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Best Backpacks for Air Travel

Must Know BEFORE Buying a Backpack for Airlines Travel

Choosing the best backpacks for air travel depends heavily on your individual needs and priorities. While your needs and priorities are certainly important, you must also comply with your chosen airline’s restrictions on size for a carry-on backpack and/or a personal item backpack. 

Each term carry-on and personal item has a separate measurement limitation.

Best backpack for air travel
Notice what most of these bust travelers have? Backpacks! Do you know which are considered personal items and which ones are considered carry-ons only?

Carry On Size Restrictions for Airlines

Unfortunately, there’s no single, universal answer to this question as carry-on size restrictions vary greatly depending on the airline and sometimes even the specific aircraft type you’re flying on. However, Florida Travel Blog can share some general guidelines and resources to help you navigate the complexities:

General Guidelines:

  • Most US airlines: Allow carry-on luggage with dimensions around 22″ x 14″ x 9″ (including wheels and handles) and a weight limit of 7-10 kg (15-22 lbs).
  • Some international airlines: May have different size limits, often slightly larger (e.g., 21.7″ x 13.8″ x 9.8″).
  • Personal items: In addition to your carry-on, you’re usually allowed a smaller personal item (purse, laptop bag) that fits under the seat in front of you. Size limits for these also vary.
Carry on dimensions - Personal item dimensions for air travel
These are just general guidelines that should keep you safe. We recommend checking with your specific airline.


  • Always check the specific airline’s website or app for their current carry-on size and weight restrictions. They may have separate rules for different routes, fare classes, or aircraft types. Search for terms like “carry-on,” “luggage,” or “baggage restrictions.”
  • Don’t rely solely on general guidelines. There have been recent changes in size limits by some airlines, so double-check to avoid any surprises at the airport.


Additional Tips:

  • Measure your carry-on backpack beforehand to avoid gate-checking fees or denied boarding due to exceeding size limits.
  • Choose a backpack or suitcase with expandable compartments for added flexibility if you anticipate souvenirs or shopping.
  • Pack strategically and efficiently to maximize space and weight allowance. Check our article on packing and what to bring to Florida.
  • Consider a luggage scale to weigh your carry-on before heading to the airport.

By following these tips and checking the specific airline’s guidelines, you can ensure your carry-on luggage complies with their size and weight restrictions, avoiding potential hassles at the airport and ensuring a smooth and enjoyable travel experience.

Best Backpacks for Air Travel Carry On

Out of hundreds of choices, we chose these as the best carryon backpacks for air travel based on their ratings, reputation and durability. Air travel with a carry-on backpack means stuffing the backpack in an overhead bin and people adding their carry-ons on top. They must stand the abuse. Pick out the carry-on backpack that meets your needs.

Our Pick for Carrying Electronics in Backpack
Best for Students with Large Laptop
Best Backpack for Women and Travel
Best High-end Backpack
Our Pick for Affordable Travel Backpack
Best Convertible Backpack

Best Backpacks for Air Travel as a Personal Item

Backpacks for personal item designation must fit under the seat in front of you. They must be smaller than full-size backpacks, but they must be versatile and have the same features as their bigger counterparts.

Best For Large Laptop
02/18/2024 01:22 pm GMT
Best High Fashion Backpack
03/18/2024 04:42 pm GMT
Best Looking Backpack
02/21/2024 03:27 pm GMT
Amazon's Choice for Personal Item
02/21/2024 03:32 pm GMT
Budget Friendly Backpack
02/21/2024 03:36 pm GMT

Luxury Carry On Backpacks for Men

Luxury backpacks for men mean the material, looks, features, and durability must be above standards. Sometimes they may be used as components of a business meeting and they must leave the the other meeting members impressed with your choice of a luxury backpack for travel and business. Of course, backpacks can be a status symbol when choosing the best backpacks for air travel.

Luxury Carry On Backpacks for Women

Luxury backpacks for women also must be above standards in material, looks, features and durability must be above standards. Sometimes they may be used as components to a business meeting and they must be impressive. An additional element for women is a style based on their travel destination.

things you need when flying

What is a Luxury Backpack for Air Travel

A “luxury backpack” isn’t a specific type of backpack with a defined feature set, but rather a term used to describe backpacks that fall into a certain category based on various factors. Here’s what typically contributes to a backpack being considered “luxury”:


  • Premium materials: Luxury backpacks often use high-quality, durable materials like full-grain leather, exotic skins, or specialized textiles with unique textures or finishes. These materials are not only aesthetically pleasing but also built to last.
  • Craftsmanship: Look for backpacks with meticulous stitching, clean lines, and overall attention to detail. This indicates a higher level of craftsmanship and quality control.


