The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

How We Tested Travel Backpacks

By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor
Friday August 23, 2019

Our travels have taken us from Alaska to the South Pole, from the streets of Santiago to the cobblestone squares in Moscow. For this review, we assembled a collection of the industry's leading travel backpacks, and put them through the rigors of our various domestic and international adventures. These trips ranged from off-road excursions and expeditions to business trips and weekend getaways.

We used the smaller backpacks on a regular basis for trips to the office, the gym, bike rides to the library, and numerous urban, suburban, and wilderness-based adventures. We took the bigger backpacking-style bags on longer hikes. And we took our soft-suitcase style backpacks on flights, drives, and weekend trips. We assessed fit and comfort for a range of body types, studied the packs' special features and learned all about their construction, and checked and double checked reported specs to our own measurements.

We packed and unpacked these packs; carried them half empty and overstuffed; tossed them in and out of multiple modes of transport; pushed their limits on hikes; and dressed them up for business trips to the urban wilds. This review is a roundup of our notes and experience out there in the urban, suburban, domestic, and international wilds.