TOP 21 Best Carry-On Travel Backpacks – Complete Guide with Backpack Reviews 2021

Planning a trip soon and suitcases aren’t your thing?

When in doubt about the size of your carry-on luggage, check out gear that is specifically designed to fit under the seat.

And don’t forget, European airlines have different luggage policies too, so if you’re heading over the pond you might want to think about a carry-on that is designed with European travel in mind.

I’ve put together what could be the definitive list of carry-on backpacks. The best of the best.

The premier league of travel gear. The crème de la crème. Below the review, you’ll find an extensive and detailed buying advice, including useful videos and FAQs.

Prepare yourselves for the ultimate guide, my friends – here are the best carry-on backpacks 2021.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on Independent Wolf. For more information, read full disclosure here.


TOP 21 Best Carry-on Travel Backpacks 2021

Venture Pal Hiking Backpack – Best for on a Budget

We begin with this terrific packable daypack from Venture Pal, which still offers 50 liters of space and yet it can be folded up to fit in your pocket or other luggage when not required.

It’s made from a durable, water and tear resistant nylon that will keep your belongings safe – including a laptop up to 15” in a dedicated sleeve.

That’s not bad at all for an entry-level day pack.


  • Great price.
  • Really versatile.
  • Safety whistle incorporated on the chest strap.
  • Choice of colors available.


  • It’s likely not to withstand a real bashing.


This is a great pack if you’re on a budget, but it still has a lot going for it when it comes to its versatility.

For the price, it’s arguably one of the best all-around backpacks out there.

Matein Travel Backpack – Best for Anti-Theft

Matein’s anti-theft laptop bag is extremely popular for a reason. It’s got more security features than you can shake a stick at, as well as extra trimmings to enable it to operate as a highly functioning weekend backpack.

It’s made from water-resistant, durable polyester fabric with metal zippers, with an external USB port and pocket for a power bank.

Hidden pockets ensure your valuable documents and extra cash aren’t at the mercy of opportunists.


  • Versatile.
  • Loads of space.
  • Luggage strap.
  • Choice of colors.


  • Could maybe do with a little more padding here and there.


As one of the best anti-theft backpacks on the market, this ticks all the boxes to help keep your stuff safe.

It’s a great carry-on in its own right too.

Oscaurt Anti-theft Travel Backpack – Best for Style

Right, I know I’m including another anti-theft option, but just look at this thing!

I must admit I have a serious weakness for its style and so it makes the cut. It’s like something out of Blade Runner.

It’s PVC coating is water and tear resistant, with a nice touch of adding reflective strips so you can be seen at night.

It can fold down 90 degrees so you can sail through airport security with minimum fuss.


  • It’s sexy.
  • Great option for business or school use.
  • Good internal organization.


  • Capacity is a little on the low side.


I admit it, I’ve been honey trapped and included this Oscaurt’s backpack based primarily on its looks. It’s still a sound option for casual use though.

Yousu Canvas Backpack – Best Canvas Option

This is another really stylish carry-on with a classic, vintage feel, made from 16 oz canvas.

There are loads of pockets and access options, as well as multiple ways to carry and quality hardware.

It’ll hold around 30 liters of kit, and is perfect for those looking for a more traditional, old-school bag with bucket loads of charm.


  • Beautiful, vintage look.
  • Loads of pockets and compartments.
  • Choice of classic colors.


  • Not waterproof.


The eternal problem with canvas bags is they look great but they’ll succumb to the elements easily.

Nothing a waterproof lacquer couldn’t fix though, but I’d suggest using this bag in sunnier climes.

Chaos Ready Waterproof Backpack – Best for Bad Weather

Speaking of water-resistant, this option from Chaos Ready will withstand even the most biblical of downpours.

It’s 100% waterproof with a top-roll down design, and will withstand being submerged for a short period of time should you ever happen to fall out of a boat.

Its 22 liters of internal space is still great for a carry-on backpack if you know you’re likely to get a drenching during your trip.


  • Solid and durable.
  • External water bottle mesh pockets.
  • Floats on water.


  • Only one main compartment.


While it might not be the most practical for a weekend away, if that weekend away just happens to involve water sports or hiking in torrential rain – look no further.

