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A woman wearing a blue Osprey travel backpack stands outside a pottery vendor in a Morocco market. Credit: Reviewed / Séamus Bellamy

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2022

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A woman wearing a blue Osprey travel backpack stands outside a pottery vendor in a Morocco market. Credit: Reviewed / Séamus Bellamy

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Editor's Choice Product image of Osprey Ozone Duplex 65 Men's Travel Pack
Best Overall for Men

Osprey Ozone Duplex 65 Men's Travel Pack

The Ozone Duplex 65 a great travel backpack that comes with a detachable daypack, a large main compartment, and comfortable hip belt and shoulder straps. Read More

Pros

  • Detachable daypack
  • Lockable zippers
  • Comfortable harness

Cons

  • Packing to maximum capacity is tricky
2
Editor's Choice Product image of Osprey Ozone Duplex 60 Women's Travel Pack
Best Overall for Women

Osprey Ozone Duplex 60 Women's Travel Pack

The Ozone Duplex 60 comes with shoulder straps that are shaped to better accommodate the curves of a woman's torso. We love its detachable day pack. Read More

Pros

  • Detachable daypack
  • Lockable zippers
  • Comfortable harness system

Cons

  • Packing to maximum capacity is sticky
3
Editor's Choice Product image of Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45
Most Secure

Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45

This travel pack may be heavy, but it features slash-resistant construction, a tough zipper lock system, and a tether for securing the pack to other objects. Read More

Pros

  • Hidden, lockable zippers
  • Reasonably comfortable
  • Slash-resistant construction

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Narrow opening of some pockets
4
Editor's Choice Product image of Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L
Best for Photographers

Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L

This versatile travel pack is perfect for photographers. However, it's difficult to secure the bag's contents. Read More

Pros

  • Highly adaptable
  • Straps fold away
  • Ideal for photographers

Cons

  • Camera cubes sold separately
  • Difficult to secure contents.
5
Product image of Tom Bihn Techonaut 45

Tom Bihn Techonaut 45

Well-made and versatile, this travel backpack is a great option for urbane travel, hopping on and off of planes, trains and airplanes, frequently. Read More

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Easy access to main compartment
  • Multiple carry options

Cons

  • No excursion pack included

For business travels, flights home for Thanksgiving, or a resort vacation, a good suitcase or carry-on bag will serve you well. However, they’re not well-suited for hopping on and off buses and trains or walking long distances over uneven terrain.

If this latter type of adventure sounds like your bag (sorry), then you’ll want to invest in a carry-on travel backpack, like our top-tested Osprey Ozone Duplex 65 for men (available at Amazon) or its counterpart the Osprey Ozone Duplex 60 for women (available at REI).

If the security of your belongings is most important the PacSafe Venture EXP45 Anti-Theft Carry-On Travel Pack (available at Amazon) is a great choice for protecting all of your travel gear and clothing.

Finally, photographers will want to consider the versatile Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L (available at Amazon).

After weeks of research, testing, and several international treks, we've found the top travel backpacks you can buy, right now.

Here are the best travel backpacks we tested ranked, in order:

  1. Osprey Ozone Duplex 65 (men’s) / Duplex 60 (women’s)
  2. PacSafe Venture EXP45 Anti-Theft Carry-On Travel Pack
  3. Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L
  4. Tom Bihn Techonaut 45
  5. Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Backpack
  6. Thule Landmark 60 (men’s)
  7. Thule Landmark 60 (women’s)
  8. GoRuck GR3
Two Osprey Ozone Duplex travel backpacks sit in sand in the Sahara Desert.
Credit: Reviewed / Séamus Bellamy

The Osprey Ozone Duplex 65 and 60 are the best travel packs we've ever used.

Best Overall for Men
Osprey Ozone Duplex 65 Men's Travel Pack

Out of all of the travel backpacks we tested, the Osprey Ozone Duplex 65 and Osprey Ozone Duplex 60 offered the best combination of durability, comfort, and intelligent design. The only significant differences between the two packs are their capacity—65 liter for men and 60 liters for women]—and the design of their shoulder straps (the straps on the Duplex 60 are curved to better accommodate the shape of a woman’s upper torso). Either size should fit around a week’s worth of garments, however, if you’re a minimalist packer like we are, you can pack enough clothing for a few days and have extra room to bring home a very respectable haul of souvenirs.

