We spend a quarter to a third of our time traveling and we have become very skilled at picking what makes sense to carry and deciding what should be left behind. Size and weight matter a lot and multi-purpose items are golden. We’ve carefully selected these products for utility and value and those marked with an asterisk have become part of our regular travel gear. Clicking on any of the product images will link directly to an Amazon page where you will find more descriptive information, additional reviews and where you can place an order. Please note that we may receive a commission on some items through the Amazon Affiliate program should you make a purchase. We do not recommend anything that we haven’t personally evaluated.
Backpacks come in all shapes and sizes and our travel gear includes three or four backpacks. My wife has a light weight pack with two main compartments and a smaller zipper pocket that will easily fit under her feet on an airplane. It has enough room for changes of cloths for a couple of days along with holding documents and those all important TSA friendly toiletries. We also travel with a light weight nylon backpack that takes up very little room when folded into its pouch. This comes in handy when we are out for a day and end up doing some unexpected shopping or when we need to lighten an overweight suitcase before flying.
Large Capacity Tactical Backpack
My first choice in a backpack covers a number of needs. For me it’s a must when we take longer trips for a number of reasons. First it holds 40 L (that’s 1/3 more than you average backpack) and it holds more than the larger carry-on suitcase. While normally it won’t fit under the seat, I’ve never had a situation where it won’t fit in an overhead bin on a crowded flight. It’s soft sided so it can conform to those irregular spaces.
Second it includes two large main compartments and two smaller compartments that provide for easy access to needed items. It’s classified as a “Military Tactical” backpack but from a travelers point of view that just means they meet stringent design requirements and toughness standards. In addition to holding a lot, they incorporate the Molle attachment system which provides incredible flexibility. The Molle system is a well thought out and universal system for attaching additional pouches and accessories to a backpack in a secure way. Molle systems are readily reconfigured to numerous requirements that include additional small and large pouches, water bottle holders, sleeping gear straps and shoulder strap attachments.
I’ve regularly packed this backpack to a weight of 45 pounds and the shoulder straps have enough padding to make the load comfortable. Interestingly, American flights don’t post a weight limit for carry-ons and I’m thinking you could load the pack with rocks and nobody would care, assuming you could lift the backpack. However while in South America, when checking in for a flight the notice indicated a maximum of 15 kilos per carry-on, thankfully nobody payed any attention to my packs weight.
If you have a packing routine, it’s easy to position specific items like chargers, TSA toiletries, first-aid kit, laptop or tablet, and travel documents in pouches for quick and easy access. My biggest issue is remembering where they are.
Additionally I can pack everything I need for a few days on the road in this backpack and by storing my travel electronic accessories in those pouches along with pouches to hold toiletries and medication, I’m ready to “bail out” in minutes.
This backpack’s specifications include:
- Side-zip closure
- Overall size 13″ 20″ 11″ / 33, 50.5, 28 CM
- A large capacity of 40L
- 600×600 Density fabric, durable and water-resistant
- Molle webbing throughout for attaching additional pouches
- Double-stitched, Heavy duty zippers and utility-style cord pulls
- Side and front load compression straps
- Ventilated mesh padded back area
- shoulder strap,breathable and comfortable.
- Y-strap on the top of military backpack to hold sleeping bag or mat
This, and most Military Tactical backpacks are available in sand and black while some manufactures also include camouflage. What these lack in style they more than make up it utility.
Molle Attachment Pouches
Molle attachment pouches come in a variety of sizes to hold extra clothes, sleeping bags and first aid kits. Most come with velcro attachable patches (American Flag patch usually included). Here are a few that I find come in handy :
Small Pouch For Shoulder Strap Mounting*
This pouch is designed to attach to the shoulder strap to be carried on the front. 7.5″ x 4.5″ x 1″. Made of water-resistant nylon Cordura. Includes Clakit Clip and Pouch attachments and provides two zipper pockets and a flap pocket to safely carry multiple items including smartphone, wallet, tools, passport, credit cards, money and more. Quick and easy access to valuables and keeps them secure from theft. Fits most smartphone models including cases. Clakit Clip can be reused with any accessory that has a belt loop, belt clip or molle backing.
Small to medium size Molle pouches are perfect for a first aid kit or small electronic accessories. Large Molle pouchs when you just need more storage and don’t want to carry a second pack. These designs are adaptable to a number of needs
Large Pouch With Quick D Ring Attachment
Large Molle 6″H x 14″L x 4″W and it can be attached with D rings or quick release clips. Designed for vertical or horizontal use adding extra space it’s suitable for attaching to pack sides or shoulder straps with quick release buckles.
Large Molle Pouch For Access to Small Items*
Large Molle 10″ x 7.5″ x 2.17″ – Clamshell Design, closed by double two way zippers with pulls, allows opening up completely to the bottom. It has paracord inside which can be adjusted to either allow for a chest mounted “desk” platform or to fully open. Moisture Resistant 1,000-D Military grade Cordura fabric coated to be water repellent).
Small Molle Pouches (Set of 2)
Small Molle Pouch – Sold as 2 pouches with US Flag patches. 6.2″ x 4.2″ x 2.3″. Made of 600D nylon, water resistant with vinyl inside to protect. The 2-way zippers make it easy to open and close from both sides. Provides one main compartment and one interior pocket perfect for storing pen, keychain, digital cameras, first aid supplies and gadgets.
Compact Packable Travel Backpack*
A Simple travel spare backpack. Opened measures 16.5” x 7.1” x 11.8” and 2.5 L capacity. Folded in pouch it measures 8” x 8” x 1.5”. Waterproof fabric protects against moisture. Pack this foldable backpack when you need it for extra room while you travel. Great as a carry-on when your baggage is over weight. Large main compartment secures larger items. Mesh front jacket pocket, 2 water bottle side pockets, extra external medium pocket and an inner zip pocket make it a great organizer.
Day Backpacks With Headphone and Charging Ports Built-In
Becoming popular with students, newer backpacks are now available with cables to attach a power bank inside and outside ports to connect a phone on some a headphones. This could also be good for hikers and day trips.
This black backpack with one separate padded laptop compartment holds and protects laptops from 13 Inch,14 Inch,15 Inch, up to 15.6 Inch. The middle spacious compartment for daily/work/travel/school necessities. Front compartment with many dividers for small items will keep your gear organized and easy to find.