Hynes Eagle Weekender – Best for the Ladies

While this super practical Hynes Eagle entry isn’t just targeted at women, its choice of colors and designs along with its sleek aesthetic make it a winning choice for 50% of the world’s population.

Made from sturdy 600D polyester and featuring a really useful suitcase opening compartment, its 38-liter capacity is more than enough for most weekend jaunts.

Adjustable carrying options to suit your frame is a real plus point.


  • Delightful color and style options.
  • Easy access opening.
  • Designed specifically as a carry-on – it’s a great size.



A well-designed, practical bag with some lovely designs to suit women, and the fact it was made to be airline friendly – this bag could well be one of the best carry-on backpacks 2021.

Timbuk2 Rapid Pack – Best for International Travel

This smaller carry-on travel pack is just the right size for most international flights. It is 9.4” wide, 18.1” high and 4.9 inches deep, weighing only 0.8 lbs.

It has a reflective print on the front so you can be seen at night, a separate compartment to keep shoes away from other cargo, and two angled stretch mesh side pockets for water bottles and more.

Made from rip-stop material for extra durability, it comes in all the colors of the rainbow.


  • Small, light and great for international travel.
  • Hydration pack compatible.


  • Maybe too small for some.


Arguably one of the best carry-on backpacks for international travel, this lightweight option from Timbuk2 is perfect if you’re on the go. It’s an excellent choice for those sportier endeavors also.

Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack – Best Day Pack

It wasn’t going to be long before an Osprey product spread its wings. It’s not the first and it won’t be the last.

This daypack is a great carry-on option for any flight, and it attaches to larger backpacks in the range for a versatile bag that’s great for get-up-and-go daytime adventures.

It’s also compatible with a hydration system which is useful if you’re out and about and develop a thirst.


  • Perfect size for day activities.
  • Choice of colors.


  • Only one main compartment.


Osprey are more than adept at making great bags for all sorts of situations, and this is one of the best day packs out there.

Simple, no-nonsense and effective, but look elsewhere if you need more organizational features.

AmazonBasics Slim Carry-On – Best Overnighter

The AmazonBasics range strikes again with another solid performer that is just perfect as an overnight option.

Its no-frills design still packs some great organizational touches, including a fleece-lined laptop sleeve and loads of pockets for all your bits and bobs.

It’s compact and airline friendly, but with enough space to pack all your gear for a couple of days away, or as back-up for your main luggage.


  • Simple, effective design.
  • Suitcase style opening.
  • Plenty of padding.
  • Choice of colors.


  • It isn’t waterproof.
  • Perhaps a little too basic for some.


A great all-rounder, this pack will do an overnight trip with aplomb.

The larger, weekender option is also a good bet for a longer trip – but expect to pay a little more.

Swiss Gear Scansmart Backpack – Best for Organisation

If you travel with all sorts of kit; keys, phones, cash, coins, cables, earphones, tablets, laptops, passports, lucky rabbits’ feet then you’d be mad not to check out the products from Swiss Gear.

They’re absolutely riddled with pockets and compartments to help keep all your stuff organized. They’re the perfect backpack for those who suffer from any form of OCD.

Not only that, they’re built like a tank with dozens of other features, bells and whistles to ensure everything is in its right place.


  • Versatile, practical design.
  • 90-degree opening laptop compartment.
  • Compartments for everything.


  • Might be a too “busy” for those looking for something simpler.


I can’t fault this bag at all, especially if you need to organize what might usually just be a mess at the bottom of your bag.

Swiss Gear makes some of the best carry-on size travel backpacks there are and this one is right up there.

It’ll last a lifetime too – what do you expect from the same people who make Victorinox knives?

Witzman Vintage Bag – Best Duffel/Backpack Combo

This is another classic looking vintage bag that looks like it can take anything you throw at it – or you throw it at.

Made from durable canvas, it can be carried in a variety of ways, including some cleverly hidden backpack straps – which is why it made this list. There’s a detachable shoulder strap should you wish to carry it as a cross-over bag.

It’s available in two sizes – both suitable for most airlines – and you can pack a lot of gear, including a laptop up to 16”.


