There’s something unmistakably liberating about travelling all of your travel essentials in one minimalist travel backpack instead of lugging around pounds of gear.
In the past few years whenever I travelled around Asia or Europe, I did not need to have my bag checked in. It saved me tons of money, time, convenience and this was why I truly believed in smart ways to pack your clothes and look sleek whenever you are travelling. Choosing the perfect minimalist travel backpack can be quite the pain when there are tons of options and beautiful designs but they may fall short on durability, price, compartments and needs. The last thing you need is a minimalist travel backpack that looks great on the front but suffers in terms of quality.
If you’re a new solo traveller backpacking for your first trip or an individual who prefers to travel light and still not look like a backpacker, or somewhere in between, this list of having the ultimate and durable minimalist travel backpack that will work for you.
Everyone’s preference and choices always differ, hence there is no one-size-fits-all that is perfect for every scenario. For instance, if you are heading for a hiking trip, you might want to pick something that is enormously important for surviving all the elements or if you’re someone that needs to be constantly available, you want to ensure that your gadgets are protected. The reasons vary and I’ll be breaking it down further to highlight backpacks that are built to last and are lightweight in essence, without sacrificing elegant and minimalist features.
The backpacks selected below are wonderfully suited for both men and women unless indicated so. Before I begin, I would like to address couple of things that denote my travel style and why I think this is the best way to travel.
Why Travel With A Backpack Vs A Rolling Luggage?
The wait-times in airports can be notoriously long for popular destinations. With a backpack, I found that I am no longer standing around baggage conveyor belts and it gives me greater mobility to just get up and go. You’ll find that losing your luggage during the long-haul flights and connections never becomes an issue and it is so much easier to carry travel-size liquids and only using what you really need.
It’s The Best Feeling When You Can Control What You Pack
You don’t need to drag around a roller halfway through the world and over unsteady ground anymore. It makes you mobile and the feeling of carrying all your worldly possessions in a compact and clever way makes you feel that this is the kind of adulting you would like to nail and practice in the future.
Having a minimalist travel backpack is also a great starting point for learning how to cut out what’s unnecessary in life and what better way to start this when you are seeking new horizons.
It’s A Great Excuse To Not Pack Junk & Souvenirs
It truly makes room for important things in life and it is also a great weapon against hoarding unnecessary souvenirs. Friends and relatives won’t be too demanding when they know that you are travelling light. It makes you focus on the experiences within the country and sending that beautiful postcard back home with a thoughtful message.
This was what I did when I was travelling in Central Asia and Iran, I collected postcards, wrote messages and mailed them back home. And if you decide to buy bulky items, you can always ship them or find novelty ways to get it over. The point is the person with fewest things always wins in life, experiences and happiness.
How To Find The Right Weight and Size?
I often carry a 40L travel backpack and the general rule is to stick to travel backpacks that are under 50L. You want your travel backpacks to be able to fit the compartments and the seat under you.
Most airlines do not reveal exact measurements for space below seats but you want to make sure it is less 11 inches tall and fits between 18 to 20 inches wide. A 40L backpack is usually about the perfect size for fitting within most airlines' carry on luggage requirements, even the super strict budget airlines in Europe and in Asia.
The Best Sleek Minimalist Travel Backpack in 2021
Peak Design Travel Line Backpack (Expandable 30-35-45L) - Best Minimalist Antitheft Backpack
If you like to fit in work and still travel a lot, Peak’s Design Travel Line Backpack packs a punch. It meets international max carry-on standards on most major carriers in default 35L configuration and provides dual expansion zips with 10L extra volume for 45L max storage.
The security features of Peak Design’s Travel Line backpack are what makes it a hot selling point. The zippers on the Peak Design Travel Backpack have several locking features that will easily deter all kinds of break-in’s or theft. Peak Design even offers some impressive packing cubes and they open all the way up making them easy to pack and then can be compressed. There’s even proper compartmentalisation for dirty clothes. You don’t have to worry about unpacking everything or worry about checking through drawers on checkout day. It even has a quick tablet and laptop access using the main back zip making it easier to pack all travel gear and gadgets.
Setout Travel Backpack: 35L Backpack - Best Minimalist Frontloading Travel Backpack
The Tortuga Setout travel backpack is just the right carry on for city travelers. If you’ve tried dragging a suitcase with cheap plastic wheels over the cobblestone streets of Europe, you know why rolling luggage doesn’t work in a city. Cylinder-shaped packs for "backpackers" aren't much better. Since you pack them from the top, like a trash bag, it somehow leaves all your stuff a jumbled mess.
They're also too big to be carried onto a plane, so you’re stuck with checked bag fees, the hassle of baggage claim, and the stress of lost luggage. The Setout travel backpack packs like a suitcase and carries like a backpack and it is perfect if you need your clothes within access.
