Last Updated: June 30, 2020

Best Travel Backpack For Europe in 2020

best travel backpack for europe

So you're going to Europe. Everything's planned, your flight's booked and all that's left to do is find the perfect travel backpack to take on your trip. And that's exactly what I'm going to show you here. 

In this review we'll check out some of the best and most popular backpacks and duffle bags for travel. We'll see some that are pretty small and perfect as carry ons, and other that are so big that you could comfortably pack your entire closet inside them. 

Does that sound good? If so, let's get down to the details and see exactly which is the best travel backpack for Europe.

Travel Backpacks

In this section we'll check out a few classic travel backpacks. They usually come in several sizes, ranging from a typical carry on, to a huge pack that you could bring on a 2-month trip. Travel packs are usually front loading, and they are a pretty convenient replacement for a classic suitcase. 

Osprey Farpoint (And Fairview)

Osprey Farpoint 55 Men's Travel Backpack

The Farpoint is definitely one of your top choices. You can choose between several different sizes, two of which come with removable daypacks – perfect for wandering around the town for a few hours. 

The pack has everything you want out of a travel backpack. In fact, it's a backpack that is really like a suitcase. The big difference is that it is comfortable, has a ventilated harness and backpanel, multiple compartments and pockets for excellent organization, a laptop compartment and plenty of compression straps to keep its load nice and tight. But you can still throw it on your back and walk anywhere without having to drag a suitcase around!

Pros

  • Multiple sizes and capacities (smallest is carry on sized)
  • Great organizational features
  • Detachable daypack on some
  • Excellent wearing comfort

Cons

  • Pretty expensive
  • Not great for really short people 
  • Larger sizes are pretty bulky 
  • Dimensions: 21" x 14" x 9"
  • Weight: 3.17 lbs
  • Capacity: 40 liters
  • Dimensions: 25" x 13" x 13"
  • Weight: 3.92 lbs
  • Capacity: 55 liters
  • Dimensions: 26" x 13" x 13"
  • Weight: 3.92 lbs
  • Capacity: 70 liters
  • Dimensions: 29" x 15" x 16"
  • Weight: 3.88 lbs
  • Capacity: 80 liters

Osprey Fairview

Osprey Packs Fairview 55 Travel Backpack, Misty Grey, X-Small/Small

This is the women’s version of the Farpoint travel backpack. In terms of features, the two Osprey packs are almost exactly the same. The Fairview is obviously slightly smaller and wider, as it was designed to fit the contours of a women’s body better. Additionally, all the pros and cons of the Farpoint pack apply to this one as well. 

  • Dimensions: 21" x 14" x 9"
  • Weight: 3.16 lbs
  • Capacity: 40 liters
  • Dimensions: 25" x 13" x 12"
  • Weight: 3.20 lbs
  • Capacity: 55 liters
  • Dimensions: 25" x 14" x 12"
  • Weight: 3.87 lbs
  • Capacity: 70 liters

Front Loading Hybrids

If you can't decide between a travel backpack and a duffel, why not get a hybrid? In other words, a backpack that can easily be transformed into a duffel bag and carried like one. If you're interested, check out these hybrids. 

Osprey Porter

Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack

The Porter travel backpack is a great choice for you if you like to stay organized. It has a few different compartments, an abundance of both external and internal pockets, and sleeves for your laptop and tablet. The main compartment is front loading, so you will be able to access all your stuff pretty easily.

It comes in two sizes, the smaller of which can be used as a carry on. So, if you’re a pro at packing and know that you can fit in a month’s worth of clothing into the 46 liters of the smaller Porter, definitely go for it. It's like a suitcase on your shoulders!

Pros

  • Stowaway harness 
  • Front loading compartment
  • multiple pockets for organization
  • Compatible with Osprey Daylite 

Cons

  • The backpanel is not ventilated 
  • Might not be accepted in cabin on all airlines
  • Dimensions: 22" x 14" x 11"
  • Weight: 3.6 lbs
  • Capacity: 46 liters
  • Dimensions: 24" x 14" x 15"
  • Weight: 3.8 lbs
  • Capacity: 65 liters

Timbuk2 Wanderer

TIMBUK2 Wander Backpack Duffel, Jet Black

The Wanderer travel backpack is a great convertible option. It is pretty comfortable to carry like a backpack, since it does have a padded and ventilated backpanel and harness. However, it does not have a hip belt so it won't be as comfortable as some of the Ospreys we previously saw. 

And when you want to, you can just transform it into a duffle and carry it like that. The harness is stowaway, so you don't have to worry about anything dragging on the ground or hanging from the travel pack. And even though it has a pretty large capacity, it is still small enough to be used as a carry-on backpack too. 