  • Well-designed features: Luxury backpacks often have thoughtful features that enhance their usability, like padded laptop compartments, ergonomic shoulder straps, hidden pockets for valuables, and weather-resistant coatings.
  • Organization: Multiple compartments and pockets help keep your belongings organized and easily accessible, making the backpack more functional and convenient.
    backpacks for air travel - crocodile hyde
    These luxury backpacks made from crocodile hide are cool. But are they functional and can you bring them on a plane?


  • Established brands: Luxury backpacks often come from well-known designer brands or heritage manufacturers known for their quality and craftsmanship. These brands often have a strong reputation and loyal following.


  • Higher price point: Due to the factors mentioned above, luxury backpacks tend to be significantly more expensive than standard backpacks. Prices can range from a hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the brand, materials, and features.

Overall impression:

  • Aesthetics: Luxury backpacks often have a distinct aesthetic that is stylish, sophisticated, and eye-catching. They may incorporate unique design elements or classic silhouettes associated with luxury brands.
  • Exclusivity: The combination of premium materials, craftsmanship, and brand recognition can contribute to a sense of exclusivity associated with luxury backpacks.

It’s important to remember that these are general guidelines, and there can be some overlap between luxury and non-luxury backpacks. Ultimately, whether a backpack is considered “luxury” is subjective and depends on your individual preferences and priorities.

Here are some additional things to consider when thinking about luxury travel backpacks:

  • Travel-specific features: Look for backpacks designed for travel, with features like TSA-approved compartments, expandable capacity, and comfortable carrying systems for long journeys. We recommend you read this TSA article.
  • Durability: Choose materials and construction that can withstand the rigors of travel, including potential rough handling and exposure to different climates.
  • Versatility: Consider if the backpack can be used for various travel scenarios, like day trips, hikes, or formal occasions.
  • Personal style: Choose a backpack that reflects your personal style and complements your travel wardrobe.

I hope this helps you understand what makes a backpack “luxury” and how to choose one for your travel needs! Some of the best backpacks for air travel have special uses like the one below which has a lunch box as one of the compartments.

Alternative Backpacks for Air Travel

One option to a backpack carry-on, of course, is a carry-on bag. However, that may create other problems such as mobility if you have a checked bag also. Lugging a carry-on, a larger piece of luggage and a personal item can be cumbersome in a busy airport.

The most formidable alternative is the convertible backpack.

A convertible backpack is a versatile bag that can be worn in multiple ways, such as a backpack, tote, or crossbody bag. They are typically made from water-resistant materials and have multiple compartments to keep your belongings organized. Convertible backpacks are a great option for people who are always on the go and need a bag that can adapt to their different needs.

Here are some of the benefits of choosing the best backpack for carryon as a convertible backpack:

  • Versatility: You can wear it in multiple ways, so you don’t have to carry multiple bags.
  • Organization: They typically have multiple compartments to keep your belongings organized.
  • Comfort: They are designed to be comfortable to wear, even when you are carrying a lot of weight.
  • Style: They come in a variety of styles to suit your taste.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a convertible backpack:

  • Size: Choose a size that is large enough to fit all of your belongings, but not so large that it is bulky and uncomfortable to carry.
  • Material: Choose a material that is durable and water-resistant.
  • Features: Consider the features that are important to you, such as a laptop compartment, water bottle pocket, or anti-theft features.
  • Price: Convertible backpacks can range in price from around $50 to $200 or more.

Large Multi-Function Convertible Backpacks

Our Pick for Carrying Electronics in Backpack
Best for Students with Large Laptop
Best Backpack for Women and Travel
Best High-end Backpack
Our Pick for Affordable Travel Backpack
Best Convertible Backpack
Big & Bulky - May Work for Some People
02/23/2024 11:08 am GMT

There are many other types and uses for backpacks like hiking, school, fishing, hunting, camping and many other specialized packs.

The backpack below is shown as an example of the variations of backpacks.

The above carry-on backpack for airlines is not for everyone. It is huge! When the two pieces are put together. Apart from that, the pieces qualify as a backpack for airline travel. While this could be your choice for the best backpack for air travel, it is not ours.

