Best Travel Backpacks for Women
- Troubadour Ki Backpack
- Away Everywhere Zip Backpack & Front Pocket Backpack
- United by Blue (R)evolution 15L Commuter Backpack
- Troubadour Momentum Backpack
- Quince All-Day Neoprene Backpack
- Moment MTW Backpack 17L
- Up Seoul Lifestyle Daypack by Deuter
- Small Expandable Knack Pack
- Aer Fit Pack 3
- Tortuga Laptop Backpack
- Troubadour Bivy Tote Backpack
- Stubble & Co. Roll-Top Mini Backpack
- Fjallraven Kanken Mini
- Nomatic 30L Travel Bag
- Topo Designs Global Travel Bag 30L
- Bellroy Transit Backpack Plus
- Tortuga Travel Backpack
- Tom Bihn Techonaut 45
- Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L
- Deuter Aircontact Core 45 + 10 SL Pack
- REI Co-op Flash 55 Pack
- Osprey Ariel Plus 70 Pack
- Gregory Maven 55 Pack
- Bonus backpack: Decathlon Quechua 50L Forclaz for Women
- Filson Rugged Twill Rucksack
Everyone has their passions, and I’m pretty passionate about travel backpacks. A good backpack makes or breaks a trip, and I have so many great memories with all my travel bags from around the world!
I take different types of trips (backpacking, work trip, day trip). My travel backpacks might be a daypack for toting my laptop to a cafe while in a new city, or a “backpacking backpack” that takes me on a two-week trip to Southeast Asia. I’ve searched “travel backpacks” time and again, but what I always need is the best travel backpacks for women. As a female traveler, I have my own style requirements, as well as size requirements!
My list here has photos of me wearing these highly-recommended travel backpacks, so you can see how they look on a real person (I’m not a model!). Here are the best backpacks for woman travelers, from daypacks, to weekend travel bags to backpacking rucksacks.
Browse our top 10 picks
- Best Small Travel Daypack Troubadour Ki Backpack
- Best Classic Slim Laptop Daypack Everlane Renew Rucksack
- Best Athletic-Style Travel Daypack Aer Fit Pack 3
- Best Travel Bag to Have for Life Filson Rugged Twill Rucksack
- Best All-Weather Daypack Stubble & Co. Roll-Top Mini
- Best for One-Bag Travel Topo Designs Global Travel Bag
- Best International Carry-On Bag Tortuga Travel Backpack
- Best Durable Weekender Backpack Tom Bihn Techonaut
- Best Expandable Travel Backpack Peak Design Travel Backpack
- Best for Backpack Weight Management Deuter Aircontact
Quickly jump to these sections of my women’s backpack reviews:
- Daypacks & Small Backpacks
- Standard Travel Bags & Weekender Backpacks
- Larger-Volume Travel Backpacks
Daypacks are simple, like a backpack that carries my work laptop when I am working remotely and traveling. Other daypacks are comfortable small backpacks that I want to be my personal item for a flight. The daypacks for women below would be my backpacks for a day of sightseeing on vacation.
This small and stylish daypack is not too big, and fits a laptop, all while looking good. At only 10L, this daypack is like a purse. This is good for if I’ve been out from “day to night,” and I want to look great, or match my bag with a nicer outfit for dinner.
Troubadour is a company I really like for its sustainability practices. When I tried the Ki Backpack, I was floored with the ultimate lightweight factor of this bag, along with the pockets, materials and trustworthy quality.
I have so many positive things to say about this bag that they won’t all fit here! Head on over to my detailed review of the Ki Backpack to see more photos of me using this travel backpack for women.
- Sustainable materials made of recycled plastic and vegan leather.
- Fits most laptops and has mesh and zipper pockets for everyday items.
- Functions as a cute and classic day-to-night travel backpack.
- Priced at $200+ (but worth it because this little backpack is PERFECT!)
- Not big enough to fit a jacket or outfit changes.
Away’s daypack is sleek, trendy, stylish and fashionable. The Away Everywhere Zip Backpack has been my personal item on a flight during travel. I’ve also used it as my go-to daytime backpack while on vacation.