Pros

  • Padded laptop compartment fits all laptops
  • Many pockets for organization
  • Padded and ventilated harness and backpanel

Cons

  • Lack of hip belt reduces carrying comfort
  • Top and bottom compartments reduce space in main compartment
  • No shoulder strap
  • Dimensions: 22.8" x 15" x 7.48"
  • Weight: 3.7 lbs
  • Capacity: 40 liters

Top Loading Backpacks

Top loading packs are usually large packs that people use for backpacking. That means that they are great for trips that are many months long - as long as you can pack efficiently. If that's what you need for your trip to Europe, check out these travel backpacks. 

Osprey Atmos (And Aura)

Osprey Atmos AG 50 Men's Backpacking Backpack

Get the Atmos AG backpack if you're looking for something with very high capacity. But that you can still wear comfortably for hours on end. This particular Osprey has an AntiGravity harness and backpanel that will make 50lbs feel like nothing. And they are also completely padded and ventilated, which significantly improves your carrying comfort. 

The packs are pretty large, so forget about bringing them inside the cabin. But that also means that you'll be able to pack a lot of clothes and gear inside them, and all the different compartments and pockets will help you organize your belongings easily. 

Pros

  • FlapJacket cover can be used as a daypack
  • Raincover is  included
  • Lots of compartments, pockets and straps for your gear

Cons

  • Not a great choice if you want to avoid checked baggage fees
  • Can’t access the main compartment from the front
  • No dedicated laptop sleeve
  • Dimensions: 33" x 15" x 15" 
  • Weight: 4.21 lbs
  • Capacity: 50 liters
  • Dimensions: 34" x 15" x 16"
  • Weight: 4.56 lbs
  • Capacity: 65 liters

Osprey Aura

Osprey Packs Pack Aura Ag 65 Backpack, Gamma Red, Small

Quality wise, the Aura is exactly the same as the Atmos - after all, it is just the women's version of the pack. So, all the prons and cons of Atmos also apply to this travel backpack. But size wise, there are some differences, since this pack is meant to fit the female body better. It is not as tall as the Atmos, and it is also somewhat lighter, which means that it will be easier for women to adjust the pack to their own bodies. And when we're looking at a 50+ lbs pack, it is incredibly important that it fits you like a glove - if you want to avoid pain, soreness and the hospital.

  • Dimensions: 30" x 14" x 14"
  • Weight: 4.18 lbs
  • Capacity: 50 liters
  • Dimensions: 31" x 15" x 16"
  • Weight: 4.42 lbs
  • Capacity: 65 liters

Osprey Aether (And Ariel)

Osprey Aether AG 60 Men's Backpacking Backpack

The Aether is another large capacity pack from Osprey that can easily be used as a travel backpack. Just like the Atmos, it features an AntiGravity harness that will keep you comfortable in spite of how heavy the pack gets. The foam padded and ventilated backpanel and shoulder straps of this suspension system will also help with that. As long as you adjust the pack to fit your body properly. 

This particular travel backpack has many different features, which include multiple compartments, plenty of pockets everywhere, access to the main compartment from the front of the pack and straps and attachment points for all your gear. If you are going to be carrying a lot of gear with you in Europe, this might be the perfect pack for you. 

Pros

  • Main compartment accessible both form the front and the top
  • Excellent suspension system
  • Multiple compartments and pockets for easy organization

Cons

  • It is pretty heavy, with more than 5 lbs in the smallest version
  • Not available in a carry on size
  • Does not have a dedicated laptop or tablet sleeve
  • Dimensions: 33" x 15" x 12"
  • Weight: 5.15 lbs
  • Capacity: 60 liters
  • Dimensions: 33" x 16" x 13"
  • Weight: 5.21 lbs
  • Capacity: 70 liters
  • Dimensions: 34" x 17" x 15"
  • Weight: 5.37 lbs
  • Capacity: 85 liters

Osprey Ariel

Osprey Ariel AG 65 Women's Backpacking Backpack

The Ariel backpack is a smaller, women's version of the Aether backpack. It is equipped with all the same features, and all of Aether's pros and cons apply to this pack as well. Pretty much the only difference is that this travel backpack does not come in a 70+ liter version, but I think 65 liters will be more than enough for you if you're looking for a really large, top loading pack. 

  • Dimensions: 31" x 15" x 12"
  • Weight: 5.10 lbs
  • Capacity: 55 liters
  • Dimensions: 31" x 15" x 12"
  • Weight: 5.12 lbs
  • Capacity: 65 liters

Duffel Bags

If you're not really a travel backpack person, then a duffel is probably what you are looking for. They're great alternatives, especially because they are often much lighter than traditional backpacks, but have larger capacities. In this section we'll take a look at a few high quality duffel bags that would be a great companion for your trip in Europe!

patagonia black hole duffel

The Patagonia Black Hole Duffel bag is a great choice for travel in Europe. For one thing it comes with multiple shoulder straps that allow you to carry it on your back - just like a backpack. And considering that it comes in a 120-liter size, I'd say that's more than useful. And the outer fabric is coated with a weather-resistant finish, the same one that is used in their winter jackets. 

