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Backpack Alternatives for the Female Traveler

backpack alternatives for women travelers

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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 to get 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

A basic carry-on suitcase is an item every traveler should own. 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. Having a built-in locking system is a bonus as it can ensure that nothing is taken out of your bag (or worse, put into your bag!) without your knowledge.

Hot Tip #1: Shell out some extra money for four-wheeled luggage. The two extra wheels make maneuvering through airports and streets a lot easier

Hot Tip #2: If you must choose a black suitcase, at least pick a luggage tag that will make it easier to spot among the sea of black suitcases.

Samsonite Leverage LTW Softside Expandable with Spinner Wheels

Samonite Leverage LTW Softside Expandable Luggage with Spinner Wheels
Samonite Leverage LTW Softside Expandable Luggage with Spinner Wheels
  • Dimensions: 23.0”x14.5”x8.0”
  • Weight: 8 lbs.
  • Price: $106.52
  • Features: Four multi-directional double spinner wheels, removable interior zippered suiter, compression cross straps

Hybrid Bags

We are a huge fan of multi-use travel items! We love hybrid bags because of their versatility and convenience for using in different situations. 

Here are a few bags that we are a fan of:

The eBags TLS Mother Lode Rolling Weekender

eBags TLS Mother Load Rolling Weekender Backpack with Wheels
eBags TLS Mother Load Rolling Weekender Backpack with Wheels

Can’t decide whether to backpack or use wheeled luggage? This one is a great middle ground. You can easily go from rolling this bag from the airport to carrying it on your back when you get into the crowded city. 

This bag is small enough to be carried on board the plane, which is always a good thing, yet sturdy enough to take a battering if you needed to check it in. 

  • Dimensions: 22”x14”x9”
  • Weight: 6 lbs.
  • Price: $139.99

Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler

Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Ultra-Light Convertible Wheeled Duffel Bag Backpack
Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Ultra-Light Convertible Wheeled Duffel Bag Backpack

Talk about an overachiever! This is a duffel, a backpack, and wheeled luggage all in one. If that isn’t enough, it’s also super lightweight! 

Weighing only 3 pounds and 12 ounces, this is a bag that can take a lot of beating AND a lot of souvenirs home.

This bag is also covered by Eagle Creek’s No Matter What Warranty, which guarantees replacement or repair if the bag fails you, regarding the cause.

  • Dimensions: 29”x12.5”x14.5”
  • Weight: 3.12 lbs
  • Price: $93.95

Osprey Transporter Global Carry-On Luggage

Osprey Transporter Global Carry On Luggage
Osprey Transporter Global Carry On Luggage

This sleek carry-on bag can be carried using the removable strap, by its padded side handle, or placed top of your rolling luggage, secured by the pass-through sleeve in its back panel.

It is made from a durable, water-resistant fabric and its size meets most international airlines standard for carry-on luggage. 

It has multiple compartments to help you keep your items organized. It also has a built-in padded laptop sleeve that can fit a 17-inch laptop.

  • Dimensions: 19.5”x14”x9”
  • Weight: 2.45 pounds
  • Price: $69.99


If you really prefer to travel only with a carry-on, then the SCOTTeVest travel jackets are the way to go!


These travel jackets have 20 pockets that can fit all of your travel essentials, from your earphones to iPads.

They are designed so it doesn’t look like you are packing in all your gadgets. It also features a proprietary weight management system to evenly distribute the weight across the entire jacket, so you won’t end the day with a sore neck or back.

This particular model, the Rhonda, is stylish and protects you from the elements. Like most SCOTTeVEST travel jackets, it has specialized pockets for your gadgets, eyeglasses, money, and travel documents.


This is one of our latest discoveries, thanks to our HPL community members. 

Though not necessarily a backpack alternative, we believe this is a game-changer with how we pack for our trips.

Packing is a breeze with Cubepack
Packing is a breeze with Cubepack

Cubepack is a compression packing cube system that transforms into a carrying pack. Isn’t that amazing?

You can use them just as plain old packing cubes inside your luggage. When you get to your destination, you have the option to use them as different bags for your different activities.

The Cubepack set includes three different sized packing cubes: a small hip pack (for your underwear), a medium sling pack (for shirts), and a backpack (for pants and jackets). 

This is perfect if you’re traveling and have a variety of activities planned out and are having a hard time deciding which extra bag to bring. That’s three items less that you need to pack!

Did we miss your favorite luggage?

We’re always on the lookout for the latest travel technology, especially when it comes to packing. Share your best discoveries in the comments below or join us in the discussion over at the HPL community!

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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.

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Gear We Use

speakeasy hidden pocket travel scarf ad
Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarves


Splice Jaisalmer Reversible Tunic
Splice Reversible Jaisalmer Tunic


Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes
Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes


tom bihn 3d organizer toiletry bag
Tom Bihn 3D Organizer Cube


Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack - Fits in the palm of your hand!
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack


Turkish Travel Towels


Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe. – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

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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