The Best Travel Backpack for Women: Top 5 Picks + Buyer’s Guide

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Thinking about traveling backpack only soon? Not sure where to even start with looking for the best travel backpack for women? I’ve got you covered.

From small backpacks perfect for quick city breaks to backpacks built for longer trips, this guide covers the top 5 best travel backpacks for women and also features a buyers guide at the end, so you’ll know exactly what you should be looking for!

The Best Travel Backpack for Women: An Overview

When it comes to choosing the best travel backpack for women, there are a few different things to consider, including:

  • Size
  • Suspension system
  • Opening
  • Pockets and layout
  • Stowable straps
  • And zippers

Be sure to check out the buyer’s guide at the end of this post for more info on what to look for in the best travel backpack for women.

My Top 5 picks for the best travel backpack check all of the boxes above, and each one is good for a different travel style. The backpacks are:

The Best Travel Backpack for Women: Top 5 Picks + In-Depth Reviews

Tortuga Women’s Setout Backpack: The Best Travel Backpack for Women That’s Fashionable and Carry-On Friendly

the Tortuga Setout backpack-one of the best travel backpacks for women
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Photo curtesy of Tortuga

One potential issue with travel backpacks is that they’re so big you have to check them on flights. Plus, they’re not very stylish at all.

If you’re more of a short city break person, then the Tortuga Women’s Setout Backpack is the perfect fit.

Coming in at 35L, it carries everything you need for a few days away (or even longer if you’re a major minimalist). PLUS, it actually looks pretty stylish, meaning that it’s perfect for city breaks or business travel.

What I love about the Setout backpack is that it opens just like a suitcase, meaning disorganized messes are a thing of the past-especially if you use packing cubes along with it! It’s also deceptively large. It looks small, but is actually super deep, meaning you can hold way more in there than you think you can!

The Setout backpack has straps and a hip belt designed for a woman’s frame. Bonus: the hip belts also have small zip pockets for essentials like your phone and passport! 

The Tortuga Women’s Setout Backpack is definitely the best travel backpack for women who have an eye for fashion but like to carry light!

You can read my full review of the Tortuga Setout Backpack here.

Kelty Redwing: The Best Travel Backpack for Women on a Budget

kelty redwing backpack in blue - one of the best travel backpacks for women
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I’ve been the proud owner of a Kelty Redwing backpack for the past 4 years and haven’t fell out of love with it yet. It’s come with me to 17+ countries and is still in almost perfect condition.

Although marketed as a hiking backpack, it’s also the best travel backpack for women – especially if you’re looking for something a little bit less expensive than other backpacks.

The Kelty Redwing features U-shaped zipper access to the main compartment, as well as a plethora of handy pockets all over the bag for organization. This includes dual side pockets, a large front pocket, a pocket on the top of the bag, and mesh water bottle pockets on either side. The only thing I would change about the bag would be that U-shaped opening, as it can be hard to get to things at the bottom of the bag. I’d much prefer a full clamshell opening!

The bag is supported by a LightBeam™ single aluminum stay, and has straps and a hip belt designed specifically for a woman’s frame. There’s also a sternum strap which goes across your chest, distributing the weight even more. Finally, the straps are easily adjustable, meaning that I have never once been uncomfortable while carrying the backpack around on my travels.

What I love most about the Kelty Redwing, though, is it’s size. At 44L, it’s the perfect amount of space to pack everything that you need—and nothing more. One drawback to larger backpacks is that you can actually end up overpacking, which weighs you down and makes your shoulders hurt a lot! The longest trip I’ve gone on with my Kelty Redwing was 3 weeks (I did laundry once), but I could easily pack for even longer with just this bag if I wanted.

The Kelty Redwing is the best travel backpack for women who are chronic over-packers or who are looking for a more affordable travel backpack option!

Osprey Fairview: The Best Travel Backpack for Women With a Detachable Day Pack

The Osprey Fairview backpack is the new women’s version of the Unisex Osprey Farpoint backpack—one of this popular backpack brand’s most beloved backpacks. Which means that it’s definitely in the running for the best travel backpack for women!

