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Best Travel Backpack For Europe

Product Reviews

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 check it out before buying a backpack.

Best Panel-Loading/Front-Loading Travel Backpacks for Europe

Osprey Porter Travel Backpack – Starting around $80


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), 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.


  • 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

Size cu. in. liter lbs/oz kg.
Porter 46 2807 46 2/7 1.10

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

Osprey Porter 65 – $100-$110

Size cu. in. liter lbs/oz kg.
Porter 65 3967 65 3/1 1.40

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.


  • 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.
Size cu. in. liter lbs/oz kg.
S/M 3173 52 3/12 1.70
M/L 3356 55 3/15 1.78

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

Osprey Waypoint Series — Around $210-$280


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. The Waypoint includes a detachable 15L daypack that clips onto the outside of the pack. The Waypoint is the largest travel backpack 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.


  • 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


I’m a fan of the Kelty Redwing because it is a comfortable pack with a lot of room and 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.


  • 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 help 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
Size cu. in. liter lbs/oz kg.
Redwing 50 3100 50 3/9 1.6

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 those 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, a 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


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.


  • 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 and protects your back
  • 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
20.5″ x 13.5″ x 7″
2 lbs, 14 oz

eBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible – $82

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.
22″ x 14″ x 9″
Size cu. in. liter lbs/oz kg.
Mother Lode 3299 54 3/15 1.6
*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

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.
  • AirSpeed suspension has a fully adjustable torso length and adjustable hipbelt
  • Shoulder harness adjusts over a 3 in. range for a 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
Size cu. in. liter lbs/oz kg.
Atmos 50 3050 50 3/4 1.5

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

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Product Reviews

  • 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.

    • 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?

  • THANK YOU FOR THIS. words cannot describe how thankful I am for this website. 😀

  • 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?

    • Edelbo

      I am a HUGE fan of the proper hip belt. It takes all the weight off you neck, shoulders and back. The weight is all and your hips and distributed evenly. Osprey heat molds their hip belts to your body (at REI) making them even more comfortable. — I see this post was a years ago, what did you do?

  • 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?


    • the savvy backpacker

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

    • Kristi

      Hi Katie! i am planning my first back packing trip to Europe this summer. How did you like the Aura 50L? Was it too big?

    • Andrea

      I was gonna purchase this one as well! Is it small enough to be a carry on??

  • 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.

    • Edelbo

      My first backpack was a JanSport (2002). I liked it ALOT. It had a detachable (zip on attached) day pack and thick removable hip belt, also huge pockets. What I disliked about it was the removable (they slid our too easy) metal bones (mind you this was 12 years ago and packs have changed). I have since (2008) changed to Osprey and I like them much better.

      • Trisha Bowe

        I had a JanSport for years that made many trips to Europe and 3 trips to the Peruvian jungle as well as many domestic vacations. Unfortunately, my bag must have fallen in love with the Amazon as it took a swim never to return. I am now in search of a new bag for another jungle trip. I prefer the panel loading style. If only I could find my bag I bought in 1987. 🙁 My Jansport was simple- 2 pockets on either side, 2 front pockets and a large zipper opening.

  • 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.

      • jq

        Deuter and Gregory make wonderful packs for women. Deuter is similar to osprey while Gregory is a bit of a simple design that can be compensated with packing cubes for easy organizing. I work at a travel outfitters and we work hard to ensure women are fitted well for a pack because it seems to be men are the prototype for most travel gear, sadly.

  • 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!

  • kgk

    Do you have an opinion of the Gregory Z55?

    • savvybackpacker

      I don’t have any personal knowledge but I know Gregory makes quality stuff.

  • Michael S.

    I am having difficulty deciding between the Farpoint 55 and Atmos 50 (am open to other packs but have somewhat narrowed it down to this) I will be in Europe for 2 months, packing light, traveling on the weekends (carry on pack is preferred but not necessary). I also want to be able to use the pack afterwards for short over night hikes in the 1 – 4 day range. Any distinctions between the two I should be aware of or suggestions of other packs?

    Great site by the way, very helpful!

  • Forget the eBag pack. I bought it before I did a comprehensive review of backpacks. After using it for the first time on my trip to Mexico, I realized it only met maybe 60 percent of my expectations. I am still looking around but I think I narrowed it down but I wouldn’t encourage people to go with eBag’s Motherlode.

