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The Best Travel Backpacks for Men

Awhile ago on the forum there was a discussion on the best backpack to buy for a Euro trip. And recently, I also happen to have purchased a new backpack for my upcoming travels.

Having traveled the over 90 countries, I’ve went through several backpacks and have become an expert at packing for an adventure, so here’s a little guide to help you pick the perfect travel backpack for trips that are 6 months or less.

Top 3 Best Travel Backpacks for Men

One word: Carry-on.

Checked-in baggage is for women.

You see so many American guys backpacking in Europe looking like they’re about to climb Everest. They not only look like idiots, but are straining their back and spending small fortunes on checked in baggage. (European airlines prey on vanity).

If you can’t fit all your crap into a carry-on, you’re over-packing.

If I can travel for 3-4 months with a 35 liter bag that had everything I need, a laptop, and a video camera, there’s no good reason that you can’t do the same trip with a 50 liter bag. You’re a man, for Christ’s sake! Be a minimalist.

Here are a list of the best carry-on options available.

Osprey-Ozone-223. Osprey Ozone 22′

The lightest and best wheeled option (at least if you get it in blue). You can switch between strapped or wheeled, it has a removable day-pack, and it’s 50 liters and only 6lbs—big enough for everything you need, but small enough to carry on a plane. The only downside is it might be out of your budget. Amazon Link.

Perfect for: Eurotrips, North America, and most of Asia and South America.

Best Cheaper Alternatives: High Sierra AT7, High Sierra Adventure Access

farpoint2. Osprey 55 Farpoint

The best non-wheeled option with a detachable daypack. At first, I thought 55 liters was too big for carry on, but this review shows that it does the job. This bag is better suited for serious adventure travel when paved roads are in short supply. Personally, I don’t see the need for wheels on a carry on unless your bag is super heavy anyway.

Perfect for: Africa, Central Asia, natural adventures like the Amazon or the Himalayas.

Cheaper Alternative: Deuter Transit 50

1. My choice: Combo of a Tortuga Backpack and Fold-up Daypack.Tortuga-Travel-Backpack

In my opinion, this is the best option.

I choose the Tortuga because it offers great dimensions for a carry-on and has a separate laptop compartment against your back. (Many others have it at the front of the backpack, which strains your back and offers less protection.) This backpack was specifically designed for digital nomads like myself. At 44 liters, it’s slightly smaller than the other two, but for me it’s plenty. I just bought it and I’m super excited. I might even give a video review of it the future.

I also picking up a separate day pack that’s super lightweight and foldupfolds up to fits in your pocket like this one. It’s super light weight, replaceable, and under $20! It’s also available in a whopping 33 liters. The quality is nothing compared to the detachable daypacks from Osprey, but it serves it’s purpose.

Perfect for: Everywhere.

Cheaper Alternatives: Osprey Porter 46, Gregory border 35, CabinMax


Traveling for longer?

Need more room?

I’ve also reviewed the best backpack solutions for long-term and location independent travelers.


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21 Responses to The Best Travel Backpacks for Men

  1. MateuszBamski July 30, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    Hi everyone,
    I have visited around 40 countries and lived in few. Few years ago I was travelling with 20 kg + luggage. Now on I take around 10 kg luggage or 15 kg in worst case. However that includes: laptop, sleeping bag, tent, sometimes spraypaints (as I am streetartist). On my last trip from Poland to Africa I took also clothing suitable for swiss frozen mountains, sahara dessert and rainy Ireland. All in 15kg. I think it s quite ok and I travel most of time for 1-5 months.

    Anyway I met many people (especially asian girls) who travel with 7-10 kg backpack for years! I think it is just different style

    By the way my favourite one immortal backpack is: Campus Nadel 60+20

    • John C. October 13, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

      Many airlines have a carry-on limit of 7kg. 15kg isn’t minimalist AT ALL. Try harder.

  2. greenlander July 30, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

    I travel everywhere and never check baggage.

    I have this bag and I love it:

    The company has great support too…

  3. cuban August 1, 2015 at 6:44 am #

    If I am going somewhere for a two week trip I need 14 shirts and pans at least – one for each day, because I don’t want to spend time on washing and drying cloths on holidays, also I need few night-out shirts and trousers, maybe a blazer or two, walking shoes and a couple of night-out shoes.

