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Travelling for work again? Well, it’s probably time to get kitted out with the ideal business backpack for travel.
Whether I’m travelling for business or pleasure, I always prefer to take a backpack instead of a suitcase. But as you’ll see in this guide, they can still look quite smart.
Is it Unprofessional to Carry a Backpack?
No, it’s not unprofessional to carry a backpack for business, however the type of backpack you carry can impact your outfit.
You’ll need to ensure the backpack is suitably formal for the occasion. If you’re a digital nomad this might be different to someone visiting a conference.
Of course, one of the bigger concerns with a business backpack is whether it will ruin the shoulder pads on your jacket and leave creases.
It’s best to use carry handles or wheels when you have freshly ironed business wear on so look out for these features.
Best Business Backpacks for Travel
Here are my favourite backpacks suitable for business travel:
- Best Overall: PacSafe VentureSafe
- Runner Up: Nomatic Travel Backpack
- Budget Pick: Mark Ryden Business Backpack
- Premium Pick: Peak Design Travel Backpack
- Good All-Round Backpack: Osprey Farpoint 40
- Ergonomic Fit: Bellroy Transit
- Water Resistant: Timbuk2 Spire
- Best with Wheels: Samsonite Guardit 2.0
Below is a run down of each backpack with the pros and cons to help you decide if it’s right.
A lightweight streamlined bag with lots of anti-theft features
Capacity: 45L // Size: 55 x 35 x 21.7 cm // Price: £££ // Weight: 1.8kg
If you want to keep all your belongings safe when you travel for business, then a PacSafe product will always make a good choice.
Hidden eXomesh wire mesh inside the material protects against slash and run thefts.
The backpack uses a Roobar locking system which secures all the zips in one place and provides a lock point to secure your bag. If the 45L doesn’t work with you, there are also two more size options.
You can use the backpack like a suitcase, with a full three-side opening, making security a breeze. And the shoulder straps can be packed away to smarten up in the office. At 55cm tall, this bag may not work as a carry-on for some airlines.
Nomatic Travel Backpack
Slim, stylish all-rounder – they’ve thought of everything
Capacity: 20-30L // Size: 53.34 x 35.81 x 19.05 cm // Price: £££ // Weight: 1.8kg
This backpack looks very professional and will please even the most style-conscious business traveller. However, it’s a teeny bit small if you want to make the most of your carry-on dimensions.
Otherwise, the backpack is hard to fault, and it does expand from 20 to 30L which helps the size constraints.
The organisation is well-designed and includes an easy access laptop pocket as well as other handy features like a retractable key leash, and water-resistant materials.
The unique pocket for liquids reduces time in security rooting around, and the shoe pocket’s particularly useful for business travellers.
Furthermore, there are a few key anti-theft features such as the RFID pocket and theft-resistant zips. All in all, an excellent choice which covers all bases.
A super lightweight backpack ideal as a carry-on used with carry-on wheeled luggage
Capacity: 20-30L // Size: 16 x 32 x 50 cm // Price: £ // Weight: 0.9kg
This backpack looks great, and you could even get away with using it in formal settings.
It’s the cheapest one on this list, but also the smallest so may only be suitable for shorter trips.
If you want a super light backpack, it’s under 1kg, which is great for travel. Think of this as your daypack for the trip with the bulk of your luggage in another bag – either a wheeled luggage carry-on or checked luggage.
The backpack has space for two devices and has backside anti-theft pockets, as well as a handy card slot on the shoulder strap. The materials are also water-resistant, which always comes in handy.
Peak Design Travel Backpack
A versatile backpack with well thought through design
Capacity: 30-45L // Size: 23 x 33 x 56 cm // Price: ££££ // Weight: 2.05kg
If you’re after the best of the best, then the Peak Design travel backpack is full of features that make it a good pick for business travellers.
The firm backpack shape and thought through pocket design makes organising and packing a breeze.
Furthermore, they have used 100% recycled materials which have some water resistance to them. You can open the backpack like a suitcase, from the top, or from the sides which makes for a very versatile product.
Adding to its versatility you can compress the backpack to a 30L size, or expand it to a 45L size with a 35L volume the standard setting, which you can use for carry-on.