  • Durable leather and canvas construction.
  • Vintage look.
  • Choice of colors.
  • Comfortable to carry.


  • Not the best for organization.


This is a great looking duffel bag option that fits airline requirements while still being able to store a lot of gear. The multiple carrying options are a big bonus.

Gregory Compass Travel Backpack – Best for Simplicity

This is a simple, sleek and slim-line design made from 420 D ripstop nylon. It’s ideal for folks looking for a no hassle backpack.

The bag opens from the back, so it would need to be removed to access the contents. It’s a nice security touch that prevents undesirables from practicing their sleight of hand.

The 30-liter size is more than enough for most weekend getaways and the comfortable straps, breathable back mesh, and sternum strap complete a positive user experience.


  • Simple, no-nonsense design.
  • Good weight distribution.
  • Security features.


  • Opening the bag might be frustrating for some.


A nice bag that doesn’t mess about, it gets solid marks for how comfortable it is to wear.

It’s not going to turn any heads though – but in a crowded market maybe that’s a good thing.

Timbuk2 Armory Pack – Best for Domestic Flights

San Francisco based Timbuk2 enjoy another entry with their Armory Pack, a punchy, slim look design that is great for domestic flying.

It’s made from 400D static polyester, with a durable construction and built-in compression strap to put the squeeze on.

It’s a nice hybrid, outdoor/indoor style bag with multiple uses. There’s even a clever bottle opener on the shoulder strap in case you ever need to open a cold one. Which is usually around 5 pm every day.


  • Smart, stylish design.
  • Laptop sleeve.
  • Multiple organizers.
  • Reflective strips.


  • It’s a little on the heavier side.


A great looking backpack from Timbuk2, this is stylish, practical and discreet. You won’t have a problem on any airline with this number.

Lowepro ProTactic Backpack – Best Camera Backpack

Lowepro might just be the number one name when it comes to camera gear bags and this entry for all you photographers out there is one of their very best.

It’s a gorgeous military style design with well thought out interior for 1-2 DSLR cameras and up to 8 lenses. It’ll even take a 15” laptop and a drone should you so desire.

It’s packed with other useful features and pockets for those extra bits and pieces and comes with a rain cover to ensure your kit is safe from mother nature.


  • Impressive, intelligent design.
  • Adjustable interior.
  • Quick access to cameras to never miss a shot.
  • Durable construction.
  • Excellent shoulder and back padding for support.


  • Really only useful for photographers.


Although you could remove the innards of this bag and use it as a day pack, its primary use is for camera equipment – and in that sense, it’s a photographer’s carry-on dream.

I think I’ll start taking more pictures just to own one.

eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender – Best Use of Space

You don’t get to call a bag the “mother lode” without being able to back it up, and eBags weekender certainly does that.

It’s essentially a suitcase masquerading as a backpack and if you can’t fit it in here then there’s no point taking it with you. It converts to regular style luggage easily.

Internal dividers and secure straps keep your clothes organized and less likely to move about during transit. A mesh side panel is useful for storing laundry or wet clothing.


  • Great use of space.
  • Removable sternum strap.
  • Lockable zippers.
  • Choice of colors.


  • Hybrid design isn’t going to be that comfortable to wear – especially over longer distances.


This bag can certainly take a load of gear for your weekend trip and its excellent use of space means you’ll be able to bring everything you need.

Throw in a packable daypack for hiking and you’re onto a winner here.

High Sierra Bag – Best Rolling Duffel Backpack

This duffel-backpack-roller hybrid is some piece of kit – it’s got loads of room in a clever double compartment design which is reinforced with high-density foam to keep its shape but the weight down.

The smooth rolling wheels are constructed to minimize the possibility of the bag wandering all over the place when in transit – if only supermarket trollies behaved in such a way.

It’ll take a whopping 50-liters of stuff, but make sure you get the 22″ size – the other version will be too large for a carry-on.


  • Smart, space-saving interior.
  • Reflective safety details.
  • Hidden back straps.


  • Not the most comfortable to carry.


High Sierra enters the fray with this rolling duffel backpack which is a solid and durable carry-on with loads of practical space.

