Traveling in style and comfort is a must for women travelers. The best travel backpack for women combines stylish design, comfortable fit, superb organization and fits all your essentials in a single carry on bag. Our top picks check all those boxes and more, so say goodbye to checked bags and hello to the best women’s backpack for airplane travel.
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Traveling in style, and comfort, and having all your essentials on hand is top priority for women travelers, whether traveling domestically or internationally. The right travel backpack can have you on a flight with a single carry-on and ditching the checked bag altogether. Intrigued? Read on to discover the best travel backpack for women.
Wardrobe and Wanderlust: How to Choose the Best Women’s Backpack Size for Your Next Adventure
The best women’s backpack for carry-on travel is one that fits the exact amount of clothes and essentials you’ll need for your trip while meeting the TSA carry-on requirements. The size you need is determined by the changes of clothes you plan on taking. With a capsule wardrobe and some creativity, you can maximize your space and even 1-2 changes of clothes can go a long way.
Think about the length of your journey, how many changes of clothes you are going to take, and whether there is an opportunity to wash your clothes while you are at your destination. Once you’ve decided on the number of wardrobe changes you will make on your travels, you can choose a backpack size.
- 1-2 Changes of Clothes: You’ll want a small, lightweight backpack (<25 liters). This will allow you to carry your clothes, a small number of toiletries, and a 13” laptop. Backpacks this size are usually around 16-18” tall, 11-12” wide, and 5-7” deep.
- 2-3 Changes of Clothes: You’ll need a medium-sized backpack (25-40 liters). With this size, you’ll have a few outfits to choose from with room for the toiletries you need for your trip, and a 16” laptop. Backpacks this size are typically about 18-20” tall, 12” wide, and 7-9” deep.
- 3-4 Changes of Clothes: You’ll require a large backpack (40+ liters). This should be large enough to carry those clothes, toiletries, a 16” or larger laptop, and a small amount of electronics. A large backpack is approximately 19-22” tall, 14” wide, and 7-9” deep.
Keep in mind that bags over 45 liters are not considered carry ons. The best women’s backpack for airplane travel will be one that is under 45 liters so you can use it as your carry on.
Packing like a minimalist is key to traveling with a backpack, so pack a capsule wardrobe where you can mix and match items to cut down on space.
Features to Look Out for in Your Next Travel Backpack
Choosing your next travel backpack is like picking your travel companion – you want to make sure they truly vibe with you and will make the journey enjoyable, not miserable. The top things to look out for are functionality, capacity, organization, style, and quality materials.
A great travel backpack for women is functional. It is multi-use, so you can transform it from your carry-on to a day pack and enjoy gallivanting across the land you’ve chosen to explore uninhibited by a cumbersome bag.
As you travel, you’re likely to end up standing with your backpack for lengthy segments of time – waiting for and on buses, boarding the plane, walking through cities – and your backpack needs to be comfortable enough to carry through it all.
A comfortable travel backpack for women:
- Is lightweight. Many travel backpacks are built with just durability, and not weight and durability, in mind. So every time you wear one, you're putting a 4, 5, or even 6-pound bag on your back before you pack anything. Knack Packs buck the status quo and use proprietary fabrics that are both lightweight and strong. As a result, even the heaviest Knack Pack weighs no more than 3.4 lbs or less than three grande coffees at Starbucks.
- Has good weight distribution. Your travel backpack should have a bag design, pockets, and compartments that allow you to place your heaviest items in the bottom of your bag and close to your back. Storing them at the bottom of the bag distributes the weight to the hips and away from the shoulders and having them close to your back minimizes stress on your shoulders by keeping the bag close to your body rather than it pulling away.
- Has closed cell foam padding. Look for a travel backpack that has closed cell foam padding (like EPE, EVA, and PE foams). These are a tad firmer than open cell foams (like PU) but have greater “bounce-back” memory and more longevity.
- Is the right fit for women. Most backpacks are designed around men, but because Knack Packs are gender-neutral, we’ve accounted for both male and female builds by adding backpack straps with an S-curve that lies comfortably across all body types, and an adjustable sternum strap to help distribute weight on all body types.
