The 11 Best Packable Backpacks of 2023

The Bellroy Lite Daypack is our favorite.

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Best Packable Backpacks of 2023

Travel + Leisure / Marcus Millan

Since you don't always know what you'll need to carry, whether you'll want to throw on an extra layer, or what you'll end up buying, it's nice to have a packable bag on hand when traveling. These satchels come in handy when sightseeing, hiking, wandering around theme parks, going to music festivals, and really any time you have a long day ahead that might be slightly unpredictable.

Our favorite packable backpack is the Bellroy Lite Daypack, a 20-liter bag with multiple pockets, a water bottle sleeve, a sunglasses pouch, and padded shoulder straps. But to help you find the perfect option for your needs, we rounded up several worth considering. Scroll down for the best packable backpacks on the market.

Best Overall

Bellroy Lite Daypack

Bellroy Lite Daypack


Why We Love It
  • Made of recycled plastic bottles, this all-star bag boasts ample organizational features and a comfy design that won't hold you back.

What to Consider
  • It doesn't fold into a pocket or pouch.

If we could only pick one packable backpack, we'd go with Bellroy's Lite Daypack. This supremely practical, endlessly functional bag folds or rolls up compactly, but when you open it up, it has a generous 20-liter capacity. It's big enough to fit a change of clothes, a rain jacket, a hat, a tablet, extra chargers, snacks, you name it.

Inside, you'll find various organizational features. We're talking a zippered pocket, a stretchy water bottle holder, a document sleeve, and a water-protected sunglasses pocket. What's more, there are multiple exterior loops for clipping extra gear, plus an "essentials pocket" with a key clip.

We also like that the ripstop fabric is sourced from recycled plastic bottles. But is this backpack comfortable? You bet! Thanks to the padded back panel, cushioned shoulder straps, and adjustable chest clip, the comfy design won't hold you back on your next adventure.

Price at Time of Publish: $99

The Details: 19 x 10.5 x 7 inches (open) | 0.8 pounds | 20 liters | Ripstop fabric

Best for Hikes

L.L.Bean Stowaway Day Pack

L.L.Bean Stowaway Pack

L.L. Bean

Why We Love It
  • This adventure-ready pack has lots of features that help you stay organized and comfortable on the trails.

What to Consider
  • At nearly one pound, it's a little heavier than other packable designs.

Looking for something for hiking or other outdoor excursions? L.L.Bean's Stowaway Pack might be your best bet. It has a surprisingly spacious 22-liter capacity and stuffs effortlessly into the included compact zipper pouch.

The adventure-ready design has lots of organizational pockets, two water bottle sleeves on the sides, and a binky loop for attaching a safety light. With a breathable mesh back panel, padded shoulder straps, an adjustable waist belt, and a chest strap, it's also incredibly comfortable and supportive.

Price at Time of Publish: $60

The Details: 19 x 10 x 7 inches open | 0.9 pounds | 22 liters | Recycled ripstop polyester

Best for Sightseeing

Eagle Creek Packable Backpack 20L

Eagle Creek Packable Backpack 20L

Eagle Creek

Why We Love It
  • It can hold souvenirs, a water bottle, your wallet, a spare charger, and anything else you need while out and about.

What to Consider
  • The shoulder straps aren't padded, so you may not want to fill it with heavy items.

This packable backpack is perfect for guided sightseeing tours or anytime you're exploring a new city by foot. In addition to offering plenty of space for picking up souvenirs while out and about, it has a side zipper pocket with key clips, a mesh water bottle pouch, and a security loop to help prevent pickpocketing.

We like that it's made of ultra-durable ripstop polyester and is treated with an antimicrobial agent to keep odor-causing bacteria at bay. Weighing less than half a pound, this is also one of the lightest options we found.

Price at Time of Publish: $35

The Details: 18.5 x 10.5 x 5.5 inches (open) | 7.5 x 5 x 2.5 inches (packed) | 0.4 pounds | 20 liters | Recycled ripstop polyester

Best for Festivals

Herschel Packable Daypack

Herschel Packable Daypack


Why We Love It
  • It's big enough to hold all the essentials, plus a light jacket, and comes in several cool, whimsical prints.

What to Consider
  • This backpack isn't billed as water-resistant.

You'll be glad to have this packable backpack with you at the next music festival you attend. It folds up into an internal self-storage pocket for compact transport, then when you need it, it unfolds into a spacious 24.5-liter carrier.

