Whether being hauled up the high-passes of the Himalaya, strapped to the roof of a speeding Serengeti jeep or paraded along the promenades of Paris, selecting the right luggage receptacle can help take the weight off any travel experience.

In our latest gear reviews, we test a range of bags suited to an array of travel itineraries, from flexible flight-bags to robust round-the-world backpacks, and everything in between.

The Vango Contour 50:60S combines traditional looks with modern features © David Else / Lonely Planet
The Vango Contour 50:60S combines traditional looks with modern features © David Else / Lonely Planet

For multi-day hikes: Vango Contour 50:60S Rucksack

Multi-day hikes with overnight camps require a back-breaking amount of kit. Tents, stoves, sleeping bags and mounds of morale-boosting snacks all need to be squeezed into a trekking rucksack. Step forward the Contour from venerable manufacturer Vango. With well-padded (and infinitely adjustable) back, waist and shoulder straps, we found carrying heavy loads impressively comfortable.

Styling is traditional, with a top-loading main compartment plus ‘snake-mouth’ zipped opening at the base. The standard capacity is 50L with the main compartment expandable when you need an extra 10L. Other features include a generous top pocket, mesh pouches and integrated side pockets.

  • Plus points: the 50:60S (also called 50+10) is ideal for adults with a small body size
  • Worth noting: for larger loads or larger bodies 60:70 option also available
  • Cost: US$87, €99, £75
  • Rating: quality 8/10; practicality 9/10; value 9/10
  • More info: vango.co.uk
Neat, stylish, secure and ideal for city streets – the Lifeventure Meya 25L © David Else / Lonely Planet
Neat, stylish, secure and ideal for city streets – the Lifeventure Meya 25L © David Else / Lonely Planet

For daytime sightseeing: Lifeventure Meya 25L Daysack

When you’re out exploring the sights and sounds of a new city, a small bag is perfect for keeping your valuables safe without weighing you down. The Meya 25L Daysack excels in this category, with a subtle appearance and several ingenious security features including anti-tamper zips, RFiD blocking (to prevent credit cards being illegally scanned) and a hidden pocket that’s impossible to reach when the bag is on your back.

If you’re travelling up-market, the large side-entry pocket is ideal for keeping clothes nicely pressed, although it’s designed for a laptop (and also has a separate tablet sleeve) meaning you can use the Meya for studying or commuting when you’re back from your holiday.

  • Plus points: bright orange lining helps locate smaller items
  • Worth noting: anti-tamper zips can be further secured with padlocks
  • Cost: US$75, €55, £59
  • Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 9/10; value 8/10
  • More info: lifeventure.com
Travel light, travel far with the Oxygen 24 backpack from Montane © David Else / Lonely Planet
Travel light, travel far with the Oxygen 24 backpack from Montane © David Else / Lonely Planet

For day treks: Montane Oxygen 24L Backpack

For dedicated hikers who revel in long days on the high hills or deep in the backwoods, the Oxygen 24L backpack from Montane is well worth considering. It’s extremely light for its size, meaning you won’t waste energy carrying excess weight, and it has numerous features specifically catering to outdoor enthusiasts, from a water repellent coating to walking pole attachment loops.

This bag is specifically designed for the female body shape and our tester confirmed its comfort, even on all-day jaunts. Other features include ventilated back, padded shoulder straps, four external pockets (including two elastic mesh) and two separately zipped interior compartments.

  • Plus points: drinking pipe access and pouches on waist-belt for refuelling on the go
  • Worth noting: the Oxygen is female specific; male version is the Halogen 25
  • Cost: US$110, €94.95, £80
  • Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 9/10; value /10
  • More info: montane.co.uk
Fjallraven Duffel No.6 adds a touch of style to your travel gear, without compromising on practicality © Jack Palfrey / Lonely Planet
Fjallraven Duffel No.6 adds a touch of style to your travel gear, without compromising on practicality © Jack Palfrey / Lonely Planet

For a suave weekend break: Fjallraven Duffel No.6 duffel bag

While your average trekking backpack may look perfectly placed amongst remote mountain peaks, if you plan on spending a weekend strutting through the boulevards of a cosmopolitan capital, you might prefer something a little more swish. From Swedish outdoor manufacturer Fjallraven, the Duffel No.6 brings a touch of Scandinavian style to your trusty travel bag, without compromising on practicality.

The bag’s standout feature is its concealed padded shoulder straps, which essentially turns the bag into a large, and comfortable, backpack – perfect for when you’re carrying a heavier load. Accessible internal pockets also provide secure storage for things like passports and phones, and at 50L it’s the perfect size when packing for a weekend break.