Away also makes a smaller backpack with a front pocket! In this review about the Away Daypack, I review the original style as one of the best daypacks for female travel, because it’s slim, not bulky, not “doofy” and has plenty of inner pockets that I value.
Away updated the backpack since I’ve reviewed it! The updates are great improvements to this daypack that comes in a convenient size and looks more stylish and elegant than ever.
- Great style and design. At 20L (17L for the Front Pocket Backpack), it feels light and has plenty of room for daily stuff.
- Has a laptop sleeve, trolley sleeve, fits a 15” laptop and qualifies as a personal item on a flight.
- Limited color choices.
- At $195, it’s expensive, but Away offers a 100-day trial, and free shipping, for you to try it out, commitment-free.
I enjoy using this slim 15L commuter backpack. It’s not too wide, and it’s very compact. It’s a slimming shape for a travel bag, and looks good on a short woman like me. This backpack is impressively lightweight, so the starting weight is almost nothing before you put your first item in.
The (R)evolution 15L backpack comes at an affordable price for a quality bag, and it’s vegan and water-resistant. It fits my MacBook Air perfectly. It also fits Dan’s 14” MacBook Pro snugly. The interior laptop sleeve is padded for a little bit of protection.
When packing for a trip, I like the idea of bringing a smaller backpack within a larger suitcase. Because there’s not a lot of padding in the (R)evolution 15L, it’s packable into a larger piece of luggage, which is a plus.
- Sufficient pockets for keeping small items organized.
- Lightweight enough to pack in larger luggage during travel.
- Under $100 and pretty affordable. As a bonus, there’s a Lifetime Guarantee.
- Ideal “personal item” on a flight, at its 15L size. I used it when I went to Canada.
- Fits small laptops (13” approx.) in a padded pocket. Larger laptops won’t fit.
- With spot clean care, it’s not exactly recommended to be machine-washable.
- It does NOT have water bottle side pockets. This bothers me a little.
I like the symmetrical and calming design of the Momentum Backpack. I’ve been enjoying that my Momentum Backpack has both function and style, for a woman traveler like me.
The Momentum Backpack is a sleek backpack that makes an excellent “personal item” for a flight, as well as a daypack when you’re on a trip. For features, I appreciate the high-quality zippers that don’t snag (signature for Troubadour products), the dedicated laptop compartment with its own exterior zipper and inner sleeve, and the loads of organizer pockets in the main compartment where I stash my essentials.
It’s a 13L-volume bag that’ll do well either for work or play. I really like the thick top handle, which is handy for if I need to hold my backpack by a top handle when I’m crunched on a subway or metro car. The zipper pulls are also nice and long, and the whole bag is lightweight, which I appreciate as a petite woman. I have a LOT of things to say about this backpack, which you can see at my Troubadour Momentum Backpack review here.
- Awesome materials like neoprene, recycled lightweight polyester and vegan leather.
- Great minimalist design. Perfect daypack size. Troller sleeve for a suitcase handle. Loads of useful pockets.
- The laptop compartment fits two laptops: perfect if I have a work laptop and a personal laptop (or a laptop and a tablet).
- Laptop compartment and front zip compartment have single zippers, but double zips would’ve been nice.
- It “only” comes in three colors for now: black, navy and khaki.
What went through my head when I took this backpack out of its packaging was, “Woohoo! I’m finally one of those people with a trendy neoprene backpack!” Quince’s Neoprene Backpack is cute, and sits well on my back. This backpack is pretty squishy and light, so I can squish it into my Quince suitcase if I want to pack it and take it out when my flight lands.
One unique travel feature on this bag is the detachable “valuables” pouch. This inner neoprene pouch is attached by a cord, and helps protect against pickpockets and theft. I’m going to keep my typical on-the-go stuff in there, whether valuable or not.
The backpack is 16L in volume, with travel features like a luggage pass-through sleeve, a 13” laptop pocket sleeve for my Macbook Air and the detachable 7” zipper pouch. At just under $100, it’s affordable.
This minimal travel laptop backpack quickly became a favorite for me! It’s not too big, and not too small. At 17L, it’s a nice daypack size for essentials and it has a clean modern look.
