MightyGoods > Carry on backpacks

Top Carry on backpacks Reviews and Buyer's Guide

Last updated July 3, 2019

There are quite a lot of carry on backpacks available, but not of all of them are equally fantastic.

Some packs are much better than others, so it's super important that you spend some time comparing the different brands and models before you choose your new pack.

The Best Carry On Backpack

Having checked thousands of carry on backpack reviews, we can say that the Osprey Porter is the best choice for most people.

The Osprey Porter got a rating of 4.67 out of 5, while the average rating in the list below is just 4.08.

Osprey Porter
This is the best reviewed carry on backpack.
How we rate the bags

We have checked 70,713 carry on backpack reviews, so we can show you the weighted average rating of all the bags.

Using the average ratings, you can check what all the reviewers think instead of just viewing the subjective opinion of one specific reviewer.

It's much simplier to find the best bags that way.

Also Great

If the Osprey Porter isn't your style, you might also consider the Patagonia Black Hole.

The Black Hole is a close runner-up with a rating of 4.58 out of 5, but it's often more expensive than the Porter.

Patagonia Black Hole
The second-best reviewed carry on backpack.
Finally, you might consider the Osprey Farpoint.

The Farpoint is the third-best rated carry on backpack with a rating of 4.56, but it's often more expensive than the Porter.

Osprey Farpoint
The third-best reviewed carry on backpack.
Below is the list of all top 21 best carry on backpacks. Great if none of the three bags above are your style.

The 21 Best Carry On Backpacks

PS: We have checked 70,713 reviews to make this top 21 list!

RankCarry On BackpackRating
1Osprey PorterOsprey Porter
Available on Amazon
Check Deals
1,578 reviews
2Patagonia Black HolePatagonia Black Hole
Available on Amazon
Check Deals
1,398 reviews
3Osprey FarpointOsprey Farpoint
Available on Amazon
Check Deals
2,251 reviews
4Gonex UltraGonex Ultra
8,739 reviews
5The North Face JesterThe North Face Jester
19,569 reviews
6Oakley Kitchen SinkOakley Kitchen Sink
1,724 reviews
7Deuter TransitDeuter Transit
53 reviews
8Osprey FairviewOsprey Fairview
116 reviews
9Kelty RedwingKelty Redwing
2,101 reviews
10Hynes EagleHynes Eagle
8,730 reviews
11Patagonia HeadwayPatagonia Headway
249 reviews
12Pacsafe VenturesafePacsafe Venturesafe
1,172 reviews
13OGIO SohoOGIO Soho
1,668 reviews
14Timbuk2 WingmanTimbuk2 Wingman
339 reviews
15Pacsafe VibePacsafe Vibe
453 reviews
16Timbuk2 UptownTimbuk2 Uptown
395 reviews
17High Sierra AccessHigh Sierra Access
10,022 reviews
18Cabin Max MetzCabin Max Metz
3,439 reviews
19Tumi TahoeTumi Tahoe
42 reviews
20High Sierra FreewheelHigh Sierra Freewheel
5,143 reviews
21Cabin Max OxfordCabin Max Oxford
96 reviews

Buyers Guide to Carry On Backpacks

[toc] If you love carrying around a backpack on a regular basis, you will probably look for something similar to take with you as carry on luggage. The good news is that there are actually quite a few options available to you. At the same time, you need to be aware of all of the features that need to be included in such a bag.

In this guide, we inform you of all that you need to know when choosing a carry on backpack. This way, you will be fully equipped to make this decision by yourself. Not to mention, there is a higher chance of you doing it the right way, too. Here are all of the factors that you need to consider.

Tips for Choosing a Carry On Backpack

In some ways, choosing a carry on backpack is a lot like choosing a traditional backpack. At the same time, there are also a lot of features that you need to think about, that you may not have considered before. Considering that there is quite a lot of information to process regarding this decision, it is fairly easy to get confused. In this article, however, you will find all of the information that you need to guide you through this process:

Types of Carry On Backpacks

There isn’t a huge variation for you to choose from when it comes to carry on backpacks. It is, however, important for you to understand the distinction so that you are able to choose the one that is most suitable for your journey:

Travel Pack

There are actually a few versions of travel packs. In terms of carry on backpacks, though, these travel packs are fairly small, typically no longer than 22 inches. These are suitable for more adventurous vacations where you will be spending a lot of time outdoors or carrying much of your belongings on your back.

Wheeled Backpacks

These are a good option if you want to carry a greater number of items but don’t want to have to shoulder all that weight. In many cases, you can actually detach the backpack from the wheel-and-handle system and use it as a daypack. This type of backpack is quite versatile.

Carry On Duffel Bags

These duffel bags tend to be a bit smaller than most backpacks although they do retain the barrel-like shape of the original design. This type of bag is very useful when you are only traveling with carry on luggage and want to pack in as much as possible. These can be usually distinguished from backpacks by the placement of the handles which is on the center of the bag.

Laptop Backpacks

These are one of the most common types of carry on bags since it is quite common to find people carrying their laptops with them. While the main component of this bag is to have a place for your laptop, there is usually enough room for a few other items as well.