Are Backpacks Good for Traveling on Airplanes

Yes, backpacks can be excellent options for air travel, offering several advantages for passengers. Here are some reasons why backpacks are a popular choice for air travel:

  • Hands-Free Convenience: Backpacks free up your hands, allowing you to easily navigate through airports, carry additional luggage, and handle travel documents without the need to carry a separate bag.
  • Versatility: Backpacks come in various sizes, styles, and designs, making them versatile options for different types of travel. Whether you’re embarking on a short weekend trip or an extended adventure, there’s likely a backpack that suits your needs.
  • Comfort: High-quality backpacks are designed with padded straps and back panels for added comfort during extended wear. This is particularly important when navigating crowded airports or walking long distances to reach your gate.
  • Organization: Many backpacks feature multiple compartments, pockets, and organizers, allowing you to easily separate and access your belongings while on the go. This can be especially useful for storing items like electronics, travel documents, and snacks in designated pockets. The best backpacks for air travel generally have compartments for all of these.
  • Carry-On Compatibility: Most backpacks are sized to fit within airline carry-on size restrictions, making them suitable for bringing onto the plane as a personal item. This can save you time and hassle at the airport, as you won’t need to check your bag or wait at the baggage claim upon arrival. Remember, when choosing you best backpack for air travel, check the size for your needs.
  • Security: Backpacks typically have zippers or closures that can be secured with locks or other security measures, helping to keep your belongings safe and secure while traveling. However, remember TSA must have access to backpacks for air travel.
  • Durability: Many backpacks are made from durable materials like nylon or polyester, designed to withstand the rigors of travel. This makes them reliable options for frequent flyers or adventurous travelers who may encounter various environmental conditions.

Overall, backpacks offer a convenient, versatile, and comfortable way to carry your belongings while traveling by air. Whether you’re embarking on a short trip or a long journey, a well-designed backpack can be an invaluable companion for your travels.

Choosing a backpack for your needs is important like this super large backpack made for hiking and carrying gear for camping.

Not A Carry on Backpack
King'sGuard 100L Camping Hiking Backpack

Oversized backpack for camping and hiking.

Buy at Amazon
02/22/2024 06:52 pm GMT

How To Choose The Perfect Backpack for Air Travel

Here are some key factors to consider:

carry on backpack for airlines - business
When choosing a backpack for business, school or travel for work, make sure you have one compartment that is designed for business needs.

Size and Carry-On Restrictions:

  • Check airline carry-on size restrictions: Airlines have varying dimensions for carry-on luggage, so ensure your backpack adheres to these limits, typically around 22″ x 14″ x 9″ or 45 linear inches.
  • Consider packing flexibility: Choose a size that comfortably fits your essentials but allows room for souvenirs or unexpected purchases. Expanding backpacks offer adaptability.

Weight and Comfort:

  • Lightweight materials: Opt for backpacks made from lightweight fabrics like nylon or ripstop to minimize weight and strain on your shoulders.
  • Comfortable straps and padding: Look for wide, padded shoulder straps and a breathable back panel for optimal comfort during long journeys. Consider adjustable straps for a personalized fit.
  • Hip belt: A hip belt distributes weight evenly, reducing strain on your shoulders. This is especially important for heavier backpacks or long travel days.

Organization and Access:

  • Multiple compartments: Compartments help organize your belongings and keep essentials easily accessible. Look for dedicated compartments for laptops, water bottles, and quick-grab items.
  • Front-loading vs. top-loading: Front-loading backpacks offer easier access to all your gear without unpacking everything. Top-loading backpacks might be lighter but require full unpacking for specific items.

Additional Features:

  • Water resistance: Consider a water-resistant or waterproof backpack if you expect rain or potential spills.
  • Security features: Some backpacks have lockable zippers or hidden compartments for added security.
  • Laundry compression straps: These help compress dirty clothes and maximize packing space.
  • Reflective elements: Enhance visibility and safety during nighttime travel.

Remember, the “best” backpack depends on your specific needs and priorities. Consider your travel style, packing habits, and desired features to make an informed decision. It’s also helpful to read reviews and compare features before purchasing.

travel airlines backpacks
Lots of backpacks. Do you know which ones will qualify as a carry-on or a personal item?

Most Asked Questions About Backpacks

We decided to ask Google what the most asked questions about backpacks are. Then we researched the answers and here is what we found.

Do Backpacks Count As A Carry On For the Airlines?

The answer is a qualified yes. As we discussed above, your backpack if small enough, can be counted as a personal item instead of a carry-on. So, if your best backpack for air travel fits the dimensions you can store it under the seat in front of you.

How Do You Pack A Backpack?

Packing a backpack efficiently can make a huge difference in terms of comfort and convenience, especially if you’re going on a hike, trip, or even just commuting. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Choose the right backpack: Make sure your backpack is appropriate for the items you plan to carry and fits comfortably on your body.

  2. Lay out your gear: Gather all the items you plan to take with you. This includes clothing, gear, food, water, and any other essentials.