The folks at Moment started with creating camera lenses for phones and have branched out into making photography gear, photography backpacks and now, tote bags and sling bags. We feature the Moment Fanny Sling in our roundup of the best fanny packs for travel.
Warehouse returns are now on sale at 15% off (never used, just open box!); plus, get free shipping on US orders over $98.
The MTW backpack is cool for “going anywhere” or bringing your work with you. I like this backpack so far for day trips. For women travelers who may travel with a travel camera, note that the interior of this backpack is made for safely storing tech like lenses, chargers, headphones and more essentials.
For travel, there’s also a trolley pass-through, for being airport-ready. You can see how it looks on me (I’m 5’2”).
Moment debuted a new laptop and photography bag that’s going to be replacing this one, and it comes in the same sizes. Check out our Moment Everything Backpack review.
- Cushioned laptop compartment with space for two laptops, or a laptop and a tablet.
- Designed to stand up on its own and not topple over if you set it down.
- The laptop zipper can be a little stiff from time to time.
- Some people might get annoyed by the flap that goes over the zipper of the main compartment.
I’ve been using the Up Seoul Daypack for about six months now. I liked how it’s streamlined and chilled-out. For features, I like the zipper-around flap and the two side pockets. They fit a slim water bottle and a dedicated laptop compartment (for computers up to 15”).
One thing I appreciate about the size of this travel daypack is that it’s narrow, which, if you see below in the large backpack section, is also true for Deuter’s women’s large-scale travel backpack of 60+10L (70L). It’s both urban and neutral: cool for the city, or camping.
The Up Seoul Daypack is described as 16+10L, meaning it has an overall capacity of 26L. For me, it works well as a commuter bag or a daypack for a road trip or vacation. I can fit a light jacket, some food for during the day, a book and a slim pair of shoes.
- Eco-friendly (100% recycled material and Green Button Certified) product.
- Narrow (rather than wide) shape that looks slimming for women.
- Zipper-around closure top flap (GREAT for being theft-proof in cities).
- Side pockets do NOT fit wide water bottles.
- Bottom waist strap can’t be stowed away, so it hangs out and can look ‘strappy.’
The smallest Knack Pack from Knack Bags is a 15L backpack designed to be a go-to on a daily commute. It fits a 13” laptop and has a dedicated bottom storage compartment dedicated to holding your laptop charger and plug.
I tried out the small Knack Pack both as a day bag to take to work, and as a daypack for a day trip out to Long Island. What’s important to know about this bag is that it expands quickly out to 27L, to fit some minimalist-style needs for an entire weekend trip. It’s meant to convert fast from one size to the next.
You can see lots more detail in our dedicated Small Expandable Knack product review.
- The small-size Knack Bag has a thoughtful size for commutes and day trips.
- Travel-friendly: Designed to fit both in overhead airplane compartments and under airplane seats.
- Design is a bit boxy and not overly feminine nor slimming.
- Would be a wide fit for petite women (like me) with narrow shoulders (for taller women, no problem).
Update: Series 2: Medium Expandable Knack Pack
I tried out the Series 2: Medium Expandable Knack Pack. Even with the medium size, it didn’t feel too big. The elongated shape of this bag makes it slightly slimming, even though it’s 24L when un-expanded, and 35L when expanded.
It fits two or three outfits when packing lightly for a short trip and it fits a 15” laptop. Like the Small Expandable Knack Pack, it has removable and packable straps, and a strong foam back panel for support during wear.
The Aer Fit Pack 3 daypack definitely packs in a bit more volume than the Away Daypack mentioned above. At 18L, I found I can fit way more. It’s why Aer markets this bag as a daypack that’ll fit your gym clothes, and split them up from your laptop. Dan reviewed it in-depth as a work-meets-gym/travel bag in this detailed review.
In my use of it, I found the useful features to be the unique center zipper, water bottle pockets and mesh back panel. My favorite features are the extremely high-quality zippers and seal-proof zipper closures, along with the very sturdy lift handle. This price reflects the high quality that I can feel when I wear it.
