If you’re looking for a backpack to use on your next flight but want something that won’t take up too much space, then this post is for you. We’ve gone through the best under seat backpacks and what makes them great. The best backpack for air travel is the one that is small and light enough to fit in the space in front of you, but also large enough to carry all your essentials for the trip.
What is the Best Under Seat Backpack?
We have compiled for you the top 7 Best Under Seat Backpack in 2023. In this article we go through the products that we have used ourselves, checked what other users thought about them and we ranked them accordingly.
With years of experience with backpacks that fit under plane seats and having used several under seat backpacks you can trust our review.
Moreover, you can scroll to the end of this review to see our mini buying guide as well as the answers to some of the frequently asked questions about under seat backpacks.
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Capacity: 6.5 liters
Size: 12 x 9.1 x 4.3 inches (30.5 x 23 x 11 cm)
Material: Faux Leather
Water Resistant: Yes
This versatile travel backpack is well designed with hidden, high-end zippers and strategically placed hidden pockets to ensure your valuables stay safe while giving you easy access to smaller items, such as your phone and cards. It is made of lightweight water-resistant material that is also cut-proof. The size of the XD Design Elle Fashion Anti Theft Backpack makes it perfect to carry as a personal item when you travel, meaning you can have an additional carry-on bag. This travel backpack for women is available in various gorgeous colors to suit every woman’s style preferences.
- Gorgeous faux leather design for a stylish look,
- Adjustable straps to accommodate different users,
- Has plenty of pockets and a water bottle holder
- Size might be too compact for those needing extra storage,
- Price point could be steep for budget-conscious travelers
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Capacity: 20 liters
Weight: 3.97 pounds (1.8 kg)
Size: 18.9 x 11.8 x 6.7 inches (48 x 30 x 17 cm)
Material: 500D Cordura Waxed Canvas
Water Resistant: Yes
The Wotancraft Pilot Travel Backpack is an excellent choice for landscape, travel, adventure, and wildlife photographers due to its rugged construction and modular design. It is a specialized camera pack with options to expand its capacity from 20L to 36L with add-on module pouches. The Pilot is a specialized camera backpack with a Velcro compatible interior compartment that allows you to configure the padded dividers in any set-up for your gear. It can hold two full-frame DSLR cameras, a 15-inch laptop, and five camera lenses or one camera with two lenses plus a day’s worth of clothes at the 20L capacity. Additionally, it features seven extra pockets for small camera accessories and personal items, while the modular attachments give you more space for clothes, toiletries, and other traveling gear. The camera compartment is accessible via two side zippers when you need to quickly grab your gear, while the back opening allows you to access all the contents, including the laptop. The pack also features open side pockets for water canisters or tripods, while the front kangaroo flap features hidden pockets for sensitive items like your wallet or passport. It has a top flap that holds down the top and front section of the backpack and is ideal for keeping quick access items such as a lightweight rain jacket. The Pilot backpack comes with MOLLE webbing for the add-on modular pouches to expand its capacity to about 36L. To help you carry the weight evenly, the back panel features a multi-layered padded mesh with a ventilation channel down the middle plus wide padded shoulder straps. It also comes with a chest strap, and optional waist strap, to secure the backpack to your torso and keep it stabilized to reduce fatigue while carrying it.
The pack features 500D Cordura Waxed Canvas construction that is abrasion and water-resistant for durability. Overall, it is a premium quality camera backpack for professionals, and its add-ons are a thoughtful addition for carrying personal stuff. However, it is a heavy backpack when fully loaded, and although some people may find it expensive, it is worth the money.
- Expandable capacity with add-on pouches,
- Premium quality construction for outdoor photography,
- Excellent tailor-made design for cameras and accessories,
- Good value for money
- Can be heavy with the add-on pouches
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Water Resistant: Yes
Introducing the J World New York Sunrise Wheeled Backpack, your perfect travel companion. This excellently designed backpack is engineered with versatility and convenience in mind, making it an ideal choice for both short jaunts and longer adventures. Cleverly constructed for aeroplane travel, it not only accommodates all your essentials but also effortlessly fits into overhead compartments and snugly under the airplane seat. Known for its robust build and thoughtful design, this backpack doesn’t compromise on durability. Its resilient finish can reliably bear substantial weight, while the water-resistant material ensures the safety of your electronics against unpredictable weather conditions. However, beauty is not just skin deep; peek inside and you’ll find ample space ready to cater to your packing habits.