Size and Dimensions of Carry On Backpacks

When choosing a carry on backpack, size becomes very important. This is because both domestic and international airlines have specific rules as to the size of the bags that they will allow on board. Now, this does tend to change, depending on the airline and where you are flying to. Typically, however, you should be able to take any backpack that has a length less than 22 inches, a width that is 14 inches, and a height less than 9 inches.

As you can imagine, due to the size restrictions, there is also some limitation to the capacities of these bags. If you want a backpack for an overnight or day trip, you will find ones that have a capacity between 20 and 35 liters. If you are looking for bags that can carry enough clothes for a weekend stay, you may want to consider one that can hold up to 50 liters.

Remember, there are weight limitations that you have to adhere to as well with carry on backpacks. So, always check with the airline that you are traveling on, just how much weight you are allowed to carry in one bag.

Carry On Backpack Material

Carry on backpacks can be made of several materials. To decide which one is right for you, you must first think about what you need your backpack for. If you will not be making much use of your backpack and are simply using it as a means to carry some clothes or documents, then you should be fine with one that is made of good quality polyester.

If you will be taking your backpack with you wherever you go and are bound to be in some rough terrain at some point, you are going to need one made of sturdier material. Here you should look for one that is made from nylon or even rip-stop nylon. These materials are tougher and have greater abrasion resistance, meaning that they are less likely to tear.

Now, depending on where you are going and where you are taking your backpack, you may require one that is weatherproof. If you don’t expect to encounter much moisture, you will be able to make do with a backpack that is simply water resistant. If you want a bag that can withstand downpours, however, you will be better off with a fully waterproof backpack, perhaps one with a polyurethane coating.

If you don’t want to spend money on a waterproof backpack but still want to be prepared for all kinds of weather, consider backpacks that come with rain covers. These can also be purchased separately and are quite good at keeping moisture away from the contents of your bag.

Typically, sturdier fabrics or materials are usually quite heavy. You will need to remember to take this into consideration when making your choice. After all, the heavier that your backpack is when it is empty, the less that you will be able to pack into it.

Organizational Features

Unless you are taking your backpack on an extended camping trip, you will need one with compartments – both internal and external. If you want a laptop backpack, for instance, look for a laptop sleeve that is complete with a strap to keep the laptop in place. These type of bags also have other small mesh pockets and compartments where you can store stationary and documents.

With other backpacks, you may not need quite as many pockets or compartments. Still, you should look for a few exterior ones so that it is easier to separate your items. Most exterior pockets are quite small and are good for smaller gear or for keys and phones.

If you are headed out on a bit of trek or adventure, there is a good chance that you may need to take additional gear or equipment with you. For these situations, you should look out for a bag that is equipped with lashes and loops to which you can attach gear to.

The Suspension System

Even if you don’t plan on wearing your backpack for too long, it is still worth it for you to look at its suspension system. This will determine just how comfortable the pack will be while you are carrying it.

One of the first things you will need to do is to measure the length of the backpack. Then, compare this to a measurement that you make of the length between the base of your neck and the area around your hip bones. The backpack should always sit above your waist so adjust the shoulder straps so that it sits like this on your back.

Speaking of shoulder straps, you should look for ones that are wide and that have plenty of padding. This way, it will not sink into your skin but instead, the weight will be evenly distributed across your flesh. Now, since you aren’t carrying too much of weight, there is no need for a sternum strap. A hip belt, however, can come in handy for heavier packs. These, too, should be padded, particularly the area that sits above your hip bones. This will prevent any chaffing from occurring.

Additional Features

Here are some of the additional features that you should go over with your carry on backpack:

Lockable Zippers

Just because your carry on luggage is often near you at all times, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take the necessary security precautions. It is important for you to lock up your backpack, even if it will be on your person in most cases. To do this, you will need to have zippers that can be locked. You should look for bags with two zippers that can have openings on the top that can fit a small padlock. This will prevent items from being stolen when you are not paying attention.

Compression Straps

As we have already discussed, airlines will not let you take bags that look overstuffed into the plane with you. if you are trying to pack in a lot of items but still maintain a certain height, you are going to need compression straps on the outside. These will help to keep the backpack as compact as possible. They also work to prevent any of the items inside your backpack from moving around. So, it can help to avoid damages as well.


If you are choosing a wheeled backpack, you should take a good look at the wheels that are attached. First and foremost, they should be durable and made from good quality material. This way, you can be sure that they will last longer. You should also look for larger wheels as they are easier to transport around since they are less likely to get stuck in places.

So, here you have it all of the information that you require to make an informed decision regarding carry on backpacks.

4 More Carry On Backpacks

Classic carry on backpacks and models that haven't yet got enough reviews to be ranked.

RankCarry On BackpackRating
1Arcteryx CovertArcteryx Covert
12 reviews
2Samsonite VizairSamsonite Vizair
1,424 reviews
Kelty Flyway
Tortuga Outbreaker

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Amazon deals/prices updated daily (last 2020-04-06).

Last updated on July 03, 2019