When you are going to be travelling long haul, you want to choose the best carry on flight luggage bag. Whether you prefer a small cabin suitcase, a travel backpack, a single strap backpack, a front-loading backpack or a rucksack with wheels – there are loads of rucksacks for travelling to choose from and it is important to read backpack reviews before investing. The aim of this post about the best rucksack for cabin luggage is to help you scour through the good backpack brands to find the best travel backpack for your needs as the best travel backpack carry on luggage varies depending on things like what you are carrying, whether you are travelling with kids and what extra features you might need. This post will help even if you are looking for a specialist backpack travel bag too as it covers the best laptop backpack, the best rucksack, a small backpack and even the best rucksack for kids. Read on to lead what is the best rucksack for hand luggage for your next long haul flight.

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Introduction to picking the best travel backpack to use as your cabin luggage 2020

Why am I well placed to help you pick the best rucksack for cabin luggage? I’m no stranger to travel. My husband and I left the UK to go backpacking around the world in 2008 with one large rucksack on wheels each (which was our hold luggage) and a travel daypack each which we used as our cabin luggage. We lived out of our heavy duty backpacks for seven months, and over ten years later we are still using these as carry on luggage rucksacks and as our main hold luggage when we travel! Over the years, we’ve bought other suitcases and cabin sized rucksacks that all ended up with broken wheels, broken zips and unstitched pockets. The initial investment we made in a good quality travel rucksacks from the popular backpack brands was worth every penny. My personal best rucksack brands are Osprey and North Face, although there are plenty of other awesome rucksack brands on the market. What I’m saying is that a backpacking rucksack/daypack can remain an integral part of your travel luggage long after you’ve passed your backpacking days, providing you choose the right carry on luggage rucksack!

It’s worth noting that you will need to check luggage backpack sizes against the airline you are travelling with before you purchase. All airlines have slightly different dimension requirements for carry on luggage, and while this post is about the best rucksack for hand luggage and the items I list are all sold as cabin luggage backpacks I would hate for you to get to your flight and find your airline requires a different sized backpack travel bag for travelling. So always double check the backpack sizing fits your airline’s hand luggage requirements before you travel.

Travelling with kids? Check out the best kids’ flight pillows here.

Where to buy backpacks and rucksacks for travelling in the UK

While I spent a lot of time visiting UK stores looking at travel rucksacks over the years (this allowed me to check if they were heavy duty backpacks that would stand the test of time), I find Amazon the best place to actually buy rucksack hand luggage. I find this is the place to get the best-priced rucksacks and benefit from good price discounts and often free shipping depending on how much you’re ordering and which Amazon store you’re using. Amazon sells all of the best backpack brands at great value prices and it is so easy to click around all of the rucksacks suitable for travelling and compare the rucksack features. You will find a range of good travel backpacks and cabin luggage backpacks to choose from to suit all budgets.

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Best rucksack for travelling comparison guide 2020: What makes the best rucksack cabin backpack?

If you are looking for top backpacks for your travels from the UK, US or anywhere in the world, this comparison chart has got you covered to help you choose the best carry on bag and best rucksack for travelling to suit your needs.

ProductImageTypeFeatures Rating
Osprey Tropos DaypackDaypack rucksack Kickstand, laptop sleeve, mesh back panel, pockets*****
North Face Borealis Classic Daypack rucksackErgonomic straps, lined laptop compartment , 29l ****
Veevan Backpack Cabin Flight Approved 40 Liter Carry On Bag Waterproof Travel Business RucksackLightweight backpackWater resistant, large main compartment, handles on top and side for flexible carrying, 40l****
Cabin Max Carry On Trolley BackpackWheeled rucksackRucksack straps can be zipped away, front pocket, 44l****
Everki Concept Premium Laptop BackpackLaptop rucksackDifferent sections, protected area for sunglasses, ergonomic straps, well made, easy to organise, water resistant plus raincover*****
MATEIN Travel Laptop Lightweight Backpack with USB Charging PortLaptop rucksackMultiple compartments, USB charging port, lockable zips, lightweight*****
Ju-Ju-Be - Be Right Back - Backpack Changing BagNappy bag rucksackMachine washable, lifetime guarantee, plenty of compartments, opens like a suitcase for easy access, lightweight*****
Oakley Unisex Kitchen Sink Designer BackpackUnisex designer rucksackLots of pockets, machine washable, smart design***
Gonex 30l Packable Backpack Cheap, lightweight rucksackLightweight, can be packed away**
Cabin Max Bear Children's Luggage Carry On Trolley Suitcase Kids trolley suitcase with rucksack straps Hammock for teddy,
handle for the kids and rucksack straps for when parents take over, 34l
****