When I wear the Aer bag, I’ll choose it because of the large cavity, which is the exterior vertical zip-up compartment that’s ideal for gym clothes. The shoe compartment is accessible from the bottom of the backpack.
- It has a pass-through strap to be used with the handle of your luggage (great for the airport).
- It weighs only 2.5 lbs. before putting anything in it.
- The laptop compartment is secure and padded and feels really durable.
- Smaller-framed women may find it a bit big for taking around during the day.
- The straps are also kind of thick, but this won’t be an issue if you have wide shoulders.
- The vertical-zip compartment is not for every taste because it’s unique and non-standard.
I got the Tortuga Laptop Backpack to use as a “personal item” on a flight. It’s a high-quality bag made from durable materials. My favorite travel features of this backpack are the laptop compartment (two ways to access it), the tech pouch and the dual water bottle pockets.
This laptop backpack only comes in black, in its no-nonsense style, with ample pockets and a light starting weight. Note: It’s a unisex backpack designed for both men and women and anyone else who’s bringing around a laptop and trip essentials.
For the laptop compartment: it’s padded, and there’s tablet sleeve, too. When I use this backpack, I can fit both a MacBook Pro and my Macbook Air. To see all the photos of the features and all about the inside of this bag, check out the Tortuga Laptop Backpack review that I wrote!
For travel-specific features, there’s a luggage pass-through, zipper mesh pocket and dual water bottle pockets. Overall, this laptop backpack is a very good choice for travel, and it’s precisely the size of a “personal item” for fitting under an airplane seat.
The Troubadour Bivy Tote Backpack is a two-in-one daypack and tote bag that looks great on women. This smart travel backpack is two bags in one: it’s both a backpack and a zip tote. My first impression was: “I can’t believe how lightweight it is.”
Troubadour’s products are top-notch quality, with the finest details taken into account. The zippers slide beautifully, and the designs are stylish and minimalist. The pockets are thoughtful. It’s why I included the Bivy Tote Backpack in my gift guide for travelers.
The Bivy Tote Backpack can also fit up to 21L in volume. The first time I tried it out by bringing it out for a packed day in NYC, I packed it with my laptop, my bike helmet, a change of clothes in case I got sweaty, snacks AND accessories.
I love the stellar design that’s easy on the eyes, and the versatile tote straps for when my back needs a break. You can see more photos of me with it at my full review of the Bivy Tote Backpack.
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- Because it’s both a backpack and a tote, it has comfy handles and padded shoulder straps.
- It’s stylish, and timeless. It’s lightweight. It’s impressive. I give this backpack 5 stars.
- When being worn as a backpack, the tote strap can feel or look funny in some opinions.
- When carrying the Bivy as a tote, the straps are a little on the short side for supporting the weight.
The 14-liter Roll-Top Mini from Stubble & Co. is my first “roll-top” backpack. I’ve always seen people biking in NYC with roll-top backpacks, and never quite went as far as to buy one. I like the lightweight feel of it — it’s only 1.76 lbs when empty (great for a petite person like me).
I get into all the details and features at my Stubble & Co. Roll-Top Backpack review.
Stubble & Co. is a British company with a mission of inspiring people to get out and “do more.” Their bag designs blend urban and outdoor themes, and as a certified B-Corp, they aim to do the “right thing” for the environment.
The bags are durable and built to last, meaning one Stubble & Co. product should last for years. When I received my Mini, I noticed that the packaging was fully recyclable and compostable.
I chose the Roll-Top Mini to fit my small 5’2” narrow frame. I used it immediately to tote around my laptop and work essentials for an afternoon. I slid my MacBook Air into the padded laptop compartment, zipped it up via the backside and put my phone and AirPods into the front zipper pocket.
What I like about the Roll-Top Mini as a women’s travel daypack is that it’ll keep my stuff dry if I get caught in some rain or snow (consider a trip in Ireland!). All the seams and zippers are waterproof. The roll top closes with a “G clip” to fasten it, for a cool travel bag look. (My tip: this backpack comes in a lot of colors, but don’t delay: the popular ones often sell out.)
