Best Carry-On Backpacks for 2019

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A carry-on backpack offers the best of both worlds. It is a carry-on suitcase that you can take aboard the plane with you and also a backpack, so you can just strap it on your back on arrival as you travel. How to choose the best one though? We’ve prepared this guide for you just for that, including reviews of best models we could find on Amazon.

What is a carry-on backpack?

As the name suggests, a carry-on is an item of luggage that you’re allowed to carry on the plane with you. Instead of checking it to be placed in the cargo area of the plane, you can keep your carry-on bag with you and bring it aboard the passenger area of the plane. You then place your carry-on in one of the overhead compartments in the plane for the duration of the flight.

Best Carry-On Backpacks for 2019

A carry-on item is smaller than a regular suitcase. Exact measurements vary by airline – more on that later on.

So, what’s a carry-on backpack?

That’s a piece of luggage which is of the same size as a carry on but also has straps. It can be taken aboard the plane like a small suitcase but you can also wear it on your back, as you would any backpack.

There’s a reason why “backpacker” is a term in the travel industry. Backpacking means you can always have your stuff with you, on your back, leaving your hands free for doing other things. You can do all the sightseeing you want to, without having to store your luggage elsewhere. Which means you can travel from one point to another without too much hassle.

Why choose a carry-on bag over a suitcase?

There are three reasons for choosing a carry-on over a suitcase:

  1. The airline won’t lose your luggage
  2. You won’t have to wait for your luggage on arrival
  3. It’s simply cheaper to take along

Did you know that an average of one passenger on every flight will arrive at their destination without their checked bag?

To avoid being that unlucky person, many travelers prefer bringing only carry-on luggage. They keep their luggage close to them so there’s no risk of the airline losing it.

What’s more, with a carry-on bag, as you get off the flight, they don’t have to wait for the airline to unload the plane and search for your suitcase on that obnoxious carousel. You just take your carry-on from the overhead compartment and leave the plane, off on your merry way.

Last, but not least, many airlines don’t charge you for bringing a carry-on to the flight. One carry-on per person is allowed for free with most airlines, including the ones that charge you for a full-size suitcase.

Can you always get your carry-on aboard the plane with you for free?

That question is made of two parts.

  1. Are you always allowed to bring your carry-0n aboard the plane with you?
  2. Is that always free?

The answer to both is no.

Airlines can ask you to check your carry-on. In many low-cost flights, this will be the case once the crew thinks there’s no more room in the overhead compartments. We’ve seen this happen in low-cost flights in Europe. The first people to stand in the line for boarding the plane get to take their carry-on with them. At some point, that stops and the ground crew asks passengers to leave their bags behind so that they can be taken into the cargo hold.

As for the fees.

Whenever you buy a flight ticket these days, you have to check the terms and conditions. Some tickets include free pieces of luggage, others do not. Most still allow one carry-on bag per traveler for free. Not all though. If you fly with Wow from the USA to Europe, you’ll be asked to pay for any item of luggage, including a carry-on.

But, if you don’t have the right size backpack, the airline will force you to check it when you arrive. So, how do you know which carry-on backpack is best?

We put together this handy guide that will go through some of the best backpacks you can use to travel in 2019. They’re the biggest size you can use while still being able to carry it on the flight and will ensure your things go with you.

Keep reading to find out more about the best carry-on backpacks for 2019.

What Size Backpack Can You Bring on a Plane?

Every airline has its own standards for carry-on sizes. For this reason, it’s best to double-check with the airline that you use most often before buying a backpack.

Here are a few allowed carry-on bag dimensions for some of the most popular airlines:

AirlineTotal Space AllowanceDimensions
American45 linear inches (115 linear cm)22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 36 x 23 cm)
Delta45 linear inches (115 linear cm)22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 36 x 23 cm)
Lufthansa46.5 linear inches (118 linear cm)21.5 x 16 x 9 inches (55 x 40 x 23 cm)
Ryanair45.5 linear inches (115 linear cm)21.5 x 16 x 8 inches (55 x 40 x 20 cm)
Southwest50 linear inches (127 linear cm)24 x 16 x 10 inches (61 x 40.5 x 25 cm)
Spirit50 linear inches (127 linear cm)22 x 18 x 10 inches (56 x 46 x 25 cm)

 

As you can see, the smallest allowed carry-on for most airlines is 115 linear inches. Even if your next travel plans include an airline which allows for a larger size, it’s best to stick with the smallest size in case you fly with someone else next time.

