The Best Backpack For Backpacking Europe in 2024

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by Maggie Turansky

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Finding the best backpack for backpacking Europe is one of the most essential things you can do before you set out on your adventure. There are countless different options to choose from that it can seem overwhelming and impossible to choose the right one for you!

What size do you get? Should you purchase a top-loader or a front-loader? Should you get one with wheels as well? In general, it really depends on what kind of trip you’re after to figure out which kind of backpack will suit your needs best.

If you’re searching for a backpack for your trip, these are some great options to have you packing your bags in no time!

Want a quick answer? My overall choice for the best travel backpack for Europe is the Osprey Farpoint 55 for men (also available on REI and direct from Osprey) or the Fairview 55 for women (also available on REI and direct from Osprey).

Travel Backpacks for Europe Comparison

Osprey Farpoint 55/70L
Osprey Farpoint 55L Men's Travel Backpack, Black
Weight: 2.3kg
Gender: Unisex
Top/Front Loading: Front
Daypack: Yes
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Osprey Fairview 55/70L
Osprey Fairview 55L Women's Travel Backpack, Black
Weight: 2.3kg
Gender: Female
Top/Front Loading: Front
Daypack: Yes
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Osprey Kestrel 48L
Kestrel 48L Men's Backpacking Backpack
Weight: 1.6kg
Gender: Male
Top/Front Loading: Top
Daypack: No
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Osprey Kyte 46L
Osprey Kyte 46 Women's Backpacking Backpack, Ice Lake Green, X-Small/Small
Weight: 1.5kg
Gender: Female
Top/Front Loading: Top
Daypack: No
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Osprey Transporter 40L
Osprey Transporter 40L Travel Duffel Bag, Black
Weight: 1.2kg
Gender: Unisex
Top/Front Loading: Front
Daypack: No
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Pacsafe Venturesafe 45L
Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 Anti-Theft Carry-On Travel Backpack, Black
Weight: 1.8kg
Gender: Unisex
Top/Front Loading: Front
Daypack: No
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Peak Design Travel Line 45L
Peak Design BTR-45-BK-1 travel backpack Nylon Black Unisex 45 L
Weight: 2.05kg
Gender: Unisex
Top/Front Loading: Front
Daypack: No
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Why Travel with a Backpack?

There are numerous benefits to travelling through Europe with a backpack. Namely, it just ends up being a hell of a lot easier and more convenient than a typical wheely suitcase or a duffel bag.

Wheeled suitcases can be an extreme nuisance when travelling throughout Europe, especially when it comes to manoeuvring them onto trains and busses, through busy city streets, up and downstairs and escalators, and over the inevitable bumpy cobblestones.

Duffel bags can be equally inconvenient from a pure comfort level. After about ten minutes of walking with a 10+ kilo duffel bag slung over your shoulder, your body will begin to ache and scream in more ways than you can imagine.

The truth of the matter is, that you’re most likely going to be doing a fair bit of walking with your luggage while travelling, especially if you’re sticking to a tight Europe budget for your backpacking trip.

Travelling with a backpack makes this so much easier and there are many backpack sizes to choose from so you can find your ideal backpack for travelling Europe!

The Osprey Farpoint 55 & 70L Versions
The Osprey Farpoint 55 & 70L Versions

How to Choose the Best Backpack

If you’ve done any research at all, you have surely found the seemingly endless options for Europe backpacks. It can be really hard to determine which will be the best for you.

Generally speaking, bags for backpacking Europe tend to fall into two categories: traditional, top-loading backpacks and newer travel backpacks.

Both bags have their own set of pros and cons and it really depends on your own personal preference and travel style to figure out which works best for you.

Top-Loading Backpacks

For years and years, top-loading hiking backpacks were the only option out there. While this is certainly not the case today, they still are a popular option for travellers.

Some of the benefits of top-loading backpacks are that they are designed to be worn for long periods of time, so, therefore, can be very comfortable even if you’re carrying upwards of 15 kilos of weight.

They have advanced suspension systems so you can easily adjust them to your body type and you can ensure that the weight is evenly distributed across your back.

They’re also built to be very durable, as they’re typically designed for hikers and not European urban adventurers. This means that they’ll hold up for years on end. They also generally come with a lot of pockets and straps where you can easily stash a number of smaller items without them getting lost.

Want a quick answer? My choice for the best top-loading backpack for Europe is the Osprey Kestrel 48 for men or the Osprey Kyte 46 for women.

Another benefit to hiking backpacks is that if you’re intending to spend a portion of your Euro trip hiking or camping, these bags make it a lot easier to transition between urban and rural travel.

