Best Travel Backpack For Europe

bestbackpackeurope

Finding the best travel backpack for Europe can be confusing because there are so many options. While most people use standard hiking backpacks to travel, there are also other non-traditional bags. In this guide we’ve picked our favorite panel loading bags, top loading bags, and non-traditional bags. Before you choose a bag, make sure you know the benefits and disadvantages of each style of bag and what to look for in a travel backpack. We’ve created a guide for how to choose a backpack for traveling Europe and I highly recommend that you view this guide before buying a backpack.

Best Panel Loading/Front Loading Travel Backpacks for Europe

Osprey Porter Travel Backpack - Starting around $80

ospreytporter

Osprey is my favorite backpack brand, so it is no surprise that the Osprey Porter is a great panel loading backpack for traveling in Europe. This pack is sturdy and offers a lot of room for all your gear. I also love how it is very streamlined and lightweight— which makes it much easier to navigate crowds. The shoulder straps zip away behind a flap which is very helpful when stowing it on planes/trains/buses. Personally, I think the 65 liter version is a bit too big, but if you don’t mind checking your bag (or if you aren’t going to be flying) then it would probably be fine. My only complaint is that its waist belt isn’t padded, so it isn’t great for really long journeys.

Features:

  • The Porter 46 is carry-on size for most airlines (the Porter 65 is over the legal carry-on size).
  • Lightweight but sturdy construction.
  • Ballistic nylon.
  • Zip-away shoulder harness that is comfortable.
  • Tuck-away fabric waist belt.
  • StraightJacket compression that secures any size load.
  • Low-profile top and side grab handles which are great for lugging your bag around.
  • Large panel zip access with lockable zippers.

Osprey Porter 46 - $80-$100

Sizecu. in.literlbs/ozkg.
Porter 462807462/71.10

Dimensions
height x width x depth
In: 22 x 14 x 9
Cm: 56 x 35 x 23

Osprey Porter 65 - $100-$110

Sizecu. in.literlbs/ozkg.
Porter 653967653/11.40

Dimensions
height x width x depth
In: 26 x 15 x 11
Cm: 65 x 38 x 28

Osprey Farpoint 55 - Around $180

The Osprey Farpoint 55 is another great travel pack and I think it is a great alternative to the Osprey Porter. This pack has a total of 55 liters of space, but the 55 liters are split up between the main backpack (40 liters) and the detachable day pack (15 liters). The day pack clips onto the main backpack — which can be handy when traveling. I think 40 liters is a pretty good size for a main bag. There is also the Osprey Farpoint 70 which is a bit bigger and runs around $200.

Features:

  • Main bag offers a panel-loading opening with lockable zippers, interior pocket, and internal compression straps to cinch down contents
  • Features removable sleeping pad/rain jacket straps
  • Adjustable suspension system can be stored in its own panel for streamlined transport as luggage
  • Spacer mesh back panel with LightWire frame helps promote airflow and moisture dispersal.
  • Detachable daypack includes multiple internal and external pockets, tuckaway harness and an internal sleeve for hydration reservoir or a computer
  • External compression straps help secure daypack and let you strap down loads.
Sizecu. in.literlbs/ozkg.
S/M3173523/121.70
M/L3356553/151.78

Dimensions
height x width x depth (Does not include daypack)
M/L
In: 25 x 13 x 12
Cm: 64 x 34 x 30

Osprey Waypoint Series — Around $210-$280

osprey-waypoint

If you’re not concerned about having a bag that can be considered a “carry-on” then the Osprey Waypoint series might be a good option (the 65L might be small enough for some airlines). I also like the Waypoint’s suspension system as it is probably the best of the bunch. The Waypoint comes in two volume sizes — 65L and 85L. Additionally, the Waypoint is available in a men’s and a women’s version — which is nice. They Waypoint includes a detachable 15L daypack that clips onto the outside of the pack. The Waypoint is the largest travel backpacks that we recommend, but it is an excellent choice for people who aren’t concerned with ultralight travel. Click here to view: Women’s 65L and Women’s 85LMen’s 65L and Men’s 85L.