The firm sides and ridged back panel make for a shape which you can easily pack into, however this does make it quite heavy.
Osprey Farpoint 40
The best backpack for those people wanting comfort as well as capacity (see Fairview 40 for women’s fit)
Capacity: 40L // Size: 34.8 x 22.99 x 52.98 cm // Price: ££ // Weight: 1.4kg
Osprey are best known for their outdoor backpacks. However, this backpack does a good job of converting to travel/business use.
The compression straps slightly take away from the business aesthetic. But for many people, the backpack will still be smart enough anyway.
As always, being an Osprey, the backpack is very comfortable to carry, and the respectable 38L capacity means you can pack a fair bit inside.
Top and side handles combine with stowable straps give the backpack a business smarts vibe.
Bellroy Transit Backpack Plus
Capacity: 38L // Size: 24 x 33 x 55 cm // Price: ££££ // Weight: 1.5kg
Designed by a small Australian brand, their focus has been quality both in design and materials.
They use quality, recycled, water-resistant materials. So, if you want a product which will last you for years, then Bellroy delivers.
The backpack opens like a suitcase and includes lots of pockets and a slim mesh pocket to keep shirts crisp.
Bellroy have included an invisible external access pocket in which you can safely store your passport, travel documents or even a water bottle.
A good budget-option water-resistant backpack which isn’t trying to be a suitcase
Capacity: 38L // Size: 13 x 31.5 x 47.5 cm // Price: ££ // Weight: 1.07kg
If you’re not keen on backpacks which aim to combine features from suitcases with a backpack, then this product will make a good choice for you.
It’s a backpack, and a smart-looking backpack so will suit use in most business settings. For anyone particularly wanting a waterproof backpack then this will also make a good choice.
The backpack was designed by Timbuk2 for Apple which means it perfectly fits your 15” Macbook plus an iPad.
There are a few fun quirks in the design, such as an on-strap bottle opener, and daisy chain webbing on the outside as attachment points for carabiners, helmets, U-lock, etc.
Samsonite Guardit 2.0 (with wheels)
Backpack or wheeled luggage? Can’t decide? Have both
Capacity: 29L // Size: 20 x 33.5 x 48 cm // Price: ££ // Weight: 2.2kg
Want a backpack to travel with, but also love to do the wheeled luggage thing through the airport then this product has your needs covered.
You can use the wheels, or use it as a backpack, as you feel on the day.
The downside, of course, is the wheels and handle add to the weight meaning the bag will use up 2.2kg of your weight allowance while only providing 29L of packing space. If you are a precision packer you won’t like that much.
On the positive side, the backpack does include lots of compartments, so if you like to have a place for everything you will like this aspect of the product.
Business Backpack Buyers Guide
Here is a run down of the key features that make a good business backpack:
First things first, you will want your backpack to fit your carriers carry-on requirements. In general your bag should be in the region of 40 x 30 x 23 cm, but usually anything less than 45L will be acceptable for the cabin.
When you’re travelling for business, you’ll most likely have more valuables with you than most care to carry.
Whether this in the form of gadgets and devices or important and confidential documents. Either way, rip-proof material, lockable zips and hidden pockets go down well.
Style: How Formal Do You Go?
Style plays more of a key role when buying a business backpack than a regular backpack. It needs to be adequately formal whilst still functional.
A decent business travel backpack for travel will need to have a tidy, streamlined, business-like aesthetic.
Laptop and Tablet Compartments
You’ll likely need your main working laptop, and potentially more than one device.
Be sure to check the size dimensions of the laptop compartments, especially if your laptop is over 15″.
You should also look for a suspended laptop compartment, this means it won’t directly hit the floor if the backpack is dropped.
Alternate Carry Methods
There will be times when you just can’t carry the backpack on your shoulders, especially if you’re wearing a suit jacket and don’t want to look like an IT guy.
With this in mind look for shoulder straps, large grab handles or even wheels.
A wheeled business travel pack will also come in handy at the airport or when you need a break from carrying it, but keep in mind that the wheels add extra weight.
Kieren is the avid traveller behind the blog. His adventures have included Interrailing through Europe, road tripping the US and backpacking SE Asia.