When it comes to the perpetual dilemma of carry-on suitcase vs. backpack, it all depends on your personal preferences and travel needs. Although, we have to admit, we’re leaning towards the backpack option, not because we feel nostalgic about the good old schoolyard days, but because we’ve found it to be the more practical alternative of the two, especially on budget airlines where you’re more concerned with the weight of your luggage.
Most backpacks tend to be lighter than standard luggage (they’re often made of sturdy polyester) and smaller, too — usually fitting neatly under the seat in front of you. Plus, you can easily take your carry-on backpack from the airport to the beach and beyond, while using your hard-shell suitcase as your beach bag is perhaps not the most functional idea.
And if you’re a fan of rolling your way through airports instead of having to speed-walk between terminals with 15 pounds of stuff on your back, we have some good news for you. Many of our best travel backpack picks come with built-in wheels and a double-locking handle so you can have a suitcase and a backpack all in one.
Tech-savvy travelers will also love the smart features some carry-on backpacks have, such as solar panels and USB ports.
Here we rounded up 20 durable and stylish options to take with you on your next flight.
Marc Jacobs Nylon Knot Camo Backpack
You could also wear this cool camo-print backpack as a tote thanks to its two top handles.
To buy: nordstrom.com, $151
Poketo Voyager Backpack
This versatile backpack has a leather clasp that makes carrying it as a tote comfortable, too. It features a large exterior and two interior pockets so you’ll have plenty of room to store your carry-on essentials.
To buy: shopspring.com, $158
Kipling Seoul Backpack
Kipling’s trendy metallic backpack will not only fit all of your valuable belongings, but it will also make you the chicest passenger on board.
To buy: macys.com, $124
Tumi Tahoe Butler Backpack
Perfect for the business traveler, this sleek backpack fits a 15-inch laptop and features a removable sternum strap.
To buy: zappos.com, $345
Adidas by Stella McCartney Backpack
This sporty, yet stylish backpack features multiple exterior and interior pockets and is made from lightweight polyester so it won’t take up much of your carry-on weight allowance.
To buy: saksfifthavenue.com, $130
Pacsafe Slingsafe LX350 Anti-theft Compact Backpack
This modern two-tone backpack comes in combination with a detachable cross-body strap. The interior slip pockets feature RFID-blocking technology that blocks identity scanners.
To buy: zappos.com, $90
Fjallraven Kånken Water-resistant Backpack
Originally used by Swedish schoolchildren in the ‘70s, the Kånken backpack is now a staple in travel gear due to its functionality, sturdy design, and cool Scandinavian look.
To buy: nordstrom.com, $80
Nike Hoops Elite Max Air Backpack
The main compartment of this backpack can fit all of your travel and gym essentials in case you don’t like skipping workouts even when you travel.
To buy: zappos.com, $90
Briggs & Riley BRX Duffle
The sturdiness and versatility of this water- and dirt-resistant backpack will blow you away — it has a top handle and a removable shoulder strap in addition to its backpack straps, so you could wear it as a messenger bag as well.
To buy: zappos.com, $170
TRAKK Vigor Power Charging Backpack
Never run out of battery again thanks to this water-resistant backpack with a built-in rechargeable power bank and an external USB port.
To buy: ebags.com, $130
Deuter Helion 80 Backpack
This cool backpack features a large main compartment and easily switches from carrying to rolling thanks to its exchangeable wheels.
To buy: zappos.com, $217
Incase EO Travel Backpack
This sleek weather-resistant backpack expands to increase its capacity by 35 percent, which means you can carry a lot more in it.
To buy: shopspring.com, $180
O'Neill Beachblazer Backpack
Headed to the beach for a few days? This pretty floral-printed backpack is TSA-friendly and is perfect for carrying your holiday essentials.
To buy: zappos.com, $46
Ogio Soho Backpack in Windowpane
This padded backpack can fit a 15-inch laptop and looks stylish with its three oversized front buttons.
To buy: ebags.com, $90
Timberland Walnut Hill Backpack
This durable canvas backpack features a padded laptop compartment, but we have to admit, it’s the classic, rugged look that sold us.
To buy: nordstrom.com, $115
Samsonite Luggage Vizair Laptop Backpack
This backpack provides your laptop with superior shock absorption thanks to three air bumpers at the bottom and corners that protect your valuable electronics in case you drop it.
To buy: amazon.com, $85
BirkSun Sport Backpack
This cool backpack is equipped with a built-in battery that is recharged via waterproof solar panels. As long as you’re somewhere sunny, you’ll never run out of juice.
To buy: shopspring.com, $139
eBags TLS 22" Convertible Wheeled Carry-On
This carry-on easily coverts into a backpack thanks to two adjustable straps that tuck away into its front pocket.
To buy: ebags.com, $220
Vera Bradley Backpack in Rumba
We’ll take any opportunity to stand out in a crowd, and this bold-colored, water-resistant backpack will help do just that.
To buy: zappos.com, $98