What makes a backpack minimalist? Is it the sleek design? The number of pockets it has? Or is it the weight?
A minimalist travel backpack is a tool that helps you live your life without all the extra things. If that means you have lots of extra pockets, then so be it. If that means you opt for a bright color instead of the typical minimalist black, good for you!
Whatever minimalist backpack you choose, it should help you make the conscious decision to do with less during your day. Check out our list of minimalist travel backpacks designed for every walk of life.
9 Best Minimalist Travel Backpacks Reviewed 2019
1. Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L (Black Camera Bag)
With it’s odd design, many zippers, and thick straps, you might not think this is a good minimalist backpack. And you’d be right… if you were not a photographer.
Photographers, however, will love this backpack. The Peak Design Everyday 20L Backpack is specifically for your camera and all it’s needs. The main interior compartment has two side-loading options. Both side-loading flaps have extra dividers for lens caps and other accessories.
Inside the main compartment are large Velcro dividers. They’re perfect for stashing your lenses and main camera body without jostling them around. The Velcro allows you to make your storage one-of-a-kind, so you can adjust it however you need.
The back of the Peak Design Everyday Backpack has a compartment for your laptop or tablet. This way you can do your editing and work on the go with your camera.
The straps are stiff, but they have a chest strap and padding to make traveling with your camera even easier.
2. Hynes Eagle 38L Flight Approved Weekender Carry On Backpack
There is nothing worse than getting to the airport, everything you own in a carry-on, and having to check that bag.
This is the kind of situation you avoid with the Hynes Eagle 38L Flight Approved Weekender Carry On Backpack. The bag was crafted with airline travelers in mind, so it’s dimensions are perfect for fitting in over-head compartments.
This bag is also the perfect alternative for a suitcase. The front-loading design simulates a suitcase, so you can get whatever you need with ease. You can even use your packing cubes with this backpack.
There are three ways to carry this minimalist travel backpack. The handles on the top and side mean you can pick it up and move it easily, while the padded straps will help you carry it on your back during adventures. The straps themselves are “hidden” so you can easily make this into a suitcase.
Use the compression straps to keep your belongings in place, and this backpack will last through any adventure you throw at it.
3. Incase EO Travel Backpack
If you’re headed for a weekend work trip, then the Incase EO Travel Backpack is perfect for carrying all your work gear.
This weather-resistant backpack will carry all your electronics, like a laptop, iPad tablet, and any other cords you have. In fact, they have several built-in pockets to organize all your work accessories, from pens, notebooks, to cords and batteries.
Another wonderful thing Incase thought about while designing this backpack is how easy it is to remove your computer. All you have to do is flip open the top, and you can take out your computer for airport security points. It’s so easy, everyone standing behind you in line will thank you.
There is no external storage, so you’ll need to think about how to carry around your water bottle. Other than that, this is a good little travel backpack. The main compartment is expandable, so you can transition this backpack from weekday to weekend with no trouble.
4. Timbuk2 Uptown Laptop Travel-Friendly Backpack
Since 1989, Timbuk2 has been making backpacks and messenger bags for workers on the go. At first, they thought of how to help the commuters in their San Francisco market, but as the world has changed Timbuk2 has grown.
The Uptown Laptop Travel-Friendly Backpack is the go-to bag for digital nomads and minimalist travelers. The straps are adjustable, comfortable, and the back has airmesh ventilation.
More importantly, it has several compartments for all your work travel gear. The back compartment can hold both your 15” computer as well as a tablet. It opens up “butterfly style” so that you don’t have to remove your electronics while going through security. The bag can lay flat, so both you and security save time.
The main compartment is great for storing notebooks, pens, and any other carry-on essentials. There’s even an external side pocket for water bottles and umbrellas. The reinforced handles on the side help you grab the bag and go.
If you’re a digital nomad looking for the best minimalist travel backpack, Timbuk2’s Uptown Travel-Friendly Laptop bag is for you.
5. Kopeck Deluxe Black Waterproof Laptop Backpack
If you’re a student or a tech worker who has to travel, the Kopeck Deluxe Black Waterproof Laptop Backpack is a good option.
This backpack has three large compartments for everything you need. The anti-theft compartment in the back is the perfect place to store your full-sized laptop.
The second compartment has pockets for tablets, wallets, or any books you need to carry.
The front compartment is the best place for pens, cords, or small notebooks.
Sturdy zippers seal off each compartment on the backpack. The backpack material is anti-scratch and water repellant. If it gets dirty, you should be able to just wipe off the mess.
The straps are thick, padded, and sewn to help improve your back posture. The padding on the back is comfortable, with special air vents.
If you’re looking for a sturdy and minimalist travel backpack that will also stand up to the rigors of student life then check out the Kopek Deluxe Black Waterproof Laptop Backpack.
6. Osprey Packs Stratos 36 Backpack
Hiking backpacks need a lot more bells and whistles than most everyday backpacks. That’s because hiking is a multi-day adventure over rough terrain. Even the most tranquil hiking trails need some strength and endurance.
That’s why it’s important to get the right backpack for hiking. If you’re looking for minimalist hiking backpacks, then the Osprey Packs Stratos 36 Backpack is one of your best options.
