How to Choose the BEST Travel BACKPACK | Pros & Cons Minimalist Backpack Review

How to Choose the BEST Travel BACKPACK | Pros & Cons Minimalist Backpack Review

What is a backpacker without a backpack? Like a tortoise carrying all its worldly possessions upon its back. Of all your travel gear, your backpack is the most essential. If it’s too big, you can’t carry it on. If it’s too small, you can’t carry enough. I’m Alex. I’m Marko. You are watching Vagabrothers, your go-to guide for travel tips, inspiration, and travel vlogs here on YouTube. This video is part of our series on how to travel the world and in it, we’re going to show you how to pick the perfect bag for your trip. If you find this video helpful, make sure you give it a thumbs-up, add your own travel tips into the comment section, and if you’re new to the channel, subscribe, and turn on notifications so you don’t miss out on the rest of this series. Without further ado, this is how you choose the perfect backpack. We’ve been full-time travel film makers for the last 5 years, so by now we’re used to carrying our entire lives in our backpacks, plus our camera gear. We’re going to show you 4 bags of different sizes and styles to help you find the right one for you. No matter which bag you choose, you’re going to want to keep the following things in mind: First and foremost, keep things small, simple, and minimalist. 40 to 50 litres is the ideal size for a travel bag. Smaller is better because your backpack fits in carry-on, which will save you money because you won’t have to check bags, time because you don’t have to wait at baggage claim, and stress because when you carry fewer things, you lose fewer things. Packing and unpacking becomes a simple routine. Just as important as choosing the right size of backpack is choosing the right type of backpack. Don’t choose a technical back country camping backpack. What you want is a travel backpack, which is front loading, meaning that it opens like a suitcase, but also has shoulder straps for support. All the backpacks that we are recommending today are travel backpacks. A few more things to keep in mind…… Make sure it’s water proof. You can always buy a rain shell, but it’s better to have waterproof fabric. Make sure it has a laptop holder; it also works for magazines, journals, and Ipads. Make sure that you do not to pack your bag 100 percent full. You’re going to want to leave at least a quarter of your bag for souvenirs and stuff you pick up along the way Some other good features to look for: waist straps to save your back, compression straps, lockable zippers, and a combination lock, stash pockets, a camera holder, and super important…. a removable daypack. We’re going to go over these 4 backpacks. We’re going to start with the smaller one and go up in size. This is the REI Vagabond..40 liters of space 2 1/2 pounds and $120. What I like the most about this bag is that it’s very, very sleek. It’s got a super low profile. There’re no straps or anything that can get stuck if you’re walking down a train. You’re not going to get snagged on anything. It does have some compression straps on the inside, but otherwise it’s a pretty open space. You do also have this zipper pouch on the outside, which is where you can put your socks or underwear. You can tuck in the shoulder straps and zip it up so that if you’re checking the bag, it’s not going to get snagged on other things. For $120 bucks, it’s going to leave a lot of money for whatever else you have to prepare for: visas, vaccinations, and so on. There are a lot of “pros” to this backpack, but for me personally, I see a lot of “cons” in it. First and foremost, it’s very flimsy. The downside of being sleek is that in order to achieve that there is just not a lot of padding. For example, there is a laptop sleeve. I would be a little bit sketched – out to travel with a laptop in this because it seems that there’s just a very thin plastic backing. There’s no back support, and there’s very, very minimal cushions. This bag to me is just a little bit too…. flimsy. I personally see this backpack as more of a long weekend get away or a two week trip to somewhere where you don’t need a lot of clothes….. like a tropical vacation or a nudist resort. Exactly. Next up is the Kelty Redwing 44. Just to clarify, there is a 44 liter and a 50 liter version, plus… a 40 liter designed specifically for females. One of the things that I really enjoyed about this bag right when I threw it on, it’s super comfortable. It has very, very nice waist support. It also has a big cushion right at the base of your lumbar. If you’re traveling long term with a backpack, one of the things that you notice right away is that without this waist support, your lower back is really going to start hurting. It’s also made out of a breathable material, so if you’re in S.E. Asia, you’re not going to be totally sweating your ass off. The bag opens ” comme ca.” It has a laptop sleeve. The laptop sleeve does have a bit more padding than its counterpart, the REI Vagabond. There’s a lot of room for expansion here. It’s pretty simply, but it’s a very comfortable bag. The downside for me is that this day bag on the outside is not removable. It’s also susceptible to thieves because you generally don’t want to have your most important things on the outside of your bag. That’s the case with this backpack. Furthermore, these straps right here are not lockable. As far as the internal organization…. there’s not a lot of compartments here, but that’s also a thing of personal preference. And a great way around something like that is by using compression cubes. This set right here from Eagle Creek. It’s got 3 different sized bags, and this is something you can use to create organization in an otherwise open system. This is a pretty good all around backpack. Solid choice. And the fact that you can get it in multiple sizes means that if you feel this is too small or too big, there’s another size available for you. I feel