  • Rachel

    I went backpacking the first time for 5 weeks in western europe as a poor student. I bought the large western pack 90l over ebay, it was a lot cheaper and more comfortable than my friends jansport. It took me also through a 2 week bout through the middle east, unfortunatly the hip buckle broke when someone stepped on it. Now that im not such the poor student do you have any reccs for a 90l bag. im planning a 4 weeker to scandinavia and eastern eurupe

  • Mikayla Christine

    This website has absolutely been my go-to for every question Ive had while planning my solo trip to europe for two months this summer…. can’t thank you enough for providing soooooo much useful tips and info, past experiences, reassuring me that a solo female travel-journey won’t be as scary as everyone tells me it will…AGAIN THANK YOU SAVVY BACKPACKER, couldn’t have planned this out without your help!

  • Kait

    I am in the process of researching and educating myself on the many different things I’ll need to know for a backpacking – couchsurfing trip after college. I want to go to Europe, Australia, and wherever else I decide over a period of 3-6mos. In thinking of everything I’m going to need to know and plan out, finding this website feels like an absolute Godsend! This is going to take quite some time to thoroughly plan out, esp as I’ll be going alone and I want to have as much worked out and working as “flawless” as possible (yeah, I know… going to be far from flawless but that is okay!!). I just can’t express how elated I am that you have taken the time to put all this together AND have SO many links and options with explanations! You are my kinda woman! Thank you thank you! I’ll be sure to contact you if I have any questions I can’t find answered over the next year or so as I plan! “) God Bless!!

  • Andrea


    I am preparing for a 3 week backpacking trip through Europe this summer and I am still struggling to find the perfect backpack. I went to REI yesterday and tried on several packs. My favorite was Osprey Aura 50 because it supported my back and wasn’t too big. As a woman with some back pain, do you think this is an appropriate bag? I would like to use it as a carry on as well. Please let me know.


    • Edelbo

      I got the Osprey Ariel 85L. I too have a bad back and LOVE all the weight being on my hips. I have done 3 Europe trip 2-4 weeks each with it and have had no problems.

  • Andrea

    Side note: What is an appropriate size for a women traveler?

    • Edelbo

      Size (liter) depends on how much room you need. The back should be fitted to you. Sm/Med Med/Lg REI has a fitting tool to know what is right for you. I was using an Osprey Atherton 60 med/large and come to find out it was too big (length of pack) When she put the s/m Ariel I could feel the difference right away. Make sure your shoulder straps fit snuggly over your shoulders, there should be no gap. The weight should be on your hips not only your shoulders.

  • dedshyp

    I like using a camera equipment bag. Dedicated laptop compartment. Easy organization. Food, clothes, and dirty clothes completely seperated. Usually a pretty good strap system. Also if your a techie you can set them up like a GO bag and run charging cable to each pocket from batery pack plugged into a retractable power strip. Anywhere you stop you just plug in the one cord and your appliances stay charged on the go.

    • Kim Carr

      Dedshyp, which camera backpack do you like?

  • riley

    I personally use a military surplus backpack, it’s nice and big fits everyteverything I currently own ( full time traveler) and it’s simple, minimal straps, huge compartments, lots of Europeans respect Aerial ared forces, others do not, I was worried about this but It benefits me way more often than not, I’ve even gotten military discounts countless times, I never argue that I was never actually a marine or anything … And I feel like it makes thieves think twice that I have military training, although Im a pretty big guy anyways.
    it also has back support and you can buy compartments on amazon to add to it, the bag I have is a Official US Military Surplus ACU Molle II Large RuckSack Backpack it’s aweso me and I’ve used it for years.

    • Joseph

      inb4 you get targeted by Muslims and get your head cut off.

  • Ralph E.

    What is the difference between the Osprey Mens Waypoint 85M and the Women’s 85L. It seems they have the same dimensions. Are they designed differently?

  • GregoryJade

    For women my GF has the Gregory Jade 60, which although is a backpacking specific pack, has a huge front access U-zipper. It’s a marvelous pack that can easily transition from trekking to plane travel. It easily fits in the overhead and looks like a 35L pack, but can be super extended up to 60. The suspension and back is super comfortable. Highly recommend.

  • Katie Cooke

    I have been to Europe a dozen times but this summer will be my first time backpacking, I just want to say thank you for creating this website. It is incredibly useful.

  • Jacob

    Hi, I will be in Europe for 3 weeks this summer and I have booked 8 flight with Easyjet, Ryan Air, and Wizz air. I purchased the Atmos Farpoint 55 M/L and now I am concerned it will be too large to be considered a carryon even if I pack light and put the daypack in the big pack. I was wondering if you or anyone you’ve encountered was able to get the Farpoint 55 by as a carryon with any of those airlines? Thanks, this blog has been such a a great resource!

