Why a Front-Loading Backpack is Perfect for Travel

A lot of travelers mistakenly use hiking backpacks, but these backpacks do not work for travelers. They open from the top like a garbage bag and you have to dump your whole bag out and repack every time you need access to something. Instead, use a front-loading backpack when you travel.

A front-loading travel backpack will give you easy access to all of your stuff while keeping it organized.

Front-loading, also called panel-loading, bags have a clamshell-style opening, just like a suitcase. The entire front of the bag can be opened to allow for easy packing and unpacking. This level of accessibility allows you to take out or pack an item without moving anything else around.

Get In. Get Out.

Traditional, top-loading packs are a hassle. If you pack something in the bottom half of your bag, or if it falls there, you have to unpack everything above it just to get it out. Then you have to repack the whole bag.

Packing is a pain when you have to do it once. Don't buy a bag that forces you to repack every time you take something out of it. Instead, enjoy the efficiencies of a front-loading backpack.

Prevent Pain With Ergonomic Packing

Better access to your bag means that you can pack strategically.
Top-loading bags require you to pack everything in order. If you need to make a change, you'll have to repack everything above and below. That process is a huge time-waster, especially when you're packing two weeks worth of clothes into your backpack for Europe.

To distribute the load and stay comfortable, you want to be able to choose where you put things. Your heaviest items should go towards the top of you backpack, and light items at the bottom. Using a front-loading backpack, you can small adjustments like these to greatly improve the ergonomics of your bag.

Suddenly chilly and need that sweater that you packed at the bottom of your bag? No problem. Grab your sweater and let everything else stay where it is.

The Best Front-Loading Backpacks for Travelers

For Organization Enthusiasts

The Outbreaker Backpack combines the ergonomics and portability of a backpack with the obsessive organization and easy packing of a suitcase. With the Outbreaker, you have a place and a compartment for everything.

It’s height-adjustable so you can get the perfect fit and it's made with waterproof sailcloth so you know your stuff will be safe in a downpour. It even has a TSA-friendly lay-flat laptop compartment.

The Outbreaker Backpack is our most ergonomic, most organized, and most adjustable backpack. The 45L will max out carry on dimensions on most airlines so you never have to check a bag. For stricter airlines, like RyanAir, 35L will be a better choice.

For Light Packers and Short Trips

The Setout Divide Backpack was designed with the light packer in mind. For light packers and short trips, a large carry on is too much bag. The Setout Divide is just the right size whether you're packing light for a weekend or a week.

Expand the backpack from 26L to 34L for extra packing space when you need it. Use the two-compartment layout to separate your clean clothes from dirty -- or large pieces from small -- to stay organized en route.

The Best of Both Worlds

If you like internal organization and a hip belt but still prefer a lightweight bag, the Setout Backpack is your holy grail. It has most of the organization and all of the packing space of Outbreaker in a lighter weight package. It has the right amount of features for most travelers while being a more affordable panel-loading backpack. 

Ready to start enjoying the benefits of a front-loading travel backpack on your next trip? Compare travel backpacks to find the right bag for your trip.