While the two Duplex packs are not the lightest packs we tested, at four pounds each, they won’t weigh you down, even once fully loaded. Thanks to well-padded hip belts, most of the heft of what you’re carrying is taken on by your hips. The load lifter straps, built into the Duplex’s ample shoulder straps help aid in cinching the pack closer to your back, keeping what you're carrying stable. During testing, we found that the Duplex did the best job of sparing our backs and shoulders from pain while walking long distances. The pack’s height and adjustable shoulder and sternum straps make it ideal for a wide variety of body types.

One of the things that make the Duplex such an amazing travel buddy is, as its name suggests, that it can be split into two: a 25 or 20-liter daypack and a 40-liter cargo bag. The day pack uses the Duplex’s excellent hip belt and shoulder straps come with two water bottle pockets, a hidden pocket for small valuables, and an ample main compartment with organizational aids for a laptop or a tablet. It also offers a smaller pocket for pens, smartphones, and everything else in-between. It’s a lightweight companion that you’ll love tooting around town with while leaving your cargo bag at your hotel or hostel. That said, it's a little larger than the backpack most folks use on their day-to-day commute. So, don't be surprised if you find it's not well suited to that purpose.

When detached from the day pack, the Duplex’s cargo bag is designed to meet maximum carry-on sizes for most major airlines. Unzip the cargo bag’s main compartment and you’ll find that it opens up like a suitcase. The main compartment is equipped with compression panels to keep your clothing or packing cubes cinched down and a large, zippered mesh pocket on the inside of the lid, for storing additional clothing or sundries.

The cargo bag’s secondary exterior pocket is well-sized for stashing a lightweight rain jacket or a rain cover for the pack. The cargo bag can also be carried using a detachable shoulder strap. Both the cargo bag and the daypack come with lockable zippers that work with most TSA-approved locks.

During our 18-day trek across Morocco, we subjected the Duplex 65 and Duplex 60 to hours of flight time, overnight train rides, long bus excursions, daily urban hikes, and a dusty, sand-filled adventure into the Sahara desert, we found the packs to be comfortable, no matter which configuration we carried them. Additionally, they proved both durable and easy to clean: a wipe with a damp cloth was enough to remove gritty desert dust as well as the wet grime from being set down for a moment on a dark side street in the Fes Medina.

As much as we appreciated the Ozone Duplex packs, we did find a few things that bothered us about them during the course of our trip.

While we were happy to find that the daypack’s water bottle pockets were able to hold our 40-ounce Hydro Flask water bottles, having the bottles in the pockets ate up the amount of available interior space of the pack. We were also disappointed that, once the cargo pack is filled to capacity, it can be very difficult to attach its bottom clips to the daypack. That said, ensuring that bulkier items are packed into the lid of the bag goes a long way toward sorting this issue out.

We would have liked it if the pack’s shoulder straps and hip belt could be stowed away when on an airplane to make for more space under our seats. But honestly, this is a minor issue, at best.

Finally, we found that the cargo bag’s detachable strap was pretty uncomfortable if used for more than a few minutes at a time. A bit of padding would be deeply appreciated. Despite these small shortcomings, the Osprey Ozone Duplex is an outstanding choice for anyone looking to travel off the beaten path.

Pros

  • Detachable daypack

  • Lockable zippers

  • Comfortable harness

Cons

  • Packing to maximum capacity is tricky

Product image of Osprey Ozone Duplex 60 Women's Travel Pack
Best Overall for Women
Best Overall for Women
Osprey Ozone Duplex 60 Women's Travel Pack

As we discussed in our Osprey Ozone Duplex 65 review, the Osprey Ozone Duplex 60 offers the best combination of durability, comfort, and intelligent design. What makes the women's bag different is that it's slightly smaller (only 60 liters). But in exchange for less space, you gain a design that better fits a woman's body. The shoulder straps on the Duplex 60 are curved to better accommodate the shape of a woman’s upper torso.

