There are thousands, if not millions of different backpacks and suitcases you can use when you travel.
Recently, I’ve reached out to a bunch of my favorite and most influential travel bloggers/experts and asked them a question: What backpack or luggage do you use when you travel?
Here are their answers:
1. Melvin, Traveldudes
There are two bags I use and depending on the length of my trip, I’ll choose one of them.
For short trips I’m using the Eagle Creek Tarmac 22. I got it to review it and like it so much, that I’m using it all the time now. I love that it has those 4 wheels and to let it swirl around when I’m on the go. But the whole bag is quality made and even if I have used it quite a few times already, it still looks like new. It’s not heavy and got lots of space, which is important as I only use it as cabin luggage and with that for trips for around 4-5 days. The size of the front pocket is not that good, as the laptop doesn’t fit into it. I really wonder why a product developer doesn’t think of that more. But I’ll stick it into the main pocket and that’s fine, too.
When I travel longer than the 4-5 days, I’ll use my backpack. And I use that no matter if it’s a hitch hike trip or a luxury one. It’s the one I have and I also wouldn’t buy a suitcase. Sure, the guys in a 5 star lobby look a bit awkward if a “backpacker” is standing in front of them. But they don’t know what they miss out, seeing their faces. 😉 I just don’t like pulling that big trolley behind me and even if it’s only from the luggage caroussel at the airport to the rented car. I grab my backpack and carry it. Important for me is, that I can open it completely and not just from the top. That way I have a better overview and can quickly pick out what I need.
Just recently I’ve seen a video about a new rolling technique for t-shirts and it’s so good, that I use it all the time now. But if you pack your backpack so tiny, a top-loader backpack is not of use. I need to see stuff right away. I’m a man and can stand in front of the open fridge and can’t find the butter, though it’s right there. 😉
I don’t have a backpack but you probably already guessed it. Hehe! I have Samsonites in various sizes. I especially like their B-Lite line which is incredibly light (about 4.5lbs or 2kgs) and fits almost all airline cabin luggage size specifications. I travel with hand luggage whenever possible so every pound I save (on a lighter bag or laptop) means I can pack a few more bits of clothing or an extra pair of shoes. I’m also a fan of Flylite which produces luggage that’s light and which can be ‘shrunk’ or expanded depending on the airline’s specifications. I also always bring a small shoulder bag or knapsack for day trips.
Note from Jonathan: I had the chance to interview Keith a few months ago. You can read more: Travel Expert Interview: Find Out What Keith Jenkins Packs & More…
eBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible is my go-to backpack for any type of travel. Since I carry electronics everywhere I go, this is the perfect bag. It has a laptop pocket that is easily accessible for removal. It also has multiple carrying options, like regular shoulder carry straps, but they can be tucked/zipped in if you want to carry it like a piece of luggage with 3 padded handles so that it opens like a suitcase.
There is so much room in this backpack that it literally could be another piece of luggage since it has the expansion zipper, but don’t tell the airlines that! Also, the zippered pockets in the front of the bag make for easily accessible for your liquid bags when going thru security and a quick zip pocket for your passport/airline tickets. It is a great bag for small regional jets, so that you do not have to gate check it, because many times the stewardesses will gate check anything with wheels. It retails for $99, but I have found it as low as $85.
As a travel video blogger who is perpetually on the go, it’s essential for me to have a backpack that I can put all my essential gear in. My go-to backpack for a couple years now has been the Lowepro Fastpack 350. The Fastpack 350 is designed as a backpack with all the adjustments you’d expect from a high-end backpacking pack, to make lugging your camera equipment around a breeze. The Fastpack is an amazing bag for travelers and the 350 also has a slender compartment that accommodates a 17” computer perfectly. Given that a computer goes hand-in-hand with photography and videography, this is a welcomed addition to a camera bag. The Fastback has several compartments to keep all your gear organized, while protecting it from impact.
My latest go-to piece of checked luggage is the Samsonite Cruisair Bold. This 29” dual spinner luggage is not only sexy, it’s extremely well built. The lightweight polycarbonate hard sided case has a rugged frame around the center of the bag, which gives it more support, while making it difficult to compromise (provided you’ve used the built-in TSA approved lock). The super smooth four-wheel spinner wheels makes going through hotels and terminals, simply a breeze.
