Skip to Content

7 Best Minimalist Travel Backpacks & Bags for Trips

Your travel adventure is most productive only if you have the right gear. The first thing you need is a backpack, but a product that accommodates all basic travel necessities without adding weight to your travel package.

In this post, you can choose the best minimalist travel backpack from the top options.

Minimalism has a lot of advantages, especially when it comes to traveling. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, you should understand that minimalist travel is all about making do with less.

For people going backpacking, it’s essential to have a proper minimalist travel backpack.

What’s so great about minimalist backpacks for travel?

Well, it’s not just the sleek and modern look. Like all travel gear for minimalists, these backpacks are designed for optimal efficiency.

Girl with a backpack walking through a field

When you’re traveling, you’re on the go all the time. Therefore, all your essentials should be accessible yet secure. Minimalist travel backpacks allow this and much more.

Find out how these backpacks make travel more comfortable in this article. We’ve compiled a list of the seven best minimalist backpacks.

Let’s dive right in.

The Best Minimalist Travel Backpack Reviews

Before we get into our reviews, what things should you think about while looking at travel backpacks?

Firstly, how much stuff do you want to take?

As a rule of thumb, your minimalist travel backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 15% of your body weight. So, pack wisely.

At the same time, there’s only so much you can cut down to. At one point, you need a larger-sized bag.

Most travel bags are either medium, large, or extra-large. So, if essential items such as your laptop are big, you should get a large or extra-large bag.

In this way, it’s also essential to work out what material and size backpack you want.

Thirdly, do you want a masculine, feminine, or gender-neutral bag?

In this article, we’ve listed mostly unisex minimalist bags, but almost all are customizable to your tastes.

If you’ve thought about these things, let’s get on our list.

1. Kaukko Travel Laptop Backpack

Kaukko Travel Laptop Backpack

Firstly, we have the Kaukko Travel Laptop Backpack. Kaukko has been a highly popular backpack brand since 1994. The company specializes in minimalist designs, combining functionality with comfort.

The Kaukko Travel Laptop Backpack is an excellent choice for both men and women. There are almost 30 colors to choose from, including black, grey, green, and red.

Key Features

  • Nylon lining for impact resistance
  • 600D Polyester Material
  • Adjustable padded shoulder straps
  • 22 L capacity
  • Button-End closure

Thanks to the nylon lining and 600D polyester material, the bag is pretty sturdy. It’s perfect for enduring rigorous TSA security checks, busy airports, and it makes for a great carry-on backpack that can fit in even the smallest airplanes out there.

Also, the button-end closure keeps your belongings safe and secure. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about valuables like MacBooks or DSLRs.

With the adjustable padded shoulder strap, distributing the bag’s weight is much easier.

This feature, along with the bag’s size, makes the bag neither too big nor bulky. It’s perfect for carrying around during long periods.

However, be mindful; the size is a problem if you’re bringing books or large folders. This minimalist bag is pretty tall but not wide enough to hold bulky items.

But—that’s the point of minimalist travel.

Also, the Kaukko Backpack is not for people with pets; the fabric attracts fur, so you will constantly need a lint roller on hand.

All in all, the Kaukko Backpack is for those who want a durable yet functional travel bag, making the best minimalist backpack.

2. Thule Subterra Backpack 34L

Thule Subterra Backpack 34L

If you’re looking for something sporty yet minimalist, the Thule Subterra Backpack is for you. Thule is a Swedish brand that’s been selling top-notch outdoor travel gear since 1942. All of their products cater to active and minimalist lifestyles.

The Thule Subterra Backpack 34L is an excellent choice for hiking or camping trips. Due to its long list of features, it doubles as minimalist travel gear and an everyday backpack.

What are the features we are talking about? Let’s find out.

Key Features

  • Packing cube
  • Padded 15-inch laptop sleeve
  • Two-way zipper (side and top) with magnetic closure
  • Power pocket
  • Waterproof nylon

With the packing cube, laptop sleeve, and power pocket, you can isolate different things. The packing cube allows you to be more organized when packing clothes, and consequently, fit more things in a small space.

Similarly, the laptop sleeve keeps your tech safe from sanitizer or perfume bottles.

But the real winner is the two-way zipper, which allows you both side and top access to your laptop and the main compartment.

Consequently, you don’t need to take off the bag to get something out.

Moreover, the waterproof nylon and sporty look make this minimalist backpack ideal for outdoor trips. It feels and can act like a duffel bag as well.

However, keep two things in mind. Firstly, the bag doesn’t stand on its own, which is frustrating if you’re spending long periods in a train station or airport.

