Top 20 Best Reviewed Carry On Backpacks - Buyers Guide 2018

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.

To help you choose, we have checked 59,636 reviews to find the best reviewed carry on backpacks.

Check out the top 20 list below - and the top 3 most popular carry on backpacks, if you just want to check out some of the most popular models (the models that most people end up buying).
How we rate the bags

We have checked thousands of 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.

Top 3 most popular carry on backpacks 2018

Osprey Porter backpack
Osprey Porter
Rated 4.7 based on 1,247 reviews.

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Osprey Farpoint backpack
Osprey Farpoint
Rated 4.6 based on 402 reviews.

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Kelty Redwing backpack
Kelty Redwing
Rated 4.6 based on 1,809 reviews.

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Below is the top 20 list based on the thousands of reviews we have checked.

Top 20 carry on backpacks 2018

Patagonia Black Hole backpack
Patagonia Black Hole
5 bag types available.
Capacity 25-32 l (1526-1953 cuin)
Price range $$
Patagonia logo
1,212 reviews

Osprey Porter backpack
Osprey Porter
Capacity 30-65 l (1830.7-3966.5 cuin)
Price range $$
Osprey logo
1,247 reviews

The North Face Jester backpack
The North Face Jester
Capacity 26 l (1586.6 cuin)
Price range $
The north face logo
9,861 reviews

Osprey Farpoint backpack
Osprey Farpoint
Price range $$
Osprey logo
402 reviews

Kelty Redwing backpack
Kelty Redwing
Capacity 39.3-50.8 l (2400-3100 cuin)
Price range $$
Kelty logo
1,809 reviews

Patagonia Headway backpack
Patagonia Headway
6 bag types available.
Capacity 45 l (2746 cuin)
Patagonia logo
182 reviews

OGIO Soho backpack
Capacity 5.9 l (363 cuin)
Price range $
Ogio logo
1,248 reviews

Travelon Anti-theft backpack
Travelon Anti-theft
7 bag types available.
Capacity 15-32 l (915-1953 cuin)
Price range $
Travelon logo
23,084 reviews

Oakley Kitchen Sink backpack
Oakley Kitchen Sink
Capacity 34 l (2075 cuin)
Price range $$$
Oakley logo
842 reviews

Osprey Fairview backpack
Osprey Fairview
2 bag types available.
Price range $$
Osprey logo
44 reviews

Timbuk2 Uptown backpack
Timbuk2 Uptown
Price range $$
Timbuk2 logo
190 reviews

Timbuk2 Wingman
Timbuk2 Wingman
2 bag types available.
Timbuk2 logo
197 reviews

Deuter Transit backpack
Deuter Transit
Price range $$
Deuter logo
21 reviews

Pacsafe Venturesafe backpack
Pacsafe Venturesafe
3 bag types available.
Price range $$
Pacsafe logo
461 reviews

Hynes Eagle backpack
Hynes Eagle
Price range $

2,181 reviews

High Sierra Access backpack
High Sierra Access
Capacity 45.1 l (2750 cuin)
Price range $
High sierra logo
9,103 reviews

Pacsafe Vibe backpack
Pacsafe Vibe
3 bag types available.
Capacity 4-40 l (245-2441 cuin)
Price range $$
Pacsafe logo
226 reviews

High Sierra Freewheel backpack
High Sierra Freewheel
Capacity 41.3 l (2523 cuin)
Price range $$
High sierra logo
3,154 reviews

Cabin Max Metz backpack
Cabin Max Metz
Price range $

3,344 reviews

Samsonite Vizair backpack
Samsonite Vizair
Price range $$
Samsonite logo
786 reviews

Arcteryx logo
6 reviews

Tumi Tahoe backpack
Tumi Tahoe
Price range $$$$
Tumi logo
36 reviews

Kelty logo

Tortuga logo

Aer Travel backpack
Aer logo

Tom bihn logo

Review Summary

59,636 reviews of bags checked.

Average rating is 4.5 out of 5.
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star

Top 10 carry on backpack brands

The 10 highest rated carry on backpack brands based on the 59,636 reviews we have checked + the highest rated bag from each brand.

BrandAverage ratingTop carry on backpack
The North Face4.7The North Face Jester
Patagonia4.7Patagonia Black Hole
Osprey4.7Osprey Porter
Kelty4.6Kelty Redwing
Ogio4.6OGIO Soho
Travelon4.6Travelon Anti-theft
Oakley4.5Oakley Kitchen Sink
Timbuk24.5Timbuk2 Uptown
Deuter4.5Deuter Transit
Hynes4.4Hynes Eagle

Related Ranking Lists

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 (Buyers Guide)

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.

Last updated on May 23, 2018

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