During testing, we discovered this was the most comfortable pack to wear. Just like the men's bag, it supports the back and shoulders from pain while walking long distances. The pack’s height and adjustable shoulder and sternum straps make it ideal for a wide variety of body types.

Pros

  • Detachable daypack

  • Lockable zippers

  • Comfortable harness system

Cons

  • Packing to maximum capacity is sticky

A person carrying a blue PacSafe backpack with his hand down an escalator.
Credit: PacSafe

It's like a Fort Knox that you can wear on your back.

Most Secure
Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45

If you’re the sort of security-minded traveler who automatically loops a bag strap around the leg of a chair when you sit down in a restaurant, the Pacsafe EXP45 is for you. It’s a 45-liter travel pack designed, from the ground up, to relieve all your security concerns. The EXP45 is constructed of slash-resistant eXomesh fabric designed to deter thieves from cutting into your backpack to steal your valuables––an asset for anyone traveling in crowded areas where pickpockets are known to operate. It's also water-resistant, but you'll still need a rain cover in heavy downpours.

The Pacsafe EXP45 also has stab-proof zippers and the best zipper lock protection of any pack that we tested for this guide.

The EXP45’s two zippers—one for its main compartment and one for its laptop/admin pocket—are both designed to mate with a thick, stainless steel bar sewn into the front panel of the pack. This bar can be secured with a standard TSA-approved cable lock, making the backpack far more trouble to break into than a thief may think it’s worth.

To confound criminals even further, the zippers, security bar, and lock are concealed by a fabric flap that buckles to the backpack’s front panel. Pacsafe ships the EXP45 with compression straps, located on the outside of the pack, to cinch down whatever cargo is inside of it, making for a more stable carrying experience and easier packing of the backpack into tight spaces.

The backpack’s laptop and admin compartment is large enough to hold a 15-inch laptop and includes smaller pockets, ideal for a smartphone, USB battery pack, and other travel essentials. Unfortunately, in the name of security, the compartment only opens up to a depth of five inches. We found that this narrow opening made for limited access that could cause users difficulty if they need to find a smaller item, such as a passport, in a hurry.

The main compartment, which uses up the majority of the backpack’s 45-liter volume, unzips to open up like a suitcase to make for easy packing. A mesh compartment that takes up the entire inside of the main compartment’s lid is ideal for packing bulkier items, such as pants or a sweater. Compression straps sewn into the cargo compartment make it possible to cinch packing cubes into place. However, we found that they were not as effective in securing loose clothing. We loved how easy the light-colored fabric on the interior of the pack made it easy to find what we were looking for, even in lowlight conditions.

As pleased as we were with the level of security that the EXP45 offers, we were disappointed by its shoulder straps and hip belt, which were not as adjustable as those we’d worn while testing other backpacks and were not as comfortable—strange, considering how thick and comfortable the pack's two handles were to hold. We also noted that the padding on the back panel was thick enough to provide some comfort while wearing the EXP45, but didn’t allow for much airflow—an issue that will result in a sweaty back in warmer environments.

Pros

  • Hidden, lockable zippers

  • Reasonably comfortable

  • Slash-resistant construction

Cons

  • Heavy

  • Narrow opening of some pockets

A model holds a Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L by one of its handles.
Credit: Peak Design

The Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L will appeal to enthusiast travel photographers and those who appreciate a well-made bag.

Best for Photographers
Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L

The Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L is an outstanding, versatile bag, all on its lonesome. However, when paired with one of the Peak Design's Camera Cubes to keep your camera's body and lenses safe as you roam, it becomes a traveling photographer's best friend.

It will easily fit in the overhead bins of most major airlines and weighs 4.52 pounds. If you don't need the maximum amount of storage space that this bag provides (its overall dimensions are 29 x 22 x 33-inches), it can also be snapped and zipped down to 35L or 30L.

At 30L, the Travel Backpack could be used as a day pack, albeit a heavy one, as you explore your destination with a camera and a few basic necessities.

The pack's comfortable shoulder and sternum straps as well as its waist belt can be stowed away underneath magnetically-sealed flaps built into the bag's back panel. It’s a nice feature to have if your airline decides that the bag needs to be stored in your flight’s cargo hold. Less possibility of straps getting caught in an airport luggage conveyor translates into a longer life for your bag.

