The Solo Travellers Guide To The Best Quality Backpacks

Introduction to Backpacks

Choosing a backpack can be so confusing. Do you choose a backpack with wheels for a city break, a waterproof backpack because you’re travelling in monsoon season, or a backpack for hiking and travel for your trip to New Zealand? This article covers the best quality backpacks for women and will help you choose the right one for you. 

As tempting as it may be to just buy one of the cheap travel backpacks for women, it is worth investing in one of the good backpack brands especially if you’re travelling for a long time. The last thing you want is for it to break when you’re away. Paying a bit more ensures a high quality backpack and one that will last for any additional trips.

From stylish backpacks to rolling backpacks for this article we’re looking at travel backpacks (essentially the best backpacks for women), and have included the best travel backpacks we can find for your solo travels.

All backpack recommendations are from our solo female community to help you choose the best backpack to buy. Click the link in the contents box to be taken to the relevant section, or read the whole article. Each backpack is also listed in our comparison table below.

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Contents

Backpack Comparison Guide

NameImageTypeLitrePrice
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack 20LClick here for latest price
Cabin Max BagCarry On 44LClick here for latest price
Minaal 2.0 Carry On 35LClick here for latest price
Tortuga Setout Backpack Carry On 45LClick here for latest price
Osprey Packs Farpoint 40Travelling 40LClick here for latest price
Osprey Packs Women's Ktye 46Travelling 46LClick here for latest price
Osprey Packs Fairview 55 Travelling 55LClick here for latest price
Caribee Jet Pack 65Travelling 65LClick here for latest price
Berghaus Motive 60 + 20LTravelling 80LClick here for latest price
Macpac Genesis Aztec 55LHiking 55LClick here for latest price
Osprey Ariel 65Hiking 65LClick here for latest price
Gregory Deva 80LHiking80LClick here for latest price
Caribee Fast Track 75 Wheeled Travel PackWheeled75LClick here for latest price
Osprey Packs Meridian 60L/22 Wheeled LuggageWheeled60LClick here for latest price
Kathmandu Hybrid Trolley 70LWheeled70LClick here for latest price

Types of Backpacks

Do you take a small backpack, a 40l travel backpack, a 50l travel backpack or even larger? It really depends on what type of trip you are going to do. Backpacking packs are ideal for spontaneous travel and if you are planning on a short European trip walking through cobbled streets then a smaller backpack is easier to take. 

If you are planning a longer trip and are going to be experiencing different seasons, then take a 60 litre bag. If it’s a short city break then a travel backpack 45 litre will suffice. Some people can survive on hand luggage for three months and others need the biggest bag they can find.

You can always take enough clothes for a week then wash them as you go. That way you may be able to survive with just a travel backpack carry on. It makes flying cheaper as you don’t have an additional bag to check in and pay for and you won't have to wait for it on the luggage carousel.

It’s also more comfortable travelling with less especially if you have to walk to a bus station or your accommodation. Look at the best travel backpack for women with a woman’s frame and if you buy it from a shop ask them to fit it for you so you know how to wear it properly. Consider your frame size. If you buy a large backpack it could be too difficult to carry and you may not be able to stand upright.

The Solo Travellers' Guide To The Best Quality Backpacks

Best Travel Backpack

Backpacks are easy to carry and have comfortable straps for your waist and shoulders. A women's hiking backpack for example can be easily carried over rough terrain and is perfect for places which don’t have cemented roads. If you don’t want to take a backpack then consider taking a suitcase instead which is more suited towards city travel and places with smooth surfaces (difficult for places off the beaten track).

There are some great suitcase backpacks which combine the two and even backpacks on wheels which are heavier than a standard backpack. Just find what works for you or have one of each and take whichever one is easier for a particular trip.

The only downside is that backpacks can get heavy on your back and make you feel a bit uncomfortable in the heat during hot months. That’s why buying one of the best quality backpacks instead of a flimsy tourist backpack is recommended.

If you do decide to buy a backpack especially ladies backpacks, there are side loaders and top loaders. The top loaders are a rucksack backpack and are mainly popular for camping trips. Most travellers prefer a side loader that opens right up so you can see inside it. 

Why Choose Backpack Bags For Travel?