It will look a little odd on your back though, but at least it offers the option.

Osprey Packs Farpoint Travel Backpack – Best All-Rounder #1

It’s another Osprey offering (I told you) with this beautifully designed and constructed travel backpack. Just looking at this thing and you know it’s quality.

Made from tough nylon rip-stop material, it’s clearly designed with your back in mind with comfortable sternum and hip belt, and ergonomic shoulder straps.

There’s a laptop/tablet sleeve inside and it opens to reveal a large internal storage section enough for a weekend away.


  • Compact, slim, and super stylish design.
  • Weight distribution just might be the best available.
  • Compression straps.


  • You’ll need something a little bigger for longer trips.


Sleek, subtle and beautiful to behold, this backpack from Osprey is a great all-rounder for day trips, hiking, weekends away…you name it.

It’s especially recommended to keep your back happy with its well-designed carrying set-up. It could well be the best carry-on backpack 2021. High praise indeed.

The North Face Surge Transit Backpack – Best All-Rounder #2

The North Face were not to be outdone in the carry-on backpack stakes, and there offering is every bit as good as the Osprey rival.

You’ll get 38-liters of gear in this pack, which also offers a 90-degree opening, fleece-lined laptop case. That’s always a bonus when going through airport security.

The shoulder straps and belt harness look comfortable, specifically molded to fit the contours of your back with added lumbar support.


  • Timeless, stylish design.
  • Durable hardware.
  • Back support a real plus.


  • Hip belt is a little on the flimsy side if being really critical.


The North Face continues to smash it out the park when it comes to outdoor gear and apparel and you know you’re getting a quality piece of kit with this offering.

Like the Osprey Farpoint, it’s a terrific all-rounder you can use for just about anything.

Pelican U100 Elite Backpack – Best for Laptop Travel

While most carry-on backpacks worth their salt will offer a dedicated laptop sleeve, this beast takes it to the next level and is essential for those of you really concerned about protecting your devices.

It’s packing a built-in, water-tight and crush-proof case that is some seriously next-level James Bond sh*t. But then again – you should expect that from Pelican, who specializes in keeping your equipment safe.

It’s a veritable office in a backpack, with plenty of other compartments and pockets to stay organized.


  • No better laptop protection.
  • Durable, solid construction that will last a lifetime.


  • It’s nearly 10 lbs with nothing in it.
  • Not much use for anything else.


As an office or business-related backpack, there’s little that can beat this, with hands down the best laptop storage available for the price.

If it’s a week in Paris you’re planning for – I’d look elsewhere.

Victorinox Vx Touring Wheeled Backpack – Best for Longer Trips

This hybrid duffel/backpack/roller has got bags of room in its spacious frame and is just the ticket for longer trips away while still being useful as a carry-on.

It’s surprisingly lightweight considering its construction, with an easy-pack interior and compression straps.

You could travel for months with what you put in here – so long as you remember to do your laundry.


  • Hidden backpack straps.
  • Combination security lock.
  • Front laptop storage.


  • No padding for electronic devices.


Victorinox are known for quality, durable products, and this 2-in-1 backpack can count itself firmly among those ranks.

A great option if you’re going away for longer than a few days.

Osprey Ozone Convertible – Best for Just About Everything

The size of a carry-on, convenience of a backpack combined with the ease of wheeled luggage. A win-win-win for comfortable hassle-free travel. Osprey have done it again.

This is another thoughtfully made bag that the designers have clearly put time and effort into. From the 210D durable nylon construction to the way the bag converts between carrying options.

Includes a detachable daypack so you can galivant off somewhere leaving your main luggage behind – and yet it’s all still suitable as a carry-on.


  • Stylish, practical and convenient.
  • Quality build and design.
  • Detachable day-pack is a stroke of genius.
  • Easy-access liquids pocket for travel essentials.


  • On the pricey side.


Osprey seem to leave everyone else in the dust with this top-quality carry-on backpack.

They appear to have thought of everything with a really intelligent design. I’d better start saving my pennies.

Best Carry-On Backpack 2021 Buying Guide

You’ve seen the reviews, so if you need any more help before you make your choice check out this handy buying guide.