Features:

  • Zip-away suspension with AirScape backpanel and LightWire frame
  • Gender specific,torso adjustable harness
  • Gender specific hipbelt with ErgoPull closure
  • Foam padded sidewalls with StraightJacket compression secure and protect the load
  • Large panel zip access with locking sliders
  • Four internal zippered pockets for organization
  • Internal compression straps keep contents secure
  • Zip-and-clip detachable daypack
  • Stretch woven side pockets keep water bottles handy on trail
  • Padded top and side handles provide comfortable carry
  • Top stash pocket

Kelty Redwing 50 - Approximately $120

keltyredwing

I’m a fan of the Kelty Redwing because it is a comfortable pack with a lot of room and a plenty of external pockets. I’ve always found Kelty’s material to be tough and their suspension straps to be comfortable. The older version of the Kelty Redwing can usually be found for around $80-$100, so it is a nice option if you’re on a budget.

Features:

  • Anatomically curved shoulder straps and a padded hip belt to help distribute load weight
  • Panel loading for simple loading and unloading.
  • Zippered side pockets for easy access
  • Mesh water bottle pockets
  • Large front pocket with organization
  • Single Light Beam aluminum stay
  • Ventilating back panel, shoulder straps and hip belt that helps keep you sweat-free.
  • Load-lifter/ Stabilizer straps
  • Scherer Cinch that makes adjusting the hip belt easy
  • Built with rugged 420-denier polyester and reinforced with 450-denier oxford polyester
  • Hydration compatible
Sizecu. in.literlbs/ozkg.
Redwing 503100503/91.6

Measures 18 x 25 x 14.5 inches (W x H x D)

Non-Traditional Travel Bags

While many people travel with travel backpacks (like listed above), there are other good options for carrying your gear. Most notably, convertible bags are very desirable for a lot of travelers. Convertible bags are basically soft-sided suitcases with backpack-style shoulder straps. These bags have a large compartment which makes packing simple and they can be carried like a suitcase, shoulder bag, or a backpack. This style of bag won’t be as comfortable as a dedicated travel backpack, but it does provide added flexibility — which can be very helpful in some situations.

Patagonia MLC (Maximum Legal Carry-on) - $160

PatagoniaMLC

Patagonia makes great products and the MLC (Maximum Legal Carry-on) is an extremely popular option for people who want to travel with a convertible-style bag. Additionally, the MCL is the top choice for flashpackers because it is fashionable and makes you look like more of a local when you use it with the shoulder strap.

Features:

  • Main compartment opens like a book for easy packing, access, and organization with a compression pocket to secure contents
  • A secondary zippered sleeve pocket separates dirty clothes or shoes
  • Padded back panel holds shoulder straps, protects your back, and a separated padded pocket stores a laptop or works well as a clothing organizer
  • External zippered pockets provide easy access to travel docs and vital gear
Dimensions:
20.5″ x 13.5″ x 7″
Weight:
2 lbs, 14 oz

eBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible - $82

ebagsmotherload

The eBags Mother Lode Weekender is another great travel bag option. Additionally, this bag is great for budget travelers because it only costs around $80. But even though it doesn’t cost a lot, this bag is well-made and gets tons of amazing reviews.
Dimensions:
22″ x 14″ x 9″
Sizecu. in.literlbs/ozkg.
Mother Lode3299543/151.6
*3651 Cubic Inches fully expanded. Weight does not include removable shoulder strap or waist strap.

Best Top Loading Travel Backpacks for Europe

Despite some of their shortcomings, top loading backpacks are still a popular choice for traveling in Europe. This style of bag is generally a bit more comfortable and reliable (i.e. no zippers to break) than front loading bags, but they are more difficult to pack/unpack. I’d generally recommend a front loading bag when traveling in Europe, but some people prefer the durability of a top loader.

Osprey Atmos 50 – $200

ospreyatmos
The Osprey Atmos 50 was my first backpack and it is still holding up well after three trips to Europe. It is super lightweight, built well and extremely comfortable. It also has the “airspeed” back mesh which allows air to flow to your back (which is super nice when it is warm). This is a great choice for a top loading bag.
Features:
  • AirSpeed suspension has a fully adjustable torso length and adjustable hipbelt
  • Shoulder harness adjusts over a 3 in. range for fine-tuned fit
  • Updated pad design with spacer-mesh contact surfaces and ventilated foam that provides breathable and supportive cushioning
  • Hipbelt uses dual-density foam for improved support and spacer mesh for breathability; exclusive adjustment system lets you customize the fit while wearing the pack
  • Hipbelt pads extend up to 3 in. on each side for 6 in. total adjustment range
  • LightWire alloy frame creates low-profile air space, optimizing balance and ventilation
  • Floating top lid has a large pocket and an under-the-lid mesh pocket
  • Front stretch woven pocket, side stretch-mesh pockets, zippered hipbelt pockets, and 2 large front zippered pockets help organize gear for quick, convenient access
  • The Osprey Atmos 50 pack is made with a lightweight yet strong 210- and 100-denier fabric set that offers excellent durability and less trail weight than heavier fabrics
Sizecu. in.literlbs/ozkg.
Atmos 503050503/41.5

Do you have a favorite backpack? Please let me know and I will review it!