The above best rucksack for travelling comparison chart covers the best laptop backpack (I know as a travel writer I always travel with my laptop, so this is important for me!), rucksacks that double up as daypacks when you get to your destination, wheeled suitcases that you can use as carry on cabin luggage bags and even baby bag rucksacks for if you are travelling with little ones. I’ve chosen a wide range of products including lightweight cabin luggage, cheap backpacks, backpacks for women, backpacks for men, the best designer backpacks all to help you find the best travel bags for your next long haul trip. There are so many popular backpacks and travelling rucksacks out there, and I am going to help you plough through the list of the best cabin ackpacks and review the popular rucksack brands to find you the best rucksack for travelling.

Someone opening the best rucksack for travelling

What is the best rucksack backpack on the market in 2020?

It isn’t easy to choose a favourite rucksack hand luggage as there are a lot of good cabin size backpacks on the market right now. To pick the best carry on backpack, I looked at many things: I only considered heavy duty backpacks that would last a long time. Not only was I looking for the best carry on cabin-sized backpack but I also wanted the best daypack on the market as once I’ve got off my flight, I use my hand luggage rucksack as a daypack to go out and about. I also wanted to choose a rucksack that offered easy access to your gear – I love rucksacks that open like a suitcase as rucksacks that only open at the very top drive me crazy. So what did I choose as my best rucksack for travelling, I hear you ask?

For me personally, my favourite hand luggage backpack has to be the Osprey Tropos Daypack.

The Osprey Tropos Daypack rucksack/backpack comes with lots of snazzy features like a kickstand that keeps it upright and accessible. This quality rucksack is ergonomically designed meaning it is comfortable to carry, which is important for me when I’m travelling with three little kids running around. It has a padded laptop sleeve meaning it is also a laptop backpack which is essential to me my laptop goes most places I go. I LOVE that it has a zippered scratch-free sunglasses and electronics pocket to protect my Maui Jims!

The cabin travel backpack has useful pockets, side compression straps and a removable webbing hip belt plus an internal attachment for your keys. The mesh back of this lightweight cabin backpack works really well to stop you getting sweaty when carrying it on your back through a hot airport, and the different internal sections help me to stay organised on the go. It holds everything I need, and it is a unisex backpack so both myself and my husband use it. Some brands create backpacks for women and others backpacks for me, but I love that this works for either me or my husband as we often take turns carrying it when we are out and about.

It is a piece of lightweight cabin luggage meaning I am not wasting my hand luggage weight allowance by taking an overly heavy bag with me, and also it makes it easy to carry long distances. This is definitely my favourite carry on backpack of the travelling rucksacks I reviewed and many other travel bloggers also agree it is the best cabin rucksack too as I often see if recommended in travel Facebook groups.

>> Buy the Osprey Tropos from Amazon UK

>> Buy the Osprey Tropos from Amazon US

>> Buy the Osprey Tropos from Amazon Australia

What is the best-wheeled rucksack on the market in 2020?

Not everyone prefers to carry their backpack bags on their backs when travelling – sometimes it is nice to have a break. This is where a rucksack with wheels comes in.

Now, there is a lot of controversy around the subject of using wheeled rucksack cabin baggage and wheeled backpacking ruck sacks. Many people believe that a backpack with wheels is a waste of effort. The wheels and the frame of a rucksack with wheels add unnecessary weight to your travelling rucksack, and it also means you have more to break – wheels, handles and the rolling systems are more likely to give up on a wheeled backpack long before the actual rucksack does. Then there is the issue that you might want to take your rucksack with wheels to places off road where the wheels will be useless. I get why many people hate the idea of using a wheeled backpack for travel as your rucksack hand luggage, but the fact of the matter is that lots of people out there like having a travel bag with wheels because it makes life easier. I love my 4 wheel cabin luggage. I only use it places where I know I am going to be able to easily pull it along, and I’ve found the backpack wheels work fine on pavements, roads and it is super easy to pull around an airport too. I have a bad back, so for me the best backpacks for cabin luggage have wheels even though that does add weight to them!

