The author with an Osprey backpack in Riga

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Your trip is drawing closer, and you still don’t have a good travel pack? Want to know what is the best carry on backpack for women?

Then you have found yourself in the right place!

In this guide we talk everything from the best backpacks for women available on the market to how to choose the best womens carry on backpack for your travel style. Apart from that here you will also find travel backpack reviews.

This guide will help you choose the best women’s carry on backpack regardless of your needs and travel style.

Best Carry on Backpack for Women

Now let’s take a look at the list of the best carry on backpacks for women!

To read more about every one of them scroll down! For more photos, latest price and user reviews check them out on Amazon – just click on the name or image of the backpack! I have also included a link to Amazon under every carry on backpack review.

NAMEIMAGESIZEDIMENSIONSPRICE ON AMAZON
*** - Our favorites
Osprey Women’s Fairview 40***40 L14” x 21” x 8.3”

(35 x 54 x 21 cm)
Check the price!
Kelty Women’s Redwing 40***40 L23” x 14” x 12”

(58.4 x 35.6 x 30.5 cm)
Check the price!
The North Face Women's Borealis***27 L19.75” x 13.25” x 9.753”

(50.2 x 33.7 x 24.8 cm)
Check the price!
Eagle Creek Women's Global Companion40 L22” x 14” x 9” (56 x 35.6 x 23 cm)Check the price!
Vera Bradley Campus16.75” x 12” x 7.5”

(42.5 x 30.5 x 19 cm)
Check the price!
Kenneth Cole Reaction Chelsea16” x 10” x 7.5”

(40.6 x 25.4 x 19 cm)
Check the price!
Cabin Max Metz44 L22” x 14” x 9”

(56 x 35.6 x 23 cm)
Check the price!

Luggage and backpacks

Carry On Suitcase or Backpack?

The most important question is – do you prefer to travel with a backpack, or a suitcase works better for you?

There is no definite answer which option is better. As with everything, there are benefits of using a travel backpack, as well as benefits of traveling with a carry on suitcase.

Your choice is based on of what kind of traveler are you.

If you are going on a holiday and don’t plan to move around much, opt for a suitcase.

Also, people who travel for work choose to travel with a suitcase rather than with a backpack.

More often than not families with young children tend to travel with suitcases rather than with backpacks. Money saving tip: buy a luggage set for your family. It’s cheaper than buying suitcases by the piece.

But if it’s a backpacking or a hiking trip, choose a backpack. That goes without saying.

Also, backpack is the perfect choice for a tropical beach destination where is a lot of sand and roads are unpaved.

The Osprey Fairview is a great womens backpack for travel.

If you decide you want to travel with a carry on suitcase, the best carry on luggage for women is a light and durable suitcase from any of these popular brands: Samsonite, Travelpro, Delsey, Briggs and Riley, American Tourister and Kenneth Cole.

Are you traveling with checked luggage and a carry on? The best option for you is a carry on backpack. It’s way easier to travel around with one rolling suitcase and a backpack on your shoulders that with two suitcases.

Considering traveling with a carry on bag only? Good idea! It’s liberating to travel with just one bag. Because, less luggage = less hassle. It saves time, and often – money. You don’t have to wait at a luggage carousel for your bag to arrive. And, if you are traveling with budget airlines often, you will save on checked luggage fees.

Osprey backpack

Carry On Backpacks for Women: Basics

What is the best womens backpack for your needs? How to choose a new carry on backpack, and what to take into account when buying one?

Backpack Type

Before buying a new carry on backpack for yourself, you need to decide what kind of backpack do you need.

There are several types of backpacks you can choose from. The most popular options are: travel backpacks, hiking backpacks, large daypacks and laptop backpacks.

I prefer travel backpacks. They are spacious, sturdy and often designed so that they can fit most baggage sizers perfectly. The best travel backpacks have a sturdy frame, good suspension system and harness, and put less strain on your body that the cheapest models. If you are traveling often (more than once a year), invest in a quality backpack.

Hiking backpacks have a sleek design, and fit a person’s frame snugly providing optimal comfort and load transfer. This is the perfect option if you plan to go hiking at your destination.

Also, you can use a large daypack as a carry on bag. This is the perfect option if you are traveling with checked luggage, and you require a smallish backpack for your travel essentials, electronics and a change of clothes. Nowadays many daypacks also feature a built in laptop or tablet sleeve (or both).

Laptop backpack is a great option for business travelers who travel with a checked bag, and require a sturdy carry on sized backpack for their laptop and other electronics. More often than not, laptop backpacks have plenty of space also for a change of clothes and toiletries. So, these kind of backpacks also can be used for short business trips – as the only luggage.

Capacity and Size

As the name suggests, a carry on backpack is a carry on friendly backpack that can be carried on board free of charge.

Unfortunately, there is no one rule concerning the size of a carry on backpack – every airline has its own baggage regulations.

Some airlines are stricter than others and allow only one personal item on board, and standard sized carry on backpacks are too big and should be put on hold.

Many carry on backpacks are made so that they can fit in most airline baggage sizers.

The capacity of most carry on backpacks is 30 – 40 liters.