  • Backpacks are easier to move around through obstructed streets or narrow pathways.
  • If there are cobblestones then wheeling a suitcase can be a problem.
  • If it’s crowded then a backpack is better than pulling a suitcase behind you.
  • No-one can just grab your backpack if it’s on your back so you may feel safer with your belongings.
  • If you have to walk up and down flights of stairs (hello Barcelona and Belgrade), then choosing one of the best small backpacks strapped to your back is easier than lifting a heavy suitcase up six flights of stairs.
  • There is no danger of your wheels breaking mid-trip.
  • You are hands free so it can be easier to look at your phone for navigating yourself around, and hopping on and off transport.
  • If streets are flooded as they can be in Venice for example the bottom of your suitcase may get wet.

The Solo Travellers' Guide To The Best Quality Backpacks

Best Daypack: Best Carry On Backpack

The size of check in luggage differs from each airline so the smaller the carry on backpack the better. You can only take a handbag now with Ryan Air unless you pay for Priority Boarding so if you are travelling with hand luggage only, check airline hand luggage measurements before you choose your best backpack for flying.

Some backpacks come with their own day packs (a small travel backpack for the day). The general rule of thumb is to keep all of your valuables and important things in your daypack. Some backpacks also have the daypack attached which can be zipped off and used separately. If you don’t have a daypack then take a zipped bag for walking around during the day. Below are our reviews for the best carry on backpack. 

Ultra-Sil Day Pack – 20L

There are many cool backpacks designs but if you’re after something more practical which can be stored in your jacket packet then the Ultra-Sil Day Pack by Sea to Summit is ideal. This is the best backpack for everyday use.

This day pack is perfect for carrying anything whether you’re on a hike, shopping at a market or spending a day at the beach. It’s strong yet it packs down to the size of a tennis ball so is easy to pack in your main bag. It's the ideal lightweight travel backpack for any trip.

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Minaal Carry-On 2.0 Bag (35L)

“I highly recommend the Minaal Carry On 2.0. It looks good, is a lightweight backpack, and the right carry-on even on European flights. I used it for 2 months of hiking/backpacking through Asia and Pacific Northwest. It’s one of the backpacks with compartments and I love that there's space for my laptop, kindle, shoes, and clothes (with packing cubes) and compartments for toiletries, and top pockets for essentials (passport, wallet, keys). I purchased the full set with cubes and a hip belt. I've brought it trekking for the summer in Asia and winter in Europe and it still looks good as new. I'm under 5'0, and my boyfriend is 5'11” and we both have one. It's our default bag for all of our trips, short or long, weekend weddings to long hikes through the jungle since it looks normal enough versus a hiking backpack. It's a suitcase replacement for us.” – Hannah Kwan

* Click here to view on Minaal

Tortuga Backpack 35-45L

“I have been traveling with a Tortuga air and a smaller backpack. I love the air because it opens like a suitcase and I keep everything contained in cubes. I brought mine to Thailand and I loved it. I pack pretty small but there is a bigger version. The secret is choosing one of the good quality backpacks that opens flat like a suitcase, so you don't have to pull everything out. I lived out of it for 2 months.” – Allyson Ni Choillte

Cabin Max Carry On – 44L

“I've been in Europe for almost seven months with a small suitcase and light day backpack, and I continually switch between the two. I have back problems so for me having a small suitcase and fairly small quality backpack made it easy to distribute the weight a little more without having any one item super cumbersome. I've got the cabin max bag and I love it. It's the best day backpack for travel and you can fit a ridiculous amount of clothes in it.”  Cathleen Olson

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Best Quality Backpacks

Not everyone can fit everything into a light travel backpack. If you need a big travel backpack and are unsure which backpack to buy, read the following backpack reviews. We've tried and tested some of the best backpack brands for women. The only question you’ll be asking yourself at the end is which colour to buy.