Secondly, the magnetic closure is secure enough but can open if not closed properly. So, it’s better to get a second lock for your peace of mind.

Other than that, it’s a decent minimalist backpack for travel.

See Related: Best Travel Yoga Mats

3. Wowang Unisex Backpack

Wowang Laptop Backpack for Student

Wowang sells amazing vintage-style backpacks for both men and women. The Wowang Unisex Backpack has an elegant design, lined with soft leather padding and straps.

It comes in two streamlined colors: black and grey.

With this multifunctional minimalist backpack, you get sufficient storage space and excellent weight distribution, so your shoulders won’t ache at the end of the day.

Key Features

  • Includes 3C product cases
  • External and internal USB outlet
  • Waterproof meshing
  • Medium size
  • Lightweight shoulder straps

Now, the bag is medium-sized, but the inner compartments can hold three to four bulky books.

However, the main compartment is for your laptop. It has extra cushioning, so your laptop is well-protected.

Also, the shoulder straps have a light padding, so you don’t chafe. Consequently, the travel bag is ideal for all-day use. Apart from traveling, you can also use the pack for school or commuting.

Additionally, the 3C product cases include a pencil case, makeup bag, and water bottle cover (for a 2.36-inch diameter bottle). These cases make it easier to organize smaller and more delicate items.

What’s the downside, though?

For one, the water bottle doesn’t fit inside the bag, so you have to keep holding it. Moreover, the USB outlet wears out after two or three uses, rendering it futile.

However, the Wowang is still an efficient on-the-go bag, being highly recommended by users.

See Related: Best Gifts for International Travelers

4. Charmore Women Travel Backpack

Charmore Women Travel Backpack Anti Theft

The Charmore Women Travel Backpack is both a stylish and functional product for women. It comes in over 13 gorgeous colors, including black, mint green, khaki, and silvery grey. Each color goes perfectly with a variety of outfits, making it ideal for travel.

Let’s take a look at its best features.

Key Features

  • 36 cm high and 17 cm wide (large size)
  • Encrypted nylon
  • Anti-theft zipper
  • Convertible design
  • Multiple compartments

This Charmore bag is sizable for a minimalist backpack, coming with multiple pockets.

There are pockets for specific items such as sunglasses, passports, keys, cellphones, and laptops. In this way, you can quickly locate things without emptying the bag.

Also, thanks to the encrypted nylon fabric, the backpack is wear-resistant and waterproof.

So, don’t worry about accidentally scuffing the bag. The nylon actively prevents abrasions and tears, keeping the bag in top-notch condition.

Moreover, the anti-theft zipper is a highly useful trait for minimalist travels. It’s almost impossible to leave your backpacks in luggage compartments without worrying about theft.

The anti-theft zipper confuses pickpockets, keeping the real zipper hidden.

The only catch seems to be opening and closing the backpack.

You can’t open it standing up without stuff falling out. Therefore, you have to either sit down or have someone hold it up.

Despite this, the Charmore Backpack is a smart investment for women because it’s convertible. Thanks to the removable straps, you can convert it into a shoulder bag.

Whether you’re going out for a nice dinner or a day of sightseeing, this backpack is highly convenient.

See Related: Best Gift Ideas for the Avid Traveler

5. Mark Ryden Waterproof Backpack

Water-proof Backpack Markryden

Mark Ryden Global provides spectacular backpacks and travel gear at budget-friendly prices. This is a great budget minimalist backpack for all kinds of explorers.

The Mark Ryden Waterproof Backpack is a men’s backpack, ideal for business and traveling.

It’s an ultra-large backpack with a bold, black design. This makes it professional enough for the office and practical enough for a week of traveling.

Key Features

  • Adjustable straps
  • Dimensions: 12.6 x 6.3 x 19.7 inches
  • Padded air cushion
  • PU fabric
  • SBS zippers

Due to the adjustable straps, you can move around more comfortably. If you need something, you can release the straps, and the backpack will fall at your side like a satchel.

You can even wear it as a satchel if you want. To go back into backpack mode, just pull the straps.

Another feature that makes the bag easy to carry is the padded air cushion. The cushion is in the backside and straps of the pack. This aspect reduces pressure on your shoulders and back.

There’s also an adjustable waist belt, which secures the bag and helps redistribute weight. Through this, wheelchair users can secure the bag without getting it tangled in their manual controls.

Additionally, the SBS zippers and PU fabric make the backpack perfect for rainy or moist weather. SBS zippers prevent water leakage into the bag.

Moreover, the PU fabric has highly advanced waterproof fibers, so water doesn’t seep in. Instead, it slides off.