I was concerned that these panels would open easily during transport. However, on a recent trip to Austria, I used them to stow the backpack's straps while on trains, buses, and in the air. In every instance, they remained secure. A number of well-placed grab handles make manhandling this pack a breeze.

The bag's main compartment is subdivided by a panel that can be zipped away to create one large storage area. The panel has two built-in pockets that offer zippered access from either side of the divider—a nice touch that allows you to tailor The Travel Backpack 45L to suit your packing needs. In the back of the main compartment, you'll find a padded laptop sleeve, along with a built-in pocket, sized for tablets 11 inches or smaller.

The bag's exterior hosts a microfiber cloth-lined pocket, ideal for storing items like your passport, sunglasses, and watch while you pass through airport security. A pair of large pockets flank both sides of the bag and are ideal for stashing a large water bottle or travel tripod. If you have the bag's hip belts deployed, you'll discover two pockets sewn into them that are well-sized for snacks or a few lens filters. I was surprised to find that there was a pair of straps hidden under a flap at the bottom of the bag, which can be used to lash a rain jacket, for example, to the exterior of the bag.

However, it's not perfect, especially when focusing on security.

Peak Designs makes accessing this bag, while traveling, just a little too easy. I needed four travel locks to secure all the different zippered access points into the main compartment. While this level of access allows for incredible freedom in how you use this backpack, it also makes it a pickpocket’s delight and, a pain to secure if you need to stow the bag in your flight’s cargo hold.

The other downside to this bag? Depending on the size of the camera cube you use, the Travel Backpack 45L may not have enough room to store all of the clothing and sundries needed for a long journey.

Pros

  • Highly adaptable

  • Straps fold away

  • Ideal for photographers

Cons

  • Camera cubes sold separately

  • Difficult to secure contents.

How We Tested Travel Backpacks

The two authors of this guide in the Sahara Desert.
Credit: Reviewed / Séamus Bellamy

Our African adventure left us looking more beaten up than the bags we were testing.

The Testers

I’m Seamus Bellamy. I’m the Senior Editor for Reviewed's [The Best Right Now]( guides. When time allows, I’m also responsible for overseeing Reviewed’s travel gadget and luggage guides. As a full-time digital nomad with a taste for rough and tumble travel, I’m well-versed in the tools and luggage to keep you safe, happy, and healthy on whatever kind of trip you’re planning. If I’m on the move it’s most likely at the side of my partner, Becky.

I’m Becky Boniface, a freelance writer for Reviewed. When I’m not fiddling with tools or writing about them, I love to travel to strange lands—typically with Seamus. I find a great deal of pleasure in planning and enjoying frugal adventures. I’ve found that traveling on the cheap goes a lot more smoothly if you invest in the high-quality gear: it’ll pay off on your next journey and scores of other trips, down the road. I value getting the most from my travel dollars and want to show you how to do it, too.

The Tests

Before we could start testing travel backpacks, we had to decide on what size of pack would serve the majority of travelers best. As most folks can’t take the time away from school or work for months on end, light and agile were the words of the day. So we chose bags that would meet the maximum carry-on size requirements of most international airlines, which translates into around 45 to 50 liters of internal storage. Some backpacks get around this rule by having daypacks that can be detached from the main cargo bag. This size limitation also meant that we disregarded popular smaller options, like the Osprey Farpoint 40, out of the competition.

Men and women are built differently. So, we looked for packs that come with straps designed specifically for each sex. That said, we also allowed a few unisex options into the mix. Once our backpacks were selected, we subjected them to 29 objective tests, including:

  • Checking to see if the pack’s hip belt was capable of moving the pack’s weight from our shoulders to our hips.
  • If the pack came with load lifters, which draw the pack closer to the back to transfer more weight to the hip belt.
  • Whether or not it came with an internal frame or frame sheet
  • What security features were included
  • Whether its organizational features made packing easy or a nightmare

Next, each pack was loaded with 14 pounds of gear. Provided it all fit, we took each pack on an hour-long hike over varied terrain to ascertain their comfort. Taking all of this data into consideration, we provided each pack with a final score and bickered over the results in order to arrive at which packs we should recommend.