Osprey Packs Farpoint 40

“I recommend the Osprey Farpoint 40. I used it for a long trip and loved it! For me this is the best 40l travel backpack” – Ty Elizabeth

“You can get a bag that works as both! Rolling backpacks they are called. The North Face and Osprey do them. However they are often quite heavy, so not ideal if you are only taking hand luggage. I recently got the Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack which is EU hand luggage size and is relatively light.” – Natalie Sarah

“I have had the osprey porter 40. It’s the best travel backpack carry on and is the perfect size. It opens all the way up so you can access the entire contents. Packs down like a suitcase and small enough to be carry on. Best bag ever. Took it with me to Japan and Thailand, and to Vietnam next week. I even convinced my boyfriend to buy one.”- Kelly Zapecki

“Osprey 40 is the one I use and love it! I haven't had any problems taking it as a backpack for air travel and I love the suspension system (a big reason I chose that one). It opens like a suitcase so it easier to keep organised” – Kayla Sheely Lettko

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Osprey Packs Women's Ktye 46

“I recently got an Osprey Porter 46 and am so excited to use it on my five week-long vacation to Asia! It’s a women's backpack for travel and a carry-on size with so many compartments! Seems like a keeper!” – Karla Luna

“I love my Osprey 46. I have a random Timberland Daypack that I picked up at a thrift store.” – Julie Brock

“I use the Osprey Exos 48. It's been perfect for the last 7 months on the road. It's one of the best lightweight backpacks, it's comfortable and great for hiking as well. It's the best pack I've found yet for travelling.” – Jacqui Beaton

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Osprey Packs Fairview 55 Women's Travel Backpack

“I have the Osprey Farpoint 55. The longest I’ve travelled with it is 6 weeks but it would have been totally fine for a longer trip. It's very comfortable (I often walked 30 plus minutes to and from train stations). Osprey is one of the best backpack brands and their customer service is amazing! My daypack was stolen from my car when I was using it at home; I called in to find out if I could buy another one (you can’t) and the person I talked to had one at their office and sent it to me. Really impressed as they had no other reason to help me out other than customer service!“ – Laura Hampton

“I also have an Osprey. Mine is the Farpoint 55 and I love it. It opens like a suitcase (something you definitely want). Also, using packing cubes make it so easy so you can put all clothes in one. You can pull it out to get to other things and clothes stay folded and in one compact area.” – Stephanie Turnbull Weilnau

“I’ve got these backpacks that you can use as a sandwich (which I personally ended up preferring) but also you can zip the daypack to the big bag.” – Rose Figueroa 

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Caribee Jet Pack 65 Litre Travel Backpack

“My backpack is a pink Caribee bag. As well as wanting this colour, I was looking for a bag with a main compartment that zipped completely open. It’s one of the sturdy backpacks that opens like a suitcase. It makes it easier for me to find everything that I have packed rather than having a top loader. I store all my clothes in the big section and my shoes and toiletries in the smaller compartment. My first aid kit gets packed in the pouch. I love the fact that it’s a pretty backpack and is pink as it’s easy to spot on the baggage carousel. There is a strap which fits round my waist when I’m walking and it comes with a small daypack that zips onto it which is perfect for checking in on my luggage on a plane, and keeping a smaller bag with me for my hand luggage. It even has a rain cover which kept everything dry during the rainy seasons. I’ve had it for years and it’s been to numerous countries with me. The pink ladies travel backpack now seems to have been discontinued but other colours are available.” – Lisa Eldridge

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Berghaus Motive 60 + 20L

“I recommend Berghaus Motive 60 + 10. Then you have a little mini backpack for the day too. Berghaus is really well-known and is one of the top backpack brands. The Osprey Farpoint 55 has a day pack as well.” – Tracey Jayne Molamphy

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The Solo Travellers' Guide To The Best Quality Backpacks

Best Hiking Backpack For Women

If you are planning to hike on your travels, it’s worth looking for the most durable backpack you can find. A hiking backpack can differ to a traveler backpack and having a strong backpack that supports your back is ideal so look for the most comfortable backpack to take. If you are looking for the best budget day hiking backpack, below you'll find our hiking backpack reviews. 

Macpac Genesis Aztec 55L

“I have a 55L Macpac Aztec genesis hiking/travel hybrid. (it’s labelled as a 70L because it’s a 55 + 15 detachable daypack). I modified the bag slightly so every section is lockable – this is why I picked a hybrid pack and Aztec is one of the most popular backpacks.

