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Choosing the right backpack is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make. If it’s too small, you won’t have enough space to fit your gear, but if it’s too big, you’ll be carrying around extra weight. Is it a front- or top- loader? Does it have a laptop sleeve and is it made of water-resistant material? These are just a few of the many factors you’ll want to consider when shopping for your next backpack. Some travelers prioritize comfort, while others seek out a bag with easy-to-organize pockets. Maybe you’re an extreme budget traveler who’s only concerned with the price tag. To help narrow it down from the thousands of options out there, here are three of my favorite backpacks, perfect for each of these types of travelers — all of which are carry-on size and under $150.
1. For the Urban Traveler Who Loves Comfort: The Tortuga Travel Backpack
I’ve traveled to more than 30 countries with this backpack and my neck and shoulders haven’t complained once — it’s got a padded hip belt that transfers 80% of the bag’s weight from your shoulders to your hips and you’ll notice the difference especially when you’re lugging around heavy gear for several hours at a time. The shoulder straps offer additional thick padding, which makes for a smoother transition whenever you’re slinging a loaded bag on your back. My favorite feature is the padded laptop sleeve because it offers excellent protection and creates a cushioned barrier for my back. This compact bag weighs in at 3.65 lbs with a capacity to hold 44 liters. The Tortuga brand prides itself in being a maximum-sized carry-on backpack that, like a suitcase, loads from the front. It’s made of 100% nylon and only comes in black. I recommend this bag for the urban traveler who puts comfort first. Tortuga just released its brand new Outbreaker model for $249 but you can also find the original Tortuga Travel Backpack for $149 on Amazon.
2. For the Super-Organized Traveler: EBags’ TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible
This is one of my favorite carry-on backpacks for many reasons: it has an ultra-sleek design with easy-to-organize compartments for your laptop and personal items, it holds up to 54 liters of your favorite travel gear and is also equipped with a full-expansion zipper that adds more than 10% more packing space. You’ll instantly fall in love with this bag once you see the number of compartments there are — it’s kind of like traveling with a lightweight dresser on your back. The backpack’s zippered mesh panel also makes it easy to keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean ones and you can store your phone charger, sunglasses and smaller gadgets for quick and easy access. I recommend this backpack for the budget traveler who wants to keep all their small accessories organized on the go. You can find it priced at $119 directly through eBags or on Amazon for about $101. It comes in six different colors, weighs only 3 lbs. 15 oz. and is guaranteed for life under the eBags lifetime warranty.
3. For the Utility Traveler: The Osprey Porter 46
This pack is built for travelers looking to combine all the best features into one ultimate bag. Its size, weight, shape, design and attractive price point make this an ideal choice for backpackers who want a little bit of everything. My favorite feature is how quick and easy it is to tuck away the straps and convert it from a backpack to a duffel bag. It’s designed with a front panel pocket, lockable zippers and separate padded sleeves for your laptop and tablet. You’ll find it effortless to grab your gear from its well-designed chambers, like the zippered top pocket, which allows for easy access to your toiletries. The bag has the capacity to hold 46 liters and features a safety whistle that’s built directly into the chest belt. The shoulder straps are comfortable enough for all-purpose travel while the suspension helps to balance out loads of any size. I recommend this backpack for any travelers planning to encounter all types of environments without needing to invest in multiple bags. You can find the Osprey Porter 46 backpack on REI’s website for $130 with free shipping.
What are your favorite carry-on backpacks? Let us know in the comments, below.
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.
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