The best travel backpack for Europe 2018

Just booked a backpacking Europe trip and now your looking for thebest travel backpack for Europe?  Well you have come to the right place!

Backpacking around Europe doesn’t necessarily mean spending your nights in dodgy backpackers, even if you are staying in mid-range hotels I still recommend you purchase the best backpack for Europe as it is a convenient way to transport your personal items around Europe.

Wheeling luggage around the busy cobblestone streets of Europe is not very practical, not to mention that many hotels don’t have elevators and if you are relying on public transport it can be really difficult carrying suitcases up and down stairs.  The best backpack for touring Europe will allow you to navigate your way around Europe with ease.

In this post I review some of the best backpacking backpacks for travel within Europe.  The review includes the best travel backpack brands including various Opsrey travel packsand Kelty packs.  If you prefer to travel light, you will find some of the best carry on backpack for Europe options as well as larger packs.

Comparison Chart of the Best Travel Backpack for Europe Options

Don’t have time to read the entire review on the best backpacking bags for travelin Europe?  See the table below for a quick comparison of the main features of the various options for the best backpacks to travel with to Europe.

NameCapacityDimensionsWeight of bag (lbs)Our Rating
Osprey Farpoint 4040 l22” H x 14” W x 9” D3.24.5
Osprey Farpoint 5555 l25” H x 13” W x 13” D5.14.5
Kelty Redwing 4444 l25” H x 15” W x 12” D24.5
Osprey Waypoint 8080 l26” H x 15” W x 17” D5.74.5
Osprey Porter46 l22” H x 14” W x 9” D2.44.5
Osprey Wayfarer 70 Trek and Travel70 l25” H x 15” W x 17” D5.674.5
Gregory Mountain Products Zulu40 l23.5” H x 13.5” W x 9.5” D2.864.5
eBags TLS Mother Lode 21.5” H x 14” W x 5.5” D3.74.5
Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP454521.7” H x 13.8” W x 8.7” D3.974.5
Osprey Women’s Aura AG 656530” H x 18” W x 7” D4.64.5


Things to consider first when purchasing the best backpack for Europe

When looking for the best backpack for international travel, there are a few things to consider first.  What type of travelling will you be doing? By foot, air, train, bus or boat?  Are you planning to take taxi’s to and from train stations or your accommodation? Are you looking for the best carry on backpack, or are you happy to pay a bit extra and check your bag in?

It would be easy if there was one best backpack in the world, but in reality everybody’s needs and plans are different.  Giving yourself the time to understand the different features of backpacks is an important part of choosing the best travel backpack.  Europehas so much to offer, ancient ruins, forests, large cities and small villages, and this review will help you choose the right backpack for you and your trip.

  1. Size

The size of your European travel packis important and a major factor in choosing the best backpack for international travel.   If you are planning to travel in winter, you will need more space for clothing compared with travelling in summer.  How many people are you packing for, just you, maybe some children too?

If you are travelling during the summer, you may be able to get the best travel backpack carry on and not need to check in any luggage.  In my view the best backpack for air travel, is one that is classed as cabin baggage – this saves you both time and money.

  1. Comfort / Straps

The best backpack for overseas travel has to be comfortable.  The comfort factor can be the difference between a good trip and a great trip. With much attention given to suspension systems (how the load is transferred across the back and to the hip belt), different brands regularly redevelop these to make sure they offer the most comfort they can.

Shoulder straps, hip belt, sternum strap and a carry strap all form part of the carrying system.  Look for a Europe travel pack that has wide padded straps to give you more comfort, and if you are going to be spending a long time carrying your backpack on your back, you may want to consider the gender specific backpacks.  Contoured specifically to meet your unique requirements, these are becoming more common.

The best backpack for touring Europe should have breathable fabric for increased comfort.  Some packs even have hip belts with pockets, great for storing snacks.

All the straps will be adjustable, even the best cheap travel backpackwill have adjustable straps these days.  Time spent adjusting the straps until you are comfortable before you set off, will ensure a thankful back, neck and shoulders on your return.

  1. Type

There are three main types of travel backpacks, top loading, panel loading and non-conventional backpacks.  Depending on the type of travel you are doing will help you decide which is the best backpack to travel Europe with.