There aren't too many pockets and compartments on the bag, but there are some. After all, if you're looking for great organization, you shouldn't be looking at duffels at all. But you do get several daisy chains that allow you to attach even more gear to the exterior of your duffel. 

Pros

  • Features DWR finish for improved weather resistance
  • The smallest duffel conforms to airlines' carry on requirements
  • Very lightweight considering the size and capacity

Cons

  • Larger sizes will get very heavy and uncomfortable to carry
  • Not enough pockets and compartments for good organization
  • No dedicated electronics compartment
  • Dimensions: 21" x 13.7" x 10.6"
  • Weight: 2 lbs 0.8 oz (930 g)
  • Capacity: 40 liters
  • Dimensions: 26.7" x 15.7" x 11.8"
  • Weight: 2 lbs 9.1 oz (1165 g)
  • Capacity: 55 liters
  • Dimensions: 28" x 17.5" x 13"
  • Weight: 3 lbs 2.8 oz (1440 g)
  • Capacity: 70 liters
  • Dimensions: 31.5 x 19.5 x 14.5"
  • Weight: 3 lbs 9.9 oz (1640 g)
  • Capacity: 100 liters

The North Face Base Camp Duffel

The North Face Base Camp Duffel - Small TNF Red/TNF Black 2

The North Face duffels are slightly larger than the Patagonia ones, so if you're looking for something with even more capacity they're a great option. They're also heavier but not by a lot, especially considering the difference in capacities. 

There are several ways to carry these duffels - you get  two padded shoulder straps, so you can carry it like a backpack or like a messenger bag, and there are the comfortable carry handles if you want to carry it in your hands. You can choose between several different sizes, ranging from a 50-liter carry on, to a 130-liter monster. Since there is so much range, I'm certain you can find something that will hold enough stuff on your trip to Europe. 

Pros

  • Several carrying possibilities
  • Multiple capacities, including both a carry on and a large duffel for a very long trip
  • Lockable zippers ensure safety of your belongings and give you peace of mind

Cons

  • Very few compartments and pockets
  • Pretty heavy for a duffel
  • Carry handles are not padded
  • Dimensions: 20.87" x 12.8" x 12.8"
  • Weight: 2.7 lbs
  • Capacity: 50 liters
  • Dimensions: 25.4" x 13.9" x 13.9"
  • Weight: 3.5 lbs
  • Capacity: 71 liters
  • Dimensions: 27.56" x 15.75" x 15.75"
  • Weight: 4.05 lbs
  • Capacity: 95 liters
  • Dimensions: 29.73" x 17.72" x 17.72"
  • Weight: 4.4 lbs
  • Capacity: 132 liters

What To Consider

Before you can find the perfect bag for your trip to Europe, you have to know what you are looking for. Here are the top things that you should consider when purchasing luggage.

Type Of Backpack

We’ll check out several different types of backpacks, including both front and top loading ones, duffels, hybrid packs etc. If you know what you are looking for, use the quick navigation to jump to that particular section. 

If you don’t know what you want – well you have to figure it out. Here’s a little help:

Travel backpacks are great for loner trips, and for people who will spend most of their time on foot and need their stuff with them at all times. The same goes for large packs for backpacking. 

Duffels are usually great as carry-ons (as long as they fit airlines’ requirements), and they are the best choice for shorter trips. However, carrying a large duffel around for hours will make you uncomfortable, and I don’t recommend getting one for a trip longer than five days. 

Ladies, check out backpacks specifically made for women. And no, it’s not because of the color or anything; these packs (especially the Osprey ones) were made just for your body and they will fit you much better then men’s packs. Which means that you will be more comfortable and not in pain. 


Top Loading Vs. Front Loading Backpacks

This is a huge difference – do you want a pack to put all your stuff in, or a pack that you can use to carry your stuff just when you’re out exploring?

If it’s the latter, go for a top loading pack because front loading packs are very impractical for on-the-go use. 


Size Of The Backpack or Bag

First you need to consider how long you are going to be away for, and if you plan to bring any other luggage with you. So, the more stuff you want to put inside the backpack, the bigger the pack you should get. 

However, you also need to keep your own body in mind. Some backpacks will be way too large for petite people, while others might be too small for very tall people. Definitely check out the dimensions of a pack before you press the buy button, to avoid any nasty surprises when the package arrives. 

Those are the most important factors that you have to consider. I hope that you now have a good idea of what you need, so let’s check out which backpacks are your best options for travel in Europe!

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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