    • savvybackpacker

      Hi Jacob, the Farpoint 55 will be fine. The main back is only 40L so it is well within the limit. I used a 50L bag and had no issues. Have fun!

  • Ceren

    What would you say is the best backpack to fit as much stuff as possible. I’m okay with having to check it in for the flights, just want the best backpack to be able to carry the most amount of stuff for backpacking Europe.

    • savvybackpacker

      Many of the backpacks listed above have a larger version. Anything from Osprey will be good. Most big bags are the “hiking” style so keep that in mind.

  • Carly Stewart

    Hello! This website is amazing – thank you so much!
    I’ve never backpacked anywhere before, but I’ll be spending a month in Europe this summer. What kind of liter size should I be aiming for? I guess carry-on is nice, but I’ll be moving around on trains, not planes, for the entire trip.

    So, liter recommendation for a month? Thanks so much!!

  • Kiersten R

    I am traveling in Europe for a month and going to 9 different countries.. What would you recommend?

  • Drew

    What do you think of the kelty pk50? I love the pack but am worried about ryanair being upset that it is 10cm too tall even though it more than meets the standards on width and depth.

  • Amber

    Hi! Great article, thanks!
    I’m about to leave for Europe with an Osprey 38 and am super worried that they will reject it on EasyJet and RyanAir. It is barely under regulation empty. I know they are strict, that’s how they make money, but have you had any experience with them being nazis about being maybe a centimeter over? Thanks for any insights!

    • savvybackpacker

      You should be fine. I used a Osprey Atmos 50 and I didn’t have any problem. The main thing they care about is the weight. Have fun!

      • Ryan Sparkman

        Hey, I am about to go on a multi-month backpacking trip around Europe, probably little or no hiking, and I have already received my Osprey Atmos 50 and have measured it to find that the height of the frame is about 65cm. So you are saying I should be able to get away with it as long as I keep it under weight?

  • Madi J

    I’m very petite, 5′ 2″ and 98 pounds. Would a Porter 46 work for me?

    • what not

      Hey Madi J, I’m 5’2″ and about 115 and I have a Porter 46.

      It’s great in a lot of ways, from the suitcase-style packing to the front cinching down tight to the way the straps tuck away for seamless airplane stowage. The biggest downside is that it’s not super great for actual carrying, especially for smaller people: There’s no padding on the back, and you might find the shoulder straps to be a bit too far apart and the waist strap to sit low on your hips. I like the hip thing, actually, but the shoulder thing kind of sucks. It’s fine for a short walk from train station to hostel, but not nearly as comfortable as I understand many other packs to be.

      With my travel style, though, I’m not willing to give up many of the features for a more comfortable backpacker-style pack (top-loading, big ol’ waist belt). I’ve just ordered an Osprey Farpoint 40 in S/M (which is really a 38); it fits a bit better and is a little different from the Porter but with the same vibe. I have yet to take it on the road, though.

      I’ve been looking at this site for the first time and enjoying it, but this post is clearly aimed at larger people. I’d recommend checking out the blog Her Packing List for tons of pack reviews by and for women.

  • Ally Rose

    Thanks for this great article & reviews of the backpacks. I have the Ebags Mother Lode Weekender and I love it! But since we’re constantly traveling & I’m always looking for bags to recommend to my clients this will be really helpful!

  • Nathan Atkinson

    Are your listed prices from this year (2016) in U.S. dollar? It seems like the Ospreys (at least) have all gone up about $50. ex. Porter 46 = $130 on amazon now.

  • Rafael Rodriguez

    I’m traveling to Europe next month and I don’t want to check in any luggage, I was thinking about an Osprey Farpoint 55 but I’m not sure if it’s over the carry on limit with Ryanair, any info would largely help. Thnks!!

  • goinwiththeflow

    I do have a backpack I would like to use but it’s primarily the type used for hunting so it’s a camo backpack… would that be a yay or a nay?

  • senyai

    Hey folks..I’m trying to find a good quality (but not outrageously expensive such as Nomatic), travel pack with a full zip front or rear opening but, ideally, no more than 30 litres. My old Kathmandu daypack which I normally use for my long trips (1-2 months) is just about done and is a top opening. I’ve searched everywhere for something a sensible size for travelling (in my view) but they are all forty litres or bigger. Specs: durable, full zip opening, back pack (not duffel), comfortable enough for full day walks – I looked at the trillion for example. Absolute max size 35 litres (preferably 30). Any suggestions?

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