What’s not to like? Well, there’s a design flaw in the laptop compartment. The top is narrower than the base, so a laptop bigger than 14 inches doesn’t fit properly.

See Related: Best Travel Trailers for Couples

6. Lily & Drew Casual Travel Daypack

Lily & Drew Casual Travel Daypack

Founded in 2016, Lily & Drew is a travel and lifestyle brand that sells all sorts of travel essentials and accessories. The Lily & Drew Casual Travel Daypack works for all genders, with its even tones and doctor-style top.

It comes in eight colors, including black, grey, red, and navy blue. You can buy it in three sizes: medium, large, and extra-large.

Key Features

  • 15.6-inch laptop compartment
  • Internal dimensions: 9.00 x 11.00 x 16.00 inches (large)
  • Polyester exterior and internal lining
  • Passport pocket
  • One-year warranty

At its size, this is the best carry-on backpack since it easily fits under airplane seats, allowing you to keep your essentials close by.

At the same time, it has a fully-functional trolly strap, so you can keep it on top of your luggage while you’re at the airport.

Moreover, it’s pretty spacious, meaning it can easily fit clothes, books, snacks, makeup kits, and laptops/iPads. You can even fit in a pair of large men’s shoes, but it takes some maneuvering.

Also, the straps fit both adults and children. You can buy this bag for your kids as well. It’s fashionable enough for all age groups.

However, the zipper gets stuck a lot. The zipper is metal, while the teeth are plastic, meaning the zipper can tear through the teeth if pulled too hard. If you think that’s a major problem, you can opt for another backpack.

Even so, the Lily & Drew Casual Daypack is very comfortable. Since the fabric is so soft, you can also use it as a neck rest.

See Related: The Complete Backpacking Checklist for Travelers

7. AmazonBasics Slim Carry On Travel Backpack

Last but not least, AmazonBasics is Amazon’s private brand that sells all sorts of home and lifestyle items.

From kitchen gadgets to clothing, the brand sells it all. The AmazonBasics Slim Carry On is a prime example of their high-quality products.

Again, this is a unisex minimalist backpack, coming in both traditionally masculine and feminine colors.

The colors include blue, grey, pink, and purple.

Key Features

  • Vented back panel
  • Tablet pocket and laptop sleeve
  • Both side and top grab handles
  • Pass-through panels
  • Compression straps

If you want a mini suitcase instead of an actual backpack, this travel bag meets the criteria.

AmazonBasics Slim Carry On Travel Backpack

The AmazonBasics Slim Carry On combines the comfortable mobility of suitcases with the versatility of backpacks. It has multiple compartments, lined with mesh and zippers for secure keeping.

What does the vented back panel do? It prevents neck and backaches by cushioning your back. The compression straps do the same thing, so wearing the bag is more comfortable.

Also, the side and top grab handles make the bag more versatile. You can adjust the straps and use it as a shoulder bag, satchel, or suitcase.

The pass-through panels can fit medium-sized luggage handles, so transport becomes more convenient. This feature is especially useful at airports because you have to walk long distances.

The bag’s security features include anchors, which are sewn into the bag. The zippers lock onto these anchors, securing your belongings. So, you don’t have to worry about anyone stealing your stuff.

The only flaw is the narrowness of each compartment. You can’t fit large items in any of the pockets, including the water bottle one.

See Related: Best TSA Approved Travel Locks


As is the case in all aspects of travel, it’s essential to do your research when you’re buying a minimalist travel backpack.

Whether you’re looking up travel hacks or food tips, research empowers you with information and allows you to make smart decisions.

Similarly, with our list (based on reliable user testimony), you’ve looked at seven of the best backpacks for minimalist travel.

Simply put, the minimalist travel backpack is a practical choice, even for those not living minimalist lifestyles.

Related Guides

Related Resources

Lock In Your Travel Now

Find Cheap Flights
Use Skyscanner to find flight deals. As my personal favorite flight search engine, Skyscanner scours websites and airlines across the globe, leaving no stone unturned to help you find the best deal possible. And if you really want to take your savings to new heights, pair Skyscanner with Going (Formerly Scott's Cheap Flights). With access to exclusive mistake fares delivered straight to your inbox, you'll be packing your bags and jetting off on your next adventure before you know it.

Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Cover yourself against illness, injury and theft, and protect the arrangements you've made with our flexible travel cancellation insurance. My favorite options for travel insurance are:

Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.

Want More Destination Ideas Direct to Your Inbox?
Be sure to join the ViaTravelers Newsletter for expert tips, tricks and inspiration for your next travel journey!

Discover the Best Travel Tools
Be sure to visit our page on our favorite travel resources to learn how you too can visit over 10 countries in year.