Given the quality of materials with Tortugas, I expect this bag to last a long time.
AmazonBasics Slim Carry On Travel Backpack — Best Budget-friendly Minimalist Travel Backpack
The AmazonBasics Slim Carry On Travel Backpack Weekender is a great choice for anyone who needs versatility and has to be on a tight budget. The electric colour range makes it eye-catching and it is easy for it to be a standout travel backpack from the other usual colours.
Designed with modern travelers in mind, the backpack provides a fleece-lined top-load tablet pocket and a dedicated laptop sleeve, which help keep devices and computers safely stored and easy to access. The backpack’s front pocket provides tons of useful storage space for smaller items, and its zippered side-mounted water-bottle pocket is there when you need it and zipped away when you don’t.
This backpack is well-constructed and the interior orange colour adds a nice dash of colour.
Lowepro ProTactic 450 — Best Camera/DSLR Minimalist Travel Backpack
You know you have got a couple of camera gear and it may involve rugged terrains, sporadic weather and toughing it out during your travels. To answer it all, the Lowepro ProTactic BP 450 AW II is the best camera backpack one can ask for as it expands upon the rugged versatility and armored protection no matter your location.
It is really great in fitting all your essentials and ensuring your camera gear is well-protected if you’re climbing South America’s mountains or even going for a trek in the Himalayas. It even has a 4-season technical pack with space for photo, video, drones, gimbals and essential outdoor gear so think of it as a bag that is built for extra-protective elements such as snow, rain, dust, sand and wet gear.
Kaukko / Herschel 25L — Best Stylish and Functional Backpack
When it comes to taking over the street wear landscape and new-age travel style, no other carryall brand has made quite the impression like Herschel Supply Co. Similar to Herschel designs, Kaukko offers everyday travelers a similar style and design but half the price. If you’re thinking of taking a trip and want something trendy that can standout from the other travellers, Kaukko offers an unconventional take on the usual Kaukko designs.
You can even use this as a go-to back for your university and alternate it between travel whenever possible. It even matches your casual athleisure minimalist style or everyday wardrobe making quite the travel accessory. The straps even have padding and are not as foamy as Herschel but still offer a great bang for your buck with modern functionality and timeless design while paying attention to each detail.
Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack: Best Minimalist Hiking and Outdoorsy Travel Backpack
This is highly-regarded as one of the lightest backpack that fits all airport carry-on specifications. It is also a backpack that it is highly durable, versatile, sleek without all the extra handles and zippers falling over making it one of the best minimalist travel backpack for hiking. It makes no attempt to look like your typical hiking back, but what’s great about it is that it is built to take a lot of beating no matter the terrain.
Even when you fill it up fully, it feels very light and the chest/waist straps are great for that extra padded support and stability. It never feels heavy or weighs you down which is why I always believed is Osprey when it comes to hiking or backpacking in the outdoors.
If you’re smart with your packing it can also fit sleeping bags, hiking equipment, tents and other camping gear without the zippers ever breaking under intense tension. The fabric also is super sturdy and doesn't snap or tear when fully stretched out. What’s great is that the bag is water resistant — if you’ve got laptops or other gear, you may want to put on a bag cover just in case.
All in all, this is amazing value for a one month or even two week backpacking trip in the wild. for a two-week backpacking trip.
Also Read: The Ultralight No-Fuss Backpacking Gear List
What Essentials Do I Carry In My Minimalist Travel Backpack?
Packing Cubes: It saves tons of time when you have all your accessories and usables in one place. The pack it cubes from Eagle Creek are well made, and the 3 piece set was much better value than buying the individual items separately.
Portable Charger / Power Bank: With a lot of gadgets, I always ensure that I have a power bank in hand. The Anker power bank is one of the best. The design is stunning, the tiny texture provides a nice feeling holding it, and it’s one of the quicker 20000 mAh chargers.
International Adaptor: If you travel a lot internationally, you want to get one that can be used across multiple continents from UK, US, EU, AU and Asia.
Sony A6000 Travel Camera: I carry this with me everywhere together with my Sigma 19mm F2.8 wide angle lens and it is one of the best travel camera. This camera has nothing to do with age as it clearly doesn’t hurt its performance and the best part is that its price has been knocked down to a few levels.
Salomon Shoes: You can’t go wrong with a pair of Salomons. This shoe efficiently tackles technical hikes and really shines even is a walkaround shoe.
Slouchie Beanie: With this beanie, you can double up your ear coverage on a cold day and it is really comfortable.
Microfiber Towel: There’s nothing worse than having that wet towel smell while travelling. Travel towels like Rainleaf Microfiber towel are quick-drying, absorbent and super useful, be it for your camping or hiking activities.
Wicking T-shirts: Nike’s dry-fit t-shirts are great when you don’t want to always be wearing cotton tees especially when you need something that’s quick drying.
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