From its sturdy build to its ample storage capacity, the J World New York Sunrise Wheeled Backpack offers a host of benefits that make travel a breeze. Yet, it’s worth noting, as with any product, to consider potential drawbacks. Users might find the wheels produce excess noise and the straps become uncomfortable after long periods of usage. However, these minor considerations are hardly a setback considering the incredible convenience this backpack provides. This pack encapsulates a harmonious blend of functionality, style, and comfort, designed with the discerning traveler in mind.
- Water-resistant to keep your belongings dryRobust construction for heavy-duty useAeroplane-friendly design fitting under the seat
- Wheels are somewhat noisy,
- Straps can be a bit uncomfortable after prolonged use
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Size: 16.5 x 7.1 x 11.8 inches (41.9 x 18 x 30 cm)
Water Resistant: No
Get ready for real adventure with the Bago Water Resistant Travel and Hiking Daypack. Crafted with a unique honeycomb polyester fabric, this bag is not only tear-resistant but exceptionally lightweight, ensuring it won’t weigh you down during your travel. It’s designed with a spacious main compartment featuring an inner zip pocket, precious for securing your valuables. Moreover, its multiple external pockets provide room to carry essentials with ease.
Though it has a 25L capacity, this backpack punches above its weight, acting beyond just a travel bag. Its compactness makes it a reliable carry-on for extra packages, and it transforms seamlessly into an everyday bag. A defining feature is its ability to fold into a sleek pouch for efficient storage.
This backpack’s fabric is not only water-resistant but efficient for carrying both camping equipment and survival gear. Easy to transition into any setting, this daypack comes in a diverse range of colors, catering for both men and women.
- Collapses into a pouch for facile portabilityTwo-way corded zippers assure easy access and sealingArray of pockets for organized storageCrafted with robust, water-resistant material
- Absence of back padding
- Front mesh has a tendency to wear out swiftly
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Weight: 5.29 pounds (2.4 kg)
Size: 18.5 x 13.5NaN inches (47 x 34.3NaN cm)
Material: 600 Denier Polyester
Water Resistant: Yes
If you’re someone who travels light and prefers to avoid checked-in luggage, the Everest Deluxe Rolling Backpack is a choice you might want to consider. This under-seat backpack combines portability and functionality, making it a standout option for quick trips.
Fit for airline cabins, this backpack is designed with dimensions that conveniently nestle under the plane seat, eliminating the need to stow it overhead. Lightweight yet robust, it offers ample room and comes equipped with 10 practical compartments. Theses sections promote smarter packing, providing a place for each of your belongings, no doubt a bonus for organized travelers.
A major highlight is the silence that accompanies the bag as it rolls, thanks to the quiet wheels integrated into the design. It ensures a hassle-free movement, letting you glide smoothly across terminals or hotel lobbies.
However, it may not prove as comfortable for longer distances, so it’s recommended for shorter hops. Additionally, durability might be a mild point of concern for some users, considering they found the fabric less resistant over time.
- Fits under airline seats for easy storage,Features 10 compartments for organized packing,Wheels provide quiet and smooth manoeuvrability
- Not very comfortable for long distances,
- Some users find the fabric not durable enough
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Stash your travel essentials in style with the Osprey Daypack Daylite Plus. This compact carry-on backpack is a well-rounded choice for globetrotters. Its roomy main compartment is quick to load and simple to access, providing a hassle-free experience when packing or retrieving items. For the adventurous hikers among you, the bag’s multi-purpose interior sleeve doubles as a hydration bladder compartment, keeping you replenished on long treks. The front ‘shove-it’ pocket provides ample space for small essentials or a light rain shell, proving handy during unexpected weather changes. I found its lightweight construction to be a blessing for long hours of carrying the bag without discomfort. The solid design, made with high-quality materials, ensures the longevity of this backpack. Its compact size is just right for day travels, making it an efficient and versatile travel companion.