The retractable handle provides easy maneuverability when extended out from the case, and, stores neatly inside when not in use. The handles (2) are spring loaded, so they go back in place to help avoid snags. There is a great deal of space inside the case, one side has synch straps, while the other side has a divider pocket to help organize your belongings. The Cruisair Bold by Samsonite is strong, very durable and is nicely designed.
While at the airport in Ecuador I saw a Case Logic backpack that I immediately fell in love with and knew I just had to have. Why? Because, I was looking for a sleek, multi-purpose travel backpack that could be taken from the office to a fancy dinner to Africa for a safari. That’s not easy to find! Since I am not a backpack traveler, my needs weren’t for a pack that was my only piece of luggage, I simply needed something that could be my “carry-on” for all of my technology and that wasn’t going to be larger than myself. The Case Logic Berkeley fit that criteria perfectly.
It has a padded sleeve to protect my laptop, a security pocket perfect for my passport and plenty of room for my camera along with all the cords necessary for my equipment. It holds everything I need it to, but also isn’t so large that it makes me feel like I’m going to topple over backwards when I have it on.
Having owned a variety of luggage and carry-on of various prices and sizes, I must say the TLS Motherlode Weekender Convertible was the perfect fit for our around the world travel. This bag has been with me to campsites in Paraty and Iguazu Falls in Brazil, Four Seasons Hotel in Buenos Aires and St. Petersburg, hostel in Punta Arenas Chile, 4-berth cabin on the Trans Mongolian Railway, a ger camp in Mongolia and the rice fields in Ubud Bali. As you can see I needed a bag that wouldn’t command attention yet versatile, lightweight, durable, meet the carry-on requirements and be at least 50 liters so I could put lots of stuff.
I can’t imagine having a hard shell rolling bag while going those places mentioned and many more not listed above. The bag fits in nicely in the overhead compartment in all the airplanes and under the seat on the Trans Mongolian and long distance Chinese trains. It was so easy to get in and out of trains and planes.
The Motherlode could carry 1 pair of jeans, 2 cardigans, 4 t-shirts, 2 blouses, 1 pants, 1 pair of running shorts, 3 tank tops, 2 scarves, 1 tights, underwear, socks, 1 swimwear, 1 travel towel, 1 pair of shoes, 1 pair of flip-flop, 2 pillowcases and 2 folders of important documents and notes. There was room for more because I didn’t even use the expansion gusset. At the end of our trip I made a decision to check in my Motherlode bag. I was able to add the newly purchased souvenirs and clothes from Indonesia and New Zealand without having to buy another bag.
We often use low-cost airlines when we fly, so for me having a backpack that can work as carry-on luggage is essential. When I first tried on the Taos 28 by Salewa, which is in fact a freeride backpack, I realised I had found the right backpack for me. It just felt right. I do a lot of trekking and outdoors activities, so the Taos serves me well – it has a pocket for your water pouch, straps for walking poles, a waistband and chest clip to make sure the weight sits firmly on your hips and doesn’t bounce around as you walk. However, I also use the Taos 28 for ‘non-outdoor’ travel – for anything up to a month. The water pouch pocket fits my laptop perfectly, the waistband and chest strap still come in handy even if you’re walking around a city instead of the mountains, and the small pockets and compartments are handy to keep your valuables and small items.
The only issue with the Taos? It’s a bit too small. A few extra liters would indeed go a long way. I’ve been able to use this backpack for a month-long trip, but anything longer (including if you’re visiting a place with different climates) makes packing a bit hard. If they could make a 35 liter backpack with the same features and same feel when you wear it, I’d buy it straight away. But for now, the Taos will do!
We use TravelPro luggage. We’ve tried some others, but we always tend to go back to TravelPro. A couple of years ago they gave us a carryon to try: the TravelPro MaxLight 2 and we loved them. Others have offered us bags and we tried them too because our luggage takes a beating, but we came back to TravelPro and bought what we wanted ourselves, so no paid endorsement here. We buy the luggage we want. Right now we are using the TravelPro wheeled duffel.
We use a camera backpack as our carryon and a rolling duffel for our checked luggage. You got it, we are not carryon only people. We like the duffel because it’s easy to carry if we need to, It’s roomy, and it has two different compartments. but we really like having the option to roll. The days of carrying a backpack on our backs and our daypack on the frond are over. A rolling duffel and a backpack for electronics/camera gear is perfect, and it looks good too!