  3. Organize your items: Sort your items into categories such as clothing, food, electronics, and first aid. This will help you prioritize and pack efficiently.

  4. Camping Backpacks: Place heavy items like tents, sleeping bags, and cookware at the bottom of your backpack, close to your back. This will help distribute the weight evenly and keep the center of gravity low.

  5. backpacks for air travel - packing cubes
    Packing Cubes for Backpacks

    Use packing cubes or stuff sacks: Utilize packing cubes or stuff sacks to organize and compress your clothing and gear. This will help you save space and keep everything neat and tidy.

  6. Pack strategically: Distribute weight evenly by placing heavier items in the center and closer to your back. Lighter items can go towards the top and sides of the backpack.

  7. Consider accessibility: Pack items you’ll need throughout the day, such as water bottles, snacks, maps, and rain gear, in easily accessible pockets or compartments.

  8. Secure loose items: Use compression straps or extra pockets to secure any loose items and prevent them from shifting around while you’re on the move.

  9. Don’t forget essentials: Make sure to pack essential items like a first aid kit, multi-tool, flashlight, and any necessary medication in easily accessible locations.

  10. Adjust as needed: Once you’ve packed everything, put on your backpack and adjust the straps to ensure a comfortable fit. Make any necessary adjustments to the weight distribution to improve balance and comfort.

  11. Test the pack: Walk around with your backpack fully loaded to make sure everything feels secure and comfortable. Make any final adjustments as needed before hitting the trail or heading out on your adventure.

By following these steps, you can efficiently pack your backpack and ensure that you have everything you need for your journey.

 A good backpack almost tells how to pack it. There are compartments for different things such as:
  • Laptops
  • Pens, pads and paper
  • Electronic compartments
  • Charging for your gadget’s built-in some backpacks
  • Places for a water bottle

Most then have large sections for other things like clothes, books, or business papers.

Essentials for A Backpack for Airline Travel

Can You Wash a Backpack in a Washing Machine?

Whether you can wash your backpack in the washing machine depends on several factors:


  • Canvas, Nylon, and Polyester: These sturdy materials are usually safe for machine washing on a gentle cycle with cold water. Check the care label for specific instructions.
  • Leather, Suede, or Delicate Fabrics: These materials require hand-washing and special care. Avoid machine washing them.


  • Simple backpack: If it has few compartments and no delicate embellishments, machine washing might be okay.
  • Complicated backpack: Backpacks with padded compartments, mesh ventilation, or intricate details might not fare well in the washing machine due to potential damage or shrinkage.

Manufacturer’s instructions:

The best way to determine if your backpack is machine-washable is to check the care label. It will usually have symbols indicating proper cleaning methods.

General tips for machine washing a backpack:

  • Pre-treat stains: Address any dirt or stains before washing.
  • Turn it inside out: This helps protect the outer fabric and keeps straps and zippers from snagging.
  • Place it in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase: This prevents tangling and damage to the backpack and other clothes.
  • Use a gentle detergent: Avoid harsh detergents or fabric softeners.
  • Air dry: Never put a backpack in the dryer, as this can damage the fabric and shrink it. Hang it upside down in a well-ventilated area to air dry completely.

Works for Backpacks!
SneakERASERS Instant Sole and Sneaker Cleaner, Premium…
$11.99 ($1.20 / Count)

This product we have used for shoes also works for backpack cleaning.

Buy at Amazon
02/22/2024 01:17 pm GMT

Alternatives to machine washing:

  • Hand-washing: If your backpack is delicate or the care label recommends it, hand-wash it with mild detergent and lukewarm water.
  • Spot cleaning: For minor stains or dirt, spot cleaning with a damp cloth and mild detergent might be sufficient.


  • Washing a backpack, even if machine-washable, can potentially damage it. Proceed with caution and at your own risk.
  • If you’re unsure about washing your backpack, it’s always best to consult a professional cleaner or follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions. 

What Size Are Backpacks?

Backpacks are sized differently depending on the type of backpack and the intended use. Here’s a breakdown of the two main sizing methods:

1. Torso Length:

This is the most common method for sizing hiking backpacks, travel backpacks, and some school backpacks. It focuses on the length of your torso (the distance from your C7 vertebrae, at the base of your neck, to your iliac crest, at the top of your hips) rather than your height. Here’s how to find your torso length:

  • Stand with your back straight: Have someone help you measure the distance from your C7 vertebrae to your iliac crest.
  • Bend slightly forward: This mimics the position you’ll be in while wearing the backpack.
  • Use a measuring tape or string: Hold the tape or string straight and measure the distance carefully.
  • Repeat and average: Take multiple measurements for accuracy and average them out.