- Versatile interior sleeve for a hydration bladder,Comfortable and padded back panel,Spacious main compartment,Lightweight for prolonged usage,Robust and long-lasting design,Suitable size for day trips
- Water bottle pocket is relatively shallow,
- Grab handle may cause slight discomfort on lower neck
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Size: 19.7 x 11.4 x 7.9 inches (50 x 29 x 20.1 cm)
Material: 210D Nylon
Water Resistant: No
Presenting the Pacsafe Venturesafe GII, an anti-theft daypack that stands out in its category. This daypack flaunts a 3-line ripstop 210D nylon exterior and a polyester lining that add to its durability. Though it is a bit heavier than your average daypack at 1.9 pounds, its robust build and superior features make up for it.
Providing you a safe storage space of 25 liters, it is more compact when compared to other daypacks like the G4Free, but the storage is ample for essential items. It proudly holds the title of being the only anti-theft daypack in this roundup. Its design features include an internally padded sleeve apt for a 15-inch laptop and dual external pockets for housing water bottles, ensuring you stay fueled. In terms of comfort, it boasts padded shoulder straps, a sternum strap, and an adjustable waist strap. An excellent fit for both genders, the aesthetics score high on professionalism which suits it to casual users and business travelers alike. The carry-on size also falls well within most airline’s requirements.
- Turn and lock security hooks resist theft,Slash-proof design with wire-enforced straps,Equipped with RFID blocking pockets,Internal padded sleeve suitable for laptops
- Straps might seem long for petite users,
- Weight distribution can be improved.
To summarize, we have gone through dozens of under seat backpacks and decided that 7 are worth your consideration. Out of these, the absolute Best Under Seat Backpack is XD Design Elle Fashion Anti-Theft Backpack which we highly recommend as our overall best.
If money is not an issue, you can consider J World New York Sunrise Wheeled Backpack as this is our Premium Pick.
Otherwise, there’s no shame in spending prudently, Bago Water Resistant Travel and Hiking Daypack is the Budget Option.
Our other reviews you may find useful in your research:
What You Should Know Before Buying under seat backpacks
Backpack size that fits under an airplane seat
This will largely depend on the airline, but a typical carry-on bag size is usually around 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm) or smaller. Some airlines are stricter than others. If you’re opting for a softshell design backpack, it will be much easier to fit it under the seat of an airplane, even when the actual space is a little tighter.
How to pack and what to bring in a carry-on backpack
It’s difficult to predict what you’ll need for your trip, so it’s best not to overpack. When deciding on what to bring, you should think of packing for the worst-case scenario. In other words, if your checked-in luggage should be lost or delayed upon arrival at your destination, how would this affect your experience? Keep all important documents and electronics with you which can come in handy when going through customs or taking a long flight. Unforeseeable situations arise where people forget their adapter plug or don’t have one available for the country they’re visiting and it will be essential that these items are packed in light weight carry-ons where necessary.
Not a must as such, but very useful, are collapsible water bottles. Keep your folded as you go through security, then refill it at a water fountain and you’re ready for your flight!
Balance and Weight
When embarking on a travel adventure, lugging around unnecessary extra weight can quickly become tiresome. Remember, every bit of baggage that you carry should be essential. Surprisingly, the backpack’s own weight can often add unnecessary burden. However, it isn’t just about the actual weight, factors such as the backpack’s balance and comfort also determine how cumbersome it will feel.
A well-designed backpack distributes weight evenly across your body, which can dramatically lessen the perception of heaviness. So when researching your options, pay close attention to the design and comfort features of backpacks, as they directly impact how burdensome your load will feel.
Interestingly, women’s backpacks often weigh less than their male counterparts. So if your main concern is to drop a few extra pounds, consider opting for lightweight ladies rucksacks, which typically weigh less than four pounds. You can explore an array of these options on Etramping’s ladies rucksack guide.