Here’s a link to the duffel. We bought it at The Bay in Canada.
The ideal travel luggage needs to meet a number of criteria; It needs to be:
- Light – as free luggage allowances are reduced, I don’t want the bag taking up most of my allowance.
- Versatile – it needs to be suitable for using in a variety of situations, conditions and terrain.
- Rugged – it’s going to be abused, and needs to take the knocks.
- Secure – I carry most of my valuable items with me on flights, but it still needs to be lockable.
- Clean – by clean I mean a simple design without too many extras which could get damaged or malfunction.
My current luggage of choice meeting all of these criteria is the Berghaus Mule 80 duffel. it’s big enough to carry all of my essentials without being oversized tempting me to take more than I need. It is wheeled for convenience, but can convert into a backpack when the terrain doesn’t suit wheels. It’s colourful and easy to spot on the carrousel. Add a locking zip, durable design and lightweight material and it does exactly what it says on the tin ….. simples.
11. Jeremy, Living the Dream
On our last long-term trip I used a High Sierra AT Gear Access duffel and my wife used a Guerilla Pack Voltij. The duffel that I used was the workhorse because it was 95 liters and could store anything we wanted (toiletries, souvenirs, you name it) and gave us a lot of flexibility. The reason I liked it was because it was a duffel bag that also had backpack straps and wheels, so I could change the configuration to carry it however I wanted depending on the location (wheels won more often than not).
The Guerilla Pack was a great bag for a second traveler as it had substantial room and was side loading, something that many traditional backpacks seem to lack which annoys us greatly. Unfortunately after traveling the world for 15 months with the Guerilla Pack and nearly 2-years of road time over a period of six years with the High Sierra duffel, both were at their life’s end and we had to get rid of both by the time we returned home.
12. James, Nomadic Notes
My main travel bag is the REI Stratocruiser Wheeled Backpack. I like that it is a wheeled bag but it can be converted into a backpack for for those times when wheeling isn’t an option. It has useful interior compartments, and having the extra day bag attached to it has been useful. The fabric, stitching, and zippers have taken a beating without falling apart.
13. Ted, Traveling Ted
I have yet to own a backpack I really liked traveling with. My first backpacking trip through Europe in 1993 I brought a pack suitable for canoeing. It is called a Bill’s Bag and is waterproof. There is one opening at the top. It looked like a giant blue condom. It is perfect for canoe camping. Horrible for RTW. If you need something from the bottom you have to take everything out.
My next backpack was a little better as it has several pockets and two openings in the main section. Then I regressed and bought and Osprey Aether backpack more suitable for outdoor backpacking with only a couple of external pockets and only one opening at the top.
It is great for outdoor backpacking, but again horrible for traveling around the world. I think I have finally learned that you need a specialty backpack for each of your interests. I need to buy a canoe backpack for canoeing, a different one for hiking, and a specialized one for RTW. I look forward to the hints by other travelers in this post. Perhaps it will be the catalyst for me to finally buy a traveler’s backpack.
We travel with backpacks rather than suitcases, for so many reasons. But the main one has to be the ease of moving around. Suitcases are always in the way! We’ve had a few different packs over the years, but now we have our Ospreys and we really love them.
Nick carries an Osprey Farpoint 55, while I carry an Osprey Kestrel 32. These backpacks are so durable, very well made and can carry a lot. These have been our bags since 2013 and they’ve been through some tough times – the most memorable of which was trekking independently for 8 days through Mongolia.
I love the front stretchy mesh pocket, the side straps and the pockets on the waist belt on the Kestrel bag. The Farpoint is comfortable and has two inside mesh pockets. It also has some useful straps on the front of the bag, perfect for items that just simply won’t fit!
Check out our reviews here:
The size and capacity of my travel backpack mainly depends on the length and destination of my travels. When I set off for a long travel (6 months and more), I usually carry two backpacks. The small one that I carry in front and the big one I put on my back. The small backpack is approximately 35 liters, but it is surprisingly efficient. I put there my laptop, camera and cosmetics I use daily. I use it mainly for city-hopping via train, plane and bus. The big backpack is about 89 liters and it is pretty giant, so I use it mostly when I move from one travel base to another (a base is a place from which I hop for shorter trips without having to drag all my possessions with me).
Thanks again to all of the bloggers and experts for their input!
What backpack or luggage do you use when you travel? Leave your comment below.