Oversized travel backpacks are a hard no when it comes to sightseeing or running errands at your destination and cannot be brought on a plane as a carry on, resulting in an unexpected checked bag. If this is what you brought with you on your travels, it can be annoying to lug around everywhere you go. Having the right capacity for your travel backpack is a must, though, so it can feel like a necessary trade-off. It’s not.
A Knack Pack is the most versatile women’s travel backpack, going from 9” deep in travel mode to 4.5-5” deep in everyday mode. Without an expandable travel backpack, you’ll be budgeting more space to carry a separate daypack.
From digital nomads and freelancers to remote workers and businesswomen, working on the road is a considerable part of many women’s travel experiences. Some women simply desire to stay connected while away. For many women, a laptop or tablet is just as essential as the clothes they pack. The best women’s backpack for business travel or connected leisure will have a dedicated, padded pocket for your laptop or tablet. Make sure the backpack you choose fits your tech!
Have you ever been in this situation? Your passport or wallet has fallen to the depths of your backpack, evading capture by your hand as it swims around the bottom while you wildly push things around, arm swallowed between all you’ve packed. Panicked, mind jumping to all the places you might have left it, you dump everything out of your bag. A few cortisol-filled seconds more of rummaging, and you find it. You let out the breath you didn’t know you were holding.
If you’re familiar with the unpleasant rush of adrenaline caused by this scenario, then you know the importance of a well-organized travel backpack. If this is your first rodeo, well – better to start things out on the right foot.
The problem with most travel backpacks is that they’re black holes, lying in wait to suck your most important items to the bottom and cause you alarm. They lack the pockets and compartments necessary to keep small things where you want them.
Here’s how to choose a travel backpack that will keep your stuff in place, even when it gets jostled around:
Your travel backpack should not be top loading.
Top-loading backpacks make it all but impossible to find anything in your backpack without dumping the lot and scavenging through the mess. Choose a travel backpack with a clamshell or suitcase-style opening, which lets you see into the entire compartment.
None of us like sticking out as a tourist in a new place. When you’re traveling, and especially when you’re traveling alone as a woman, you’ll feel safer and have a more authentic experience when you blend into the local crowd.
Most travel backpacks, with their dangling straps and bulky pockets, scream, “I’m a tourist!” Knack bags are designed with a streamlined and professional aesthetic, and come in attractive colors, so you can have yours as your everyday work bag as well as a travel bag. With a good-looking travel backpack, you will never feel out of place ducking into a nice coffee shop or restaurant.
A single broken zipper can put a jagged edge on a trip. A good travel backpack will use top-tier hardware rather than cheap plastic. For example, Knack Packs are made with reliable Duraflex buckles and YKK zippers.
Durability is of the utmost importance in a travel backpack – you will be taking it everywhere, and it needs to withstand all sorts of environments and weather conditions. The best travel backpack for women is a design that has been made with textiles that have been tested for abrasion, puncture, and tear resistance.
The exterior of your backpack should be made with water-resistant fabrics to protect your clothes and expensive tech if you meet with unfavorable weather. A sudden downpour mixed with a poorly constructed travel backpack can mean replacing expensive tech, such as your beloved laptop. Nobody wants that. Knack Packs have a water-resistant coating with zippers that are reverse double-coil to prevent liquid from seeping through.
Stain-resistant fabric is also a must because deep cleaning your backpack while on your travels may not be an option, and who wants to walk around with a dirty backpack? All Knack Packs are designed with soft, stain-resistant fabrics that can be wiped clean. Ideally, your travel backpack will also have an antimicrobial interior lining (like all Knack Packs) so that you don’t have to worry about your dirty (or damp) clothes leaving an unappealing odor in your bag. A clean, neutral-smelling backpack equals a happy traveler indeed.
What Makes Knack Unique?
Knack Packs are unique because they are specifically designed with travelers and professionals in mind. Our Backpacks and Convertible Duffel are meant to be the only bag you’ll ever need for work or travel, so they’re created to check all the boxes when it comes to what you need in a travel backpack, day backpack, and professional backpack. We believe in living a one-bag life, and each Knack Pack reflects that vision.