First of all, the straps are padded, well-made, and sturdy. You can adjust them to your height and comfort. The chest straps and hip straps are also adjustable, so you carry more of your stuff with your hips rather than your shoulders.
The storage capacity is also excellent. The pack has both a top-loading and a side-loading feature to make getting your items a lot easier. The little extras, like the hydration tool, hiking pole storage, and sleeping bag compartment, make this a great option for hiking.
7. Osprey Packs Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack | Minimalist Travel Backpack for Women
Women have different needs than men when it comes to backpacks, especially if they’re on the curvy side. They also need adjusted hip-straps.
The Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack is the best solution for weekend warriors and hikers.
This backpack is front-loading, so you won’t have any problems with packing or unpacking your things. It’s has a 40L capacity, so you can pack quite a lot in this light backpack. There are also front compression straps to keep your stuff in place and ease the pressure on your zippers.
If you’re checking your bag, then use the Stowaway Backpanel. You can tuck away the padded straps, hip-strap, and chest-strap. This makes everything easier to pack in overhead bins, so there’s less of a chance you’ll have to check your bag.
The construction of the Osprey backpack makes hiking or exploring a breeze for women. If you’re someone who loves to have weekend adventures, this is the backpack for you.
8. Opposethis Invisible Backpack One Mini
If you love an original minimalist backpack in a small-size, this will be your best pick. The Opposethis Invisible backpack one mini has a compact size, and although not an outstanding pack, it is quite distinctive.
It harbors several compartments for various things you want to carry including a separate 13” laptop sleeve. Other than that, it has got a number of hidden pockets, where you can keep your valuables – phone and wallet –, a secret water bottle pocket, and even a shoe compartment.
It is ideal for travel where you need a small load yet still carry everything you need.
The pack is completely weatherproof and helps keep the contents in there dry at all times. The thing you’ll love most about this pack is that is very tech-friendly, thanks to the cut-off top.
Other than that, although it may seem like an ordinary low-key type of minimalist travel backpack, it is still one of a kind.
9. Miir 25l backpack
If you’re looking for, value for your money, I think the MiiR backpack delivers just that.
It is a waterproof backpack with a bombproof 630D nylon with a finishing of durable water repellent. The internal of the backpack is also water resistance, courtesy of the polyurethane coating and PU coated zippers.
The backpack is also an embodiment of style and functionality. It is a great fit for your laptop, up to 15”, a change of clothes, lunch, among other valuables and necessities you need to carry along. Not to mention, you can travel with it to the beach, to the mountains, name it all.
The capacity of the backpack is relatively bigger compared to other minimalist travel backpacks. On the upside, you can easily customize it to pack up any load you’ll be carrying. This is all possible with the easy roll top with a zipper n the back, which allows you to access both the laptop and main compartments with ease.
If you’re packing for a long trip, the open top of the backpack will allow you to carry a bit more, and even larger items that will serve you for several days.
Buying Guide | Minimalist Travel Backpack
How to Choose the Right Minimalist Backpack
When it comes to minimalist backpacks, aesthetics are just as important as practicality. In fact, the two should work hand-in-hand to help you live your minimalist lifestyle.
If you’re a minimalist, you want to be able to pack only the things you need in the smallest receptacle you can. That’s because minimalist travelers don’t want too many things. They only want what they need, and they don’t want to lug around a suitcase to have it.
That’s where minimalist backpacks come in. These backpacks are sleek, and great for storage. They don’t have a lot of extra zippers on the outside, so it makes it easier to travel with these backpacks on planes and while hiking.
Everyday Minimalist Backpacks have as few pockets as possible. They encourage you to bring only the essentials, and leave the rest at home. This makes it easier to carry, while making you think about your day in a purposeful way.
Minimalist Traveling Backpacks are a different animal. They’re made for weekend trips or long hikes. While they’re still engineered to help you carry the essentials, you need more space and organization for your trip.
Minimalist Hiking Backpacks are like traveling backpacks in spirit, but they’re made for the rugged outdoors. They’ll have more features, like chest and hip straps, so that you can have an enjoyable hiking experience.
No matter what kind of minimalist backpack you choose, each pack should have some of the same features.
– Lots of Pockets to store all your things.
– Durability, because part of the minimalist lifestyle means buying less stuff.
– Easy-to-Open for practicality.
– Versatility so you can take your minimalist backpack wherever you go.
Buying a minimalist travel backpack is about finding the best product for your lifestyle that will last as long as you need it.
How to Get the Right Fit
In an ideal world, we could walk right into our corner store and try out as many minimalist backpacks as we need until we found the right one. We don’t live in a perfect world, so we often have to make the best guess we can base on what’s on the Internet.
The first thing you’ll need to help you fit a backpack is a measurement. This measurement should be from the base of your neck to the top of your hips. It should be taken along the spine.
Based on this measurement, you can pick out the size of your pack.
– Extra small packs are 15” and under.
– Small is 16” to 17”
– Medium to Regular is 18” to 19”
– Large is 20” and up.