A man wearing an Osprey Ozone backpack stands overlooking the Saraha Desert
Credit: Reviewed / Séamus Bellamy

After spending days in the Sahara Desert, we found that the Osprey Ozone Duplex's zippers kept sand and dust out of the pack.

To see how our top picks worked under real-world conditions, we tested them during a three-week excursion to Morocco and a week-long visit to Austria. We subjected our backpacks to the hot sand and dust of the Sahara Desert and the tight, winding streets of the Fes Medina. We threw them into airplane overhead bins and wore them while riding on camelback. On one of our longer trips, our packs skidded around the floor of a train compartment for close to six hours. Through it all, we paid attention to how comfortable the backpacks were to wear and their overall durability. If they could survive the beating we gave them, we knew that they’d stand up to most things that you could throw at them, too.

What You Should Know About Travel Backpacks

A person wearing a fully loaded Osprey travel backpack.
Credit: Reviewed /Séamus Bellamy

When fully loaded, the Osprey Ozone Duplex proved comfortable to wear.

Travel backpacks look suspiciously like hiking backpacks, such as the ones offered by popular brands like The North Face or Arc’teryx, on the outside: good ones come with the same load-bearing straps and are made from the same materials as a pack you’d feel comfortable bringing into the wilderness for a week of camping. Inside, however, it’s an entirely different story. Set a travel pack down on its back, unzip its main compartment and it opens up like a suitcase, with all of the organizational aids that you’d expect to find inside of a piece of carry-on luggage. This combination of features makes them easy to pack and unpack, easy and comfortable to carry in a wide variety of situations.

What to Look for In a Travel Pack

When shopping for a travel backpack, here's what will make your life on the road a lot more comfortable:

  • A main, inner compartment that opens up flat, like a suitcase, to aid in packing and unpacking.
  • The inner compartment should boast at least one zippered pocket for organizing your clothes, toiletries and other sundries.
  • A main compartment with compression panels and straps to compress your cargo and keep it from shifting during transport is a bonus that allows the pack to be used with or without packing cubes.
  • An area that military types often call an "admin panel," which can store a laptop or tablet, pens, maps, tickets, passports, you name it. It's most helpful in the detachable part of a daypack, so you can carry valuables while leaving the cargo bag at their hotel.
  • Speaking of daypacks, travel backpacks that feature one are very handy.
  • A travel pack should come with an internal frame to help protect your belongings and keep your stuff from shifting around on your back while you travel.
  • A padded hip belt is a must: they’re designed to transfer the weight of your pack from your shoulders to your hips, helping to save you from discomfort and injury.
  • Whenever possible, load straps should be integrated into the pack’s shoulder straps to pull the pack closer to the back, transferring more of its weight to the hips.
  • Zippers that can be used with a TSA-compatible lock are essential for slowing down thieves and ensuring that none of your gear is lost while in transit. Some packs come with fabric loops for this purpose. You don’t want that. Metal zipper locks are where it’s at.
  • While there are few bags out there that are truly waterproof, you should at least look for one that's weather-resistant. Lacking that, invest in a rain cover to ensure the contents of your bag don't get soaked in a downpour.

Other Travel Backpacks We Tested

Product image of Tom Bihn Techonaut 45
Tom Bihn Techonaut 45

The Tom Bihn Technonaut 45 is an iteration of one of our favorite pieces of carry-on luggage, the Aeronaut 45. As its name suggests, the Technonaut is a 45-liter bag, designed to fit into the overhead bins of most major airlines. It’s available in a wide number of fabric types and colors, making it possible to order a flamboyant pack that’ll stand out from the rest of the luggage offloaded from a tour bus or, something more subdued, for travelers who, like Séamus, prefer to keep a low profile.

There are a number of differences between the Technonaut and its carry-on luggage sibling. The most profound, however, is the bag’s carry philosophy. Where the Aeronaut is designed as a soft-sided suitcase with the option to lug around using a pair of tuck-away backpack straps, the Technonaut is built to perform, primarily, as a travel backpack. During testing, I found that its edgeless, 1/2-inch thick backpack straps were well made and comfortable to wear over a long distance while carrying a heavy load. Alternatively, in situations such as navigating airport security, or waiting to hand off the bag to be stored on a bus, the Technonaut can also be hauled around by its built-in duffle handle or, using a shoulder strap (sold separately.) I appreciated that Tom Bihn also included a pair of grab handles on the bag, making it easier to pull the Technonaut out of overhead storage as you de-board a flight.

