Best Small Backpack in 2020

When traveling, you do not want to be turned away at the checkpoint to find your rucksack is not a carry-on bag. Neither do you want to hike with a heavy pack. That’s why I chose 8 best small backpacks out there. So without keeping you waiting, let’s get on with this review.

What’s the Best small backpack?

In honesty, after traveling since 2011, going through dozens of small backpacks myself, hundreds of compact backpacks options online, and even more real users’ opinions, it still comes down to your individual needs. Listed below are the best small bags according to how much they’re liked by people who bought them. Take note there is a FAQ section at the end to answer most of your burning questions.

1. Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack

Specs
Price: 💲💲💲
Capacity: 20 Liters
Weight: 1.2 lb (0.5 kg)
Size: 18 x 10 x 9 in (45.7 x 25.4 x 22.9 cm)
What We Like
Multi-function interior sleeve for a hydration bladder, Comfortable back panel, Roomy main compartment

See it in your local store:

US flag United States
uk flag United Kingdom
ca flag Canada
au flag Australia
sg flag Singapore

The small carry-on backpack offers you all-around use for international traveling with easy to load main compartment and access to inside content. For hiking, it is perfect with the multi-function sleeve on the inside to use with a hydration bladder, plus you get a front shove-it pocket for stashing smaller items and a light rain shell. You never know when you may need it. I chose it as the absolute best small backpack because it’s so lightweight and versatile.

Pros

  • Lightweight for hours of carrying,
  • Durable design,
  • Perfect size for day travels

Cons

  • Water bottle pocket not deep enough,
  • The Grab handle may rub against the lower neck

2. Thule Lithos Backpack

Specs
Price: 💲💲
Capacity: 16 Liters
Weight: 1.4 lb (0.6 kg)
Size: 16.5 x 11 x 7.9 in (41.9 x 27.9 x 20.1 cm)
What We Like
Dedicated laptop sleeve with elevated tablet storage, Strap management system, Front organization pocket

See it in your local store:

US flag United States
uk flag United Kingdom
ca flag Canada
au flag Australia
sg flag Singapore

A lightweight city backpack to wear all day without getting tired. Easy access laptop compartment for business travel with durable and weather-resistant construction. Designed with an attachment point for blinky light (sold separately) to remain visible at night.

Pros

  • Side pouch for a bottle,
  • Perfect for commuting,
  • Keeps items dry and protected

Cons

  • Limited pockets in 16L version

3. HIKPRO Backpack

Specs
Price: 💲
Capacity: 20 Liters
Weight: 0.4 lb (0.2 kg)
Size: 18 x 12 x 5.5 in (45.7 x 30.5 x 14 cm)
What We Like
Keeps things organized with the zippered compartments, Made with tear-resistant nylon and waterproof, Easily adjustable shoulder straps

See it in your local store:

US flag United States
uk flag United Kingdom
ca flag Canada
au flag Australia
sg flag Singapore

A nice small hiking backpack with water-resistant construction. Has a large main pocket for daily needs with an outer pocket for a camera, guidebooks, and your tickets. Made with durable shoulder straps, you can customize for a comfortable body fit.

Pros

  • Versatile to use biking and hiking,
  • Washes and dries fast,
  • Easy access outside pocket

Cons

  • It does sweat a little bit on the back

4. Osprey Daylite Daypack

Specs
Price: 💲💲
Capacity: 13 Liters
Weight: 1.1 lb (0.5 kg)
Size: 18 x 9 x 9 in (45.7 x 22.9 x 22.9 cm)
What We Like
Ventilated with mesh-covered back panel, External hydration bladder pocket, Multi-function interior sleeve

See it in your local store:

US flag United States
uk flag United Kingdom
ca flag Canada
au flag Australia
sg flag Singapore

I love this tiny backpack for its versatility to wear it anywhere from day hikes; trail runs to city travels. The side pockets fit two full water bottles, and you get a built-in sleeve for your laptop. While small, you can pack more than expected.

Pros

  • Well insulated to keep beverages cold,
  • Smooth zippers with large pulls,
  • Straps are well padded and breathable

Cons

  • The crosspiece on the neck digs into the spine

5. Pacsafe Venturesafe GII Anti Theft Travel Backpack

Specs
Price: 💲💲💲
Capacity: 25 Liters
Weight: 2.1 lb (0.9 kg)
Size: 19.7 x 11.4 x 7.9 in (50 x 29 x 20.1 cm)
What We Like
Anti-theft design with securable zippers, Adjustable and removable hip belt, Fitted with padded laptop sleeve

See it in your local store:

US flag United States
uk flag United Kingdom
ca flag Canada
au flag Australia
sg flag Singapore

The small rucksack is ideal for international travel with its anti-theft system. Not only do the zippers provide security, but the fabric itself is also cut-proof. You will find the RFID blocking pocket great for placing your wallet inside to prevent identity theft.