- Versatile for urban and outdoorsy travel; good for biking, with the bike light anchor point.
- Focus on weatherproofed materials, zips and seams, and the roll top keeps everything inside dry.
- The water bottle pockets only fit a regular slim bottle (as pictured), not my 24oz travel water bottle.
- Laptop is not accessible from main compartment — only from dedicated back panel laptop compartment.
Thank you to Stubble & Co. for generously sending me the Roll-Top Mini. All thoughts here are my own based on my use of the product.
I think the Swedish Fjallraven mini Kanken backpack is a classic mini backpack that you’ll see among travelers of all ages and sizes. You’ll get style over functionality with this little backpack. Don’t expect too many compartments, but you will get a fairly lightweight bag that does have its advantages.
Part of this female-friendly daypack being lightweight means that you can pack it in your bigger luggage to use for later during your trip.
- Its mini size is adorable. It’s only 7 liters of volume inside!
- It comes in more colors than I can count. You could have one for every month.
- This tiny daypack won’t fit the needs of every traveler looking for more storage and flexibility.
- It very loudly says “Fjällräven” on the front, so it’s for someone who likes “wearing” a brand.
Standard travel bags
I consider a standard travel bag or travel backpack to be between 30L and 45L in volume. These are the travel backpacks I take on a flight with no problem. Travel bags of this size are big enough to carry my things for a one or two-week trip.
The Nomatic 30L is definitely a standard-size travel bag, coming in at 30L. It’s a good volume for taking a gals trip away for a weekend. I have Nomatic’s packing cubes and have been using them all year.
This bag looks modern and contemporary, and it’s for a woman who has lots of technical specifications in mind for the perfect travel backpack.
The Nomatic brand is big on innovation, so with this bag, you’ll see a duffel-to-carry convertible option, a water-resistant flap and a TSA-ready laptop sleeve for the experienced woman traveler.
- Lots of features: durable zippers, waist straps, snaps, handles and materials.
- Backed by the Nomatic Lifetime Warranty.
- It weighs 3.3 lbs, which may be a lot for some, and with its boxy build, looks a lot like a rectangular duffel.
- It’s not overly feminine, so you can regard this as a unisex backpack that a man in your life can borrow as well (also a pro).
Topo is a women’s and men’s brand that creates unisex products for people of all genders. Their products have fun colors and huge playful zippers, with no shortage of pockets.
I’ve tried out the Topo Global Travel Bag in 30L for weekend trips and road trips. I like this bag because it fits a lot inside when I use packing cubes, and its size is unique. The shape is useful for shoes, clothes and a few travel accessories. It has “three-way” backpack straps-duffel handle-shoulder strap functionality.
- Carry-on compliant, external laptop sleeve for airport use, works well with other products in the “Topo ecosystem.”
- Designed for one-bag travel (i.e. long weekends, short trips or day-long getaways).
- No female-specific build features (but you can share it with a guy in your life!)
- The straps are functional — just not beautiful or stylish.
My first impression of the Bellroy backpack was that the quality is very sturdy. I can tell just by feeling the exterior that it’s made of a water-resistant fabric, which is a crucial feature for my preferences, in a travel bag. As it turns out, the body is made from recycled materials, which I like for a sustainability factor.
I really like the 38L size of this transit backpack, which is cool as a large commuter bag, nice-sized weekender backpack or larger-end daypack. It’s also quite structured, rather than thin and slouchy, which I like in a bag because it holds its shape.
I took this bag on a train trip for its maiden voyage, and it supports weight well, has a handy set of pockets (even hidden ones on the sides), a generous laptop compartment and inner mesh pockets for small items.
It’s more lightweight than other bags of its size, which I like a lot. The weight makes a big difference when you are carrying the bag for a long time. It’s spacious inside and the straps are firm.
At first glance, this is a very good-looking backpack, and the green color is delightful (it also comes in black). It’s modern, minimalist and simple, with a soft-lined sunglasses pocket and features like a 16” laptop sleeve compartment for easy access during airport security. Lastly, it’s carry-on approved.
