It’s back to school season and I've got backpacks on the brain. I find wearing a backpack is often more comfortable than carrying a shoulder duffel bag when I travel. As I get older, I also have become increasingly more aware how hard it is to find a backpack that is equal parts stylish and functional. I don't want to look like I’m wearing a Crayola crayon on my back and I don't want to look like I'm going on a backpacking trip across Europe. I just want a fairly nondescript carry-on backpack that will fit everything I need for my long weekend adventures.
First and foremost, I recommend trying on a backpack in person. Look in the mirror to see how the bag looks on your body shape. Sales Associates in stores like Eastern Mountain Sports are trained to help you find the right fit so it's worth consulting them for advice. After doing some research, I discovered backpacks have changed a lot since I was a kid. Some backpacks now have built-in chargers for your laptop. Last, make sure to pay close attention to the weight of the bag when it's empty. Heavy bags can wreak havoc on your posture and cause neck pain.
Larger, high-quality backpacks carry a higher price tag but are an investment piece. Second hand shops and garage sales are two unlikely places thrifty shoppers often find gently worn backpacks for a lower price.
Here are my top picks for travel backpacks that prove you don't have to sacrifice style for function.
The Day Trip
This kind of backpack will roll or lie flat in your bigger carry-on bag, and is useful for storing things like your camera, your notebook, wallet, phone, and maybe an umbrella or hat, while you focus on exploring your destination. With a daypack, you can't watch over your belongings as well, but you can fit more stuff than when you use a cross body bag.
The Weekend Trip
These packs, featuring minimal branding and clean lines, are the perfect size to fit a couple changes of clothes for a long weekend away.