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The wrong bag can ruin a trip. Just think of the last time you had to haul a heavy wheeled suitcase up a flight of stairs. Or the last time you had to dig out everything on your person to find a t-shirt. Then there’s the headache of discovering your duffel bag is too big for the overhead bin and has to be checked for a crisp $50.
The right travel pack makes traveling a dream. The wrong one turns one-bag travel into a nightmare.
Yet many guys still bring wheeled carry ons, hiking backpacks, or duffel bags when they leave the country.
There’s a better way to travel. You just need to find the best travel backpack for the job, a trusted companion for years to come so that you can focus on enjoying the trip instead of fighting with your travel bag. The best travel backpacks have three features in common:
Read on to learn how to select the perfect men's travel backpack for you.
When shopping for travel backpacks for men, first look at the size of the bag. You want a carry on-sized bag with a main compartment that offers the same amount of storage as a traditional carry on.
Airline rules vary, but carry on luggage is usually limited to 45 linear inches (length + width + height). The most common configuration is 22" tall x 14" wide x 9" deep. All Tortuga travel backpacks fit these dimensions, so you'll stay carry on compliant every time.
Plus, buying a carry-on-sized bag means that you can keep it with you at all times. No more worrying about airlines losing or damaging your stuff.
Plus, if you fly without checked luggage, you can leave the airport faster. As a busy guy, you know how annoying (and inevitable) airport delays can be, especially the headache of hunting for your carry on in the checked baggage claim.
Whether you're a slob or a neat freak, choose a front-loading bag instead of a top-loading one. This gives your carry on backpack maximum accessibility and organization.
A hiking backpack is traditionally a top-loading backpack, meaning that you have to unpack your bag to get to anything below the top layer. It's like packing a garbage bag with about the same amount of organization (which is to say none).
Instead, use a front-loading backpack that packs like a suitcase. This gives you easy access to the large main compartment so that you can easily find all your travel gear when you need it. Plus, your stuff won't be a jumbled mess when you have to hunt for items.
Most importantly, you need a comfortable backpack. While you won't be scaling any mountains with it, you will be idling in airport security lines and walking through sprawling cities. If your backpack isn't comfortable, you'll struggle with shoulder and neck pain. Instead of wasting your money, buy a bag that feels light on your back.
The best way to do this is by looking for a backpack designed to carry heavy loads like a hiking backpack. A hiking backpack is made to distribute weight in your hips and legs, which are far stronger than your shoulders and accustomed to bearing weight. This allows you to carry heavier loads over long distances with greater comfort.
At the very least, your bag needs cushioned padding on the shoulder straps and back panel. This padding will buffer the weight of the bag against your body. That said, you’ll get maximum long-term shoulder comfort from a bag with a padded hip belt suspension system.
Some guys think the belts look dorky and won't wear them. A hip belt may not look cool, but you know what does? Good posture and no back pain. Your back will thank you for investing in an ergonomic, well-designed travel backpack.
The Outbreaker Backpack combines the ergonomics and portability of a backpack with the obsessive organization and easy packing of a suitcase.
The Outbreaker offers backpack size like a carry on and organizes like one while still offering all the ergonomic benefits of hiking backpacks. You get a large main compartment, a padded laptop sleeve close to your back, and a front compartment with pockets for all your essentials. Plus, the hip belt has a front pocket to fit your phone and boarding pass.
All of it is protected by lockable zippers and water resistant fabric so you can meet any occasion with ease and peace of mind.
The Tortuga Prelude is the ideal travel backpack for budget travelers and students. It’s an easy to access, carry on-size travel backpack offering all the best basic features you love in Tortuga bags.
You get carry on sized storage, ergonomic design, and easy access, just the right size for a day pack or a multi-day trip for travelers who prefer to pack light.
If you like internal organization, lots of packing space, and a hip belt but still prefer a lightweight bag, the Setout Backpack is your holy grail.
It has most of the organization and packing space of Outbreaker in a lighter weight package. You still get a large front-loading main compartment with easy organization to access everything you need, a laptop compartment, and a front compartment with pockets for everything from a notebook to sunglasses, all protected by lockable zippers so you can travel with peace of mind.
Plus, like all Tortuga backpacks, the Setout allows you to travel like a tourist without looking like one, thanks to a low-profile design and muted colors to help you blend in with other commuter bags. That way, you can experience the real flavor of your destination.
Not sure where to begin? Compare travel backpacks for men and find the right bag for your trip based on your personal preference.