Once you have your torso length, consult the backpack’s size chart to find the corresponding size (e.g., small, medium, large). Some backpacks offer adjustable torso lengths for more flexibility.

best backpack for airline travel - backpack sizes
Backpacks are sized in many ways. One is how many liters it will hold as volume.

2. Volume:

When asking what size are backpacks, look for designations like “40L” 0r “50L” in their descriptions. The numbers refer to how many liters a backpack can hold.

This method is common for daypacks, gym bags, and some travel backpacks. It focuses on the carrying capacity of the backpack, measured in liters. Here’s a general idea of backpack volume and their uses:

  • Small (10-20 liters): Ideal for day trips, carrying essentials, or small laptops.
  • Medium (20-35 liters): Good for overnight trips, carrying hiking gear, or larger laptops.
  • Large (35-50 liters): Suitable for multi-day trips, backpacking, or carrying bulky items.
  • Extra Large (50+ liters): Mostly used for extended backpacking trips or expeditions.

Remember, volume is just a guide, and individual needs vary. Consider what you’ll be carrying and for how long when choosing a backpack size.

Additional factors to consider:

  • Hip belt: The hip belt should comfortably fit around your hips and transfer most of the weight to your legs for better comfort.
  • Shoulder straps: Should be padded and adjustable to fit your torso length and distribute weight evenly.
  • Load lifters: Help stabilize the backpack and transfer weight to your shoulders.
  • Gender-specific backpacks: Some backpacks are designed for specific body types, but consider trying both options for the best fit.

We hope this helps you understand how backpacks are sized!

Big Mistakes When Packing a Backpack - Don't Get Caught!

When packing a backpack, several common mistakes can make your journey less comfortable or efficient. Here are some big mistakes to avoid:

Overpacking: It’s tempting to bring everything you might need, but carrying too much weight can strain your back and slow you down. Stick to the essentials and consider multipurpose items.

Poor Weight Distribution: Distribute weight evenly in your backpack to maintain balance and prevent strain. Heavier items should be closer to your back and centered vertically. Speaking of weight, there are weight limits for packing your backpack and any other bag.

Ignoring Organization: Packing without a plan can lead to frustration when trying to find items later. Use packing cubes, stuff sacks, or compartments to keep your gear organized and easily accessible.

Neglecting Accessibility: Essential items like water, snacks, maps, and rain gear should be easily accessible without unpacking everything. Place them in exterior pockets or at the top of your pack.

Improperly Adjusted Straps: Adjust shoulder, chest, and hip straps to distribute weight properly and prevent discomfort. A well-fitted backpack will reduce strain on your body.

Ignoring Weather Conditions: Be prepared for changing weather conditions by packing appropriate clothing and gear. Check the forecast and pack accordingly to stay comfortable and safe.

Forgetting to Test Pack: Before heading out, test pack your backpack to ensure everything fits comfortably and securely. Adjust as needed to optimize weight distribution and accessibility.

Not Packing a First Aid Kit: Accidents can happen while hiking or just travel traveling. Always carry a basic first aid kit with essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any personal medications. This is particularly import when traveling with children who get all kinds of bumps and scrapes.

Ignoring Weight Restrictions: If you’re traveling by plane or have weight restrictions for other modes of transportation, make sure your backpack meets the requirements to avoid additional fees or inconvenience. You will be charged extra if your backpack weighs over the limit. The maximum is 15 to 22 pounds for most airlines.

Leaving Out Emergency Essentials if Extended Travel to Places like The Everglades: Always pack emergency essentials like a flashlight, multi-tool, fire starter, and emergency shelter, even for day hikes. These items can be lifesaving in unexpected situations.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can pack your backpack more efficiently and enjoy a more comfortable and organized and memorable journey.

Check Out the video to avoid mistakes when packing a backpack.

Final Thoughts on Backpacks for Airline Travel

If the words “more than I need to know” about backpacks don’t come to mind, you haven’t read through this formal article about backpacks for airlines.

We don’t really blame you but the key takeaways are:

  • Backpacks for carry on are regulated by airlines and to a lesser degree by TSA.
  • Buying a backpack for travel on airlines that doesn’t fit into the general size range may cause you a problem getting on a specific carrier.
  • Buying a backpack that can be considered a personal item, for under seat storage is also regulated by the individual airlines.
  • Don’t buy a backpack for air travel that doesn’t closely resemble the requirements for either carry-on or personal item designation.

Traveling by air can be a daunting experience for infrequent airline travelers. Following these basic guidelines will take a big step toward buying the best backpack for airline travel that meets your needs and the requirements to board the plane without issues.

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