The main compartment is big enough to hold a light jacket, a hat, a water bottle, a camera, sunscreen, sunglasses, a phone charger, band merchandise, and then some. We also like that it comes in a range of cool, whimsy prints, like floral, camo, marble, and dye wash.

Price at Time of Publish: $35

The Details: 18 x 12.5 x 5 inches (open) | 0.4 pounds | 24.5 liters | Ripstop polyester

Best for Theme Parks

Paravel Fold-Up Backpack



Why We Love It
  • This durable, functional bag has plenty of room for a change of clothes, an extra coat, a camera, a water bottle, and more.

What to Consider
  • It’s monogrammable… for an extra fee.

If you're heading to Disneyland, Universal Studios, or another amusement park, we recommend bringing this bag along. Paravel's lightweight Fold-Up Backpack can fit a surprising amount of stuff, including a change of clothes, a water bottle, a coat, a hat, a camera, and even a 15-inch laptop.

It folds up flat and zips into the included pouch that takes up almost no room in a suitcase or larger bag. You can also slide it over your suitcase handle with the trolley sleeve on the back. Another reason to love this backpack? It's made of durable, water-resistant nylon sourced from recycled plastic bottles.

Price at Time of Publish: $75

The Details: 16 x 13 x 9 inches (open) | 6.5 x 6 x 2.5 inches (packed) | 0.6 pounds | Nylon

Best for Air Travel

Away The Packable Backpack

Away The Packable Backpack


Why We Love It
  • It qualifies as a "personal item," fits under the seat in front of you, and has a trolley sleeve on the back.

What to Consider
  • There's only one interior pocket.

Traveling by plane? This packable backpack from Away has your name on it. With a 19-liter capacity, it can fit everything from a jacket and a laptop to snacks and a water bottle while still passing as a "personal item" that easily fits underneath the seat in front of you.

We love that it has a trolley sleeve on the back, allowing you to slide it over the handle of your suitcase. And when you don't need it, the backpack folds into a little zippered pouch for easy storage.

Price at Time of Publish: $48

The Details: 18 x 11 x 6 inches (open) | 7 x 4.5 x 2.5 inches (packed) | 0.5 pounds | 19 liters | Recycled nylon

Best Drawstring

Cotopaxi Tago Drawstring Backpack

Cotopaxi Tago Drawstring Backpack


Why We Love It
  • With multiple pockets and a daisy chain, the Tago Pack is an updated take on the classic drawstring bag.

What to Consider
  • The straps aren't supportive, so you won't want to carry anything too heavy.

The drawstring bag is the original packable backpack, and we love Cotopaxi's slightly updated take on the classic, versatile design. The Tago Pack has traditional thin, corded straps, top carry handles, and pockets in the front and back for your phone and other small essentials you want accessible.

Made of recycled nylon, this simple yet functional bag rolls or folds almost entirely flat when you want to tuck it away. And the bright, multicolored design makes a striking statement while allowing you to easily locate it at all times.

Price at Time of Publish: $45

The Details: 9 x 13 inches (open) | 0.4 pounds | Recycled nylon

Best Lightweight

Osprey Ultralight Dry Stuff Pack

Osprey Ultralight Dry Stuff Pack


Why We Love It
  • The Ultralight Pack weighs less than half a pound and stuffs into a super-compact storage pocket.

What to Consider
  • You might need to watch the video to figure out how to stuff it into the pocket.

At less than half a pound, the Osprey Ultralight Pack is one of the lightest-weight packable backpacks we found. The unfolded configuration boasts a 20-liter capacity, but when you want it out of the way, it stuffs into a super-compact, built-in storage pocket.

In addition to a sizable main compartment, there's an exterior zippered pocket for stashing smaller items. This outdoor-friendly backpack is made of waterproof ripstop nylon and has water-tight seams to prevent the contents from getting wet.

Price at Time of Publish: $85

The Details: 18 x 10 x 8.5 inches (open) | 0.4 pounds | 20 liters | Ripstop nylon

Best Waterproof

Matador On-grid Packable Backpack

Matador On-grid Packable Backpack


Why We Love It
  • This bag is made of extra-strong Robic nylon with a thermoplastic coating and features weather-protected zippers.

What to Consider
  • It only comes in one color and has a small-ish capacity.