A travel bag with wheels is great if you aren’t able to carry heavy things – whether you prefer rolling backpacks, a wheeled cabin bag that is more like a duffle bag or flight back on wheels, or a hand luggage suitcase, there is a wheeled cabin bag out there to suit you. However, there is no point searching for the best wheeled backpack for travel if you are travelling somewhere with rugged terrain where the wheels will be useless. If this is the case, skip on to read more about the daypack style rucksacks for travelling instead as they will suit you much better.

When you are researching cabin trolley bags, in addition to deciding whether to buy a small hand luggage suitcase or a travel rucksack with wheels, you should look at the weight of the item (remember, your cabin case weight allowance isn’t that great and you don’t want your carry on suitcase or travel backpack with wheels to take up half the weight before you’ve even put anything into it!)

The final thing to consider with a rucksack on wheels is how you intend to use it. I LOVE my small wheeled rucksack and I used it as hold luggage when I fly. I prefer a regular daypack rucksack to use as my hand luggage for travelling if I’m going long haul. BUT if I’m only flying short haul and my cabin bag is all that I’m taking, my small wheeled rucksack then becomes my main luggage. I wouldn’t take my wheeled rucksack out as a daypack when I’m at my destination – I literally only use that for travelling as it’s too bulky and heavy and just not practical to use as a day to day rucksack. So think carefully about how a rucksack bag with wheels could fit into your travel plans.

My best wheeled rucksack for travelling is the Cabin Max Carry On Trolley Backpack.

What I love most about this is that it is such a lightweight backpack for travelling, despite it housing the wheels and the straps. You can have the backpack straps zipped away when you aren’t using them. It has a huge 44l capacity. It feels like it offers the perfect balance – not only is it the best cabin suitcase but it is also an awesome travelling rucksack too. And I like that it comes in different colours too. It is water resistance, and the heavy duty material feels like it will be long lasting hand backpack. It comes with front pockets with dividers for your travel paperwork and to keep your mobile phone and gadgets safe. This backpack suitcase stands high above its competitors in my eyes as the best cabin suitcase that converts into a rucksack, and I think it is a great value too.

>> Buy now from Amazon UK

>> Buy now from Amazon US

>> Buy now from Amazon Australia

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Choosing the best laptop backpack in 2020

As you might know, I’m a travel writer and my job involves travelling with a laptop bag a lot. I also take a lot of tech with me – my camera, my GoPro and accessories, lots of chargers and extra batteries plus portable hard drives so I can back up my images on the go. I prefer to take a laptop backpack when I travel so I can protect my gear. A regular old-style laptop bag isn’t enough for me – I like to have the best rucksack bag with a laptop compartment so it fits all of my other gear too. As a mum of three small kids, I also end up carrying everyone’s passports, tickets and the kitchen sink (you know what it’s like!) So when it comes to choosing the best ruckasck with a laptop compartment, it needs to have plenty of room for all the things!

There are some cool laptop bags on the market, so you aren’t restricted to boring black laptop shoulder bags anymore. I’ve already mentioned my love of the Osprey Tropos Daypack above, but if I am looking for the best laptop backpack and the best tech backback, my vote has to go to the Everki Concept Premium Laptop Backpack

It fits laptops up to 17.3-inch, the main compartment is spacious, and there is a file divider to help me keep my travel documents and writing work organised. It comes with a hidden section which is great for storing important documents.

As someone who wears glasses and sunglasses, Everki’s unique hard-shell sunglasses case is an amazing addition. There are padded corners to protect your important gadgets. I LOVE that it opens 180 degrees – yes, it is a backpack that opens like a suitcase giving you easy access to everything in seconds!

The laptop cabin rucksack’s straps are ergonomic and the chest strap makes carrying your laptop rucksack around so much easier. If you are looking for the best waterproof backpack for your laptop, then this is awesome. It is water repellant and it also comes with a waterproof rain cover, meaning your gear stays dry, whatever the weather. Particularly important when you are carrying a laptop.

It has a large 30l capacity, and plenty of pockets and organising space – no more rummaging into a large rucksack for something that is tucked at the bottom. This is the best laptop bag for travel! The only downside on this is the price – it isn’t the cheapest backpack for travelling. It may not tick your box if you’re looking for a cheap laptop backpack – it is a designer laptop back and it comes with the designer price tag. That said, it has a limited lifetime warranty and I feel confident you won’t be needing to replace it for years to come if you invest in this. I love, love, love it.