Pros

  • The bag is easy to put on or take off,
  • Comfortably fits a 13-inch laptop,
  • Water bottle holder on the side

Cons

  • The straps don’t adjust well for a small framed body hanging too loose

6. Simple Modern Wanderer Backpack

Specs
Price: 💲
Capacity: 25 Liters
Weight: 1.8 lb (0.8 kg)
Size: 19 x 12 x 7 in (48.3 x 30.5 x 17.8 cm)
What We Like
Separate cushioned zippered laptop and tablet compartment, Travel strap for attaching to a suitcase handle, Exterior sleeves to fit modern bottles up to 22 0z

See it in your local store:

US flag United States
uk flag United Kingdom
ca flag Canada
au flag Australia
sg flag Singapore

With the 25l capacity of this best small travel backpack, it is perfect for traveling abroad or to work. Designed with exterior side pockets for bottles and great to have when hiking. With the water-resistant design, you can take it out in the rain without concern that your gear will get wet.

Pros

  • Holds shape without anything inside,
  • Affordable price,
  • Simple yet stylish

Cons

  • The chest strap can get uncomfortable for women

7. Sinotron Lightweight Packable Backpack

Specs
Price: 💲
Capacity: 22 Liters
Weight: 0.7 lb (0.3 kg)
Size: 16.5 x 11 x 7 in (41.9 x 27.9 x 17.8 cm)
What We Like
Made with water-resistant nylon fabric, Folds up into a small size when not used, Lightweight with 22L capacity

See it in your local store:

US flag United States
uk flag United Kingdom
ca flag Canada
au flag Australia
sg flag Singapore

The small travel rucksack offers you all-around use for carry-on and day trips to the mountains. I love the breathable straps you can adjust on the go with loads of packing space inside. The design is lightweight, as you need no added weight when hiking, biking, or city exploring.

Pros

  • Gorgeous look and design,
  • Added pockets on front and side,
  • Comfortable to handle everything for a day trip

Cons

  • No zippered outside pocket

8. Oasis1100 by TETON Sports

Specs
Price: 💲💲
Capacity: 18 Liters
Weight: 2 lb (0.9 kg)
Size: 18.5 x 10 x 7 in (47 x 25.4 x 17.8 cm)
What We Like
Comes with a free hydration bladder, Offers customizable comfort to fit all frames, Bungee cord system

See it in your local store:

US flag United States
uk flag United Kingdom
ca flag Canada
au flag Australia
sg flag Singapore

The small backpack for hiking adjusts to fit all frames making it as comfortable for you to wear for hours. It has a durable 600D PU fabric design to ensure it lasts wear and tear while traveling. Furthermore, it has a bungee cord system for climbing helmets and cycling.

Pros

  • The hydration bladder is held with Velcro in place,
  • Loads of pockets,
  • Two side elastic water bottle holders

Cons

  • The bladder has an aftertaste but solved with washing

These are the best small backpacks recommended by frequent travelers. Personally, I like the Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack for its multi-function design to use with a hydration bladder if needed. The bag offers comfort to have all your essential items on hand.

Questions and Answers About Small Backpacks

What is considered a small backpack?

The majority of packs you find are between 10L and up to 85L, offering you a vast range of sizes. Anything smaller than 25 litres of volume is typically considered a small backpack.

How do I choose the best small backpack?

Choosing a small travel backpack comes down to your individual needs. However, here are some factors to consider when investing in your next rucksack:

  • Your budget,
  • Weather-resistance (Very Important),
  • Capacity and dimensions(especially important when flying),
  • Ease of use and to customize it according to your needs,
  • Opinions of those who used it before.

What size should be the best small travel backpack?

An ideal backpack for traveling should have a capacity of 15L to 25L and considered a daypack. This size works well to keep your camera, water bottles, some food, wallet, passport, etc.

What volume should my city backpack be?

The volume is anything between 17L to 25L to fit your laptop with other items needed for the day.

What’s the best small backpack for hiking?

When choosing a hiking backpack packed with items, your hips need to support the weight. For this reason, it helps to pick a pack with a hip belt to accommodate your hip size. . Furthermore, it needs to have a pocket for a hydration bladder or water bottles and, most importantly, enough space inside for emergency supplies (bug out bag). Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack is the best hiking small backpack out there.

Can I take two backpacks as a carry-on?

Usually, you can take two rucksacks on a plane as long as one is considered carry-on luggage, and the other one is small enough to be a personal carry-on item. The baggage needs to fulfill the airline’s specified size restriction to fit in the overhead bin or the space under the seat. Please check with your airline.

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Agness Walewinder
Agness Walewinder
Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"
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