How to Choose the Perfect Carry-On Backpack

The first thing you need to do when thinking about going carry-on only is to choose the right bag. This will determine how much you can bring (not to put on the pressure). You will need to decide if you want to go with a roller vs backpack and the size of the bag. If you are looking to comply with most airlines carry-on limits,  you will need to choose a bag that is somewhere between 30-45L. Anything more than 45L and you will likely be over the limit for weight and most likely size for a carry-on backpack.

Picking a bag is often harder than you would think as most bags are often larger than the airline carry-on allowances.  To make it harder manufacturers often do not include handles or wheels in their bag measurements. 

These bags will fit within most budget airlines carry-on restrictions.

  Osprey-farpoint-40Osprey Farpoint 40L  (Backpack)

This bag seems to be one of the most recommended bags in the carry-on backpack world.  It is great for women because they offer a smaller bag that is 38L for smaller frames.  If I were to buy a backpack this would be it.

VOLUME 38 L (SM), 40L (ML)


WEIGHT 3.11 LBS(SM), 3.17LBS (ML)



Osprey Ozone 18″/36 L (Roller)

This is my bag of choice  for carry-on only travel.  I don’t like having to actually carry the bag all the time- been there done that.  No matter how light the bag may seem even 10kg gets heavy after 4 hours in the heat. I have made myself some backpack straps that work wonders when you just can’t roll your bag (you can generally roll your bag about anywhere).



WEIGHT 1.88 KGS/4.14 LBS


61g0dYwm7TL._UL1500_Lipault Plume 18″ (Roller)

This is another great choice for carry-on only as it fits nicely within the dimensions of pretty much all carry-on restrictions. It also folds down nicely for storage. If you are going on a shorter trip I would say this bag is a great choice- it is just not quite sturdy enough for my long term travels.



WEIGHT 1.88 KGS/4.14 LBS

Tortuga Backpack 44 L

This bag gets rave reviews from pretty much anyone, it is incredibly well designed and I completely understand why so many people love this bag.  This was a top contender for Chris when we were choosing a bag and if it wasn’t for the fact of him carrying around his camera equipment he would have chosen this pack.


DIMENSIONS 22 x 14 x 9 inch

WEIGHT 1.66 kgs/3.65 lbs

Pacsafe Venturesafe 45L

This bag is Chris’s go to since it offers some really awesome anti-theft protection.  Slash-proof, impenetrable zippers, extra locking mechanisms and more. Chris choose this bag for its space but mostly for these security features and so we can lock it to something stationary in our room when we leave the hostel/hotel.  This bag gets everything valuable in it when we leave our room- it acts as a mini safe.  We both love this piece of mind.  The bag is also quite comfortable for a taller women or man- it is a little long for a short person.


DIMENSIONS 22 x 14 x 9.1 in

WEIGHT 1.57 kg / 3 .74 lbs

If you aren’t sure which is best for you, my advice is to either go to the store and try these on with some stuff in them.  You can also order a few online through a store that offers a great return policy.  Pack them up, try them on and walk around for a bit.

Now that you have chosen a carry-on backpack, check out  Carry-on only packing guide (Women) and let me know which bag you’ve chosen for your next adventure!


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