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Backpack Alternatives for the Female Traveler

backpack alternatives for female travelers

I’m going to tell you the truth.

Backpacks aren’t for everyone.

And while we love them here on Her Packing List, they are meant for specific types of travelers and specific types of trips. If you’re a business traveler, you don’t want your nice suits getting wrinkled in your bag. If minimalism isn’t your thing, carrying your belongings on your back might not be a great idea. But fret not, travelers, there are options for you.

Carry On Luggage

Your basic carry-on suitcase is an item every traveler should own, even backpackers. There will be some occasions when a backpack is not the appropriate item to carry your belongings. Make sure your suitcase has sturdy zippers and handles. And if you must choose a black suitcase, at least pick a luggage tag that will make it easier to differentiate!

Larissa of The Blonde Gypsy explains why she travels with a suitcase rather than a backpack.

Samsonite Spinner carry-on style bag“I’ve never owned a backpack mostly because I hate the idea of carrying something heavy on my shoulders while traveling and would much rather drag something on wheels. Have never found it to be more inconvenient or less practical – they have always fit the same spaces, sometimes even better (on trains, buses, hostel lockers, etc). I chose my current suitcase because it is small enough to carry-on but still fits a lot if I want to load it up to be checked in (20 inches) and oh trust, I can fit over 20 kilos. My most important requirement that this suitcase has is spinner wheels because it enables you to either push it in front/on the side of you or roll from behind.”

>> The Samsonite 20″ Spinner on Amazon

Wheeled Backpack

Sometimes you want to have your cake and eat it too, in which case a wheeled backpack may suit your needs. You can roll it in the same way a suitcase allows, but it can fold flat to fit under your bunk bed. You can also cover up the wheels, open the straps and carry it like a normal backpack.

Caribee Fast Track 75Giulia Detours Cimarosti of Travel Reportage found a wheeled backpack that she hauled through Turkey and Egypt. “I recently got a Caribee Fast Track 75L. It’s a convertible trolley to backpack, and has a detachable daypack too. Perfect in every situation!”

*Size: 75L
*Weight: 4.2kg
*Features: detachable daypack, internal waterproof toiletries pouch, separate zippered shoe compartment

>> The Caribee Fast Track 75 on Amazon

Osprey Ozone 22 inchI’ve also heard great things about the Osprey Ozone 22. They make my favorite brand of backpacks, so I’m sure their wheeled backpack is equally impressive. It comes with plenty of pockets and a handle if you need to carry it like a duffel.

*Size: 46L
*Weight: 4lbs 7oz / 2.02 kg
*Features: panel loading with rear panel access, side compression straps, possible carry-on size

>> The Osprey Ozone 22 inch on Amazon

Duffel Bag

If you’re only traveling for short periods of time, a duffel bag can be a quick and easy item to throw your clothing into. They also fold up easily, so you don’t have to worry about finding a place to store it.

eagle creek duffelEagle Creek makes a basic duffel in many colors. The No Matter What Flashpoint duffel comes packaged in a case that’s easy to throw into your suitcase if you plan on bringing back a lot of souvenirs! It comes in multiple sizes and a rolling variety.

*Size: S (30.3L), M (59L), L (110L), XL (133L)
*Weight: 1lb 9oz / 0.71kg up to 2lbs 12oz / 1.25kg
*Features: made with abrasion-resistant, water repellant, Bi-Tech™ fabric; external compression; lockable zippers; comes with packable stuff sack

>> The Eagle Creek No Matter What Flashpoint duffel on Amazon

Hard Case

Instead of a cloth-based carry-on suitcase, many companies produce hard plastic suitcases, which are less prone to getting dirty and can take more of a beating.

Chachy in Hartmann LuggageBeth of Beers and Beans loves her Hartmann PC4, which has spinner wheels that you can pull in any direction, not to mention a classy, sleek design.

*Size: 38L
*Weight: 6lbs
*Features: 360 degree wheels, locking telescoping handle, 10 year warranty

>> Read the review over on Beers and Beans

Romero Britto luggageAndi of My Beautiful Adventures packs in this Romero Britto-designed colorful suitcase, which makes it easy to differentiate at the airport. It also has a hard shell to protect your belongings.

*Size: varies
*Weight: varies
*Features: 360 degree spinner wheels, push-button telescoping aluminum handle, built-in TSA lock, hardside construction

>> The Romero Britto hard case on Amazon

What kind of traveler are you? Do you carry a backpack, a suitcase, a duffel, or …?

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

Add your voice & leave a comment!

Gear We Use


Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.

Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.

Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking! – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Larissa says

    Yes, turned out great! May consider a hardcase the next time around seeing as spinner ones are available and it would indeed protect from stains, etc. My beige Samsonite is starting to look like a leopard one.

  2. Giulia says

    Thanks for including my tip in the list, and I would recommend the Caribee to everyone!
    In my case, considering that I was traveling in the Middle East during summer (hot!!!) I thought carrying a backpack was going to be too physically demanding. This turned out to be the best option:)

  3. Jess Dante says

    Yayy I love this post! I backpacked through Europe Summer 2011, and while the trip was awesome, the back pain was unbearable and I will NEVER do it again. Thanks for the reccs!

  4. Roni Faida says

    I travel all the time and I never use a backpack. I always use a rolling carry-on as I do not like having anything on my back. I prefer a soft case and not a hard one, I find I can get more into a soft case if I need to squeeze something in. I work for an airline and the bags that have a pattern or are bright are so much better. Whatever you buy, DON’T BUY A BLACK BAG! Way too many of those around.

  5. George says

    Great tip but I think it’s important to add that hard cases add a lot of weight which could be bad if you’re carry on conscious 🙂

  6. says

    Definitely didn’t use a backpack except for my last month in Bali where I knew I would be going around surfing and on a motorbike. I shipped home my bag with a friend and donated a ton of stuff to local friends in Asia who don’t have a lot. I didn’t see a need for a backpack even in Europe….maybe I fluked out b/c my hostels had lifts. I had an expandable suitcase but never went over the weight limits and paid extra.

  7. Anna says

    I just found this website, and I really love it! You guys are very inspirational. Here’s my two cents:

    I have a Deuter Helion 60 wheeled backpack and I absolutely love it. I got it for a roughly month-long trip to the US last year and it’s proven to be durable, easy to wheel (the wheels can be exchanged if they break, too), and comfortable to carry on my back.
    I usually prefer to use wheeled luggage when travelling, mostly because I do city trips rather than long countryside treks and I don’t see my I should strain my back for those. However, I’ve used the backpack function on this quite a few times, it’s easy to convert and it comes in handy, though most of the time I still wheel it. It weighs only 3.4kg, which apparently isn’t a lot when it comes to this kind of backpack (the Caribee mentioned here is 15L bigger but weighs 4.2kg). The straps have serious padding plus a sternum strap and hip wings. I’m definitely using it for my next big trip on the Transsib and around China, and I can’t wait 😉

    It’s not carry-on size, though. I do travel carry-on only, but just on shorter trips. When I’m gone for more than three weeks, I like to have a little extra space, especially for shopping along the way! That actually came to bite me in the arse last year, when I arrived in New York and my Deuter stayed in London, and BA took eleven days to get it back to me. I’m happy to say, though, that even though it crossed the Atlantic THREE times until I got it back, it was still in great shape. Like I said, durable!

    I like the look of the Osprey Ozone you mention here – so much that I googled it and I’m pretty sure it’s not actually a backpack, just a rolling duffle?


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