Looking for a waterproof design? The On-grid Backpack is an excellent choice. It's made of Robic nylon — a rugged material with notably high tensile strength — and features a polyurethane (thermoplastic) coating that repels liquids and prevents water from getting inside. Not only that, but weather-protected zippers offer an extra layer of defense against moisture damage.

This bag has multiple organization pockets, two expandable water bottle pouches, and a small pocket where it stuffs into itself for travel. While the overall capacity is on the smaller side, it has a laptop sleeve that fits computers up to 16 inches.

Price at Time of Publish: $65

The Details: 17.5 x 10.5 x 8.5 inches (open) | 6.5 x 6 x 2.5 inches (packed) | 0.5 pounds | 16 liters | Waterproof nylon

Best Style

Tumi Voyageur Just in Case Nylon Travel Backpack

Tumi Voyageur Just in Case Nylon Travel Backpack


Why We Love It
  • Available in several chic hues, this backpack is not only functional and versatile but also supremely stylish.

What to Consider
  • The price is pretty steep for a packable backpack.

Packable bags often prioritize function over aesthetics, but with Tumi, you don't have to choose one or the other. The brand's best-selling Just In Case Backpack comes in several chic colors ranging from soft lilac to misty sage to classic black with gold zippers.

It has a spacious main compartment, a front zip pocket, an upper grab handle, and a trolley sleeve for sliding it over your suitcase handle. Not sure when you'll need it? This carrier folds entirely flat into its included zipper pouch for easy packing and transport.  

Price at Time of Publish: $150

The Details: 15.5 x 12.5 x 4.5 inches (open) | 0.6 pounds | 15 liters | Nylon

Best Rugged

Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Tote

Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Tote Bag


Why We Love It
  • This packable backpack-tote hybrid is lightweight, durable, and water-resistant.

What to Consider
  • … but it’s not waterproof.

Need something more rugged for outdoor adventures? Check out Patagonia's Black Hole Tote. Made of recycled ripstop nylon with a thermoplastic coating, it's lightweight yet durable and water-resistant.

This conveniently packable bag has lots of organizational features, including multiple pockets and two stretchy water bottle pouches. You can carry it like a backpack or use it as a tote and tuck the mesh harness away when it's not in use. With a 27-liter capacity, this is also one of the largest packable backpacks on our list.

Price at Time of Publish: $99

The Details: 15.5 x 10.5 x 8 inches (open) | 0.8 pounds | 27 liters | Recycled ripstop nylon

Tips for Buying a Packable Backpack

Prioritize lightweight and durable materials

The best packable backpacks are made of durable yet lightweight materials, such as ripstop nylon or polyester. These synthetic fabrics resist tearing and moisture damage while standing up to daily wear and tear. If you need something for outdoor use, look for a bag with a water-repellent coating that prevents liquids from getting inside.

Consider your organizational and capacity needs

You'll also want to consider what you need in terms of organizational features and overall capacity. When unfolded, most packable backpacks have capacities ranging from 16 to 24 liters, which is about average for a day pack but slightly smaller than a standard backpack. Beyond a main compartment that can fit larger items, you may want a few smaller pockets, pouches, and sleeves for things like your wallet, phone, chargers, a laptop, or a water bottle.

Decide when, where, and how you'll use it

When browsing options, think about when, where, and how you'll be using your backpack. Do you plan to keep it inside a purse when it's not in use? Look for something with an ultra-compact stuff sack. Will you be going on a winter hike or exploring a rainy city? Opt for a water-resistant material. Are you traveling by plane? Look for a bag with a trolley sleeve that'll fit under the seat in front of you.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What makes a packable backpack different from other backpacks?

    At the risk of stating the obvious, the main difference between packable backpacks and regular backpacks is that the former are designed to fold, roll, or stuff into a compact configuration. Like packable coats, many come with little pouches you can stuff them into. This type of bag is also often slightly smaller than a standard backpack and may have fewer organizational features.

  • Can my packable backpack be a carry-on or personal item?

    Absolutely! Like any backpack, the packable variety can be used as a carry-on bag for air travel as long as it fits into the overhead compartment, which won't be an issue in most cases. To qualify as a personal item, it just needs to fit under the seat in front of you on the plane.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

T+L editor Theresa Holland is a seasoned commerce writer specializing in luggage, packable apparel, and other travel essentials. For this story, she researched today's best packable backpacks, narrowing it down to the most functional, versatile designs with standout features.

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