However, especially if you don’t really plan to stray away from cities or towns, top-loaders do come with some setbacks. The first setback is the fact that they’re, well, top-loading.

If you’re using this kind of backpack for its original intended use, the top-loading function is really more of an advantage, however, for backpacking through Europe, it can be a drawback.

It can be very difficult to find your belongings in a top-loader and you almost always need to empty the entire contents of the bag to find the thing you need.

They also have a ton of straps hanging off of them and the suspensions system can’t zip away which makes checking them on a plane can be a bit of a pain. When we’ve with a top-loader it almost always ends up in the “oversized luggage” area and is consistently the last bag that comes out on the conveyor belt.

The other inconvenience about hiking backpacks for travel in Europe is that they’re not overly secure. You’re normally only able to close them with a drawstring which makes it nearly impossible to effectively lock it, which can be a setback if your hostel locker is too small to hold your entire backpack.

Travel Backpacks

In the past few years, a few backpack companies have bridged the gap between the traditional backpack for hikers and wheeled suitcases used by most urban travellers. Enter: the travel backpack.

While many travel backpacks do have some shortcomings (nothing is perfect, unfortunately), and there are not many backpacks on the market that can easily transition between urban travelling and long-term hiking/backpacking — the Osprey Farpoint Trek being one of the exceptions.

So what is a travel backpack and what makes it a good option for a backpack for travel around Europe?

The most distinguishing feature of a travel backpack is the fact that they open like a suitcase instead of loading from the top. This function makes moving from place to place a lot easier and allows you to organise your items more effectively while travelling.

The second good feature of travel backpacks is that you can zip away the straps, making checking baggage a lot easier.

It also is a good function if you maybe want to stay in a nicer hotel and feel awkward walking in with a massive pack on your back. With the harness zipped away, travel backpacks tend to look more like duffel bags.

The addition of the main zipped compartment having a zipper also means that you can put a lock on your bag to keep your items secure. This is a really great function, especially if you’re staying in hostels or want to deter thieves while walking through train stations and busy city centres.

There are also some drawbacks to travel packs, however. For one, many don’t have as advanced a suspension system as top-loading backpacks have which means they can be a bit more uncomfortable to wear for a longer period of time.

Prefer Wheeled Backpacks? Check out our guide to the best wheeled backpacks for Europe!

Also, due to their design, it can be a bit more difficult to effectively distribute the weight in a travel backpack than in a top-loader. This, again, can take away from the all over long-term comfort of the bag.

Because of these shortcomings, travel backpacks aren’t great to take with you if you intend on doing a lot of hiking and camping.

On the whole, however, I would recommend opting for a travel pack when backpacking Europe rather than a top-loader. They are absolutely ideal for urban travelling and some will do well for a couple of days of hiking if you take the time to pack it correctly.

man backpacking in Europe
It can be hard to find a bag that transitions seamlessly between urban settings and nature

The Best Backpack For Backpacking Europe

If you’re stuck trying to sort through the endless options for backpacks, look no further. These are some of the best backpacks for travel in Europe.

Osprey Farpoint 55/Osprey Fairview 55

The Osprey Farpoint (also available on REI and direct from Osprey) is probably the most popular travel backpack for Europe. While it was originally created as a unisex backpack, it is now marketed exclusively as a travel backpack for men.

The Osprey Fairview is the women’s version (also available on REI and direct from Osprey) and both are one of the best travel backpacks for a trip around Europe. They are perfect for both shorter, two-week trips and months-long backpacking tours.

The Farpoint comes in four different sizes: 40 litre, 55 litre, 70 litre, and 80 litre. For most backpacking trips, I would recommend the 55-litre option. The main pack itself includes one single compartment with a 40-litre capacity.

There are also compression straps to keep your items smashed down and secure. The great benefit of the Farpoint 55 is the detachable 15-litre daypack. 

The daypack zips onto the back of the pack, however, I have never actually used this function while travelling. It is much easier to wear the daypack in from of you like a kangaroo.

The pack, like all Osprey products, is incredibly durable and comes with a lifetime warranty. I’ve used my pack quite extensive for more than two years, and besides some marks and blemishes. it looks and functions as if it’s brand new and I don’t see that changing any time in the future.

The main frame, hip belt and harness are also quite comfortable and fully adjustable, and the suspension is about as good as you’ll get in a travel backpack.

If adjusted properly and if it’s not too heavy, you can comfortably wear the pack for a few hours without getting a sore back or shoulders. It also fully zips away to make airline check-in a breeze.