The included daypack wasn’t suitable for my laptop and other electronics so I paired it with the STM Drifter daypack. (Note: both brands are from Australia/New Zealand – so availability globally is more limited). It’s one of the best day hiking backpacks and both bags accompanied me for 18 months continuous travel; and for the 18 months after that they’ve been used for shorter trips (between 3-5 weeks; anything shorter I only have my daypack). I also used it for walking the El Camino de Santiago. My Macpac travel backpack fits me like a glove these days.” – Catharina Stam

* Click here for Macpac Genesis AzTec Pack

Osprey Ariel 65

“I was able to live out of a 65 litre backpack for about a year and had no issues. I actually was able to fit the majority of my clothes (more than I should have brought) in just a medium sized compression bag from Osprey. You can definitely stay organised if you buy little bags for your different types of clothes, toiletries, etc. Plus it should be a backpack with lots of compartments of varying sizes. I had no issues with my Osprey Ariel 65. It's one of the best hiking backpack brands and the best Osprey backpacks. The only downside to a backpack is sometimes having to dig through layers of things to get what you want, but if you have access to the top, bottom, and other exterior compartments and organise it well, it makes it much easier. Plus carrying it on your hips and back makes your life infinitely easier. I swear I barely even noticed having 30 pounds on my back unless i was running, the key is getting a lightweight backpack that fits great (which is why i love my Ariel!).” – Morgan McGuinness

“I had a 32L back pack for 3 weeks in Indonesia. It was more than enough. I now am using a 75L Osprey convertible backpack with a trolley option which I really like! I think it also comes in a smaller size too.” – Kerri Tyquin

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Gregory Deva 80L

“I love my Gregory Deva 80L. They make smaller versions too. For me, I didn't like how the osprey bags came up so high behind my head limiting my range of motion. The Gregory bag is shorter and wider, so even though my 80L bag is huge, it's the most comfortable backpack and super comfortable to wear.

Also, It opens from the top like most backpacks, but I love that the whole front also unzips so you can access your stuff easily. I purchased through REI and was able to customise it. The bag, the arm straps and the waist belt are all different sizes, so it's a perfect fit! I also really like that it's got plenty of support straps to balance the weight properly, or make the bag seem not so huge when I need it for shorter trips and don't need 80L.” – Jessica Weissman

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The Solo Travellers' Guide To The Best Quality Backpacks

Best Wheeled Backpack For Travel

Big backpacks aren’t always ideal for city breaks. Carrying an outdoor backpack around when you are travelling to a city may not be your first choice. If you are looking for a travel backpack with wheels, whether it's a Kathmandu wheeled backpack or an Osprey solo backpack, below are the best wheeled backpacks that we've found. 

Osprey Packs Meridian 60L/22 Wheeled Luggage

“I changed from a regular backpack to an Osprey Sojourn 60 litres rolling backpack in 2013 and I absolutely love it. When I still used my regular backpack my back often hurt which is now a thing of the past. I am happy I made the change although my Osprey wasn't cheap. I have the Osprey Sojourn 60 litres in blue.” – Vanessa Schade 

“I love my Osprey. I have a backpack that has the exact same layout as a suitcase.” – Jessica Acuna

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“I have the Osprey women's travel backpack Ariel 65 and it’s been used for long trips. It is a great bag with front access and lots of clever technology built in. The Osprey Aura is also a great design although there is no front entrance but I’d argue an even more comfortable bag to wear.” – Lucia Paone-Michael

Kathmandu Hybrid Trolley 70L

‘I have a Kathmandu rolling backpack that has wheels and opens up like a suitcase. It's awesome and comfy! 70L and the front is a backpack that you buy separately that attaches.’ – Rhianan James

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Caribee Fast Track 75 Wheeled Travel Pack

“I recommend a backpack with wheels! I took a back pack on my first trip and it killed my back and I hated it! A suitcase was a bit impractical especially in sandy, rural places etc, but one with wheels is the perfect combo and best thing I ever brought for travelling. I have a Caribee wheeled travel bag.”– Corinne Powell

”I recommend a Caribee wheely bag. I have one of these and am currently travelling with it through Bali, Thailand and Cambodia. I haven’t had to use the straps yet.” – Cara McGlue

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Conclusion

I hope that you found this article useful. We've picked the best female backpacks that have been tried and tested by our solo female community, and these are our favourite popular backpacks for Girls about the Globe.

There are many other good travel backpacks whether you are looking for designer backpacks, best everyday backpacks or the best stylish backpacks. There are plenty of other sizes depending on what you are looking for. For the best 30l backpack to 80l backpacks just check the reviews to find the best one for you. 

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