Behind every seasoned traveller is a trusted piece of luggage – quite literally when it comes to that most versatile of bags, the backpack. Whether your idea of a great getaway is a trek through the wilderness and sleeping under the stars or a breezy city break filled with culture and cuisine, there’s a backpack to suit your needs. We’ve rounded up the best bags around – from hardy outdoor heroes to chic style statements – so why not give your old carry-on the sack and upgrade with one of these top-of-class examples?
The Backpack, Maison de Sabré1/18
Toeing a neat middle ground between a briefcase and a duffle bag, this stylish all-leather construction pairs utilitarian thinking (as displayed by its 11 clever storage compartments) with impressive fashion credentials. Available in a range of colours, including vibrant shades of blue and green and crafted from the world’s most sustainable full-grain European-sourced leather, it’s an ideal choice for the eco-minded traveller who wants to stand out in a crowd.
Crumpler Competitive Eater Backpack2/18
Australian-made brand Crumpler is an expert at fusing fun and function, and its Competitive Eater travel pack is a case in point. It’s stuffed with innovations including a removable waist strap with hidden zip pouch, water-resistant pockets, pad-protected laptop sleeve and easy access front organiser pocket, while its brightly coloured 30-litre interior adds a pop of whimsy to your journey.
Peak Design Travel Backpack3/18
Calling all aspiring paparazzi: this one’s for you. With its quick access pockets for SD cards or rolls of film, side pockets for tripods, padded laptop sleeve and dividable internal compartments, Peak Design’s Travel Backpack is an ideal choice for keen shutterbugs with their photography gear in tow. It can expand from a 35-litre day bag to a 45-litre carry-on and is 100 per cent waterproof, so no matter the weather you encounter, your camera will be snug and dry.
Ghost Outdoors The Ultimate Rucksack4/18
When you’re rushing through the airport, convenience is key, which is what makes Ghost Outdoors’ versatile Ultimate Rucksack a trusty traveller’s sidekick. It has a side entry zipper so you can access your belongings without having to dig and a padded laptop/tablet pocket – ideal for a speedy passage through security. The adjustable roll top allows you to unfurl four additional litres of packing volume, while the durable Cordura nylon exterior ensures you’ll get years of use.
Nomatic Travel Pack5/18
When is a backpack not a backpack? The answer to this riddle is this clever 20-litre design by Nomatic, which packs like a suitcase but can be slung over your shoulder in transit. The Travel Pack’s straps can even be tucked away so you can carry it briefcase style while a second, slimline compartment offers easy access to laptops and travel documents without the need for a messy rummage.
Away F.A.R Backpack6/18
Famous for its clever Carry-On suitcase, Away’s 26-litre F.A.R Backpack is a roomy and durable bag quite literally made for every type of adventure. Its titular acronym stands for For All Routes and with its collection of design features and thoughtful organisational system, this pack certainly lives up to its name.
The North Face Slackpack 2.07/18
Inspired by the OG Slackpack, The North Face’s latest iteration is purpose-built for the ski slopes. Venture off-piste and into slackcountry with this streamlined yet burly pack that’s perfect for chasing down fresh powder. It even comes with specialised features including built-in pockets for avalanche tools (just in case) and a ski/snowboard carry system.
Osprey Transporter Roll Top Pack8/18
The great thing about the Transporter is the roll top. Any unused space can be compressed, making the pack as small or capacious as you like. It’s made from water-resistant fabric and there’s the obligatory laptop sleeve, water-bottle pocket and even a blinker light attachment for night-time bike-riders.
Tumi Finch Backpack9/18
As with all Tumi products, the Finch backpack is of impeccable quality. Inside, the roomy main compartment fits all manner of gear; there are also pockets, loops and leashes for keys and such. A rain cover zips into the base when not in use and the Finch has the Tumi Tracer system to track it down if it goes missing.
Status Anxiety Invasion of Privacy10/18
With its simple, sleek silhouette and luxe pebble leather finish, you might assume this handsome bag is all style and no substance. But with its versatile top handle – so you can grab it and go – thoughtful internal organisational system and surprisingly generous volume, the Invasion of Privacy is as much a travel-savvy workhorse as it is a fashion moment.
Victorinox Altmont Active Lightweight 2-in-1 Duffel Backpack11/18
Ideal for day-long or overnight adventures, the Altmont Duffel is extremely lightweight – less than one kilogram – and works as both a backpack and an over-the-shoulder duffel. The inner compartment fits plenty of gear and a water-resistant pocket keeps electronics dry. The cord secures helmets or shoes outside the bag; the straps and moulded back panels work together for maximum comfort.
Marimekko Everything Backpack12/18
Add a little functional flare to your hand luggage courtesy of Marimekko’s signature floral Unikko print. This pack may not boast the generous volume or bells and whistles that some travellers demand, but for those in search of a fashionable transit accessory that comfortably accommodates a laptop, travel documents and daily essentials, the Marimekko Everything Backpack is an ideal option.
Is it a duffle or a backpack? Well, it’s both – a supremely practical combination. The Splitpack splits into two equal-sized compartments divided by mesh covers. This allows for a clear overview of its contents, and enables separation of, say, dirty laundry or damp gear. At 35 litres, it’s big enough for a few days away but small enough to carry on your back.
Lululemon City Adventurer14/18
With a built-in expandable pocket for sweaty gear, a padded compartment for a laptop, and an easy-to-access phone pocket, Lululemon’s City Adventurer is a gym-to-office bag that can double as your travel daypack. The reinforced padded straps mean you can carry a heavy load comfortably and there are pockets for your water bottle and valuables.
Samsonite Locus Eco15/18
This Samsonite Locus Eco is made from 100 per cent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles so it’s a great choice for travellers who want to tread lightly. It’s a great choice for anyone, really: it’s got a sleeve so it fits on any suitcase handle, it fits a 15” laptop in a special compartment and it’s rather sleek and businesslike, to boot.
The pack that began it all, Fjälläven’s Kånken, was developed in 1978 for Swedish school kids who were experiencing back problems from carrying heavy shoulder bags. Now, it’s a hipster stand-by, but don’t let that put you off. It comes in a range of fun colours and it’s simple and durable – the perfect daypack.
Crumpler Itchy Feet Backpack17/18
If you’re the kind of traveller who might be rambling through the bush one weekend and hustling through city laneways the next, the Itchy Feet pack is for you. Designed with the flexible tourist in mind, it has padded shoulder, waist and sternum straps, ideal for lugging hefty gear on a hike, as well as a 16” laptop pouch, a side access zipper and compression straps to shrink it down for when you’re out and about on the street.
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