Top loading backpacks are best for hiking, generally these are bigger and are harder to access your gear from, due to the one top opening.  Panel loading or front loading backpacks open more like a traditional suitcase, but are not as good for carrying all the time. Non-conventional backpacks cover duffle, overnight and messenger bags, these are more suited to a weekend away. Some backpacks have included a laptop sleeve, something to consider for the travelling entrepreneur or digital nomad.

  1. Other Features

Other features which may be important when looking at good backpacks for Europe include a detachable day pack, the location, and amount of pockets and if the backpack is water resistant.

A detachable daypack is great if you can leave your main pack in your accommodation safely.  It gives you even more freedom and a break from carrying your main pack around fulltime. Most daypacks have a laptop sleeve these days, and are big enough to carry a water bottle, camera, jumper and some food.

The amount and location of pockets is important to a point, sometimes backpack designers go overboard.  The best rucksack for travelling is not necessarily the one with the most pockets.  Try not to get dazzled by too many pockets, it can be easy to forget where you packed things!  A pocket for a water bottle, raincover, hat or sunscreen and jacket are handy on the outside, and a divider in the main compartment is great to keep clean and dirty clothing separated.

A water resistant fabric gives you that bit of extra time to find cover, or grab your raincover if it starts to shower, to ensure your backpack and its contents are protected, or keep your backpack looking good if you accidently spill something.

Different Types of Backpacks

It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the three main types of backpacks.  These are top loading, panel loading and non-traditional.

  1. Top Loading Backpack

Pros of top loading backpacks

One of main pros of the top loading backpack is the ergonomics, they are designed to be worn on your back and carried for long distances.  The suspension system, including the straps are one of the main features.  Many of the best backpack brands develop and trademark their very own suspension designs, knowing that this will probably sell the backpack.  The straps are also thicker and more comfortable.

The best top loading backpack is made from durable fabric and can take the wear and tear of adventuring.  A drawstring is used to open and close the backpack at the top, protected by a hood which usually has a pocket.  The choice to forgo zippers enhances the durability factor, so increases its ability to be weatherproof.

Cons of top loading backpacks

Packing your gear and retrieving it when you want it is probably the biggest con, so it is best to spend some time thinking about what you will need first. When you are wearing a top loading pack in a crowed place it can be easy to accidently bump into things, or people, so remember to be careful.

Top loading packs are built for carrying the most gear, so they are too big for carry on, you will need to check this one in.

  1. Panel loading backpacks


Pros of panel loading backpacks

The best panel loading backpackis easy to use, and easy to access your gear, so you won’t need to spend as much time thinking about packing.  The major opening is accessed by laying the backpack on its back and unzipping a large panel at the front of the backpack, like a traditional suitcase.

Usually there are many pockets and compartments inside the main compartment so you can keep items more organised.  The panel backpacks also have external pockets, some are zippered, lockable or mesh.  These packs are flexible, you can use them for occasional outdoor use or conventional travelling.


Cons of panel loading backpacks

The panel or, front loading backpack is not as ergonomic as the top loading pack. This is due to the need for flexibility, more of an allrounder, the front loading backpack does not have a big focus on straps, not as wide as the top loading backpack straps, you may find these a bit uncomfortable if wearing for long periods.

As these backpacks are not made for adventuring specifically, they are not as robust as top loading backpacks. Even the best front loading backpack for travel, would not be suitable to use in the outdoors fulltime.

  1. Non-traditional backpacks

Pros non- traditional backpacks

If you want a backpack for something very specific, the non traditional backpack range might be for you.  Many bags fall into this category sports bags, duffle bags, overnight bags or messenger style bags.  These styles are great for a weekend away, or an overnight stay at a friend’s place.

Basically these bags are not carried on your back, so if you don’t have to walk very far they are great.  They also give you more options about the style of your bag, if you want to stand out from the crowd.  These bags also give you quick access to your gear, especially the messenger style, which you can open and access while you are wearing it.

Cons non- traditional backpacks

It is important to keep in mind that these styles are not as ergonomic as a backpack.  If you are carrying a reasonable amount of gear for long periods you could end up straining yourself.  Don’t get caught up in buying a bag just because it looks good, remember to consider your body as well.

Which backpack is best for Europe

After reviewing the different features and types of backpacks, we believe a panel loading backpack is the best backpack for Europe.  This is due to its flexible, travel friendly and user friendly features.

Best Backpack for Europe Reviews

  1. Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack

The Osprey Farpointis considered one of thebest 40L travel backpacks on the market.

Backed by the Osprey “All Mighty Guarantee”, Osprey state that they will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday. If we are unable to perform a functional repair on your pack, we will happily replace it.