In essence, when selecting an under-seat backpack, it’s crucial to never sacrifice comfort and balance for weight. Ensuring all three elements harmonize will allow you to travel smart, not hard, making your adventures enjoyable and comfortable.
This foundational structure determines the pack’s balance, comfort, and overall carry capabilities. If you’re seeking an ultralight backpack, simplicity is key. The frame should be lightweight, yet sturdy enough, to comfortably hold all your essentials.
Different frames can be composed of a variety of materials. Polypropylene frames, for instance, offer durability and resilience. Alternatively, metal frames, particularly those fashioned from aluminum, ensure superior strength and stability.
A handy feature available in some ultralight backpacks is the removable frame. Thanks to this, you can personalize your pack based on weight requirements and load content. Shedding the frame can further lighten your load, making your travel experience smoother and more comfortable. Remember, the goal is to maximize mobility while ensuring your necessities are neatly packed and comfortably carried.
When it comes to the fabric of backpacks, there are two primary considerations – weight and durability, and the type of material used significantly influences these factors. Lightweight backpacks commonly employ nylon propylene and polyester, as these tend to be less heavy, yet still resilient.
However, it’s not just the type of fabric that matters, the thickness plays a crucial role too. Indeed, the thickness often dictates how durable and tear-resistant a backpack would be. This measure of thickness is represented in ‘deniers’ (D). A higher denier count implies a thicker, sturdier fabric while a smaller count suggests a lighter, thinner fabric.
Typically, lightweight backpacks have a denier rating from 100D to 420D. Such backpacks manage a balance between maintaining a light structure for comfortable wear and providing enough durability for regular use. So, remember when you shop: If weight and ease of movement are your main considerations, go for backpacks with lower denier ratings, utilising either nylon propylene or polyester for the perfect under-seat travel companion.
Questions and Answers About under seat backpacks
Can a backpack go under an airplane seat?
It depends on the airline and on backpack size. Generally, most airlines allow people to put a backpack under their seat, but it is best to check the baggage policies with the airline. If you plan ahead and are mindful of your bag’s size, this shouldn’t be an issue.
How to choose the right color of my new backpack?
The first thing that comes to mind is to buy a black or blue backpack because they are the most popular colors, however we recommend that before you choose the color you better think about your personality. When choosing a backpack, you should ask yourself is this color going to match my style and personality? Can I wear it for all kinds of occasions and situations? If the answer is yes, you are good to go!
But if not, perhaps it would be wise to choose another color because you will end up buying a backpack that you won’t use as much.
How to choose the right size of my new laptop backpack?
There are two main options: 17 inch and 15.4 inch. The first option is perfect if you have a laptop with screen size between 14 inches and 17 inches. However, if your laptop is in the 15.4 inch category, you should choose the smaller option to keep it safe and padded enough inside your bag.
How to choose the right size of my new hiking backpack?
There are 4 main sizes when choosing a hiking backpack: Small (up to around 35L), Medium (around 50L), Large (around 60L) and Extra Large (more than 80L).
The first three options are quite standard and suitable for normal hiking trips. The last option is better suited to people who go on long trips or carry a lot of equipment, e.g. tent, mat and some food for the whole day.
How to choose the right size of my new school backpack?
There are four main sizes when choosing a school backpack: X Small (8 inches), Small (10 inches), Medium (12 inches) and Large(14 inches). If you have a lot of books and notebooks, don’t forget to choose a large sized school backpack. If you don’t have many textbooks at school, consider buying a medium sized school backpack.
How to choose the right size of my new bag for work?
If you are going to use it only once in a while, we recommend choosing a backpack with adjustable waist belt, because this will help you carry the most necessary items and keep your hands free all day long.
Can I take two backpacks as a carry-on?
Typically, you’re allowed two backpacks on board—a carry-on and a personal item—provided they comply with airline limitations for size. The “carry-on” pack should fit in the overhead compartment, while the “personal item” is smaller, designed to tuck under the seat. For specifics, it’s best to consult directly with your airline.