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Peak Design Travel Bag 45L review: a sturdy, spacious basecamp backpack for trips packed with adventure

This travel backpack is a sleek, robust and remarkably roomy solution to traveling with bulky gear, and features innovative details meant for anyone on the go

Peak Design Travel Bag 45L
(Image: © Peak Design )

Our Verdict

This brilliantly designed travel backpack stows all your bulky camping gear but fits in the overhead compartment, making it ideal for adventure trips

For

  • Extremely spacious expandable main cavity
  • Multiple reinforced zips for easy access to your gear
  • Padded pockets for laptop, water bottles and easy access to your passport
  • Rugged weatherproof construction
  • Stowable hip and chest straps plus lash straps
  • 360-degree grab handles

Against

  • Chest strap makes the shoulder straps too tight around the neck
  • Too big for overhead lockers on some smaller planes
  • Heavy
  • Pricey

Peak Design Travel Bag 45L: first impressions 

The Peak Design Travel Bag 45L is a sleek, robust and spacious solution to traveling with bulky gear like camping equipment, and features innovative solutions to endlessly rummaging around in your backpack when you’re on the go. This 45L hauler collapses down to a 30L day bag, making it extra versatile for overnights as well as longer trips. Unlike a typical backpack, this bag has the shape of a small carry-on suitcase, only you wear it via comfortable, padded straps. Rather than tapering towards the top, like a regular backpack, the rectangular shape means you can get a lot more gear in here, yet it still fits in most overhead compartments, meaning no nervous butterflies when you’re waiting at the luggage carousel. 

Specifications

• RRP: £246 / $299
• Sizes available: One size
• Unisex: Yes
Capacity: 45L
• Materials: 100% recycled 400D nylon canvas shell with 900D bottom liner
• Weight: 2.51kg / 4.51 lbs
• Colors: Sage, black
• Best use: Travel

Stowable waist and chest straps take the weight off your back when this bag is full, and rugged rear, side and front access zips means it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. There’s a padded pocket for your laptop, which you can access without opening the main compartment, plus expandable side pockets for water bottles, as well as a top pocket perfect for essential items like your passport and wallet. Additionally, there are grab handles everywhere on this thing, meaning you can easily load it in and out of cars and tents.

Though this is a backpack, it’s a little bulky and heavy for any serious backpacking expeditions; however, it’s an ideal basecamp bag for anyone looking for a wearable solution to easy travel on shorter trips and with its robust construction, it should last you for many years and miles to come.

Peak Design Travel Bag 45L: in the field 

Peak Design Travel Bag 45L

Stowable waist and chest straps take the weight off your back when this bag is full, and rugged rear, side and front access zips means it’s easy to find what you’re looking for (Image credit: Peak Design)

The Peak Design Travel Bag 45L certainly promises a lot – it’s weatherproof and rugged, big enough to fit a lot of bulky camping gear but small enough to squeeze into an overhead compartment, and it’s smart-looking. Could all of that really be true? I recently put it to the test on a very multi-faceted and gear-heavy international trip to find out, and spoiler alert: I wasn’t disappointed.

I was flying from Scotland to Colorado for a week of skiing, followed by a week of hiking in Yosemite National Park. I am a notoriously light packer and I like to travel with my gear on my back, not rumbling my suitcase along on the ground behind me, but I also needed to bring bulky ski clothes, hiking clothes, enough underwear for two weeks, and my sleeping bag. For reasons that are too complicated to go into here, I knew I’d also be carrying my climbing helmet with me on the return journey. Could I really fit all that in one backpack? As it turns out, the answer was yes. Again, I’m an extremely light packer, but if you too are a bit on the spartan side, you’ll be shocked at how much fits into this bag.

The shape of the Peak Design Travel Bag 45L – rectangular like a suitcase instead of tapering at the top like a typical backpack – means you can fit loads of gear into it, plus it expands. But what I really liked were all the access zips – on the sides, rear and front, which meant that even though I stayed in four different hotels, one tent and on a friend’s floor, I didn’t spend my whole journey rummaging around looking for my toothbrush. 

It’s exceptionally sturdy (the zips held up to all that gear) with lots of padding, so it feels built to last, and certainly withstood my adventures and still looks brand new. The waist and chest straps feature a metal hook instead of the usual plastic clip, which I’ve never seen before but am certain have a longer shelf life. I also never felt anything poking against my back, and my laptop seemed really secure and protected (did I mention that I also had to carry my laptop?). All of the various straps tuck neatly away and are held by magnets when not in use, which makes it look really smart and sleek, too.

I think my favorite thing about the Peak Design Travel Bag 45L, however, is all the carrying handles. They’re literally on all sides, so I never had to think about how to grab it when I was pulling it out the back of my rental car, shuttle bus or taxi. This came in handy as it wasn’t the lightest.

I did manage to fit this in the overhead compartment on my international flights and one internal flight, once I got to the US, but on one smaller plane from Denver to Fresno it didn’t fit and I had to gate check it. Fortunately, it was awaiting my arrival in California in all its sleek glory.

Peak Design Travel Bag 45L

There are grab handles everywhere on this thing, meaning you can easily load it in and out of cars and tents (Image credit: Peak Design)

Now for what didn’t work for me – I did find the waist strap a little more difficult to fasten than a typical one, though that got easier with practice, and I also noticed that when I fastened the chest strap, the two shoulder pads squeezed the sides of my neck rather uncomfortably. As a result, I had to keep that strap unfastened so I could breath, and tighten the shoulder straps more. As a result, the heavier it is, the less comfortable it is to carry.

Interestingly, though it seems quite heavy, the Peak Design Travel Bag 45L is the same weight as my regular backpacking backpack – but that said, I wouldn’t personally use this for backpacking. Its fantastically sturdy construction makes it really protective of the gear inside it, but a little too rigid for moving dynamically and heavy for walking long distances in it. It’s perfect for weekend getaways – or longer if you pack like I do – and I had a lot of friends and strangers along the way asking me where they could get one like it.

Here’s how it performed:

Capacity

This bag expands to hold 45L but collapses down to 30L and has lots of storage pockets too. You can definitely fit a sleeping bag and pad if you have packable gear, plus clothes and a daypack inside it. 

Comfort

With loads of padding, the Peak Design Travel Bag 45L is comfortable on your shoulders and back and the waist strap takes the weight off your shoulders, however the chest strap makes the shoulder straps pinch your neck when fastened, which isn’t very comfortable. 

Peak Design Travel Bag 45L

The Peak Design Travel Bag 45L is a sleek, robust and spacious solution to traveling with bulky gear like camping equipment (Image credit: Peak Design)

Ease of use

Carry handles on all sides plus zip access everywhere mean you can always find whatever it is you’re looking for, and it’s easy to throw on and off places. 

Weather resistance

This bag is weatherproof and definitely offers better protection against a downpour than your typical backpack. 

Durability 

Between the sturdy fabric, reinforced zippers and metal clips on the straps, the Peak Design Travel Bag 45L is seriously sturdy and built to last. 

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.