like the 50 liter backpack would probably be a pretty good call. Next up: we have a kind of an outlier, but this personally my favorite backpack. This is Patagonia’s MLC, which stands for Maximum Legal Carry-on. It’s 45 liters and about $179. So right in the middle of the sizes, but a little bit more expensive, but I will show you where that value comes from. What’s good about this is that it basically combines everything you’d want from a suitcase in the form of a backpack. The thing I like the most about this backpack is that the internal organization is just insane. You have really great pockets here for socks and underwear. Once I wear them, I put everything that’s dirty in this other internal sleeve. It’s really easy to keep your clothes organized as you’re traveling. It’s basically deep enough for you to roll up your jeans or put in a pair of shoes and have each item one by one next to each other, which allows you to really see all of your outfits at once. What I found amazing about doing that is that I never had to unpack my backpack. What’s also great is the external compartment here, which basically functions like a day bag. It’s almost like a briefcase. It’s basically like a briefcase, yeah. You can put your laptop here, a tablet. There’s a cell phone storage area; there’re pens; there’s a ton of compartments for your passport or whatever else you want to bring with you that you would normally put in a day bag. That’s why I say that this bag is perfect for someone doing city trips. This is optimized to be the maximum size you can take as carry-on. The straps fold in on themselves, and if you have a roller bag, you can slide this thing right down over the handles of a roller bag. I’m a big fan of Patagonia. I believe that their products are worth the extra money just from their stance on the environment and sustainability. I feel it’s less of a backpack for a backpacker and more of a bag for a business traveler. Other than that, I love the internal organization on it, to be able to divide your bag into regions. I don’t think that it has a lot of protection or support. The material is very thin, in my opinion. Other than that, it is a great bag. And it’s pretty stylish. If you’re an older traveler and you just want a little bit more organization, you’re not like 20 years old, willing to put everything in your backpack and just go, this is definitely what you’re looking for. Next up: we have the Osprey Farpoint 55 liter. The Osprey Farpoint comes in three different capacities; 40 L, 55L, and 70L Honestly, to be completely frank, this is the bag that I would choose if I were going on a 6 month trip around the world. It has storage space for everything that you need. This backpack has the best of both worlds. When you open it up, it has a ton of space on the inside, but it also has organizational space with this big neon colored transparent zipper-guy, which I would use for dirty clothes. It’s a little bit less breathable, but it does have some nice shoulder straps. It also has waist straps. The padding is not as good as the Kelty. If you’re going to have to check your bag for any reason, you can zip all the shoulder straps and waist straps into itself. The coolest part about the Osprey Farpoint is that it has a removable day bag that’s 15 Liters. Check this out. Once that is removed, it’s got its own little shoulder straps, water bottle holder, a place for spare change, keys, maybe a camera or a phone. Then on the inside here, it has a laptop sleeve; it has a couple more little internal storage compartments. Overall, the Osprey Farpoint is a great bag, and out of all of the bags, if I had to choose one, I would choose this Osprey Farpoint in 55 liters. I agree that this is the best overall backpack, especially for someone doing some longterm travel. If I were going around the world for a full year, getting on and off buses, trains, and airplanes, I would definitely choose this. For me, it’s the detachable backpack. I’ve always found that having a side bag or a day bag is essential. I really hate being that dude walking through the airport with a front and a back backpack. If you do decide to carry your backpack on the front, you have little straps here so it takes some of the pressure off you. When you are traveling, when you’re in airports, train stations, bus stations, etc,,, that is when you are most likely to get pick pocketed; you can put all your essentials, your expensive equipment, hang it from the front bag on your front and keep an eye on it….. not to mention that the zippers are lockable. Like I said, my favorite is the Osprey Farpoint 55 L What about you, Bro? For the type of traveling I do now…… if we were not traveling for this channel, if I were just going for fun, I’d probably bring the Patagonia MLC just because it’s super convenient, and it’s just the right amount stuff for me. If I were going on a trip around the world, I think I’d choose the Osprey Farpoint, but I might get it in the 40 liter, rather than the 55 L. Whichever backpack you get, you should probably not buy it online; you should go to the store, try it on, talk to a representative, and see which one fits you best. It’s all about what makes you feel comfortable and what fits the needs that you have, as a traveler. All right ladies and gentlemen, that is our video about how to pick the perfect backpack. Hopefully, you guys and girls have enjoyed it. Please share your comments, your tips, your perspectives in the comment section. If you enjoyed the video, give it a thumbs-up, share it with your friends, if you haven’t already, and remember to turn on notifications so you don’t miss any of our videos from this series. If you haven’t seen the rest of the videos in this series, make sure you check them out. There’s plenty more coming….everything from how to pack this backpack, to how to get the cheapest flights. So stay tuned for those. In the meantime, stay curious, keep exploring, and we’ll see you guys on the road. Peace.