It just might point you in the right direction.

people sitting and walking in airport terminal - travel concept

Size Matters!

The size of your backpack is the single most important characteristic when selecting a backpack suitable for carry-on.

Airline travel requires that the carry on be under certain measurements and each airline has their own definition.

If you don’t want to get a new backpack each time you travel consider one that fits most airline restrictions.

The best carry on travel backpack is one that is big enough and has ample organization and easy access points.

International vs Domestic Carry-on restrictions

As a general rule, flights within the continental US have larger limits than international flights.

If you plan to use the backpack for international travel, plan for a smaller, lighter backpack.

The five measurements of carry-on Backpacks


The backpack as measured from the bottom to the top when full. The smallest height limit of 150 airlines surveyed was 15.7” for an international airline. The largest was 24” for a Domestic US airline.

Most US airlines fall between 22 and 24” height limit. International limits are generally between 16 and 22 inches. 22” is the most common height restriction.


This is the side to side measurement of the backpack at its widest point. The carry on restriction with the smallest measurement is 12.5 inches. The largest is 18”.

Both Domestic and International airlines generally fall between 14 to 16 inches. 14” is the most common restriction so it’s a good idea to set the width limit at 14”.


This is the front to back measurement of the backpack at the widest point. 7 inches is the smallest restriction we saw, 11.8 is the largest restriction and 9” is the most common restriction.

Domestic restrictions on Depth were generally between 9 and 10 inches, while international flights set the limit most often between 7.8 and 10 inches.


This measurement is not used by many airlines, but for some airlines it is the ONLY restriction used, so you should know what it is.

Linear measurement is the sum of the height, width and depth. A bag with a height of 22”, width of 14” and depth of 9” has a linear measurement of 45 inches.

The smallest linear restriction we saw is 41.3 inches, and the largest is 50 inches.

Of all airlines that issue linear restrictions, both domestic and international, the number is usually restricted to 45 inches.


How much the bag weighs packed at the moment of travel. This measurement is one that can really trip up travelers.

The restriction is a surprisingly low 11 pounds for a moderate number of international airlines.

Most domestic carriers do not have a weight limit of carry-ons, and those that do set the limit at 30 or more pounds. International flights generally set the limit between 11 and 22 lbs.

If you are traveling internationally, you will need a lighter carry-on. Domestically, you can pack the backpack full of rocks, as long as it fits the measurement restrictions you are good to go.

beach side

The theoretical ideal or most common ‘goldilocks’ size is 22” x 14” x 9” for most domestic flights, although for heavy international travel a bag as small as 16” x 13” x 7.8” may be necessary.

Travel concept

Easy Access

Many backpacks have a top loading system where you simply place (dump) the contents in the bag from an opening in the top. It is a simple design that keeps the cost of the bag reasonable.

However, if you need to easily access items in said bag, perhaps a different opening would be better.

Panel openings are panels that zip open from the front. They vary in size and coverage, and how easy they make accessing your items can vary.

Some panels only open up a few inches; others open up the top half of the bag and some ever more.

One bag we reviewed opens like a duffle bag with a HUGE! Zippered opening on the back panel.

Frame It, or Not?

Most bags suitable for carry-on with not have traditional internals frames, because that would make them bigger, heavier and less flexible than a carry-on backpack should be.

If a bag has a proper frame, check the dimensions to make sure that it actually will fit your carry on restrictions measurement wise.


Now that you’re well versed with the size restrictions of a carry-backpack, let’s take a look at other things to consider before making a purchase – the material is most important.

The material composition of a bag can have an effect on size and weight, as well as the overall quality of the product.

Again, you’ll want to be thinking about what you’re going to be using the backpack for overall.

For example, if you’re going to be spending any time outdoors you’ll surely need something waterproof.

Nylon, polyester, leather, canvas, PVC…the list is long when it comes to the materials a backpack can be constructed from.

It’s just something you should bear in mind when choosing the best carry-on travel backpack.


Closely related to the material a backpack is made from is its durability. But as ever there’s always some kind of trade-off somewhere along the line.

Hard case carry-ons are tougher than an old boot and can withstand the whimsical distribution of anyone handling the bag who isn’t you. They’re great if you have valuables you want to protect.