This pack is a good size for travelling, one of the best travel backpack carry on options available. The features of this panel backpack include a laptop and tablet sleeve, external compression straps, stowaway straps for travelling and carry handles.  The suspension system is a light wire frame with a mesh back panel to keep you cool while wearing the backpack.

This is a good pack for travelling, not too big, with solid features. The Osprey backpack 40L is a good choice for travelling in Europe.


  1. Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack

The Osprey Travel Backpackincludes a detachable daypack complete with laptop sleeve and a scratch free pocket for your eyewear.

The Farpoint 55 is water resistant putting it high on the list of best backpack for backpacking Europe. Designed to carry loads of up to 25 kg’s, makes this the best medium sized backpack.  and made from nylon ripstop fabric.

Osprey packshave a considered design, the best travel bags for Europe have incorporated security into their backpacks, the Farpoint 55 has a lockable laptop sleeve and lockable zipper for the main compartment.

The trademark LightWire frame suspension system transfers the weight of the backpack to the hip belt, keeping the strain off your shoulders, a must when backpacking.  A backpacking Europe backpack must haves include the option of stowing the shoulder straps and hip belt in a zippered compartment, streamlining your baggage for transport, this backpack ticks this box too.

Osprey backpacks are a respected brand with good customer service.  This is a good pack with well thought out features and comfort in mind.

  1. Kelty Redwing 44 Backpack

The Kelty Redwing 44 Backpackis considered the best travel backpack for women. With a laptop sleeve doubling as a hydration sleeve, this size is the best lightweight travel backpack.

This Kelty Redwing 44 review will cover why this is a great option for travellers after the best bag for backpacking Europe.  The front organisation panel is great for small items that you will need to access regularly.  Lower stretchy side pockets are handy for water bottles, while upper side pockets enable you to carry long items, like tent poles or walking sticks.

The stash pocket at the front of the Kelty backpack is secured with a hook only, for storing and grabbing a jacket or jumper quickly.

This panel backpack has a simple design, the best backpack for Europewill need to be lightweight and comfortable, Kelty has achieved this and more with the Redwing 44, one of the best backpacks for Women.


  1. Osprey Waypoint 80 Travel Trekking Pack

The Osprey Waypointis one of the best large backpacks for travel.  One of the best backpacks for Men, this is an older style that is still current, sometimes you get it right the first time.

The panel backpack style makes it easy to access your gear and pack it away neatly.  When looking for good travel backpacks for Europe, look for the stowaway harness feature.  Osprey have included this allowing you to stow the straps and hip belt at the back of the backpack under a zippered panel, keeping your straps safe during transport.

The daypack adds to the flexibility when backpacking through Europe. Backpack designers at Osprey have incorporated a 15” laptop sleeve, side stretch mesh pockets and a top slash pocket.  The compression straps will help to reduce the overall size when not full, and keep your gear from shifting around during transport.

The best backpacks for Europe trip have a simple design, good features and are backed by a solid brand.  Not only one of the best backpack for backpacking through Europe, the Waypoint is also hiking friendly.

  1. Osprey Porter Travel Backpack Bag

The Osprey Porter Travel Backpack is part of the high quality range of Osprey bags.  One of the best light travel backpacks available, the Osprey Porter is a compact, carry on, panel loading backpack.

The best luggage for Europehas to suit your needs, if you are looking for a backpack that takes up a bit less space than a larger backpack the Porter could be the answer. Some bags for backpacking Europedon’t have a place for your laptop, or you have to open your entire bag to access it, this backpack has a dedicated zippered laptop sleeve at the back of your pack, so you can quickly and easily grab it when you want to.

A zippered top pocket gives you quick access to toiletries, a small front vertical pocket is great for books or travel documents, one of the best Osprey backpacks for light to medium travel, the Porter also has top and side padded carry handles.

The best luggage for Europe is not always a traditional backpack, this Osprey backpack is designed to keep your gear organised, and is a good option if you aren’t planning to do too much walking.

  1. Osprey Wayfarer 70 Trek and Travel Pack

The Osprey Wayfarer 70 Trek and Travel Pack is one of the best backpacks for travelling through Europe.  Packed with features to help you on your journey, this panel loading pack will become like a friend to you.

Features to make this one of the best travel packs for Europeinclude stow away straps and hip belt in the zippered panel, carry handles and detachable daypack.  I really like the pocket behind the shoulder straps, for storing your passport or money, this is a great way to keep it secure.

