The Best Weekender Backpack: How I Packed For A Weekend Getaway to Amsterdam in Just One Bag

Packing for weekend travel is easy when your backpack is designed to hold 2-3 day’s worth of clothes. But this past November, when my husband and I decided to take a spontaneous weekend getaway to Amsterdam, I wasn’t totally sure that my favorite backpack (a Knack Pack of course!) would fit my bulky winter clothes and - since I needed to work on the trip - my entire mobile office.

Traveling overseas with just one backpack each was the true test of the Knack Pack’s abilities, and luckily, it exceeded our expectations. This is how my husband and I used our Knack Packs as a carry-on travel bag, and as an everyday bag, during our weekend trip.

Why we decided to travel with just one bag each

  • To make the most of a short weekend trip. Knowing that our flight would exceed 10 hours each way, we wanted to make the most of every second of our trip by a) not spending time checking bags and waiting at baggage claim and b) not risking lost luggage c) not going back and forth to the hotel during the day to pick up and drop off things. 
  • To ensure we could access all of our stuff on the plane. On the long flight, we wanted to be able to get to all of our tech, snacks, and extra layers of clothing. We loved that, even when fully expanded, our Knack Packs fit under the seats in front of us, so we didn’t have to get up and dig into the overhead compartment.

Our choice of weekend travel backpack

On our weekend getaway, I brought my Series 1 Medium Knack Pack in Indigo Blue, and my husband brought his Series 2 Medium Knack Pack in Midnight Black. Because Knack Packs have a hidden expandable suitcase compartment, we were essentially able to take a travel backpack and an everyday backpack combined in one bag. 

How many liters are our weekend travel backpacks?

The Series 1 Medium Knack Pack is 27 liters unexpanded, and 39 liters expanded.

The Series 2 Medium Knack Pack is 27 liters unexpanded, and 35 liters expanded.

These sizes were absolutely perfect for both of us, but if you need more space, the Series 1 and Series 2 Knack Packs also come in Large, which is a whopping 46 liters when expanded.

You can compare all Knack Pack sizes and styles here.

How to pack a weekend carry- on backpack

The Series 1 and Series 2 have different pocket layouts, but both made for extremely easy access on the plane and complemented our respective priorities for airplane activities.

carry on weekend travel backpack at the airport

How I packed my carry-on backpack (Series 1 Medium)

I needed to work during the flight, so I made sure that I could easily get to all of my work stuff. I put my laptop in the side-access 15” laptop pocket, my noise-cancelling headphones in the mesh pocket of the main compartment, my chargers and international adapter in the cable garage, and my extra hard drive in the front triangle pocket.

I also kept my camera and a ton of snacks in the main compartment. I’m not a particularly organized person, but thanks to all the pockets, I knew exactly where everything was and didn’t need to dig through my bag to get what I was looking for. 

Choose the best backpack for your MacBook.

How my husband packed his carry-on backpack (Series 2 Medium)

My husband prioritized entertainment on the flight. He packed his tablet (with a massive queue of Netflix downloads) in the microfleece-lined pocket of the main compartment of his Series 2 Knack Pack, next to his own sizable stash of snacks. In the easy-access front organization pocket of his Series 2, he packed extra USB chargers, an e-reader, and pens for filling out customs forms.

We both packed our water bottles in each bag’s stealthy, internal water bottle pocket… so they were safe from the dirty airplane floor when we put our bags under the seat in front of us. 

How to pack clothes in a weekend carry-on backpack

To stay extra-organized, and to save space, we used Knack’s compression packing cubes for our clothes. I opted for one large and one medium packing cube, while my husband used just one packing insert, which fits like a glove in the expandable suitcase compartment. 

Since we didn’t bring any clothes that would wrinkle, we both rolled - rather than folded - our entire wardrobe into the packing cubes. And we strategically wore our heaviest clothes and shoes on the airplane, so that they wouldn’t take up volume in our backpacks. 

travel packing cubes

I decided to pack both of our toiletries into my one medium packing cube, which also allowed us to quickly remove liquids when going through security checkpoints.

The Verdict: The Absolute Best Weekender Backpack

weekender travel backpack

As soon as we got to our hotel, we took the packing cubes full of clothes and toiletries out of our bags, zipped up and hid the expandable suitcase compartments, and were ready to explore Amsterdam with our slim-profile, everyday carry backpacks. Here are some of the other things we benefited from that confirmed Knack Pack as the best weekend travel backpack: 


  • It’s lightweight. Since we were so active over the weekend, it was fantastic to have such a lightweight travel and everyday backpack that wouldn’t wouldn’t add any unnecessary weight. The Series 1 Medium weighs only 2 lbs 11 ounces, and the S2 weighs only 3 lbs. 
  • It’s super comfortable. I spent three days hunched over a bicycle with a full backpack, and my back didn’t hurt at all. I’d chalk this up to the padded back panel and adjustable shoulder straps, and to the pockets laid out for perfect weight distribution.
  • It’s the perfect size. At 27 liters when unexpanded, we had more than enough space for all of the extra warm layers that we wanted to carry around with us during the day. Which in turn meant that we didn’t have to spend any time going back and forth to our hotel picking up and dropping off clothes. 
  • The rain couldn’t stop us. Even with the sporadic Dutch rain showers, Knack’s water-resistant fabric kept our precious tech (my laptop and camera) safe and dry. And the antimicrobial interior lining fabric prevented the bag from getting moldy and smelly even when we packed it with damp rain jackets. 
  • We didn’t look like tourists. Or if we did look like tourists, it wasn’t because of our backpacks. Our Knack Packs were clean, professional, and stylish- not bulky and touristy. We could duck into local coffee shops, pull out our laptops, and blend right in.

Read more:  Knack Team Picks for One Bag Travel

packing for a weekend trip in one bag

Since our bags weren’t overpacked when we left for The Netherlands, we had a little extra space for souvenirs (i.e. stroopwafels for the flight home). Needless to say, our Knack Packs were the MVP’s of our weekend trip. Because we were able to fit our travel stuff and our everyday stuff into one bag, we got to minimize time at the airport and maximize time exploring the city. 

Have you ever traveled abroad with Just One Bag? Let us know in the comments.

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