It’s also important to keep in mind that these numbers include handles, wheels, and anything else that may stick out from the actual enclosed part of the backpack. You therefore need to be careful when stuffing outside pockets to make sure they stay within the limits.

Something else to consider is that nearly all airlines allow you to have a small personal item in addition to your carry-on. While some airlines give specific dimensions for these items, most simply require that they fit beneath the seat in front of you.

This additional personal item could be:

  • A pillow
  • A smaller personal backpack
  • A purse
  • A briefcase

Now, let’s take a look at what some of the best carry-on backpacks for 2019 are.

Best Carry-On Backpacks for 2019

We worked hard to put together this list of the best carry-on backpacks for 2019. As you’ll see, each one is best at something, which is how it made it on our list. This will also help you quickly select which is the right one for you.

Hynes Eagle Backpack: Best Convertible Carry-On Backpack

If you’ve ever tried to carry your backpack in your hand, you know how difficult that can be. However, it can also be hard to keep a heavy bag on your back for a long period of time. This backpack solves that problem by providing extra handles on the side so you can easily carry it like a duffle bag.

Dimensions:

  • Height: 20.1 inches (51 cm)
  • Length: 13.4 inches (34 cm)
  • Depth: 9.8 inches (25 cm)
  • Capacity: 40 liters

Pros:

  • Made with water-repellent material
  • Numerous pockets for organization
  • Fits in overhead bins and under airline seats
  • Three carrying methods: backpack, upright duffle, sideways duffle

Cons:

  • Low-quality materials may not last for a long time
  • Can be difficult to access pockets while in backpack position

Overall, the Hynes Eagle Backpack is an ergonomic carry-on bag that’s easy to carry whether you need it on your back or want it in your hand. Because it’s not made from the most durable materials, it’s best for the occasional traveler.

Rangeland Business Backpack: Best Economical Carry-On Backpack

This backpack was designed for traveling. It has a backstrap for easily connecting it to luggage handles, and comes with compartments for everything from clothes to toiletries. Although it’s functionally built like a suitcase, it’s easy to move like a backpack.

Dimensions:

  • Height: 12 inches (30 cm)
  • Length: 7 inches (18 cm)
  • Depth: 16 inches (41 cm)
  • Capacity: 21 liters

Pros:

  • Laptop compartment for 15-inch computer
  • Can fit beneath airline seats
  • Inexpensive
  • Padded straps for comfortable carrying

Cons:

  • Colors may not be as shown in images
  • Compression straps don’t work well

If you’re looking for a well-rounded carry-on backpack for a fraction of the cost of similar items, the Rangeland Business Backpack could be the one for you. It’s great for a weekend getaway which you need to bring your laptop to along with a few other essentials.

Cabin Max Metz Backpack: Best Carry-On Backpack for Design

If you’re planning a trip with a few friends or your family, you don’t want to all have the same backpack. But, if you want to take advantage of the large size of this carry-on backpack, you can. It comes in over two dozen different colors and patterns to fit every personality.

Dimensions:

  • Height: 21 inches (53 cm)
  • Length: 14 inches (36 cm)
  • Depth: 9 inches (23 cm)
  • Capacity: 44 liters

Pros:

  • Water resistant material
  • Huge capacity so you can skip checked bags
  • Exterior compression straps to keep bag to size
  • Variety of color options

Cons:

  • Only 5 compartments total
  • Low-quality materials may not last long

For style and capacity, the Cabin Max Metz Backpack is the best option. You can get it in whatever color you want and can easily fit everything you need inside.

Amazon Basics: Best Customizable Carry-On Backpack

Sometimes you need a comfortable laptop backpack, and sometimes you need a convenient carry-on suitcase. With this bag, you can have both. This backpack is customizable to fit your needs, so you can use it for whatever you want it for.