>> Shop for Everki backpacks on Amazon UK

>> Shop for Everki backpacks on Amazon US 

>> Shop for Everki backpacks on Amazon Australia

Best backpacks for women and best backpacks for men

Women and men are built differently. I am only five foot, so it makes sense that I have different requirements for my travelling rucksack than my husband who is considerably taller and broader. Here are a few things to look consider when you are trying to choose a women’s travel rucksack:

Size: – look for the best small travel backpack that has been contoured to fit a women’s frame.

Adjustability: The best backpacks for women have adjustable straps that can be made quite small – there is nothing worse than doing the straps up to the tightest and them still being too lose to hold the rucksack in place. Small backpacks for women will adjust smaller, making it a more comfortable ladies travel backpack to wear.

Colour and style: Stylish backpacks for women come in all shapes and colours. If this is a bag you are going to carry around with you, will it be able to double up as your handbag to save you taking two bags? Does the colour and style make it easy spot when stacked with a group of other travel rucksacks? If you go on a tour or a boat trip you often end up leaving your rucksack in a pile with other people’s and if they are all black it makes finding yours more tricky.

When you are looking to pick the best travel backpack for women, there is a lot to think about. But most importantly, are you the only person who will be carrying it? If you choose a ladies backpack specifically, it might make it more awkward for your husband/partner to carry it if you need to share it on trips.

There are lots of ‘best backpacks for men’ lists around – I often see rucksacks on Amazon and click in for more info only for it to list that the product as one of ‘the best backpacks for men’. To be honest though, most rucksacks for travelling are unisex and I personally wouldn’t bother investing in one that was only supposed to be for women or men as I’m confident you can find one that is comfortable for both. Even if it is listed under travel rucksacks for men, there is no rule that says a woman can’t carry it or feel comfortable with it. So for this reason, I’m not stating my favourite best rucksack for women or my best rucksack for men – I don’t think it is necessary unless you are super petite or super large in which case you are probably better off going into a hiking store and trying out some of my recommendations from the comparison table for size.

Instead of recommending my best backpacks for women or my best rucksacks for me, I am going to give you my best unisex rucksack which I think it way more practical: the MATEIN Travel Laptop Lightweight Backpack with USB Charging Port


It is stylish, neutral-coloured and has plenty of pockets and storage space and holds laptops up to 15.6 inch. You can hang it over your suitcase handle too leaving you totally hands free and it comes with a nifty USB charging port so you can keep your devices topped up on the go.

>> Buy the MATEIN Travel Laptop Bag from Amazon UK

>> Buy the MATEIN Travel Laptop Bag from Amazon US

>> Buy the MATEIN Travel Laptop Bag from Amazon Australia

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Flying with a baby? Get yourself a baby bag rucksack

When travelling with a baby, you will need a travel changing bag. Having three little ones myself, including twins, I can safely say having a travel nappy changing backpack was essential when we took a flight with our 20-month old twin boys a few years ago. You want a baby bag rucksack that has plenty of room for nappies, wipes and spare clothes for you and your baby (you never know if your little one is going to be sick mid-air!). You want your baby rucksack to have space to carry bottles and snacks, plus you will need room for some of your own things too. You will need a foldaway nappy changing mat, and you will want a nappy rucksack that has adjustable straps that can be worn by either parent comfortably. A rucksack is the best way to go as it keeps your hands free to push the luggage trolley, push the stroller to the gate or to carry your baby (or in my case, babies when I was travelling with twins!) Weirdly, baby rucksacks can be much harder to find than regular nappy bags but make the effort as they save your sanity.

My favourite pick of the nappy bag rucksacks is the Ju-Ju-Be – Be Right Back – Backpack Changing Bag.


I love the bright design, it has comfortable straps, it is machine washable, has a lifetime guarantee meaning you won’t need to buy another one if you go on to have more babies, it has a front pocket for your important stuff like wallet, phone and keys. It has plenty of pockets to store everything you need. It even has space to store your ipad, which is great if you are travelling with a baby and toddler. The bottle pockets are insulated to keep your drinks hot or cold.

>> Buy the Ju Ju changing backpack for travelling on Amazon UK 

>> Buy the Ju Ju changing backpack for travelling on Amazon US 

>> Buy the Ju Ju changing backpack for travelling on Amazon Australia

What is the best lightweight cabin luggage in 2020?