After this, adjust the load of your backpack to keep the load forward. It should never be dragging you down, as this puts a lot of weight on your shoulders. If you’re fitting a hiking backpack, make sure the load is more on your hips than on your shoulders.
Picking the Right Capacity
Choosing the right capacity for your minimalist backpack depends a lot on what you want to do with it.
Are you carrying it to work? Then you really don’t need a backpack with more than 20L capacity. In fact, 10L capacity should be just fine.
Instead, if you’re choosing a minimalist laptop backpack, it might be easier to choose a pack based on laptop width. Most of us carry computers with us to work or on trips, so your backpack needs to accommodate this.
Full size laptops can be up to 17” or more, so make sure you get a backpack that fits this size.
Most backpacks will fit a laptop up to 15”, but again you need to make sure of this before you buy the pack.
If you’re going on a weekend long adventure, then choose a backpack with 50-60L capacities. Experienced minimalists can make this capacity work for longer than a weekend, but that takes lots of experience and practice.
Going on a week-long trip? 60-80L is the best capacity for you. The problem with this large pack is that you won’t be able to check it in as a carry on. That’s the true mark of a minimalist backpack.
That said, you should sacrifice a comfortable trip for your minimalist ideals. If you’re going on a month-long hiking trip through the Alps, take as big a bag as you need. You’ll need to pack things like food and cooking utensils, so don’t be afraid to take a large bag to do so.
How Much Should A Minimalist Backpack Weigh?
Again, the weight of your backpack will have a lot to do with what your goals are.
Unlike minimalist shoes, there isn’t a weight limit for a minimalist backpack. Yes, it should be as light as possible, but the goal of a minimalist backpack is not the same as minimalist shoes.
Minimalist shoes want to improve your life by simulating a barefoot experience. Minimalist backpacks know there’s no way to simulate a “bareback experience.” Instead they make your life better by making it easier for you to carry the essentials on your daily journeys.
With that in mind, there are still some guidelines for how much your pack should weigh.
No matter what you’re doing, a loaded travel backpack should never weigh more than 20% of your body weight. For example, if you’re 200 lbs, your backpack should never exceed 60 lbs.
When it comes to everyday backpacks, the weight should never be more than 10% of your body weight. Again, if you’re 200 lbs then you shouldn’t carry anything more than 20 lbs during the day.
This is one way minimalism comes into play for backpack users. To reduce the weight of your backpack, you need to drop any unneeded items. This can include extra pairs of pajama pants, when you really need extra socks.
Minimalist backpacks are about using your space and tools in the most economic way possible. If your backpack isn’t helping you do that, it’s not minimalist.
What Sort of Organization and Design Features Should a Minimalist Backpack Have?
To be honest, your backpack can have as many or as few design features as you want. Again, the whole point of a minimalist backpack is to make life easy for you.
For example, some people need those extra pockets to help them organize all their things. If they know where everything is, then they can find it more easily.
Others though think the extra pockets are a waste of space and unnecessary weight. These purists are the ones who would rather have a lightweight bag with a few things than a bag with a ton of extra compartments.
Yet again though, minimalist purists need to be wary of cutting out too much when it comes to long trips. For example, they might want a simple Herschel Heritage bag for work but need the eBags Perfect Slim for traveling overseas.
When it comes to features, think about your lifestyle. Do you always seem to run out of battery life on your phone? Get a bag with a USB feature.
Do you travel by plane all the time? Then a travel bag that makes security easier could be a god-send for you.
Don’t let the minimalist mantra of “less is more” stop you from getting the best bag for your lifestyle. If it doesn’t work for you, you’ll only end up buying more things, which defeats the purpose of minimalism.
What Do Women and Children Need to Look for in Minimalist Backpacks?
There are a few key differences in the way women and children carry their backpacks versus men.
Children are still developing, so it’s important to get them a pack that helps them rather than harms. It’s important to get them something with thick padded straps. The backing should spring back when you press it. It should never pop like bubble warp or crinkle.
You also need to be very careful not to overpack a child’s backpack. Again, we should only be carrying 10% of our body weight. If your child is 80 lbs, they should only be carrying 8 lbs worth of stuff.
Adjust the straps until the load is leaning forward instead of weighing them down.
If you can, get a backpack with wheels instead. They’ll still enjoy their new minimalist backpack without having to worry about carrying it.
Women also have different things to worry about when it comes to minimalist backpacks. Curvy women already have a lot of strain on their backs, so it’s important to get a backpack that fits properly.
Each woman should measure her torso before ordering a backpack to ensure she has the right size. She should also consider getting a backpack with chest straps and hip straps made for women.
As far as everyday backpacks go, women need to make sure the load of her backpack is sitting forward. It can help her shoulders and reduce the weight on her back.
Best Minimalist travel backpack buying guide: Final Thoughts
It’s time to wrap up!
Travelling simply on the road, with minimal belongings, provides a ton of benefits! Increasing numbers of people are choosing to live in a minimal way as a result.
Finding the perfect minimalist travel backpack isn’t a bad place to start!
I really hope this buying guide to the best minimalist travel backpacks has helped you find the perfect pack for your needs.