I found that its padded, ventilated back panel was comfortable and thick enough to keep any hard-sided items inside of the bag from poking me in the back. The back panel provides some structure to the bag, but not as much as I’d like. Adding an internal frame to the mix goes a long way towards correcting this issue. What’s more, the frame panel acts to protect the contents of the Aeronaut's laptop compartment, which can hold devices as large as a 16” MacBook Pro.

The Technonaut's main storage compartment is accessed via a large, suitcase-style U-shaped opening, equipped with water-resistant zippers. If you’re using packing cubes with the Technonaut, the U-shaped like makes it possible to locate what you’re looking for inside of the pack, without having to remove every last item before you find it. For those who prefer to forego packing cubes, you’ll find compressions straps inside of the main compartment to help you keep your clothing and other goods in place. The Technonaut's end pocket is well-sized for a pair of hiking running shoes. Quick access pockets, located on opposite sides of the exterior of the bag, provide space for stashing a passport and larger items such as a water bottle.

The only complaint that I can level at this travel pack is that it doesn’t come equipped with a smaller excursion bag to use as you explore the area surrounding your destination. Of course, it’s possible to get around this by investing in low-profile backpacks like the Bellroy Lite Day Pack.

Pros

  • Comfortable

  • Easy access to main compartment

  • Multiple carry options

Cons

  • No excursion pack included

Product image of Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack
Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack

At first glance, the Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Backpack appears to have its act together: It comes with a removable hip belt that’ll help to guarantee it won’t get caught up in the conveyor belt at an airport security checkpoint. It’s a feature we both appreciate. As for pockets and other organizational aids, the Allpa 42L is a neat freak’s dream. Inside of the pack, you’ll find two large, zippered mesh compartments and two sub pockets to keep your clothing, grooming goods, and other items easy to locate.

The exterior of this travel bag is no slouch either, offering a laptop sleeve, a top zippered pocket to stow sunglasses, AirPods and other small items, sleeves for a tablet and one for a smartphone, and, finally, a number of lashing points where, with the help of a carabiner or a bit of twine, it’d be easy to attach a pair of sandals, wet rain gear or any number of other items to.

We really liked how easy it was to compress the Allpa 42L when it’s not in use: It can easily be folded up and placed into a drawer or the back of a closet to forget about until your next adventure. We were also pleased to discover that its straps were just as comfortable for a woman to use as they are for men.

All of this, however, couldn’t make up for how uncomfortable and hot the pack was to wear during testing. Part of what seemed to make it so uncomfortable for both of us to wear was unlike our main pick, the Allpa has a frame sheet that is only rigid over the wearer’s spine and comes with no internal frame.

This allows the contents of the pack to rest directly against your body, making for a sweaty, uncomfortable carry. We were also disappointed in how adjusting this backpack’s load lifters failed to make a noticeable difference to Allpa’s weight distribution or overall comfort.

Pros

  • Excellent interior organization

  • Removable hip belt

  • Stores flat when not in use

Cons

  • Uncomfortable

  • Poorly ventilated back panel

  • Load lifters don’t help weight distribution

Product image of Thule Landmark 60L Women's
Thule Landmark 60L Women's

Available in configurations for men and women, the Thule Landmark 60L excited us both as we researched which packs to call in for this guide. Similar to our winning pick, the Landmark 60L’s volume is split between its main 40L cargo bag and a 20L daypack. With a laptop compartment, mesh storage built into the cargo bag’s interior lid, a spacious main compartment with interior compression straps and a zippered side pocket for items you may want to access frequently, like a small water bottle, the backpack appeared to have everything that a traveler might need. Unfortunately, having high expectations can often lead to disappointment.