Osprey backpacks on a beach

Compartments and Pockets

For me it’s very important to have plenty of small and big pockets, so I can keep my stuff organized during my trip.

It is good two have two large compartments, or – one spacious main compartment and one laptop compartment. So, that you can keep your laptop separated from the rest of your stuff.

In addition, it’s nice to have a couple of small pockets and at least one side pocket for a water bottle.

Pay attention also to the main compartment and its opening style.

It can be a top loader, front loader, drawstring top, or hybrid. The best women’ s backpacks for travel are front loaders with a zip the whole way round.

Female-Specific Backpack Features

To ensure extra comfort for women, many backpacks come with women’s specific suspension and harness.

What does a women’s specific backpack feature, and how it is different from a unisex pack?

There are several differences between a unisex and a women’s specific pack:

  • Shoulder straps on women’s specific backpack are set in a bit closer for more narrow fit.
  • Torso length is smaller and can be adjusted.
  • The hip belt is specifically designed with a woman’s build/frame in mind – it’s more angled than the one on unisex models.

Packing for a Trip - Best Carry on Backpack for Women

Best Carry on Backpack for Women: Reviews

1. Osprey Women’s Fairview 40

The Osprey Fairview 40 is my carry on backpack of choice. It’s a perfectly sized carry on, approved by many airlines.

What I love the most about this backpack is its sturdy back panel and stowaway harness. Also, the handles are super sturdy.

The backpack is definitely made with travelers in mind, and, for me, it definitely is the best carry on backpack for women.

The Fairview has two large compartments. The main compartment is spacious, and opens up like the one of a suitcase (it’s called a “front loader”). Just like a suitcase, it also features two compression straps and a mesh pocket on the lid.

The smallest of compartments has a padded laptop sleeve and a padded tablet sleeve.

There is a zippered pocket and two mesh pockets at the front.

The backpack features two outer compression straps and lockable zippers.

I already mentioned that the Fairview has a stowaway harness. It is great when checkin in the bag. Just unfold the special flap and cover the harness, and zip it up. It will protect bag’s straps and hip belt.

Also, you can use this backpack as a duffel. Hide the harness and attach the shoulder strap (included) to special D-rings at the side of the backpack.

The backpack is made of 210D Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop Nylon.

Dimensions: 14” x 21” x 8.3” (35 x 54 x 21 cm).

Size: 40 liter.

Weight: 3 lbs (1.44 kg).

2. Kelty Women’s Redwing 40

The Kelty Women’s Redwing 40 is my second favorite carry on backpack.

This backpack comes with women’s specific suspension. The shoulder straps and hip belt are built for woman’s shape providing optimal comfort and load transfer. Single LightBeam aluminum stay will keep your load stable.

The dynamic airflow back panel and hex-mesh harness provide plenty of ventilation.

The Kelty Redwing 40 is a hybrid-loading backpack. You can retrieve your gear either from the top or the side of the backpack. It’s perfect both for hiking and backpacking.

The bag has several compartments to help keep your stuff organized.

  • Hybrid-loading main compartment with a laptop / hydration pack sleeve;
  • Front compartment with several interior organization pockets for your electronics and accessories;
  • Two zippered side pockets;
  • Two mesh side pockets for water bottles;
  • Top quick access pocket for small items;
  • Stash pocket at the front of the pack for extra layers of clothing.

The backpack features a removable hip belt. This feature will come in handy when storing your bag in overhead compartment or while checking it in.

The bag also features loops for trekking poles and hide-away handle at the front of the backpack.

The backpack is made of 420D Poly Small Back Stafford.

Because of all the amazing features and its sturdy build, it is considered one of the best backpacks for women.

In my opinion, the Redwing 40 is the best women’s backpacking pack. It has a sturdy back panel and a harness which will keep the load stable. Also, it’s not too bulky, and comes in a lovely teal color.

Although the Kelty Women’s Redwing 40 is considered a carry on friendly backpack, check with your preferred airline before buying. Few airlines may consider it too big for carry on. Do not over-stuff the top pocket, to ensure that the backpack fits nicely in the baggage sizer.

Dimensions: 23” x 14” x 12” (58.4 x 35.6 x 30.5 cm).

Size: 40 liter.

Weight: 2 lbs 10 oz (1.2 kg).

3. The North Face Borealis Womens Travel Pack

The North Face Women’s Borealis is a smaller backpack perfect for those who travel with a carry on and a checked bag. Of course, it can be used as the only luggage, depending on your packing skills.

The bag features a dedicated laptop compartment that can accommodate most 15” laptops.

Front compartment with internal organization has a padded tablet sleeve, a pendolier and additional secure-zip pockets

The North Face Borealis features the FlexVent™ suspension system. It features a flexible harness built from custom injection-molded shoulder straps, a padded mesh back panel and a breathable lumbar panel.

The North Face Borealis womens travel rucksack features side compression straps and an external bungee cord that allows you lash on additional gear. There’s also a removable hip belt, but unfortunately it’s not padded.

This backpack is great not only for travel but also as a daypack for commute and college. As it doesn’t have a proper padded hip belt, it’s not really suitable for hiking.