The Osprey Fairview comes in 3 different sizes: 40L, 55L, and 70L. The 55L and 70L backpacks both feature a detachable daypack, which is beyond convenient. One of the things that annoys me most about traveling with a backpack is having to rearrange my day bag in order to pack it away. Having a detachable daypack means that you don’t have to do that, and has me seriously considering investing in a Fairview!

All 3 sizes have a full clamshell opening for their main compartment, meaning that you can open the backpack up like a suitcase and have unrestricted access to all your stuff. It also has plenty of pockets and compression straps to cinch everything down. The zippers on both the main compartment and the day pack have the ability to be padlocked for extra security.

The straps of the backpack are built specifically for a woman’s frame, making it a much more pleasant carry than the Unisex Farpoint backpack.

Finally, the bag is made of super-tough ripstop material, so wear and tear is minimal. And if you do manage to do some serious damage to the bag, Osprey as a great guarantee/repairs program!

The Osprey Fairview is the best travel backpack for women who want the option of a detachable day pack and general versatility!

Osprey Fairview Wheeled Backpack: The Best Travel Backpack for Women with Wheels

If you have back problems or just prefer the convenience of wheels (on flat surfaces), but also want to be able to carry your bag on your back on cobblestone roads and in other situations where a rolling suitcase just doesn’t work, then you should consider getting a backpack with wheels.

And as far as travel backpacks with wheels go, the Osprey Fairview is once again the way to go!

The wheeled version of the Osprey Fairview comes in both 36L and 65L sizes, but I’d definitely suggest going for the 36L one if you want your back to live. The 36L backpack is also built to comply with most carry-on restrictions.

It has stowaway straps, wheels, and a handle, so you have the best of both worlds. The wheels are tough, so can actually go over pretty rough terrain. But when it does come time to carry the pack on your back, the straps are much higher quality than other convertible bags, and the support frame is top notch. There are also several pockets and compression straps.

The bag is made of tough, high-quality fabric and will last for a long time. Plus, you have Osprey’s great guarantee program!

The Osprey Fairview is definitely the best travel backpack for women with wheels!

Eagle Creek Women’s Global Travel Companion: The Best Travel Backpack for Women with ALL the Features

The Eagle Creek Women’s Global Travel Companion has just about every feature you could possible want in a backpack, making it the perfect match for the over-organized among us (or just those who can’t choose what they want!).

A few highlights of the million different things that this backpack features are: excellent suspension and moisture-wicking back panel, shoulder, hip, and chest straps, multiple zippered front pockets for quick storage, super strong, self-repairing zippers (for the over packers) that lock, and a bottom shoe compartment to keep everything else clean!

What’s perhaps coolest about the Global Travel Companion, though, is that it opens-up like a book, leaving you with 2 separate suitcase-style compartments – perfect for organization! This takes the awesomeness of a clamshell-opening backpack to the next level.

The Eagle Creek Women’s Global Travel Companion is 40L and comes in 3 different colors: black, powder blue, and burgundy. It’s the best travel backpack for women who love to organize!

How to Choose the Best Travel Backpack: What to Look For

tortuga backpack opened like a suitcase
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The Inside of the Tortuga Setout Backpack

If you’re unconvinced by my top 5 picks, or just want to know a little bit more about what it is you’re looking for, then keep reading! This section will cover all of the different things to look for in a travel backpack (and the criteria I deemed most important for choosing the best travel backpack for women).

Size

Travel backpacks come in all shapes and sizes, meaning that you have a lot of choice when it comes to deciding how much you want your backpack to hold. In general, backpack capacity is measured in liters, and travel backpacks can come in sizes anywhere from 30L to 80L+.

Personally, I recommend going for a backpack that is between 35 and 45 liters. With a backpack this size, you’ll have enough room to pack everything you need while still complying to carry-on size requirements. Anything larger than 45L and you’ll likely be required to check your bag, especially for very strict budget airlines.

The other thing about going for a larger capacity is that you’ll both be tempted to overpack and will end up with a super heavy backpack, which kind of defeats the whole point of traveling with a backpack in the first place.