100 thoughts on “How to Choose the BEST Travel BACKPACK | Pros & Cons Minimalist Backpack Review

  1. I have the Osprey Farpoint in 40 liters and I pack my Matador Freerain 24 which I use as my day pack. I just came back from a month long trip to Europe and another month long trip to Mexico back in May, 2018 and this combination has worked very well for me. I will hopefully never have to check in my bags now that I started traveling with carry on only. Osprey Farpoint is a great bag!

  2. Hi! I just found your channel, you two are so funny and give such useful tips!
    I was looking at the Kelty 40L backpack to use as a carry on luggage, but it's a little too tall. What do you think of the Kelty 27L? Is it as good as the other one? Thanks.
    P.s. I died of laughter at the intro xD
    Love from Italy 🙂

  3. I would like to know if i buy priority boarding on ryanair can i buy a farpoint 55 and remove the day pack which will be my small carryon ?

  4. I am planning not to use suitcase since I'm scared of losing it in some case and you guys inspired me to have a backpack instead. I definitely would buy a men backpack even though I'm a woman.

  5. i love my BACH is a top loader as well as front has great hip belts that absorb most of my backpack weight and thus relieves my shoulder from most of backpack total weight.

  6. Do you ever fly Spirit airlines, and if so do you have a backpacking recommendation that fits their new guidelines for a personal item(18x14x8), AKA free carry-on?
    My wife and I are heading to Panama on an entirely Vagabrothers inspired trip and seek advice Great Ones!

  7. I have the Patagonia MLC, I really like this bag. My wife and I recently spent a month in Italy and Austria and was a great travel bag. The bag has a lot pockets on the inside and central part of the bag was open. A great bag for dashing between train stations.

  8. I have the Osprey Farpoint 55 (40L main pack + 15L day pack = 55L total) This is hands-down, in my opinion, the best pack on the market. I traveled a month in Egypt with this bag and I'm about to roll with it to Tanzania for a month. It locks closed easily and it's brilliant with compression cubes. I've never loved a bag more! The only thing I wish I'd done differently with mine is get the S/M size. The M/L size is a touch too big for my 5' frame. But, it's not enough of an issue to make me love it any less!

  9. I use an element camp backpack, I got it unused 2nd hand for 30 bucks. 40 litres, roll top and zip with brilliant padding and straps.
    Edit: great if you travel with a skateboard like I do, got a strap system.