Both the 55-litre and the 70-litre option come with the 15-litre daypack, but the 40 and 80-litre options do not.

Osprey advertises that the Farpoint 40L backpack is suitable as a carry-on backpack in the EU, however, if filled to capacity, the dimensions are slightly larger than those set by Ryanair.

Therefore, it may not be the best bag to take if you’re planning on travelling carry-on only. The frame is also not flexible at all, so it’s not possible to smash down the size of the bag even if it’s not packed to the brim.

The only other main drawback of the Farpoint is the fact that there is only one main compartment, so it can be tricky to organise your items.

This isn’t really a problem for me, as I travel with these packing cubes, which have proved to be an invaluable space-saving and organisation addition to my packing habits.

Osprey Farpoint 55L Men's Travel Backpack, Black

Osprey Kestrel 48 / Osprey Kyte 46

If you’re set on travelling with a traditional backpack then you can’t go wrong with the Osprey Kestrel for men (also available on REI or direct from Osprey) or the Osprey Kyte for women (also available on REI or direct from Osprey).

I would really only recommend travelling with a top loader if you plan to hike and camp either as much or more than you plan on travelling in cities, but these two packs are great options.

Both bags have incredibly advanced suspension systems and, if you distribute your weight well, they can be worn comfortably for hours on end. They are also only as wide as your torso, making navigating both winding staircases and European mountainsides a breeze.

They have a lot of extra pouches and compartments aside from the main one for you to stash some belongings and also some straps to attach items to the outside of the pack.

Because of their length, they don’t meet any carry-on size requirements, so you will have to check the bag in on flights. There also is no daypack attached and no option to zip away the harness or any straps. It is also closed with a drawstring, so it is a lot less secure as there is no way to lock it.

Osprey Kestrel 48 Men's Backpacking Backpack

Osprey Transporter 40

If you want to easily transition between a duffel bag and a backpack and only want a carry on bag, then the Osprey Transporter (also available on REI here or direct from Osprey here) is for you!

This 40-litre bag has no main frame, so it can pack down very small. It also has a backpack harness, complete with a chest strap, that can be easily zipped away and also a shoulder strap if you’d like to treat it more like a duffel bag.

This probably isn’t the best bag to take if you’re planning on hiking a lot or if you’re travelling with a lot of gear, but it is a fantastic option if you’re packing light or only going on a short trip.

Like all Osprey items, it is extremely durable and comes with a lifetime warranty. For a minimalist person who is looking to travel light, the Osprey Transporter might be the best bag for you!

Osprey Transporter 40L Travel Duffel Bag, Black

Pacsafe Venturesafe 45L Anti-Theft Backpack

The Pacsafe Venturesafe 45L backpack (also available direct from Pacsafe) is another very popular choice when it comes to travelling in Europe. This backpack is ideal if you’re looking for more peace of mind when it comes to security as it is built with anti-theft in mind.

The material of the backpack is designed to ensure it can’t be easily cut through and the zippers are lockable. It has a laptop compartment as well as side pockets that you can use for a water bottle.

The Pacsafe Venturesafe 45L also comes in a 65L version and is the ideal backpack to travel in Europe if you’re bringing valuables or just want to ensure you are as safe as possible.

Unlike the Farpoint, this backpack doesn’t come with a detachable daypack, however, it does have 3 attachment points on the bag so you could potentially attach a separate daypack to that.

Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 Anti-Theft Carry-On Travel Backpack, Black

Peak Design Travel Line 45L Backpack

If you’re looking to combine both style and practicality, then the Peak Design Travel Backpack (also available direct from Peak Design) might be the option for you.

This bag is on the higher end of budgets, but it offers a stylish and practical design that many other backpacks do not offer. This is a 45-litre pack at its maximum size and has all of the main features of the previous travel backpacks covered, but it doesn’t come with a detachable daypack.

It does however compress down to 30L or 35L making it ideal if you’re looking for a travel backpack that is carry-on compliant, as it meets even the most stringent of airline requirements. It is also water-resistant, which is a great feature to have in any travel bag.

The main bag opens in the front like a suitcase, has a divided section inside and also has a laptop sleeve within the main bag, which is a big selling point for many people.

The Peak Design Travel Line Backpack is probably the best-looking bag on this list and you won’t stick out like a sore thumb while walking through European cities.

Peak Design BTR-45-BK-1 travel backpack Nylon Black Unisex 45 L

Finding the perfect backpack for European travel can be extremely difficult. It’s always a good idea to weigh the options available, evaluate your travel style, and figure out how much space you’ll need. 

Are you looking for a backpack to take on your trip to Europe? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie

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