    Its impossible to fit all that into a carry-on bag, unless I want to spend the whole trip in the same trainers, jeans and un-ironed shirt. Most clubs won’t even let you in if you are not wearing proper shoes and attire.

    So, I would love to travel light, but I can’t figure out how. Mark, what cloths do you take with you for a trip?

    • Mark Zolo August 2, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

      You’d be surprised what you can fit in a well designed carry-on. I would also take a blazer and two pairs of shoes, but 14 shirts is pushing it though.

    • MateuszBamski August 2, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

      My advice… Travel for few months.

    • John C. October 13, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

      14 shirts for a 14 day holiday?! What a fucking joke! I don’t even need 14 shirts for 14 days at home, let alone when living out of a backpack.

      Any decent hotel will do laundry for you and deliver it back to your room a few hours later. I recently spent 60 days in Thailand and got by just fine with 5 shirts.

  4. nescio August 2, 2015 at 5:43 am #

    I like the compact one, but I also travel with a light-weight tent, thin sheet and a thin sleeping mat as I also go to the jungle and shit and lodges are very expensive in Africa. First of all the metal stuff won’t be allowed to check in and secondly even though they are pretty compact, this doesn’t leave a lot of space. Leaving me no other option than going with the classic backpack …

  5. JJ August 3, 2015 at 5:25 am #

    I am on my first trip right now with this baby

    It’s pretty good.

    Only thing its missing really is the option to wheel it which would be nice as my bag is quite heavy.

    Am traveling with clothes, laptop, dslr camera and accessories and headphones.

    • Mark Zolo August 5, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

      That’s because the laptop slot is front loaded. That’s why I went with the Tortuga. Cabinmax have a wheeled version too. Thanks for your input. I added it to the list because the price is amazing.

  6. Hansi August 3, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    Carry-on often not only have a size restriction but also a weight restiction (in Europe often 6 or 7 kg). How do you cope with this? Difficult if you carry a laptop, camera, a second pair of shoes, a notebook, a small towel, a knife…

    • Mark Zolo August 5, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

      I’ve done this plenty. I’ve never had my bag weighted. They only tend to do for wheeled bags that look heavy, not so much backpacks.

    • MateuszBamski August 5, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

      They don’t weight often as Nomad mentioned. Anyway what I did was to change stuff to lighter version. My sleeping bag has 1,1 kg… laptop 1,2 kg and winter jacket around 900 g!

    • John C. October 13, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

      Most European airlines let you take a small handbag or laptop bag in addition to your 7kg carry-on.

      The vast majority of people don’t need more than a decent smartphone for taking photos.

      You can easily get away with only taking 1 pair of shoes in most circumstances, if you pick the right pair. If you’re traveling to a hot country, all you’re gonna wear 90% of the time is sandals.

      Taking a knife immediately rules out carry-on only travel. Just don’t even bother taking it.

  7. marc August 10, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

    Don’t forget to not bring containers bigger than 100 ml with a carry-on

    for carry-ons. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container

  8. Feri Naf August 27, 2015 at 9:00 am #

    This article inspired me to do my own research. If you’re in Europe, flying with the budget airlines, the best way to go IMO is the Osprey Farpoint 40 (bought for 80€). The 55 you mentioned will exceed the size limit and it’s basically the same volume 40l + 15l for the attached daypack. Tortuga is also a well designed option, seems even more convenient to pack, but the harness looks way worse that the Osprey one and it’s a pain to buy in Europe. The price + shipping + import taxes take it close to the Minaal range.
    As for the light packable daypack … Tortuga has one that seems close to perfection.

  9. Sheeeeit October 28, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    Cabin Max bags are designed to fit exactly within Ryanair cabin baggage specs and cost about one third of Tortugas, for those that like airplane backpacks and maxing out carry on capacity.

  10. Zack September 8, 2016 at 7:36 pm #

    Hey Mark, after using it, was it as good as you expected?

    • Mark Zolo September 9, 2016 at 9:13 am #



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