If you want to maximise every bit of your hand luggage allowance (which let’s face it you probably do as the weight limits aren’t that high), you need to find lightweight hand luggage. Sometimes I do find that going for the lightest hand luggage on the market can make it tricky to find quality backpacks, unfortunately. It is a fine balance – many of the lightweight travel backpacks and lightweight cabin suitcases I’ve owned in the past have broken very quickly because they weren’t built to hold the weight that I wanted to carry in them. The lightest cabin luggage isn’t necessarily the best carry on bag to choose. But you can certainly find some great lightweight travel backpacks out there if you look carefully to make sure you choose a durable, good quality rucksack.

My favourite lightweight hand luggage for travel is the Veevan Backpack Cabin Flight Approved 38 Liter Carry On Bag Waterproof Travel Business Rucksack

Coming in at just 800g, this simple lightweight carry on luggage is stylish and it can be used in lots of different ways – as a travel rucksack, as a hand held cabin luggage with a side strap that makes it feel more of a cabin suitcase, or via the handle on the top as a hand held bag. It works really well when used in conjunction with the packing cubes too which you can buy as an extra. It comes in lots of different colours too.

>> Get it now from Amazon UK

>> Get it now from Amazon US

>> Get it now from Amazon Australia

Looking for the best designer backpacks in 2020?

If you want the best designer rucksack as your cabin rucksack, there are lots of options to choose from. The Oakley Unisex Kitchen Sink Designer Backpack is a great option.

Although it says it is a men’s backpack, I think it is really a unisex rucksack. It is a waterproof rucksack and it helps keep your things organised. It looks like a stylish rucksack, it is loaded with features, is made with durable material, has a laptop section and overall looks great! It’s definitely a travel rucksack that I would be very happy to carry on my next flight.

>> Get the Oakley Kitchen Sink Designer Backpack from Amazon UK

>> Get the Oakley Kitchen Sink Designer Backpack from Amazon US

>> Get the Oakley Kitchen Sink Designer Backpack from Amazon Australia

Considering buying cheap backpacks for your travels?

There is a lot to be said for investing in high-quality products for travel, but if you are only flying once or twice a year you might prefer to check out the cheap rucksacks on the market.

The Gonex 30l Packable Backpack is a foldable, lightweight rucksack for travelling.

The Gonex hand luggage rucksack is a really cheap cabin bag. If you’re looking for a flight bag/cheap holdall/foladable backpack for your next flight, this item is practical, lightweight and has so much space! Cheap cabin bags don’t come much better than this.

>> Buy the Gonex 30l backpack from Amazon UK

>> Buy the Gonex 30l backpack from Amazon US

>> Buy the Gonex 30l backpack from Amazon Australia

Carry on luggage for kids

Kids get a luggage allowance, so it’s a good idea to get them a travel backpack too. Kids’ carry on luggage varies from ride on cases (which look awesome, but you end up carrying!) Of everything on the market, this is my favourite Cabin Max Bear Children’s Luggage Carry On Trolley Suitcase. This kid’s rucksack with wheels is a great piece of luggage for travelling.

It comes with a colour choice of pink or blue and is the perfect cabin bag for kids. And there is a handy hammock to take your favourite bear or doll on the adventure too. It has a great capacity of 34l and has fold out backpack straps in case you do end up needing to carry it when your little one gets bored of pulling it along (which, let’s face it, will end up happening at some stage). I also love that you can attach it to your own pull along luggage handles too. It only weighs 1kg meaning your kids can fill up with lots of their toys for the flight which has to be a bonus.

>> Get the Cabin Max Kid’s Rucksack on Wheels from Amazon UK

>> Get the Cabin Max Kid’s Rucksack on Wheels from Amazon US

Flying with little ones? Check out this post about the flight

Conclusion: Finding the best carry on cabin luggage 2020

If you are looking to buy the best backpack hand luggage for your next adventure, I hope this post about cabin sized rucksacks for travelling has helped you decide on the best bag for hand luggage to make packing and travelling easier. Amazon is a great value place to buy backpacks for travelling and travel carry on bags. So long as you do your research online before buying by reading sites like this, you can make sure you’re investing in carry on luggage that will last for the long term.

Choose your carry on luggage backpack wisely, and don’t forget to let me know which you choose as the best rucksack for travelling!

A girl with a rucksack on her back travelling in a cityThis post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

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