They’re a little impractical if you want to carry them on your back to hiking, however.

Likewise, packable daypacks aren’t made from the strongest stuff, and while lightweight and transportable your gear won’t be in the safest hands.

Then, of course, there are the whole weight and cost factors to consider.

Here’s a general rule of thumb. The more durable, the heavier and the more expensive.

While that’s not always the case – it doesn’t hurt to use it as a yardstick when looking for the best carry-on travel backpack.

airport safety control


Backpacks can come with a ridiculous number of pockets, compartments, sleeves and other fancy storage options that will keep your obsessive-compulsive disorder in check.

Most people prefer to have a specific space for every item – and I’m more than happy to join them. I like my packs to be organized, tidy and structured in a way that I know exactly what goes where.

Others, however, are perfectly alright with one main compartment to throw everything into and forget about.

It’s up to you to consider your travel needs.

Are you planning on carrying a laptop or tablet, phone, keys, wallet and important travel documents?

If so look for packs that have sleeves designed to protected valuable devices. Security pockets for your passport or driving license. Easy-access zippers to get to your phone or keys quickly.

Are you packing more heavy-duty equipment, such as travel video cameras and lenses? You should be looking at exploring the fascinating world of camera backpacks.

The best travel backpack should be able to accommodate everything you want – the way you want it.


Much like us humans, carry-on luggage comes in a variety of styles.

In this article, we’re focusing on backpacks, but they too are available in a number of different designs to suit your personal needs or preferences.

The multi-use duffel bag hybrid is a popular style if you want the freedom to choose your carrying options.

Backpacks can also come with rollers incorporated – particularly useful if you’re packing more weight or ever need to check a bag in. It’s nice to have that versatility.

Roller duffle bags are also popular, providing even more of a headache when it comes to choosing in the style stakes.

Certain styles are specifically tailored towards women, built with the fairer sex in mind.

And it’s not just about how functional a backpack is, nobody wants to be seen carrying around a piece of crap. Aesthetics can be very important.

Airport - travel concept


Let’s face it, there will always be the bad guys out there looking to take something that doesn’t belong to them.

Backpacks are an easy target, and I’ve lost count of how many stories I’ve heard from the victims of light fingers while traveling.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as certain backpacks come with all sorts of anti-theft technology to keep your belongings out of thieving hands.

Hidden security pockets, combination locks, anti-stab/rip-proof material, lockable zippers… you name it – manufacturers have come up with some seriously impressive tricks to thwart most casual, opportunist thieves.

But remember, the buck stops with you – no bag in the world will stop a thief if you’ve been careless.

Always lock your gear away whenever you can and keep important documents about your person.

Good carry-on backpacks will help, but always keep your eyes peeled just in case.


The best carry-on backpacks for travel will take into consideration the fact that you do actually have to carry them.

You might think this is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised just how many bags lack even the most basic features for comfortable use.

Even if it’s just for a short break with a weekend bag, you should look after your back and shoulders with decent strap padding, even weight distribution and air-flow material that keeps you from sweating like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

And of course, if you’re also going to be using your backpack for hiking then you really do need something to make it as pleasant an experience as possible.

A great carry-on backpack might look nice and tick all the boxes – but forget about your own comfort at your peril.


Someone once said the best things in life are free. Unfortunately, the best carry-on backpacks for travel, aren’t.

Thankfully, there are plenty of backpacking options out there to cater for any budget, and I always like to offer a variety of prices in my reviews.

Remember that even if it’s a name brand it doesn’t always mean it’s any better than a cheaper, less well-known model.

Always buy the best travel backpack you can afford – it will be an investment in the long run.

happy traveler with carry-on luggage in airport


Just to cover all our bases, here are a selection of frequently asked (or potentially frequently asked) questions.

I hope you find an answer here if you’re still scratching your head.

Can I Bring a Suitcase and a Backpack as a Carry-On?

The short answer is yes. Airlines will allow you a personal item such as a handbag, briefcase, or other small effects – so long as it can fit under your seat.

Unfortunately (considering the day and age) every airline has different size regulations when it comes to what they allow on board. They’re not all singing from the same song sheet – so check with your provider first.