  10. When I'm staying in hostels I make a little "night time bag". It contains make up wipes, my toothbrush, my eye mask and melatonin. I leave it under my pillow when I head out for the day/night and that way, if I get back to the hostel after hours and it's dark I can easily find my sleeping essentials! I also tuck my pjs under there too:)

  11. Quick question about the Osprey Farpoint 55L: In it's attached form, does it qualify as "carry on", or do you have to separate it into Backpack (carry on) and day pack (personal item)?

  12. Hi guys I'm a huge fan I have been following u from five or six years. I have a question: do u recommend Patagonia MLC 45L for a 3 weeks travel? Or I need something bigger? I'm very undecided among MLC Osprey 55 and Nomatic Travel Bag

  13. amazing journey in New zealand

    You must visit there.. …..

    subcribe our channel… to see more videos …

  14. Such a great example of your channels reach & influence. You could easily have turned this into a sponsored video but I really felt that you came across as genuine and you have actual solid advice from your experiences and really want people to buy the right backpack for themselves for their travels. Thanks guys

  15. Travelling carry-on only eith my MEI Voyageur for over 10 years. I find it much less restricting and so much easier to pack than the Osprey Farpoint 40. The MEI is sturdy, of excellent quality. I use packing cubes to be able to pack in it neatly. Also, they are made in the USA, and MEI’s customer service is second to none!

  16. I’ve noticed you guys walking around a lot seeing the sights and what not with your big travel bags. Why…? Why wouldn’t you just take a day bag and leave your big bag at your hostel or hotel?

  17. Do either of you guys walk around with the front bag…? Alex….? About to embark on my 6 month trip around South America, and then will likely teach English abroad somewhere there or head to either Thailand or S Korea to teach. Farpoint is what I am looking at, probably 55 or 40 liter. Can you carry on 55 liter? Might try out Redwing Kelty at REI today. Purchased Motherload bag but no hip support is tough, right…?

    I mean …. It is not like we are going to be wearing these bags a lot outside of the airport, because your either in your hostel, on a bus, or on the plane and so your bag is not on your back.

  18. What do you thing about north face base camp duffel size S for long term travel??? I thick that it is a great but now after watched the video, I have my doubts jajja

  19. I like the utility of that Patagonia back but not digging the square look. An interesting segment of space though. I just traveled with the Tom Bihn Synpase 25 and am about to do a review on that. Have you used it at all? I know it's a little smaller than you recommend so it might be a no-go for you.

  20. Holy sh*t….. 40-50 liters. My travel bag is 15 liters. I may upgrade to an 18/19 liter pack for winter travel, but cant fathom anything over 20 :0

  21. Unfortunately the Ospreys have a Prop 65 warning because of the foam used in its construction. Patagonia seems to be the only co. that doesn't have this warning on any of their bags. I love their clothes but prefer other co. backpacks with waist straps and more bells and whistles. Unfortunately no perfect bag.

  22. I only own a 20 year old Osprey travel backpack with the integrated daypack that are both as good as new. So, it’s the only I can recommend

  23. Excellent point not selecting a technical backpack and looking for one with a hip belt and trying it on instore first. Please consider pack weight and dimensions if wou are travelling budget airlines. If security is your jam then the perfect option could be Pacsafe Venturesafe's 45Litre pack – it's my go-to for India and Asia. It's horses-for-courses – some trips my wheeler trolley is a better option. Happy & safe travels.

  24. can anyone can confirm that the osprey fairpoint 40L can pass as a personal item in the new United airline economy basic class?

  25. Osprey Nebula 34 works for me. Light, great carry on and you avoid the tendency to over pack if you had say a bigger 40 litre pack.

  26. I like the patagonia pbackpack but how the size of it is adjusted to be the maximum for carry on since every company has different regulations for carry on size we are forced to follow the rules of the most strict company so we can be sure for it. Actually this might be a good topic for a video after that confusion companies have created in order to differentiat from one another

  27. Mark is looking over at him when he is talking about the first backpack like "what is this crazy person dissing my beautiful backpack for" and gave him a look

  28. Can you hint some information on that light blue backpack which holds the tripod in some shots? Also: do you have any idea for a daypack which could be stowed in your main travel bag, but sturdy enough to hold some photo gear and tripod?