The only time I’d suggest going for a backpack that’s more than 45L would be if you’re taking a super-extended trip (1 month+) and will be traveling mostly by ground transport.

Suspension System

Another important thing to look at when choosing your travel backpack is the suspension system. The suspension is the system of frames, hip belts, harnesses, etc. that work to take as much of the load off your shoulders as possible.

At the bare minimum, you should be looking for a backpack with a good hip belt. This will take a huge amount of weight of your shoulders and is honestly invaluable!

In addition to the hip belt, it helps to have a backpack with a good back panel and even a chest strap.

These days, there are many travel backpacks with suspension systems designed specifically for the female body. This generally just means straps that are slightly differently shaped and in different places, but you’d be surprised how much of a difference this makes! Raising the hip belt up so that it sits on your hips, as opposed to where a man’s hips would be is a big help, for example.

All of the travel backpacks recommend in this post feature female-specific suspension systems.

Opening

Generally speaking, there are 2 different types of backpack openings: top-loading and clamshell.

A top-loading backpack opens at the top, while a clamshell backpack zips all the way around and opens up like a suitcase. With a top-loading backpack, you have to dig through your backpack from the top in order to find anything you want.

With a clamshell opening, on the other hand, you’ll have easy access to all of your stuff and won’t mess up your organization system any time you need to get something out of the bag.

I definitely recommend going with a clamshell-opening backpack over a top-loading one!

Extras

The 3 things I mentioned above (size, suspension system, and opening) are definitely the most important things to keep in mind when looking for a travel backpack. However, there are a few other extra things that you might want to look at when making your final choice.

  • Pockets and layout – having extra pockets on the outside of the bag for quick storage is super helpful
  • Stowable straps & hip belt – for when you check your bag or need to put it in the overhead bin
  • Zippers – tough zippers for over packers or lockable zippers are major pluses!
  • Rain cover/weatherproof – if you’re going somewhere where it rains a lot, having a backpack with a rain cover might be a good idea. You can also purchase these separately, though, so it’s not really that important in the grand scheme of things.

How to Choose the Best Travel Backpack: Things to Think About

addie wearing a black tortuga backpack
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Wearing the Tortuga Setout Backpack

In addition to different things to look for in your travel backpack, here are a few more things you might want to think about.

Choose the Best Backpack for Your Travel Style

When you’re choosing your travel backpack, you definitely want to have a think about your travel style.

Are you a frequent city-break taker? Then the Tortuga Setout Backpack might be perfect for you.

Are you going on a months-long trip? Then opt for a bigger backpack like the Osprey Fairview.

Are you going somewhere where the roads will be mostly paved? Then opt for the wheeled Osprey Fairview!

Different travel backpacks are better for different travel styles, so it’s definitely a good thing to consider!

Price

Travel backpacks range in price from under $100 to several hundred dollars. In general, you can get a really good quality backpack for under $200, so I wouldn’t suggest going above this unless there’s a really special and specific pack that you want (think: the wheeled Osprey Fairview, which is phenomenal quality AND has wheels).

If you’re on a budget, then you can get decent packs for under $100, but I’d honestly only really suggest this if you’re planning on taking a few, short trips where the bag won’t encounter a lot of wear and tear. Otherwise, it’s better in the long run to go for a slightly more expensive pack.

Final Thoughts on The Best Travel Backpack for Women

There are hundreds of different travel backpacks out there, but the best travel backpack for women features a female-specific suspension system, has plenty of organizational ability, and doesn’t hold too much stuff (aka doesn’t have the ability to become too heavy).

When it comes down to it, the best travel backpack for you really depends on your personal travel style and budget, as well as the different features that you personally value.

All of the backpacks I mentioned in this post would be a great choice, or you can do your own research and browse on sites like REI, Ebags, and Amazon!

Pin it for later!

Looking for a great carry on travel backpack to help with packing for your next adventure? This post digs into everything you need to look at when choosing a travel backpack and lists the top 5 best travel backpack for women! Click through to find out what they are! #travel #backpack #packing
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