The best urban travel backpacks in 2020

Travel in 2020 May have been halted but we still need to carry our items here and there even if visits to the office are less frequent. And when travel does eventually resume, you want to be prepared with the right gear. Why not use the time now to revisit your carry on soft luggage?

If you’re on holidays and heading out each day, you want a backpack to carry essentials leaving the suitcase in the hotel. Backpacks can tend to look overly functional or ergonomic and while you want a backpack to be comfortable, you don’t need it to look like you’re about to climb Everest, or walk into a development hack-a-thon.

So this list factors in those backpacks which go out of their way to add a touch of style and give you just enough of the travel features you need.

Bellroy

Transit Backpack

$389 AUD

Volume: 28L (38L for the Plus)
Weight: 1.1 kg (2.4 lbs)
Waterproof: Water-resistant fabric
Dimensions (overall): h18” × w12″ × d7”
Laptop carry size: 15”

Bellroy are known for their wallets but have a long history with anything to do with carrying items. That same philosophy, usability, and craftsmanship also goes into their bags. 

I’ve chosen their Transit model because of its focus on travel although their Apex backpack is also worth a look. 

Bellroy have a big focus on style with a Japanese-like attention to detail with clean lines and no unnecessary embellishment. The Transit comes in at a handy 28L (also available in a larger 38L Plus size) and has the capability to zip open clamshell-style with tie downs for clothing much like any suitcase. 

There’s an externally accessed laptop compartment for airport checks and plenty of other pockets for passports and the like. There’s a quick access compartment for water bottles which is a must for all day walking. 

A big plus is that it’s water resistant so getting caught in the odd bit of light rain won’t see internals damaged which not all bags can boast. 

The Bellroy Transit is made of recycled materials too which giving society’s high consumption living is good news. It’s also one of the lightest on this list which you’ll appreciate by the end of a day out.  

Available in four colours. 

Visit Bellroy

Tumi 

London Roll-Top Backpack

$750 AUD

Volume: Unknown
Weight: 1.6 kg (3.6 lbs)
Waterproof: 1 x Waterproof pocket
Dimensions (overall): h19” × w14” × d6”
Laptop carry size: 15”

The Tumi London Roll-top backpack is at the pricier end and this list but you’re getting a product made by luggage specialist here. 

A stylish bag in a more traditional backpack design the London Roll-top is a little taller and wider than Bellroy’s 28L Transit but a tad smaller in depth. Made from ballistic nylon the backpack features quick access to the laptop compartment, a zip wall between the two main compartments, two front pockets one of which has waterproof lining and an air vent, and other pockets.

Alongside the laptop compartment is also a space for a tablet. 

The London Roll-top backpack also comes with Tumi Tracer, a complimentary program that uses a coded bar inside the bag to help reunites TUMI customers with their lost or stolen bags.

For convenience there is also a sleeve on the back to slip the backpack over a suitcase handle, handy when navigating airports. The bag doesn’t unzip it’s main compartment to fold flat so packing and unpacking may take a bit more effort. 

For a slightly smaller and deeper version of the London Roll-top backpack check out the Tyndall Utility backpack. 

Available in two colours. 

Visit Tumi

Samsonite

Modern Utility Travel Backpack

$89.99 USD ($124 AUD)

Volume: Unknown
Weight: 0.9 kg (2 lbs)
Waterproof: No
Dimensions (overall): h20” × w12″ × d7”
Laptop carry size: 17”

If you’ve every bought luggage at any point in your life, a Samsonite product tends to be on the list of options. While suitcases are what they are primarily known for, they have a wide range of backpacks too. The Modern Utility Travel Backpack is one of the more stylish urban ones in the range.

Being one of the cheapest and lightest at 0.9 kg (2 lbs) on this list is to its advantage but it does miss out on a few of the features other bags have.

There are side pockets for water bottle storage, lots of zip pockets to store things, a 2.5″ expansion for added capacity, and has the capability to fit a 17” laptop as well as a place for a tablet up to 10.1″ (a 2020 Apple 11‑inch iPad Pro would fit).

The Modern Utility Travel Backpack also opens clamshell-style to give great access to packed items with straps to keep everything in place.

Available in two colours. 

Note: This bag is currently available on freight forwarding for international orders outside the USA.