  29. Great video. In the Osprey, which size is the one accepted as a carry on? The 44? You also did not say where to get or how much?

  30. Ich have a super cheap "aldi" packback for the last 7 years. 2 times around the world and back. I guess its time to get e new one

  31. I love my backpack that’s all I use ! Hey like your vlogs just subscribe can you subscribe me back and see if you like my channel? Cheers Daz!

  32. LMAO. I always do when watching Millennials who haven't actually traveled….. if these soy boys had, they'd know zip locks are a joke.
    You just have to stick the sharp end of a pen into a zip and it opens.

  33. Expandable backpack here:

  34. may i say, the osprey 55 is too big as a carry on baggage in europe! it is too big and the only size is the 40….

  35. hey folks! awesome video! I am embarking abroad later this fall for the first time and have a few follow up questions.. the plan is open ended but to start in New Zealand, jump to Australia, and feel it out from there, but the intention is to float around for as long as possible. I was wondering if these backpacks are conducive to the traditional tent/pad/sleeping bag style of backpacking? or if these would be more suited to jumping in between hostels? I keep thinking I should be looking at a 70 or even 80L packs to lug around a tent and bag but am afraid I'll regret the extra weight soon after getting started. And not sure how long I could go for constantly blowing cash on hostels. Was looking to also do some climbing but am not gonna mess with lugging gear around, just my shoes I'm thinking. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!! 🙂

  36. Just added a comment to one of your other clips. Keen to get some advice on how to travel. In Australia our carryon limit is 7kg so this is very hard to manage hence my initial travel set up I want one item carryon and one item check in. Hope you can help.

  37. Love all vids on You Tube. This one just as awesome. Good selection of bags and has given us a bit to think about when we travel around India for a month later this year. And yes we have watched all your India travels!! Keep the vids coming guys. Love them

  38. Use a quality duffel bag that is carry on compliant and then a daypack backpack or messenger bag for your laptop and electronics and incidentals. There are many duffels that have backpack straps and they hold much more than those "do it all backpacks".
    All those bright colored do it all's make people look like tourists. You want to look like a local when traveling. Local thieves always rob the tourists and scam the tourists. Duffel bags are classy, though, and hold a lot. And won't get damaged if you get forced to check your bag. You should never carry your passport, wallet, money, or phone in your bag. These things should be on your person.

  39. Great video. I can’t agree however with your recommendations. Rolling luggage that converts into a backpack is the way to go! You will find that 85% of the time you never need to carry your entire bag on your back but you’ll use the detached day bag every day. I’ve traveled the world this way and it’s so much better then carrying loads of weight on your back! The Eagle Creek Switchback International or Osprey 40L are great options.

  40. I use the 35 liter Minaal 2.0 It was great during a two month trip to Cambodia and Thailand. But now I'm going even more minimalist.. I've getting Minaal's Daily Bag.. 21 Liter.. If I only take what I absolutely NEED… and not what I just WANT… it should do me fine even leaving some extra room for a couple of souvineers. No matter how long I go for. 
    One Bag, Carry On and put under the seat in front of you or in the overhead…. Minimalist Travel.. no checked luggage.

  41. My absolute favourites are the MEI Voyageur (40l) for longer trips and/or trips where you need warm clothes, and the Kanken (16l) for shorter and/or summer trips.

    Been traveling with this travel agency for a while.they have affordable hotels and flights .i never thought i will be able to travel and take out my family on a vacation not to mention to say in hotels for 6days ?,this has been a great deal to me it means a lot taking out my family out .

  43. That Patagonia backpack is a terrible choice. It is soft and does not have a proper frame and it will hurt your back. You can tell they are sponsored by Patagonia. Osprey all day long

  44. I would like to know if i can take this bag with me on the plane although it has deodorant , perfume , cream and makeup – lots of airplane forbids it and take it from me

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