Once we got our hands on samples of the Landmark, we were pleased to find that its shoulder straps were comfortable. But only when there’s no significant weight in the bag. And, they are not height adjustable: before investing in this backpack, we would suggest heading to a Thule retail location to try one on for size. As the pack lacks load lifters, it is not possible to cinch your cargo closer to your body. During testing, we found that its hip belt was well-padded, but failed to transfer a respectable amount of weight off of our shoulders while in use—both of us noticed that the Landmark quickly became uncomfortable to wear when fully loaded.

The daypack proved to be just as uncomfortable. The shoulder straps hip belt and frame sheet of the Landmark are all built into the back of the pack’s 40-liter cargo bag. When we detached the 20-liter daypack, we were disappointed to find that it had no internal frame, no frame sheet and almost no padding in its shoulder straps, making for an uncomfortable carry.

There was also no dedicated pocket for a water bottle in the daypack, which forced us to place our water inside of its main compartment.

We were also unimpressed that the zipper locks on this pack were made of fabric. No lock or backpack material will stop a determined thief from getting at the contents of your pack, given enough time. But we would have liked to have seen more of a focus on security than Thule provides the Landmark with.

That the daypack, where folks are likely to store their camera, tablet, and other expensive items, is located on the pack’s exterior, instead of tucked in close to the back as we see with our main pick, exasperates this issue.

Pros

  • Interior compression straps

  • Detachable day pack

Cons

  • Main pack and day pack are uncomfortable to wear

  • No dedicated water bottle pocked on day pack

  • Zipper locks made of fabric

Product image of GoRuck GR3
GoRuck GR3

GoRuck makes Seamus’ favorite everyday carry rucksack, the GR1. So it's not surprising that he was excited to test their 45-liter travel backpack. The GR3 is made of the same, heavy-duty, water-resistant materials as the GR1, but boasts a large enough volume to carry everything a traveler might need for weeks or, if you wash your clothing frequently, even months of travel.

It boasts wide, padded shoulder straps as the company’s other rucksacks do, but also comes with a heavily padded hip belt designed to mitigate the weight of what you’re carrying. We were pleased to find that the hip belt was held in place with a generous amount of Velcro, making it possible to remove it for easier storage of the GR3 in a closet at home or in the overhead compartment of an airplane.

However, during testing, we found that while the hip belt helped to distribute the weight of the bag’s heft to Seamus’ hips, it quickly became uncomfortable. After an hour of wearing it, he discovered that the muscles in his lower back had been tweaked to the point that it took a long soak in a hot bath to unbind them.

Depending on your point of view, the inside of the GR3 will either make it the best travel pack you’ve ever used or one of the most disappointing. While it does boast a large mesh pocket and a built-in zippered pocket in the lid and at the top of the main compartment, respectively, the majority of the GR3’s internal space is a blank slate.

You’ll find a number of MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) attachment points and a back panel-wide swath of Velcro for attaching special-purpose pouches, like a first aid kit, or general use ones to help better organize your traveling life. Unfortunately, if you don’t already own a number of such pouches, like Seamus does, purchasing them will add to the GR3’s already substantial price. It is possible to use packing cubes with the backpack—GoRuck makes some good ones to fit the bag’s dimensions, exactly.

However, Seamus found that, unless the GR3 was packed to capacity, cubes made by other manufacturers such as Tom Bihn and Arc’teryx, tended to all slide to the bottom of the bag during transport, making for an unbalanced load that might well have been the cause of the pulled muscles he sustained during testing.

Despite our disappointment with this incredibly well-built backpack, it could be exactly the sort of travel backpack that someone who visits destinations where other backpacks might not survive is looking for.

Pros

  • heavily padded shoulder straps

  • incredibly tough construction

  • Main compartment can be customized

Cons

  • Uncomfortable to wear when fully loaded

  • Customization demands investment in pricey add-ons

Meet the testers

Séamus Bellamy

Séamus Bellamy

Senior Editor

@SeamusBellamy

Séamus Bellamy is a senior editor on Reviewed's Electronics Team. When he's not busy ensuring his team's The Best Right Now roundups are up-to-date, he spends his time reviewing, smartwatches, tablets, fringe tech, and writing how-to guides.

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Rebecca Boniface

Rebecca Boniface

Contributor

Rebecca Boniface is a certified PADI dive instructor, full-time nomad, and DIY enthusiast.

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