  • Plus points: stylish, versatile, durable
  • Worth noting: the unisex bag is available in a range of colours and sizes (70 and 110L)
  • Cost: US$200 €225 £185
  • Rating: quality 9/10, practicality 9/10, value 7/10
  • More info: fjallraven.co.uk
On long-distance journeys, Eagle Creek’s Global Companion is your best friend © David Else / Lonely Planet
On long-distance journeys, Eagle Creek’s Global Companion is your best friend © David Else / Lonely Planet

For extended trips: Eagle Creek’s Global Companion 65L backpack

Ideal for gap-year students and round-the-world backpackers the Global Companion 65L is true to its name, making a very capable consort during longer trips. Padded waist-belt and fully adjustable straps mean it’s comfortable as you traipse from the train station to hostel, where you can open it wide like a suitcase to easily reach spare shoes, sleeping bag or – more often than not – ear plugs.

For when you’re on the move, there are two external zipped rear pockets, plus a long side pocket perfect for an umbrella, water bottle or bus-ride snacks. Other travel-friendly features include three grab handles, internal mesh dividers, laptop sleeve, and a self-contained waterproof cover that helps protect the bag when loaded onto a bus roof-rack or caught in a tropical storm.

  • Plus points: ingenious pockets and extra zips keep everything organised and accessible
  • Worth noting: we tested the 65L W with female fit; also available in male fit and 40L size
  • Cost: US$229, €250, £230
  • Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 9/10; value 8/10
  • More info: eaglecreek.com
Kipling’s Multiple bag does what it says, with multiple uses for multiple occasions © Emma Sparks / Lonely Planet
Kipling’s Multiple bag does what it says, with multiple uses for multiple occasions © Emma Sparks / Lonely Planet

For long flights: Kipling Multiple bag

Perfect as an in-flight bag, and handy once you’ve reached your destination, the Multiple from bag specialist Kipling does exactly what it says: converts into multiple styles, from shoulder bag to cross-body bag to waist bag. Its versatility and sturdy synthetic fabric makes it ideal for use on the go; comfortably fitting a passport, phone, wallet and other essentials. Features include three main – and surprisingly roomy – zippered compartments, plus an internal zip pocket and external velcro pouch.

Available in 12 colours including Urban Grey, Water Camo and Deep Emerald, but Galaxy Orange (pictured) is the brightest of the bunch. In testing, our gorilla keyring came loose due to vigorous use on the road, but was easily reattached

  • Plus points: zippers are virtually indestructible; waist strap doubles as a secret compartment.
  • Worth noting: numerous alternative styles and sizes also available.
  • Cost: €54-64, £54-64
  • Rating: quality 8/10; practicality 9/10; value 7/10
  • More info: kipling.com
The Osprey Farpoint 40 – three bags in one for all types of travel © David Else / Lonely Planet
The Osprey Farpoint 40 – three bags in one for all types of travel © David Else / Lonely Planet

For ‘hand-luggage only’: Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Bag

With its compact dimensions (falling within most airline cabin bag size limits), dual handles and backpack straps, the Osprey Farpoint 40 is perfect for those who want to travel light without compromising on versatility. The bag’s duel handles give it the air of a traditional suitcase but its padded shoulder straps and waist belt (concealed behind a zipped panel) make it comfortable for hiking or long days of sightseeing. An additional shoulder strap adds a third way to wear the bag.

Other features include a main compartment which unzips fully, allowing the bag to hinge wide open so you can easily reach your stuff, another large pocket with internal padded laptop sleeve, a small top pocket and two external elastic mesh pockets on the back.

  • Plus points: compact, comfortable, multi-functional
  • Worth noting: Farpoint straps and waist belt designed for male body shape; Fairview is female version
  • Cost: US$160, €130,£100
  • Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 9/10; value 8/10
  • More info: ospreypacks.com

Now you've found the right receptacle, learn how to properly pack it with Lonely Planet's How to Pack for Any Trip.

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How we review products

Our opinions are by definition subjective. Our testers (male, female, young, old) trial products in the real world, then give their honest opinion and scores for quality, practicality and value: 5/10 = mediocre; 6/10 = fair; 7/10 = good; 8/10 = very good; 9/10 = excellent; 10/10 = perfect. We don’t include anything that scores less than 5/10.

We aim for gender balance, and over a year cover an equal number of male- and female-specific items. We state where kit is available in male and female versions, or for everyone, unless it’s obvious.

Prices are quoted in at least one major currency. Where possible we include other currencies. We take prices from manufacturers’ websites; information was correct at the time of publication, but you may find different prices online or in specialist stores, particularly after a period of time when products are discounted.

Manufacturers supply Lonely Planet with test products for review. We do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.

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