Dimensions:

  • Height: 11.5 inches (29 cm)
  • Length: 14 inches (35.5 cm)
  • Depth: 21.5 inches (54.5 cm)
  • Capacity: 50 liters

Pros:

  • Removable backpack straps to convert into a carry-on
  • Numerous compartments in a front pocket for easy access to travel essentials
  • Fits any size laptop with an adjustable sling in the laptop compartment
  • More affordable than similar models

Cons:

  • No compartment for a water bottle
  • May not be ideal for every height

For an all-around great backpack that can be used for a variety of situations, the Amazon Basics Carry-On Backpack is the way to go.

YOGAW Business Backpack: Best Carry-On Backpack for Business

Whether you want to slip it under your seat or keep it in the overhead bin, this backpack is perfect for the traveling professional. You can easily carry it as a backpack or briefcase. Or, use the back strap to attach it to your rolling luggage for ultimate ease and comfort!

Dimensions:

  • Height: 18 inches (46.5 cm)
  • Length: 12 inches (31 cm)
  • Depth: 9.5 inches (24 cm)
  • Capacity: 35 liters

Pros:

  • Easily switch between two sizes
  • Numerous pockets and compartments for maximum organization
  • The ergonomic build makes it comfortable for your back
  • Sleek design makes it ideal for a business backpack

Cons:

  • No spot for a water bottle
  • Can’t completely hide backpack straps when carrying like a briefcase

The YOGAW Business Backpack is perfect for someone who’s heading out on a short business trip and wants to keep everything in one place to keep it simple.

Standard Luggage Travel Backpack: Best Fully-Loaded Carry-On Backpack

This travel backpack has so many amazing features that we had a hard time deciding which ones to highlight. It’s got a build-in safety whistle, a laptop pocket that fits any size laptop, zip-away backpack straps, a waist strap for added comfort, and can be transported three different ways.

Dimensions:

  • Height: 21.5 inches (54.5 cm)
  • Length: 13.5 inches (34 cm)
  • Depth: 9.5 inches (24 cm)
  • Capacity: 45 liters

Pros:

  • Includes water bottle pocket
  • Three carrying options
  • Detachable laptop pocket makes going through security a breeze
  • Water resistant plus comes with a rain cover to protect your belongings

Cons:

  • Only comes in black
  • Weighs 5 pounds (2.2 kilograms) empty

If you’re looking for a carry-on backpack that has all the bells and whistles, this is the one for you. As of October 2018, the Standard Luggage Travel Backpack has all 5-star reviews, and it’s easy to see why.

Lifeasy Expandable Backpack: Best Expanding Carry-On Backpack

Sometimes you only need a few things besides your computer and sometimes you need enough for a week away from home. Either way, this backpack has you covered. With its many zipper expansions, it can easily fit as much or as little as you need.

Dimensions:

  • Height: 18.5 inches (46.5 cm)
  • Length: 12 inches (31 cm)
  • Depth: 9.5 inches (24 cm)
  • Capacity: 40 liters

Pros:

  • Can expand from 20 liters to 40
  • Hideaway backpack straps for alternative carrying options
  • Fits 17-inch laptop computer
  • Built-in USB charging cable for phones and other electronics

Cons:

  • Can be uncomfortable to carry when full
  • Few interior pockets limit ability to organize items

What this bag lacks in color options, the Lifeasy Expandable Backpack more than makes up for in functionality and expandability.

Cabin Max Equator 2.0: Biggest Carry-On Backpack

For maximum packing capacity, there’s this travel backpack that comes with a number of zippered pockets and compression straps to keep everything right where you want it. It also has several other features that make it a great choice for anyone that has a long trip ahead of them.

Dimensions:

  • Height: 22 inches (54 cm)
  • Length: 14 inches (36 cm)
  • Depth: 9 inches (23 cm)
  • Capacity: 45 liters

Pros:

  • Waterproof rain cover to protect your things
  • Exterior water bottle pocket for easy access
  • Made of a lightweight, waterproof material
  • Numerous exterior pockets plus keyring to keep things organized

Cons:

  • When fully packed, doesn’t fit beneath the seat in front of you
  • Not comfortable to carry for long periods of time

All in all, the Cabin Max Equator 2.0 is good for someone who wants to use a backpack as a carry-on for plenty of things, but who isn’t planning on carrying the bag around town with them.