The bag is made of 400D nylon and comes in various stylish color combinations.

Dimensions: 19.75” x 13.25” x 9.753” (50.2 x 33.7 x 24.8 cm).

Size: 27 liter.

Weight: 2 lbs 8.9 oz (1.2 kg).

4. Eagle Creek Global Companion Womens Carry On Backpack

The Eagle Creek Global Companion is a spacious, ergonomically shaped backpack for women with padded, moisture-wicking shoulder straps, back panel and hip belt.

The shoulder straps on this women’s specific backpack are set in a bit closer than the ones of the unisex model.

The best thing about this backpack that it opens flat, just like a suitcase (front loading). Also, on the inside it has two separate packing compartments (on both of its sides), just like a suitcase has. So, that the contents does’t shift around too much, both of the sides have zippered mesh flaps. There’s one zippered pocket on one of the mesh flaps.

The backpack has designated laptop pocket, that can be accessed either from the main compartment or through the zipper on top.

The Global Companion also three zippered quick grab pockets at the front and an elastic quick stash pocket (perfect for your wet rain jacket).

There’s a handy zippered pocket on the hip belt, perfect for storing your smartphone. The zippered shoe pocket is located at the bottom of the backpack.

The back panel of the Global Companion backpack is made of moisture wicking mesh. It is padded and features an air channel. The exterior of the backpack is made of 450D Geo Ripstop.

The backpack features lockable zippers.

Dimensions: 22” x 14” x 9” (56 x 35.6 x 23 cm).

Size: 40 liter.

Weight: 3 lbs, 8 oz (1.6 kg).

5. Vera Bradley Campus Backpack

The iconic Vera Bradley Campus backpack is one of my most favorite women’s carry on backpacks.

The backpack looks great, it’s well made and it has got plenty of pockets. Also, it’s versatile – it can be used for travel, college and commute.

The Vera Bradley Campus is a spacious backpack. There’s plenty of room for your travel essentials, electronics and a change (or two) of clothes.

The Vera Bradley Campus also features spacious main compartment, front organizational compartment, front zippered pocket and two side pockets. The backpack features separate padded compartment for your laptop.

There’s a trolley strap at the back of the backpack.

The backpack is made of canvas, and has a polyester lining. Unfortunately, the material is not water resistant.

The choice of colors is wide. You can choose from solid colors and patterns.

Dimensions: 16.75” x 12” x 7.5” (42.5 x 30.5 x 19 cm).

Weight: 1 lb 7 oz (652 grams).

6. Kenneth Cole Reaction Chelsea Laptop & Tablet Travel Backpack

The Kenneth Cole Reaction Chelsea backpack is a great backpack for traveling professionals.

The backpack is smart yet stylish, with plenty of pockets for all your gadgets, a change (or two) of clothes and some toiletries.

It features several compartments and padded tech pockets.

The front compartment has several small pockets for the smallest gadgets like cell phone, powerbank and cables. The middle compartment is spacious, and features a padded tablet pocket. The compartment at the back is designed for a laptop (up to 15”) and business essentials.

The Kenneth Cole Reaction Chelsea backpacks also has zippered front pocket and two side pockets.

There’s a trolley strap at the rear of the bag.

The backpack has a chevron quilted polyester twill exterior and a tear-resistant interior.

Dimensions: 16” x 10” x 7.5” (40.6 x 25.4 x 19 cm).

Weight: 2.15 lbs (1 kg).

7. Cabin Max Metz Travel Backpack

The Cabin Max Metz is a simple and inexpensive travel backpack, a perfect choice for those who travel once or twice a year.

The Cabin Max Metz is not women’s specific travel backpack, but, in my opinion, it still should be on this list. It’s great for those who love to travel but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a backpack. The backpack is definitely bang for the buck. It’s sturdy, well-made and spacious, as well as it comes in several fun colors that will appeal to ladies.

For a backpack this cheap it’s surprisingly organized. It has multiple compartments and pockets that will keep your stuff neatly arranged.

The front compartment is great for electronics, documents and small items. The lid of the front compartment has a large mesh pocket. And the compartment itself consists of various small mesh and non-mesh pockets.

There’s a zippered quick access pocket for boarding passes and other small stuff at the front of the backpack.

The main compartment is really spacious. It unzips all the way down, making it easier to pack and unpack the bag. Just unzip it all the way down, and you have access to all the stuff in the compartment. No need to dig through all the content.

The Cabin Max Metz features 4 outer compression straps, padded shoulder straps and a padded back panel. There’s a heavy duty handle on top.

The bag is made of 600D polyester which is durable and somewhat water resistant. The bag is surprisingly lightweight for its size.

Unfortunately, The Cabin Max Metz backpack doesn’t have a hip-belt, so it’s not really designed for hiking and long walks.

Although the Cabin Max Metz is the “perfectly sized carry on”, check with your preferred airline before buying. Few airlines may consider it too big for carry on.

Dimensions: 22” x 14” x 9” (56 x 35.6 x 23 cm).

Size: 44 liter.

Weight: 1.5 lbs (0.7 kg).

If you have any more questions about travel gear, check out my other gear guides! Or contact me!

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