Digital Nomad - Need new travel backpack
December 14, 2019 6:25 AM   Subscribe

Looking for Backpack recommendations

I travel non-stop. Recently this Burton backpack got stolen. Size may have been 25L. It was a present and I was always shocked about its quality and how well it was thought out. I traveled the world for many years with it.

Unfortunately this model seems not to be available anymore. I looked today at Burton Backpacks and I was shocked too, but this time how poor they were made and how bad they were thought out.

So any recommendations for a backpack? I am not so price sensitive. My old Burton one lasted me for 5 years, showing little tear and wear while being constantly used.


* Small. 25L to 30L I guess
* Durable, very high quality
* Many pockets, ability to store laptop
posted by yoyo_nyc to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have one, but have you considered Tom Bihn?
posted by Ms Vegetable at 6:34 AM on December 14, 2019

Best answer: I have the Mission Workshop Rhake, and it's far and away the best backpack (and briefcase/carry on/EDC bag) that I've ever owned. You pay for it, but everything they make is awesome. Made in the USA, great warranty, etc.
posted by brand-gnu at 6:40 AM on December 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

Tom Bihn makes great bags; my wife has the smaller Synapse and she loves it. They have a ton of organizational tools for their bags as well, if that’s your packing style. Other than that, I would also recommend Aer. I use their duffel backpack as my everyday work & gym bag and also frequently for travel as well. It’s really nicely built, but it’s not super conspicuous, which I appreciate. It has less organization inside it - it’s basically a slim laptop backpack attached to a duffel bag, with some clever little touches. Their travel backpacks are also pretty well-reviewed.
posted by protocoach at 6:44 AM on December 14, 2019

Response by poster: @brand-gnu

Wow. Pricey but I really like that one. But "22-liter main" sounds tight. Most of the time this is my only luggage, even for a several month trip. I assume yhe last one was at least 25L and you could put stuff outside.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 6:47 AM on December 14, 2019

The Tom Bihn Synapse 25 seems to be an equivalent to the bag you had before.
posted by bluecore at 7:00 AM on December 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @bluecore, yes, the Synapse 25 looks close already.

A pic of my old one from the front. Everything was so well thought out.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 7:04 AM on December 14, 2019

I used the tom bihn synapse 19 as my everyday bag for many years and it was a great bag, but on some days too small. I would still be using it, except now I have a laptop I need to carry around with me, and it just didn't fit. I have a couple other tom bihn bags too. I've switched now to a north face recon which is 30 L. The build quality and layout is not quite as nice and thoughtful and tom bihn, but the layout is still pretty good. It has a separate laptop pocked and a very nice place to put your cell phone and ereader.
posted by ice-cream forever at 7:37 AM on December 14, 2019

I really love my eBag, although the model I have is probably too small for what you're looking for. But maybe this one is close?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:04 AM on December 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

The relatively new Tom Bihn Synik 30 might work for you.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 9:12 AM on December 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

I love my Wenger Synergy Backpack, unfortunately I don't see a Liter volume spec on the page. It has loads of storage and is very durable. I've owned two in a row since 2000. There's lots of reviews at the link. FWIW.
posted by forthright at 10:05 AM on December 14, 2019

I used a Tom Bihn Aeronaught for years but 3 years ago upgraded to a Freitag Voyager. It is unquestionably the best backpack I've ever bought and miles ahead of the Bihn. However, it does not have lots of pockets. They have a smaller version, the Skipper, with two pockets, one meant for laptop and one for phone/misc, but only does 25L.

I travel 4 - 6 months a year and have never felt uncomfortable with the Voyager. It does have one pocket, which they suggest is for maps and misc, but I put my laptop in it (Google pixelbook) in a padded case.

Freitag bags are upcycled, crazy durable (and have free replacement parts if something breaks), and unique.
posted by dobbs at 12:11 PM on December 14, 2019

Best answer: Hmm, it looks like your pack was the Burton Women's Rider's 22l backpack, possibly from 2017? You could set up an EBay alert for it. I was unable to find any old stock for sale online.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:21 PM on December 14, 2019

I travel a lot, although I'm based in one country. In the last six months I've travelled internationally at least once every three weeks - albeit within Europe mostly - from the uk. I also wear a backpack every day that I leave my house.

I do a lot of field work and I'd never been into 'North face' outdoor gear (jackets etc) but I bought a North face surge II 9 years ago and it's the best work/travel backpack I've ever had. Compartments for laptop, tablet, pens, water bottle, cards, chargers, keys etc. Waist and chest strap. Smart enough for business, and hiked with it through the Faroe islands for 6 days (not camping!) . I regularly travel with only it for 5+days including laptop. It's surprisingly waterproof and the front two pockets are great for passport/kindle at airport security. I also use it every day when not travelling for work /around town. I am seriously considering getting another one so I don't have to switch out travel stuff. It always fits under the seat in front of me.

It's a little scuffed, but the zips and straps are still perfect (unlike other bags that failed - which was my major problem before). I think at the time it was £60, which seemed crazy for a backpack, but it's honestly one of the best value things I have ever bought.

I have a 30l osprey hiking backpack, which is great for hiking, but a hassle for other travel (just one big compartment plus a few pockets). It was £120 and one of the zips had broken after 6 months.

The Tom binhs etc look great, but honestly, from a very frequent flier, north face surge II is the best, bombproof, and a quarter of the price. link

Hope you find what you are looking for!
posted by sedimentary_deer at 2:57 PM on December 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @dobs, ah, Freitag. I had a Freitag bag when I was a student. But I find them now to Hipster like. They are well made and durable but don't have the versatility the the Burton bag has. Especially traveling on rougher places, horse riding etc.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 3:18 PM on December 14, 2019

Response by poster: "Burton Women's Rider's 22l backpack"

Yes. It was this. Good to know it is 22l. It was always super small but forced you to travel light. One of the best features of it.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 3:54 PM on December 14, 2019

Response by poster: I found a similar but little bit smaller one on ebay.

Price seems to have been US $159.95 some years ago. This explains the tremendous quality difference in the Burton bags I have seen in the shop that were much cheaper.

Thanks everybody for his/her help.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 4:50 PM on December 14, 2019

Best answer: I’m a huge fan of the Arc’teryx Blade 20, sleek, discreet, well thought out. They offer a 28L edition as well.
posted by furtive at 9:33 PM on December 14, 2019

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