You can then also carry-on your actual “carry-on” luggage – which, for example, might well be one of the bags you’re perusing here.

Very Often Carry-On Regulations Change; where Can I find Up-to-Date Carry-On Information?

Ahhh, a very good question.

There are a number of sources you can call upon to familiarize yourself with carry-on regulations.

Travel Made Simple offer a pretty compressive list of most airlines and their baggage restrictions. This includes size and weight measurements. They claim 170+ airlines are covered.

Carry-On Guy offers some 125+ airline restrictions in a funky periodic table style that you can change between metric and imperial systems, and handily sorts them into regions of the world.

But when in doubt, always just go straight to your provider’s website. Getting the info from the horse’s mouth is really the best way to go and you don’t leave anything to chance.

How Many Liters for a Carry-On Backpack?

It’s predominantly all about the size and weight of the carry-on, so you could take a 50-liter backpack on the aircraft so long as it conforms to the airline’s regulations.

As a general guide though – and if you want to err on side of caution – I wouldn’t be packing anything over 45-liters just in case. Again, check with your airline to confirm.

What’s the Best Way to Pack a Carry-On Backpack?

I’m so glad you asked. While I could write an entire article dedicated to this very subject, allow me instead to direct your attention to the video below.

This will tell you everything you need to know and have you packing like a pro in no time.

I believe the gentleman showing you the ropes here is even using one of the backpacks in this review!

That might certainly help the men pack their carry-ons, so the ladies can check out this video below for some female-friendly wisdom.

Of course, everyone is different, but I’ll throw in my two cents and give you my best piece of advice:

Packing cubes!

What’s the Best Way to Carry a Laptop in a Backpack?

As you will notice, most carry-on backpacks come with a dedicated laptop sleeve, but these can be a bit hit and miss when it comes to their protective capabilities.

If you’ve gone for a bag which has excellent padding and support for such a device, then simply slip your laptop into the sleeve and you’re away.

It’s a good idea to make sure the bag will hold the laptop securely. It’s all well and good having a special compartment, but if your electronics are going to rattle around like one pea in a pod, it’ll end up doing more harm than good. You’re looking for a nice, snug fit.

If your bag doesn’t have the luxury of a dedicated sleeve, then I would heartily suggest you invest in a good laptop cover for extra protection.

And even if you do have a compartment, this is still worth considering as extra back-up.

If all else fails, make sure to pad your device with clothing. Wrapping a laptop in a hoodie or several layers of towels or tops isn’t a bad option as a last resort.

What’s the Best Carry-On Baggage Size?

How long is a piece of string? It’s all about personal preference and what you’re going to be packing. But if you really want an answer then 22″ x 14″ x 9″ seems to be the optimum sizing and will keep most airlines happy.

What Items are Restricted in Carry-On Baggage?

Quick story – a friend was once passing through airport security and the gentleman in front of him was trying to pass through a cage filled with exotic birds as part of his carry-on luggage.

Clearly not a frequent flier.

Apart from the (surely obvious) exclusions such as wildlife, what you can and can’t pack in your carry-on luggage can often lead to much confusion.

Primarily because there’s a lot of it.

For up-to-date information and advice, head over to the US Transport Security Information and don’t get caught out in the security line.

Air Safe also provide useful information for air travel.

For some extra advice, take a look at the video below to assist you in passing through airport security.

Remember though – restrictions and regulations are subject to change and they do change all the time.

They might also vary depending on what country you’re in. Always check what you can and can’t take before arriving in line.

A little bit of common sense goes a long way.

Cabin Crew – Prepare for Departure

There you have it, the ultimate guide to the best carry-on backpacks 2021.

Do leave a comment or any questions below if you’re still confused about anything – because it certainly isn’t an easy choice that’s for sure.

And don’t forget to download my eBook on solo travel safety – packed with loads of tips and advice when you’re wandering the globe alone.

Good luck and happy flying!

Karlis Kikuts

Karlis Kikuts

Coffee addict. Digital nomad. Solo traveler and blogger. Camping and hammocking enthusiast. Tiny book worm. In other words, the guy behind