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Best Travel Backpack for Women

When you work and travel overseas, the travel portion requires a lot of moving. If you don’t get out and explore, what’s the point? During our time abroad, we moved all over the place, putting our packs through the wringer. And, these adventures confirmed Jenna’s belief that the best travel backpack for women is the Osprey Porter 46


Why Trust Our Backpack Recommendation?


Ironically, Jenna’s endorsement of this bag is so strong because of her limited experience backpacking. In all of her previous travels to and from Ukraine, she’d used a normal suitcase.  But, she realized that wouldn’t work with the sort of traveling we’d be doing. 


Jenna also hadn’t spent much time hiking with a trail pack, and she wasn’t interested in that sort of bag. Instead, she wanted something that combined the functionality of a suitcase with the mobility of a backpack. After a ton of research (and more than a little stressing!), Jenna chose this Osprey pack. On her shoulders, it was a backpack. On the floor of our room, it opened up like a suitcase. Perfect solution, and after a year on the road between seven countries, Jenna remains a huge supporter! 


Why We Love the Osprey Porter 46 Women’s Travel Backpack

Walking through a bus station carrying a women's travel backpack

Best Features


  • Easy backpack-to-handheld conversion: This pack is built around the idea of quickly converting between backpack and more conventional, handheld luggage. The shoulder straps unclip and store internally, allowing you to use the rugged side handle to carry it - without tripping over loose straps! If you want a backpack, pull the straps out. If you’re in an airport and prefer handheld luggage, store the straps. 


  • Suitcase-style opening of main compartment: Unlike a traditional travel backpack, this pack doesn’t have a top-down loading design. Instead, the entire main compartment opens up with a big, U-shaped panel, letting you access your gear like a normal suitcase. 


  • Compatibility with packing cubes: Once you open the main compartment, the inside is shaped more like a normal, rectangular suitcase than a backpack. Jenna organized all of her clothes and toiletries in mesh packing cubes, and the Porter’s rectangular shape allowed her to efficiently stack these cubes - no wasted space! 


  • Outer pocket for laptop: In addition to the main compartment, the backpack has an outer pocket that perfectly fits a laptop case. So, when you’re wearing the pack on your shoulders, you can store your laptop without needing to also lug an extra laptop bag. 


  • Fits in airplane overhead bins: This pack fits into airplane overhead bins. When you want to avoid checked baggage fees, that’s a huge plus. 


  • Osprey lifetime guarantee: Like all its products, this backpack comes with Osprey’s amazing lifetime guarantee. This protection gives great peace of mind when you’re  living out of the back on the road. 


Manufacturer’s Specs


Here’s a full list of the pack’s features published by Osprey:


  • Zippered top pocket provides easy access to toiletries and liquids

  • U-zip full panel zip access to main compartment

  • Lockable zippers on main and laptop compartments

  • Reinforced cord loops to attach an Osprey Daylite daypack (sold separately)

  • Front panel vertical zippered pocket for books, travel documents, etc.

  • StraightJacket compression with padded sidewalls secures any size load effectively

  • Padded sidewalls create a bucket-style opening and provide protection for valuables inside

  • Front panel organization with zippered pocket and key clip

  • Protected rear panel lockable zip laptop sleeve for quick access while traveling

  • Padded luggage handle pass-through top and side grab handles

  • Tuckaway web loops to attach a shoulder strap (sold separately)

  • Dual internal zippered organization side pockets

  • Dual internal compression straps keep clothes neat

  • Internal pockets can accommodate most popular luggage trackers

Story from the Road


As we’ve argued, a huge perk to Jenna’s backpack is its ability to quickly transition from shoulder-carried to handheld. But, sometimes this transition is too effective. 


When we were flying from Turkey to Tanzania, we caught a taxi to the airport outside Marmaris. Knowing that we’d be checking bags for the upcoming international flight, Jenna tucked the straps into her backpack before we left our apartment. After all, we would just have a short walk from the airport’s drop-off area to the check-in desk. 


As the taxi started pulling away, Jenna had her purse, and Chipp had his own pack on his shoulders. Quick pause, then, “Oh no, my bag!” Yep, using the backpack as a more traditional suitcase, we’d both forgotten to grab it from the taxi’s trunk. Fortunately, a quick dash and some loud yelling and the driver pulled over a couple hundred yards away. Crisis averted!


Takeaway? When you’re not wearing this backpack on your shoulders, don’t forget you still need to grab it! 


Affiliate Disclosure


We’ve included affiliate links on this page. If you click on a link and end up buying something, we may receive a commission (without adding any costs to you). This helps us pay the bills, and we only promote products and services that we personally use and wholeheartedly endorse. Thanks so much for the support!


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