This Osprey travel backpack is on the large side, 70 L gives you plenty of room for your gear.  The daypack has a laptop sleeve and organisation panel with internal mesh pockets. A port window accessed through the front of the daypack gives you access to your tablet without pulling it out.

Solid features, and considered design, this pack will go almost anywhere, women’s specific and backed by the amazing Osprey back packs guarantee, this is one of the best packs for backpacking Europe.


  1. Gregory Mountain Products Zulu

The Gregory Mountain Products Zulu 40L Mens Backpack is a well designed hybrid with, top loading design and ability, panel loading features and a great option if you are after the best lightweight backpack for air travel.

At 40L this is one of the best small travel backpacks on the market. The suspension system not only transfers the load to your hips, the mesh covered frame sits firmly against your back, providing a gap between you and the pack.  This airflow can make all the difference on a hot day.

The main compartment can also be accessed via a small panel loading opening on the front, giving you more options. This size is the best carry on bag for Europe, ideal for short trips or if you are a light packer.   A small sidekick bag inside the main compartment is removable, like a small sack with shoulder straps, so you can use this like a daypack.

The best bag for Europe is flexible, and suited to your needs.  If you are looking for the best carry on for Europe, this is a good choice.


  1. XXeBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible

The Mother Lode Weekender Convertible backpack is a carry on size.  This non-traditional back-pack is more like a suitcase with shoulder straps.

This backpack can be carried over the shoulder using the larger shoulder strap, or on your back using the smaller shoulder straps. This pack also includes carry handles, several outside pockets including a laptop sleeve able to accommodate a laptop or tablet up to 19”, the only thing missing are water bottle pockets.

The best backpack for travelling abroad is easy to use and this backpack opens like a traditional suitcase, into two halves.  The deeper half is separated into two compartments with straps to keep you clothes in place and a small zippered pocket at one end, while the other half has a zippered mesh cover.

This is an interesting bag, and a good choice if you are after the best compact travel backpack.  If you like something with more structure and carry on capability, check this out, don’t plan on carrying on your back for too long though.

  1. Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 Anti-Theft

What’s the best backpack for travelling abroad? One that keeps your belongings safe and secure and the Pacsafe Venturesafe Anti-Theft backpack certainly does that.  This is a smart, lightweight backpack with plenty of anti-theft features and perfect if you are after the best backpack for world travel.

This 45L backpack has a book style opening to the main compartment.  Internal compression straps on one side keep your gear in place, while on the other side a zippered mesh panel give you more flexible storage.

The Pacsafe has a laptop sleeve able to accommodate a 15” laptop and organisation pocket for small items.  The shoulder straps are padded but not very wide, and the waist strap will not work as well as a hip belt, so don’t plan to do too much walking.

The anti-theft features of this pack include a fabric embedded with a lightweight stainless steel wire mesh – eXomesh slashguard, tough zip technology, puncture resistant double layer zippers, a roobar locking system secures both lockable zippers in one place and a lockdown point for the stainless steel cable which you can secure around items.

Not for carrying long distances, but certainly for keeping your gear secure and you mind at ease, this size is in the best carry on luggage backpack category.


  1. Osprey Woman’s Aura AG 65

Osprey have delivered a comfortable larger sized pack for women with the Osprey Women’s Aura 65 AG Backpack. The top loading Osprey women’s backpackhas been incorporated with the award winning Anti-Gravity system.  This Opsrey travel bagis a great choice if you are after the best women’s rucksack for travellingEurope.

Women’s Osprey backpack shave contoured hip and shoulder straps, making these the best travel packs for Women.  Designed for traditional outdoor use, adventuring and hiking, the features are in keeping with this.

This Osprey ladies backpack has pockets in the hip belt, great for accessing snacks or a small phone without taking your pack off. You can adjust the hip belt while you are wearing the Osprey backpack 65L, customising your comfort on the move.  Plenty of pockets without being confusing, compression straps, lockable zippers and bottom sleeping bag storage.

If you are looking for the best women’s backpack for travel, take a close look at this. A big pack that is well designed, if you are needing a bit more space and comfort is high on your priority list, this might be the backpack for you.  Keep in mind it is top loading, and more suited to carrying on your back, definitely worth looking at and on the list of good travel bags for Europe.

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David Angel
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing Europe for over 25 years.  His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.