essentials and has a separate shoe compartment so you can stay organized and clean. And for travelers who like to breeze through security, the exterior laptop compartment is easy to access—not even overpacking can make it a hassle.

Singleton uses it as a personal item because, thanks to the modular design, you can unsnap the front compartment and stow it in the seatback pocket with items you need handy, like a phone charger. (This is crucial on small airplanes when the underseat space is limited.) After months of testing, the vegan leather exterior still looks brand new. It comes in nine colorways that range from neutrals, earth tones, and light pastels.

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Best travel backpack for international travel: Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Pack for Men

Osprey has honed its reputation for creating outstanding long-haul travel backpacks among the digital nomad and gap year crowds. Virtually indestructible, the Osprey Farpoint 55 safely holds a 16-inch laptop and your worldly goods. The harness, back panel, and hip belts can be stowed away when unused. No need to carry a small bag for daytime excursions as it comes with a detachable daypack with a lockable laptop/tablet sleeve.

It can be used as a domestic flight carry-on item. Simply detach the daypack, place it under the seat, and stow the main pack in the overhead compartment. Shopping tip: Osprey also made our lists for the best backpacks for college and high school, best lightweight luggage, and best laptop backpacks.


  • Materials: Bluesign® approved 450D recycled twist dobby polyester, PFAS-free DWR
  • Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches
  • Capacity: 55L
  • Weight: 4.234 pounds
  • Colors: Gopher Green, Muted Space Blue, Black, Tunnel Vision Gray
  • Price at Publish: $220

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Best backpack overall: Stubble And Co. The Backpack 21L

Based and designed in the UK, Stubble And Co.’s backpacks combine elegant, no-frills design with comfort and good quality for a backpack which feels a cut above from the moment you put it on. It’s all about the small details: the clip which holds the top down, zips and the strap adjusters are a fine quality metal rather than plastic; the straps are trimmed with natural leather; the waxed canvas material feels premium while also offering a measure of water resistance.

With a 21L capacity, The Backpack is large enough to be versatile (it suited me perfectly for grocery shopping, taking to the gym, and even on a 36-hour trip to Ibiza) but never too bulky. The back panel and straps are padded, making it ultra-comfortable to wear, even if it’s filled to its maximum capacity.

As a top-loading backpack, it’s easy to fill and feels secure with a drawstring opening covered by a clipped lid. Inside you’ll find a laptop sleeve which fits a reasonably large 16” laptop, and an inner zip pocket for valuables. That’s alongside the zip pocket on the outside of the bag. Personally, I’d have liked these pockets to be slightly bigger, but there’s easily enough room in both to fit a large wallet or purse, work pass, and set of keys.

During the testing process, I also tried out Stubble And Co.’s 20L Everyday Backpack (£125, Stubble And Co.) and 20L Roll Top bag (£110, Stubble And Co.). Both had the same attention to detail and high quality finishings which impressed me on The Backpack. The Everyday Backpack had a few more inner pockets and a more conventional zip-top opening, while the Roll Top seemed more designed for those who cycle to work with reflective elements and a bike light anchor point.

Ultimately though, The Backpack was my pick for its versatility, quality materials, and simple design which made it ideal for use in any setting I took it to.


  • 21L capacity, 1kg
  • Waxed canvas material with breathable and cushion backpack and straps
  • Two outer bottle pockets, a small outer zip pocket and an inner zip pocket
  • 16” laptop sleeve

Reviewed by Telegraph

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