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Best Carry-on Backpacks


 Whether you’re trying to travel light or have certain items that simply must travel in the cabin with you, a carry-on with plenty of storage is a must. Thankfully, plenty of luggage brands offer TSA-approved backpacks designed to help you stay organized on the go. In fact, try some of these carry-on backpacks from our list and you just might zip through the security checkpoint without having to dump out anything.    

Available in three colors, this carry-on backpack has a front exterior and main interior pocket, straps to secure your belongings and expandable storage space.

This carry-on backpack comes with additional pockets on the front and hidden shoulder straps. We like that it also comes with an added horizontal strap that can be secured to your rolling luggage as you travel.

This 40-liter carry-on backpack features a top and side handle to more easily maneuver your bag in and out of an overhead bin. The computer compartment can accommodate laptops up to 17 inches.

The 1900 ScanSmart carry-on backpack is designed to accommodate laptops up to 17 inches. It also has an RFID-protected organizer compartment to keep your wallet and its contents safe while you’re on the go.

You’ll like that this carry-on backpack is made of water-resistant materials with a breathable mesh back for added comfort. There’s also a hidden anti-theft pocket in the back and a luggage trolly belt if you want to use it. 


1. Can you take a backpack and a carry-on?

This will depend on your fare class. Typically, if you’re traveling on an economy ticket you’re allowed one carry-on and one personal item. This would usually mean that you could treat your backpack as a personal item and an additional bag as a carry-on item. However, in recent years, many airlines have begun to add an additional ticket class often known as basic economy. While it’s a cheaper option that is ideal for budget travelers, it’s not without drawbacks. With basic economy, you’re only allowed one personal item and must pay for additional bags — even carry-ons. So, if you want to bring two bags with you on a plane, be sure to check any baggage restrictions associated with your fare class.

2. Does a backpack count as a carry-on on a plane?

Again, this depends on the airline. For most airlines, as long as your backpack can fit under the seat in front of you, it would be considered a personal item. This is because carry-on bags are meant to be stowed in the overhead bins. This is also why most airlines encourage you to put your smaller item under the seat in front of you and leave the bins for larger items like rolling bags. However, every airline may have different rules or criteria for determining what counts as a personal item versus a carry-on.

3. What size backpack is considered a personal item?

It’s important to note that every airline might have different size guidelines for defining a personal item versus a carry-on bag. But, in general, personal items are usually limited to dimensions of up to 18 inches long by 14 inches wide by eight inches tall. This usually includes smaller backpacks. So, along with checking with your airline before you arrive at the airport, also be sure to check the dimensions of your backpack. When shopping for a backpack, look for models that say “airline-approved” or “IATA approved carry-on”. This will let you know that you’re selecting a backpack that meets industry or airline standards.

4. Are airlines strict with carry-on size?

While airlines do have the right to measure your bag before you check-in or pass through security, this doesn’t always happen. Usually, carry-on bags are treated with the honor system unless the bag looks oversized. But if you’re concerned that your carry-on bag might be viewed as too big, your best bet is to confirm the size restrictions before you start packing your bags. Often, airlines outline baggage size limits in terms of linear inches. This means that the total dimensions (length plus width plus height) must not exceed a certain amount. Keep in mind that this may not be a uniform figure across all airlines. And size regulations for domestic and international flights can vary.

About The Author

Dorian Smith-Garcia

Dorian Smith-Garcia is a diverse writer across beauty, fashion, travel, parenting, consumer goods, and tech. She has written for Inverse, Healthline Parenthood, The Confused Millennial, XONecole, Glowsly, and The Drive along with a variety of other publications. She is a bridal and beauty expert/influencer and the creative director behind The Anti Bridezilla. When Dorian’s not writing she’s collecting stamps in her passport, learning new languages, or spending time with her husband and daughter.