The Search for the Perfect Travel Backpack: The Carry-On

Scream, shout, kick me out of the bona fide travelers club, but it’s true: I’ve technically never “backpacked” before. Yes, for as much as I’ve embodied the backpacker lifestyle by living out of cheap hostels and making a diet out of Nutella on stale baguettes, I have always dragged along a rolling suitcase instead of a traditional travel backpack. Please forgive me.

Score 15% off by using promo code AFF151 here!

Incase Travel Backpack Review

But watch out, world. I’m making my debut as a backpack model.

Rolling suitcases do have their advantages: they save your back, they make it easier to pass discount airlines’ carry-on restrictions, and you can fish through your belongings without having to reach into a deep abyss to find what you need. However, I think the time has come. I’ve had enough violent massages as I yank a suitcase over cobblestones, and I need to declare a moratorium on running over innocent bystanders’ feet in crowds. I’m on the hunt for the perfect travel backpack.

I kicked off the search by reviewing some of the best travel backpacks for women and then checking out Incase’s EO Travel Backpack, a great candidate for weekend trips. The dimensions (18.5″ x 12.8″x 6.3″ or 47cm x 32.5 cm x 16cm) fit easily within even the strictest of carry-on limitations, plus the backpack can be expanded quite a bit for when you have a few extra souvenirs to squeeze in on the way home.

There are plenty of compartments to fit everything you could possibly need, including the world’s softest space for a tablet or laptop. No, seriously, you need to feel this fuzzy pouch. I want my entire wardrobe to feel like this always. I’m mad jealous of my laptop. The material feels sturdy, and padded shoulder straps and a chest strap make heavier weights easy to carry.

Incase EO Travel Backpack

A few of these compartments showcased in Incase’s official photo (photo credit)

Curious about just how much the backpack could actually expand, I gave it a test run. What looks like your small to average sized backpack (see the non-expanded size above, in the left photo my backpack modeling debut) turned out to fit just about as much as I brought with me on a five-week trip through Eastern Europe. 8 shirts, 2 dresses, 1 pair of jeans, 4 pairs of shorts, 18 pairs of underwear, 5 pairs of socks, 1 pair of shoes, a tripod, a makeup bag, a brush, 2 books, and a 17″ laptop…and I could have fit more! Color me impressed.

Incase Travel Backpack Review

A few of the items I managed to fit into this surprisingly expansive backpack

My favorite aspect of the backpack, though is that it unzips fully to make packing all the easier. There are few things more annoying than having to dig through everything you’ve packed to reach an item at the bottom, and this is the first backpack I’ve found that folds completely open for easier access.

Incase Travel Backpack Review

The backpack unzipped fully open – super easy packing!

All in all, the Incase EO Travel Backpack is a pretty darn sweet backpack for a weekend trip, or, as I discovered, even something much longer for light packers. As a bonus, I have a special promo code just for you guys that will give you 15% off! Just use AFF151 when you purchase from here. You may also find some other useful gadgets and gear in the Incase Travel Collections.

I’m curious: what’s your perfect backpack? Any tips from all you “true” backpackers to a lowly roller like me?

Disclaimer: I received a free backpack from Incase for review, and this post includes affiliate links, but all opinions are entirely my own, as always!

22 Responses

  1. Love the pillows in the background- where do you get it from?

    ps great backpack- have fun on your travels!

  2. Tesni Anna Pattiaratchi says:

    That is an impressive backpack! I too have never truly backpacked but my favourite bag has to this Carribee Skymaster 80. It’s the best of both worlds wheels and backpack. The removable day pack is also a big plus!

    http://www.caribee.com/#!sky-master-80/cog7

  3. Stacy Hu says:

    I actually have always hated rolling bags – I am way too clumsy and I always trip on them – so when I went to Europe for the first time this summer, I asked for an Osprey Farpoint 40 for my graduation present (http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/product/travel_packs/farpoint_40). It’s amazing! It opens all the way so that I don’t have to dig all the way down to find my jacket, has compression straps so that I can smush things down as much as possible, and has a spot for both your laptop and a tablet. The only gripe that I have is that the laptop sleeve is in the front of the bag, making the weight distribution a little weird, but that’s all I have!

    Hope you love your new backpack as much as I love mine 🙂

  4. It’s funny you said “kick me out of the bona fide travelers club” because I feel there is no ONE way of traveling. Everyone has a different style and if we look back in history, travel was more the affluent. People dressed up to the nines when they traveled and carried large suit cases.

    Over the years, that changed and that is good in many ways but I don’t think we can say “oh he/she is not a real traveler” just because they aren’t hustling their way through with a backpack. Obviously there has to be a balance and one should travel SMART. My wife and I have arguments all the time because she over packs and I under pack…so it’s good that we balance each other out.
    shayan Naveed recently posted Exploring Ayutthaya: The City of RuinsMy Profile

  5. Rah Ul says:

    Loved this post. I have been looking for some good recommendations for a backpack as my old backpack is dying!!
    Plus, you have a really beautiful smile 🙂

  6. Sher says:

    i always use a backpack for travelling because they fit everything! they’re maybe not the most stylish but you cant beat practicality on trips

    Sher
    http://www.shershegoes.com

  7. I am still on a hunt for that best travel backpack. I am even planning on buying one when I get to Vietnam in my upcoming trip. The Incase EO Travel backpack sure looks appealing to me, I mean look at all those pockets! And the fac that it can unzip all the way through is also a plus. It makes me sad that it’s very expensive though.

  8. This backpack looks great! I agree there’s nothing worse than having to dig around in your suitcase or rucksack so dividers and separate compartments definitely make things easier 🙂
    Emma Hart | Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles recently posted The Problem With Finding Your Blogging NicheMy Profile

  9. Great review! As a traveler, I like to find the right luggage for my travels. Usually when going to Europe I don’t bring with me rolling bags because of the high presence of cobblestone walks 😛 haha I also like front-loading backpacks compared to top-loading ones so this bag looks great!
    Aileen Adalid recently posted Exploring Dinant: A Little Gem of a Town in BelgiumMy Profile

  10. Goblinette says:

    I prefer backpacks over suitcases. They are usually easier to handle and I am happy if I know my laptop is happy and safe. But it is better, if they are a bit more colourful. If black, I would add a piece of colourful tape to the handle to always know which one is mine.
    Goblinette recently posted Inventing and getting lost in UdineMy Profile

  11. I travel all the time with a back pack so this is adorable

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