Deuter Transit Carry Backpack: Best Carry-On Backpack for Comfort

If comfort is what you’re looking for, then look no further than this travel backpack. It’s designed with ergonomic back straps, cushioned back area, and adjustable waist strap for better weight distribution. It also has other attractive features that makes it ideal for traveling.

Dimensions:

  • Height: 22 inches (54 cm)
  • Length: 14 inches (36 cm)
  • Depth: 9 inches (23 cm)
  • Capacity: 40 liters

Pros:

  • Hideaway straps to easily use alternative carrying methods
  • Plenty of compartments for keeping everything organized
  • Contains wet compartment for shoes or dirty clothing
  • Durable zippers and material that can take the strain of over packing

Cons:

  • Only fits up to a 15-inch laptop
  • Straps not vertically adjustable

Whether you want to backpack across Europe or are heading to visit friends for the weekend, the Deuter Transit Carry Backpack will get you there without breaking your back.

Cabin Max Tromso Flight Backpack: Best Carry-On Backpack for Light Travel

This backpack is inexpensive compared to some of the others on this list, but that’s because it can’t handle as much. Even so, this bag has some great features that make it ideal for a traveler who only needs a few things and isn’t going to push it to the breaking point.

Dimensions:

  • Height: 21 inches (55 cm)
  • Length: 14 inches (35 cm)
  • Depth: 8 inches (20 cm)
  • Capacity: 38 liters

Pros:

  • Zip-out water bottle holder to use only when you want it
  • Exterior document pockets for easy access to passport
  • Separate laptop and luggage compartments
  • Three ways to carry

Cons:

  • May be too large for smaller planes
  • Low-quality zippers may come apart under stress

The Cabin Max Tromso Flight Backpack is ideal for someone who needs something more than a backpack for light travel.

Kensington SecureTrek Backpack: Most Secure Carry-On Backpack

When security is your priority, there’s nothing better than this bag. It has several built-in and optional add-on security features that will help you keep your laptop and other belongings safe. Plus, it’s affordable and an overall great travel backpack.

Dimensions:

  • Height: 19.5 inches (49.5 cm)
  • Length: 13 inches (33 cm)
  • Depth: 8 inches (20 cm)
  • Capacity: 27 liters

Pros:

  • Zipper tags can be locked to prevent the bag from being opened
  • Optional locking device secures backpack to any stationary object
  • Puncture-proof zippers for added security
  • Comes with a myriad of pockets for keeping things organized

Cons:

  • Smaller capacity than other travel backpacks
  • Can only fit laptops up to 15 inches

Hands down, to keep your things organized and out of someone else’s hands, the Kensington SecureTrek Backpack is the best option.

eBags Professional Weekender: Best Well-Rounded Carry-On Backpack

This backpack takes all the best features of travel backpacks and combines them into an all-around great travel bag for both business travelers and vacationers. As you’ll see, it has everything you need and want for a weekend trip or longer.

Dimensions:

  • Height: 21 inches (53 cm)
  • Length: 14 inches (35.5 cm)
  • Depth: 8 inches (20 cm)
  • Capacity: 37 liters

Pros:

  • Numerous zipped compartments, including several removable pockets
  • Lockable zippers for security
  • Hide backpack straps to convert into cross-carry or duffle-carry bag
  • Can be considered a personal item since it fits beneath the seat

Cons:

  • Only fits up to a 15-inch laptop
  • May be too large for shorter people

For a backpack that does it all well, the eBags Professional Weekender will ensure that you take everything you need with you on a weekend away.

How to Choose a Carry-On Backpack

Choosing a carry-on backpack is a personal choice. After all, you have different needs and preferences than the guy sitting next to you on the plane.

We do hope that by creating this list of the best carry-on backpacks of 2019, you’ve gotten the information you need to pick one that will work best for you. Whether you’re looking for added security, extra compartments, or maximum comfort, there’s a perfect match for you.

Which of these is your favorite? Do you have any suggestions we can add to our list? Let us know in the comments below!

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