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  • Zoë Romero

    I plan on carrying a standard duffel like I did through Germany a few years ago. I’ll be traveling on my own this time and not with a tour group, so it should be interesting (especially on trains). I was easily the lightest traveler on my tour last time. I’m looking for a shoulder strap for the duffel, though, since it does cut into my shoulder.

    • http://thesavvybackpacker.com/ The Savvy Backpacker

      I agree that if you’re going to use a duffle bag then you’ll want a padded shoulder strap. The problem with a duffle bag is that it is tough to carry for any type of distance. Check out the Patagonia MLC as it has many similar characteristics of a duffle. But a duffle bag is undoubtably cheaper than the MLC. 

      • Zoë Romero

         I actually looked at the Patagonia MLC! I’ll be traveling Europe for 3 weeks (four cities: Berlin, Paris, Madrid, & Barcelona). I’m still not 100% sure if I’ll be taking the duffel due to the hassle of carrying it which is why the Patagonia MLC still looks appealing, even if it’s a buck sixty. The duffel I have is pretty durable and smaller than the Patagonia. We’ll see if I end up getting a new bag, or sticking with the duffel.

  • Lisa T

    I’m planning my first backpacking trip in Europe, and this website is an amazing find! Thanks so much for the wealth of information!!
    I’m interested in buying an Osprey Porter 46 bag for my trip from Amazon, and I’m concerned that it comes only in one size. I’m pretty petite (5’2”) and none of the sports stores in my area seem to carry this line of packs. I know I’m a Small for other packs that I tried on – do you think that the Porter 46 will fit?

  • http://www.facebook.com/j0nny.ng Jonathan Ng Hann Tung

    THANK YOU FOR THIS. words cannot describe how thankful I am for this website. :D

  • Keith

    Thanks for the great site! Have you had any trouble carrying the Atmos 50 on (have the airlines ever made you check it)?

  • Amanda

    I’m going backpacking for two months. My husband insists that our packs need what he calls “legitimate hip straps,” but I’m not as convinced since we only plan on carrying 20 lbs. I really like the Osprey Porter you feature here, but the hip strap doesn’t pass my husband’s legitimacy test. Thoughts?

  • Katie

    I am about to purchase the Aura 50L Osprey pack for a 15-day backpacking trip through Europe in August. Is that a good pack? It’s part front, part top loader which I like. Do you think it will be too big? Should I go for something smaller?

    Thanks!

    • the savvy backpacker

      The aura 50 is a fine size but I believe it is only top loading.

  • Candace

    I was wondering if you knew anything about the Jan sport traveling bags? I found a couple at a great price but wasn’t sure if they are a good choice. I know they have good quality backpacks. Thanks

    • savvybackpacker

      Hi Candance,
      I don’t have any first-hand knowledge about Jan Sport bags. I know they make good stuff, so if the price is right then I don’t see any problems.

  • Gwen

    This is a pretty narrow review. Do you work for Osprey or something? There are tons of other brands. I personally would like I more well rounded list.

    • savvybackpacker

      Hi Gwen, I do not work for Osprey nor am I affiliated with them — I just really like their backpacks. I will add new bags as I get a chance to try them. Thanks for the comment and let me know if there is a bag that looks interesting to you and I’d be happy to take a look.

  • Patrick D

    Me and my friend are planning a trip for about a month from Sweden to Rome. I was initially just going to use the pack I use for backpacking around Colorado but clearly that is a very different style of backpacking. I really like the Osprey Farpoint because of the detachable day pack. Would that be a good choice? Also in another article you said that sleeping bags are unnecessary, why is that? Do all hostels have sheets and everything? I have traveled quite a bit but never in this stye before. Also thank you for making this sight it is by far the best one I have found!

    • savvybackpacker

      Hi Patrick, Thanks for the kind worlds!
      You can use a “hiking” style backpack… it just isn’t as convenient/practical. It is just more difficult to access your stuff. But yes, the Farpoint is a really nice bag. In every hostel I’ve stayed at the bedding was included.

  • Heather

    I noticed that you didn’t mention any packs with built in wheels — was that intentional? Can you tell me what some pros and cons would be to having one? Thanks so much!