Knack Packs have a patent-pending, separate, and hidden expandable suitcase compartment to transform the smaller backpack design into a full suitcase-style backpack. This unique feature allows travelers to go from a fully packed carry-on to an adventuring day pack with a single zipper.
Knack Packs open in two ways: they have a clamshell opening in the everyday carry compartment, and the expandable travel compartment opens like a suitcase.
Your travel backpack should have pockets for all your travel essentials, and we crafted Knack Packs to meet these requirements.
The key pockets Knack Packs contain include:
- Laptop Pocket
- Tablet sleeve
- Mesh pockets so you can see the contents
- Organizer pockets for pens, earbuds, and other little things.
- Stealthy, full-zip water bottle pocket
The separate travel compartment is the backpack necessity you didn’t know you couldn’t live without. Keeping your everyday essentials separate from your travel items saves you time and energy, as there’s no need to re-organize when you zip up the travel compartment and use your Knack as a day pack.
Your travel backpack plays a vital role in keeping you and your belongings safe. Knack Packs have several built-in security features that will provide peace of mind.
- Lockable zippers that deter pesky pickpockets
- RFID-blocking lining fabric that keeps your credit cards and other important electronic documents safe from phishing
- A pickpocket-proof secret pocket located close to your body for storing your wallet and passport (Series 2 only)
These extra safety features make Knack Packs the best carry-on backpack for women.
>>MORE: Knack TSA-Approved Lock
What Women Are Saying About Their Knack Travel Bags
“It’s super comfy since the shoulder straps are padded,” shares Jen Truman. “Recently, my husband and I spent the day at the Tampa Riverwalk and I carried this large backpack the entire day! Total logged walking for the day 6.4 miles!”
Travel Takeaway: Travel shouldn’t hurt! Carrying a lot of stuff can be a killer on your back muscles, but the Knack backpack was designed with ergonomics in mind.
“The BEST part is that it’s expandable and it turns from a backpack to a full-size carry on, and it also comes in different sizes so I could pick the best one for me,” says Vivianne. After unpacking her clothes and toiletries, Vivianne compressed the luggage compartment, making the Knack Pack perfect for sightseeing and souvenir shopping.
Travel Takeaway: You don’t need to carry around a big (and mostly empty) travel backpack for day use while traveling. Multipurpose items help you travel easier – with less stuff!
Mariama Hutson took a beautiful trip to the Dominican Republic. She brought a checked bag and her Knack Pack, because she was worried all of her clothes wouldn’t fit in her large Knack Pack.
Turns out, Mariama didn’t need her checked bag, and was able to put all of her belongings into her Knack Pack – avoiding checked baggage fees.
Travel Takeaway: Spend your money on travel experiences, not checking your bags.
Bags for Women’s Travel
- Best Lightweight Backpack for Traveling Women: Small Knack Pack (<25 liters), holds 1-2 changes of clothes, small number of toiletries, 13” laptop (Indigo Blue, Sangria Red, Savile Gray)
- Best Carry On Backpack for a Woman: Medium Knack Pack (25-40 liters), holds 2-3 changes of clothes, toiletries, 16” laptop (Steel Blue, Midnight Black, and Alloy Gray)
- Best Laptop Backpack for Travel: Large Knack Pack (40 liters), holds 3-4 changes of clothes, toiletries, small electronics, 16” laptop (Midnight Black and Alloy Gray)
The Knack Pack: Your Next Travel Companion
The right travel backpack empowers women to travel solo, with friends, or loved ones, blend in with the locals, and feel free to explore while holding all their essentials. From carry on to day pack, the versatile Knack Pack provides the best travel experience for women wanderers with wanderlust in their hearts.
Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, there is a Knack Pack for you – and you may even be able to ditch the checked bag. If you’re a woman who desires to travel in style, comfort, and know your belongings are protected whilst adventuring, then Knack is for you.
Learn More About Knack
Laptop & Travel Backpack In One Bag