The secret to flying without being nickel and dimed lies in the travel backpack: a bag large enough to hold several days worth of clothing, yet small enough fit in an overhead compartment (bypassing luggage fees and baggage claim altogether). One-bag travel also demands smarter, more streamlined packing. Regardless of destination or duration, load-stabilizing straps, multiple carrying options and hard-wearing fabrics should be considered essential.
Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45
Best for a Week: The Tom Bihn Aeronaut has something of a rabid following, and for good reason. The U.S.-made bag can be carried as a backpack, shoulder bag or duffel, built with a ballistic nylon exterior and ripstop interior in a contrasting colorway (no more rifling through a dark abyss). It’s impossibly roomy, with internal mesh pockets and modular compartments for improved organization and increased versatility.
Eagle Creek Converge Weekend Bag
Best for a Weekend: The clamshell-style zipper, which allows for lay-flat packing, makes Eagle Creek’s new Converge bag a solid option, but it’s the front pockets — containing a designated laptop sleeve, tablet sleeve, mesh pocket, slip pocket and key fob — that set it apart. The hard-wearing twill body and water-repellent base don’t hurt, either.
Mission Workshop Vandal Cargo Backpack
Most City-Friendly: To say that Mission Workshop’s Vandal backpack has range would be a massive understatement. At its smallest, the bag has a volume of 29 liters. But when fully expanded, the main compartment boasts a capacity of 65 liters (read: it more than doubles in size). With urethane-coated zippers, waterproof fabrics and an internal carbon fiber frame, plus tech-friendly zippered compartments, it holds it all and looks good, too.
Arc’teryx Bora AR 50 Backpack
Best for Trekking: Arc’teryx’s latest hiking pack is its most innovative yet, featuring the new, free-floating RotoGlide hip belt for an uncompromised range of motion. The height and width of the bag’s shoulder straps can be adjusted for a more comfortable, more precise fit, and weatherproof fabrics have been strategically placed in high-exposure areas to boost durability.
Aer has quickly made a name for itself by modernizing the gym bag in a variety of ways. The Duffel Pack unites most of the brand’s best features into one versatile pack. Highlights include a large front-loading main compartment, a padded laptop pocket that fits up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro, and a dedicated bottom compartment that’s perfect for a pair of running shoes or dirty clothes. It’s why we’ve decided to stock it in our own Gear Patrol Store. Buy Now: $150 (Black) | $150 (Gray)