Visit Samsonite

Samsonite

Securipak

$229 AUD

Volume: 17L
Weight: 0.7 kg (1.5 lbs)
Waterproof: No
Dimensions (overall): h17” × w12″ × d6”
Laptop carry size: 15.6”

The Securipak is a relatively new addition to the Samsonite range and as the name suggests, a bit more focus on security although not quite at the same level as a couple of the other bags on this list.

There’s 100% RPET anti-cut fabric, restricted main compartment access (only accessible from the back, and an RFID pocket to keep things more secure. Other features include clamshell-style opening, a USB port, room for a 15.6” laptop and tablet, and suitcase handle strap.

It’s one of the smaller backpacks on the list but also the lightest at 0.7 kg (1.5 lbs) giving you plenty of leeway to pack heavier items or just take the load off during an all day walk.

So the Securipak is a good balance between security and ease of use. Available in 2 colours in Australia (but many more overseas!).

Visit Samsonite

Tortuga

Setout Divide Backpack

$248.70 AUD

Volume: 26L (expands to 34L)
Weight: 1.7 kg (3.8 lbs)
Waterproof: Weather resistant (Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating)
Dimensions: h20” x w13” x d6” (expands to 8”)
Laptop carry size: 15”

Tortuga are a carry company founded on the frustration of crap travel bags causing crap travel experiences. The Setout Divide Backpack is crammed full of features with a distinct design at a reasonable price too as part of the Tortuga Setout collection.

Having the ability to expand from 26L to 34L means it can swallow a couple of purchases you make on your trip or simply give you a one-bag option for overnight travel. When walking there are internal compression straps and a padded, removable hip belt to help with carrying ergonomics.

There’s a two compartment layout, a luggage handle pass-through sleeve, 15” laptop and 9.7” tablet sleeves, lockable YKK zippers, a water bottle pocket, and plenty of other places to store stuff.

For something even bigger from 35L to 45L checkout Tortuga’s Setout Backpack.

Note: Tortuga currently rely on freight forwarding for international orders outside the USA.

Visit Tortuga

Nomatic

Travel Pack

$369.00 AUD

Volume: 20L (expands to 30L)
Weight: 1.9 kg (4.2 lbs)
Waterproof: Water resistant
Dimensions: h18.5” x w12” x d6” (expands to 9.5”)
Laptop carry size: 15” (compartment size: 16″ x 10.5″ x 1.5”)

While not the most stylish on the list the Nomatic Travel Pack can’t be ignored due to its incredible versatility and range of features.

Made from water resistant materials and using YKK zippers, it is able to expand from a conservative 20L all the way out to 30L and can be opened clamshell-style for easy packing and organisation. Some of the features include a lockable RFID pocket and other hidden pockets, a luggage handle pass-through sleeve, room for a 15” laptop and 13” tablet, a removable hardshell for glasses, and magnetic water bottle pockets which are just too cool.

Another cool feature is the cord pass through system which comes in handy for headphone use, or battery pack charging.

The Travel Pack also features a ‘TSA-ready’ laptop sleeve which is effectively an easy access compartment.

For those mixing business with pleasure, the Nomatic Travel Pack strap system allows the straps to hide, transforming into something more akin to a briefcase.

Visit Nomatic

Pacsafe

Venturesafe EXP45 Anti-Theft Carry-On Travel Pack

$199.95 USD ($277.80 AUD)

Volume: 45L
Weight: 1.7 kg (3 lbs)
Waterproof: No
Dimensions: h21.7” x w13.8” x d8.7”
Laptop carry size: 15”

If you’re after maximum security then you have to go with Pacsafe. Travellers are often targets for petty crime or worse given the type of items they tend to carry. Being able to lock zippers is the first defence but what if the bag can be torn open with a knife? That’s where Pacsafe pitch their advantage. 

The material they use is said to withstand knife attacks due to the eXomesh slash guard fabric. Even the zippers are puncture resistant. 

Beyond the safety aspects, the bag still boasts some great features like being able to zip open clamshell-style, compression straps inside to keep everything in place and a separate mesh compartment opposite, space for a 15” laptop, top level access to plenty of pockets, a side pocket for quick access to a water bottle or small umbrella, and the ability to hide the backpack straps when not in use. 

The Venturesafe EXP45 Anti-Theft Carry-On Travel Pack is available in three colours. 

Visit Pacsafe


Privateer Garage is not affiliated in any way with the brands listed on this page.

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