How To Choose The Best Travel Backpack | Part 2: Form | The Right One Bag Carry-On Pack For You

0:43 – Travel backpack weight & size – we prefer carry-on
1:15 – Why “liters” in travel backpacks aren’t always accurate or consistent from brand to brand
2:35 – Pack profile – try to find a slimmer bag – it will feel lighter and be easier to manage with it closer to your back
3:12 – Top-loading vs panel-loading (clamshell) backpacks
4:36 – Weather resistance and protecting your gear from the elements
6:28 – Durability and quality – how is the pack going to hold up with heavy usage?
7:12 – How to identify quality zippers that won’t break
9:42 – Travel backpack fabric and materials and the definition of denier (ripstop nylon, ballistic nylon, cordura, kodra, sailcloth, dyneema)
14:20 – Warranties & company ethics

Part 1 (Intro – why backpacks?):
Part 2 (Form): (you are here)
Part 3 (Function):
Part 4 (Aesthetic):

We’re constantly updating the written portion of this guide as new backpacks are released and the travel landscape changes:

Our team at Pack Hacker developed the “How To Choose The Best Travel Backpack” guide in partnership with our friends (and bag experts) at Carryology

Choosing the best travel backpack for one bag carry-on travel can be a tough endeavor. There are so many brands and models to choose from with varying degrees of durability, price, and try-on-ability (we made this word up for trying something out before buying it online). Add varying views and opinions into the mix from folks with different values, needs, and body types—and you’ve got a veritable clusterf*ck of options to wade through. Whether you’re a new traveler gearing up for your first trip, a digital nomad going through a “sell-all-my-stuff-and-put-it-in-a-backpack” phase, or somewhere in between, it’s essential to have the best travel backpack that works for you.

Here’s the bottom line: There is no “best” backpack that is perfect for every traveler in every scenario. However, we believe it is possible for everyone to find a pack that’s perfect for their unique needs. In this guide, we’ll break down the factors we think are most important when choosing the perfect one bag travel backpack for you.


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Peak Design Everyday Backpack
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Wandrd PRVKE
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Aer Travel Pack
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Aer Flight Pack
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Mission Workshop Fitzroy
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Minaal Carry-on 2.0
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Patagonia Arbor Pack
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Tortuga Homebase
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Magpul Daka Pouches
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GORUCK Padded Field Pocket
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Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cubes
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Timbuk2 Rapid Pack
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Fjallraven Kanken
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LivingAsLynn says:

Coming from the UL wilderness backpacking community, I know sailcloth as Cuben Fiber

sivan ferna says:

This channel is amazing, thank you so much for making these

The Soan Age says:

Awesome idea for a channel! I’m thinking about my next bag for one bag travel. I’ve used the pacsafe 45l (great for security) and this kelly 44 (great for hiking). I’m considering the PRVKE 31 – is this big enough for one bag travel? It looks dope! I’ve subbed 🙂

moonshadow789 says:

Really enjoying this series so far, very professional presentation and content quality!

What I absolutely missed in this video though are the two classic materials: Canvas and leather! They shouldn’t be left unmentioned imho, because if of high quality, well stitched together and waxed they are incredibly durable, rain proof and can rival more modern materials. Also they can be easily repaired if they happen to take damage, even in a remote village anywhere in the world.

Also I have a suggestion for a new video idea you could probably cover someday: How to get the most out of your backpack not only when traveling, but also in everyday life – how to organize it most efficiently, how to pack for different activities… This is a topic I couldn’t find a good video about on YouTube so far, but could be relevant to lots of people.
For example, I personally use my favorite backpack, a top loader with one huge main compartment (a Bree Punch Casual 93), for various use cases:
a) Workday use, so carrying commuting items, stuff for work, laptop, etc.
b) Business trips, with a mixture of workday items and additional stuff for the trip itself
c) Running errands, like getting groceries or shopping for stuff in the city centre
d) Leisure use, like short hikes in the countryside, biking to the lake, etc.
e) Photo tour use, where it carries all my camera equipment
f) Travelling
All of these activities require to carry some “always in” (sunglasses, power bank, etc.) and some wildly different contents in that same backpack. I’m wondering how to find the most efficient way to organize my stuff for different activities in it, how to quickly refit it for another purpose without forgetting anything, how to find and take rarely used things out from the deep, crowded black hole that such a backpack can become… You get the idea. To a certain degree packing bags as mentioned in video 3 of the series are an answer, but not for everything. Sometimes the things you carry are fragile, sometimes quick accessibility is of high importance or other factors like these come into play.
Surely somebody with lots of travel experience with different backpacks can share quite some wisdom about these daily life topics as well!

Eddie says:

What do you think of the material the Minaal is made of? Is it pretty durable?

Tom Wahlin says:

Do you have a favorite one bag travel backpack or have any questions about one in particular before buying it? Let us know in a comment and we’ll do our best to help out! We’re glad you’re here.

Sawyer Seth says:

Mission workshop bags win, because they are so beautiful

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