- Built for the traveler in mind, with passport pockets, the airport-friendly laptop pocket and carry-on dimension size.
- Strong construction and quality materials that make it worth it.
- It also comes in 20 and 28L, for if you love the style and 38L is too big for your needs.
- The price falls at the higher end, but consider that Bellroy’s products have a 3-year warranty.
- In my use, the zippers are a bit stiff, and feel like they’re tough to break in. The zippers move kind of slowly and require some effort.
Tortuga Backpacks are one of the leading brands of travel backpacks for everyone, so of course we’re including their Travel Backpack in 40L (international maximum carry-on size) and 30L (mid-sized carry on) as a choice for women travelers.
This square-sized minimalist backpack is down-to-earth and cool. At 4.5 lbs, the 40L product is slightly on the heavy side, for not being a 60 or 70L bag with all the trimmings. But, it does fit your laptop and tablet with fleece-line sleeves and has weather-resistant, durable and lockable YKK zippers that won’t break during transit. Reliable zippers are everything. We’ve seen other travelers with bags that won’t shut and we never want to experience that!
The Tortuga Travel Backpack aims to be something in between a suitcase and a hiking backpack, meaning it’s urban-friendly and meant to let you breeze through the airport with one-bag travel.
- Timeless design and unisex nature lets you share it with a partner, roommate, sibling, etc.
- Front-loading build and durable materials with a weight management suspension system.
- Home try-on program
- $350 for the 40L and $325 for the 30L may make some brands look like better value, but it includes the Tortuga lifetime guarantee.
I have used this Tom Bihn backpack for a weekend trip several times. With the size, it fits my packing cubes full of a few sets of clothes, and my laptop. Tom Bihn is a brand that uses superior materials that should last for decades. I see this in the quality of the Tom Bihn Synapse, which Dan and I have used for a few years, too.
The Tom Bihn Techonaut opens clamshell-style, and it’s one of the few backpacks this size that have this style. Because of the wider square shape, it’s not great for petite women, but fine for women who are taller. We critique the Tom Bihn Techonaut in this review.
- Incredible materials and strong zippers. Useful side-grab handle for carrying as a duffel as well.
- Awesome choice for using as a weekender backpack, with dedicated laptop compartment.
- The relatively high price (it reflects the high-quality nylon ripstop build, and water-repellant zippers!)
- Likely too wide for petite women.
- Not comfortable to wear for an extended period of time like in walking around a city on a layover because it doubles as a duffel.
Through my experience with the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L, my favorite aspect is the high-quality zippers that won’t break, snap or split. While other backpacks may report torn pockets or bad zippers in the reviews, I find the PD backpack to perform flawlessly. You’ll find this backpack in our list of the best backpacks for travel photography.
As a woman traveler using this backpack, I adjust the straps a lot. This backpack has great “expandability,” because it’s — well, expandable. The entire front of the bag unzips, which reveals another few liters of space that you can utilize. The exterior is 100% waterproof.
It’s international carry-on size approved, so no airline can turn it away from an overhead compartment when I fly.
I also have the 30L version, and it shares a lot of the same quality and features. If you don’t quite need 45L, the 30L is a perfect alternative. Dan also uses this bag extensively and write a review of it. Check out the review!
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- The nylon shell and waterproof liner that instill confidence during unexpected downpours.
- Padded shoulder straps and waist straps, along with an attractive and modern minimalist design in Black or Sage.
- High price for a 45L, but worth it, if you’re into quality materials and a bag for life.
- No woman-specific features for sizing.
- Limited number of pockets, but still a good amount.
And by the way, we wrote an extensive Peak Design buying guide, if you’re interested in checking it out!
“Backpacker” Large-Volume Travel Backpacks
With a big backpacker backpack, you are likely a serious traveler. Higher-volume backpacks help me carry a heavy load when I’m on a longer trip. The backpacks I’ve recommended below are fit custom for women’s bodies and often have adjustable straps, to support more weight ergonomically.
Here’s my tip: Keep in mind that bags of this size will likely need to be checked as checked luggage. If you’re seeking a savvy way to track the location of your checked luggage, like if you have a layover and there’s a risk of your bag being sent the wrong way, consider Apple AirTags like I’m using these days, to track my bags’ locations.
I’ve had a lot of luck with my smaller backpack from Deuter, and it’s a trusty brand that travelers hold in high regard. This high-volume backpacking backpack is for the woman who wants to take everything and have it all fit in a 45+10L backpack. My sibling Emma recently took it on a trip and was impressed with everything she could fit in it. I list it as one of the best products for backpackers this year.
The backpack was modeled by Deuter to have a female-specific fit, setting it apart from a men’s bag of the same size and build. The “SL” in the name means “Slim Line.” For features, I like the ergonomic lock hip fit, with compression straps, an air mesh back panel and a narrow shoulder harness.
The +10L is an optional compartment at the top that you can stash gear in, without having to open the rest of the backpack. This is a perfect opportunity for me to put in a travel blanket, or a sleeping bag. I can detach this compartment and leverage additional space using Deuter’s design.
You can see how I look with the Aircontact Core backpack in these photos. Keep in mind that I am 5’2” and petite. This backpack works great for its narrowness and weight distribution. I wish I’d had it for all my trips in past years!
- Well-priced for its size, volume, features and quality.
- Attractive feature for keeping shape: the more you pack it, the taller (not wider), it gets.
- Weighs 4 lbs 4.4 oz when empty because of the metal frame.
- It only comes in one women’s size, OS (one size).
I’m impressed that this flash 55L pack by REI doesn’t truly look like it’s a 55L backpack. It looks more modest and compact, but it packs a punch (well, literally it packs 55L of your stuff).
True to REI being awesome, it comes in dedicated women’s sizes of XS, S and M. It focuses on stability and suspension, for female hikers and anyone who plans to be really walking around with this 55L backpack strapped to your back (long walks through airports maybe?).
For loads of 15-30 pounds, the support and suspension keeps even this kind of weight comfortable through compression straps and a contoured hip belt.
- Great support through weight management features, and roll-top closure for compression.
- The design is hydration-compatible, good for hiking or hot weather trips.
- Comes in three dedicated female-specific sizes.
- The mesh and materials can be kind of delicate, and are prone to ripping if you get rugged during a hike.
- Can’t think of anything else!
If you’ve ever been in a hostel where you eye everyone’s backpacks and have backpack envy, you’ve probably seen a guy or gal with an Osprey. What’s the hype all about?
With the Osprey Ariel Plus 70 Pack, which is a maximum-size backpacking backpack, you better be getting everything under the sun for its cost of $410. I like this backpack though, because it has a detachable bag that you can use for a daypack for hikes or walking around the city.
This is a fantastic value-add because the detachable tiny daypack. It’s very small; however, you can bet that the removable daypack will be handy to take on a hike or out for a day of sightseeing. It’s like a built-in convenience that I have found highly useful during travel.
- It’s one of the highest-volume backpacks for women on the market.
- The removable top lid and detachable daypack is super handy.
- Osprey seems to be skipping over woman-specific build features.
- The price is one of the highest out there for a 70L, but the value is good.
This durable and comfortable form-fitting 55L larger backpack for women has a heap of features like a woman-specific shoulder harness and comes in two sets of sizes, XS-S and S-M. This is really useful if you’re a petite woman looking for a backpack that’ll agree with narrow shoulders or a unique build.
The Gregory Maven 55 Pack allows for easy gear loading and focuses on adjustability and performance technics for whatever the weather brings, from rain (a rain cover in a zipper pocket) to hot sun (with a sunglasses stow system feature).
Overall, the price is steeper, but this is certainly a backpack for life, and with the REI warranty, you can return or replace your item for a refund within 365 of buying it.
- Woman-specific build for female bodies
- Incredible set of features for travel conveniences and security
- At around $260, this backpack may be steep for some.
- The REI warranty is “only” one year, and not a lifetime warranty.
Bonus backpack: Decathlon Quechua 50L Forclaz for Women
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this trusty and budget (okay, cheap) hiking and backpacking travel pack for women. I had the 2010 version, and then the 2011 version, and then Dan got the 2018 version for men.
I’ve had a ton of experience using the Quechua Forclaz 50L as my main backpacking travel bag, and it has stood the test of time. It also comes in this 60L version around the same price point.
- Affordable price
- Lightweight materials
- Great back support, plenty of compartments
- Zippers aren’t top quality
- Elastic bungee bands tend to wear out over time
- None others. I’ve taken my Quechua Forclaz to more than 30 countries.
These backpacks are a mix of bags that may not fit the categories we listed above, or, they’re discontinued but there’s a close second in stock. Check ‘em out in case you haven’t found what you were looking for yet.
As a note, the Filson Rugged Twill Rucksack is now only available in the larger size, which is called (very appropriately) the “Large Rugged Twill Rucksack on Filson’s website. It retails at $595. This is a very special backpack from a very special brand!
I started using my Filson Twill Rucksack as a commuter bag because it was finally (for me) a bag that had straps that didn’t sit too widely on my shoulders. I’m narrow-shouldered, and I’ve had issues in the past with backpacks that sat so wide on my shoulders that I looked like I was borrowing a backpack from someone bigger and taller.
If you have the budget and want to have a bag for the rest of your life (seriously), choose a Filson. It has a classic look, and because it’s small-to-medium sized, it’s great for women (like me) who want to have a daypack that’s not overbearing and chunky.
The twill rucksack is an all-purpose daypack, made with 100% genuine leather, hence the price point. What I like about it so far is that the straps are slim, which is great for women, as many bags have thick unisex straps. I also like that its components are so thick and sturdy that you virtually can’t damage it. You could throw this backpack and beat it up, and it would probably still look the same.
Why do people love Filson bags? Well, they’re suppose to last a lifetime, so no fast fashion here! I have the Twill Rucksack in the mustard color (now discontinued), and it pairs nicely with most outfits at any time of year. You could sling it over your shoulders in summer or spring, and in fall and winter it’ll brighten any outfit with dark colors. The large rucksack comes only in Otter Green right now. It’s also timeless.
One thing to note about this rucksack is that it has one main cavity, and two external pockets. That’s it. This is not specifically a laptop bag; rather, it’s a do-it-all backpack meant for various uses. It does not have a dedicated laptop compartment, nor laptop sleeve. When I use this bag to go to work, I put my laptop in a neoprene case, and use it as the backbone of the backpack, if that makes sense.
With only these three cavities and pockets, you’ll need a way to keep your smaller items (day-to-day things like tampons, lip balm, sunscreen, keys, literally anything small) from flying around. I use a tech pouch for holding smaller stuff like tech accessories. If you have something like a small-sized packing cube, that could do the trick.
- Fans of Filson use their bags for decades, and you can guarantee the Twill Rucksack will always be in style.
- I like the thin straps that don’t look overbearing on my shoulders as a woman.
- I feel like I could not break this bag, no matter how hard I tried. It’s like it’s made of steel.
- The price is high, reflecting the high quality, materials and craftsmanship.
- Friends have noted to us that if you sweat and you’re wearing light colors, the straps can bleed on your clothes. I haven’t experienced this (yet). Keep it in mind.
- The main cavity does not have any smaller pockets, and there are no internal zippers and no dedicated laptop compartment.
Why trust me?
I’ve traveled around the world with only a backpack (or two). For me, I like backpacks because they make traveling more flexible. When I take a rolling suitcase, it’s easier to transport on flat surfaces at the airport, but when I’m walking through cobblestone streets in European cities, I prefer having a backpack!
I’m also petite (and short!), so having a backpack meant for a wider, taller and broader man just won’t cut it. I’ve had trouble with this over the years, and I’ve been delighted recently that there are so many backpacks on the market for women just like me.
I’ve lived abroad (three times!), traveled to more than 40ish (or 50ish? I stopped counting) countries – many of them twice or three times. On all my travels and trips, my awesome backpacks played a huge part.
I hope you have found what you’re looking for in my list of backpacks and I’m sure you can tell that I prioritize quality, comfort, sturdiness and style. If you have a backpack that you love that I could add to this list, let me know at our contact form.
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