Travel bag backpack for travel it is the best women's travel backpack for Europe and travel essentials to survive an airport layover

The Best Women’s Travel Backpack for Europe in 2023

To be honest, I take The North Face Recon Backpackdesigned especially for women—everywhere when I travel and hike.

But when I plan to travel abroad, it is 100% THE best women’s travel backpack for Europe for me.

I use my Recon backpack as a personal travel handbag paired with my carry-on luggage. Both of these bags make it easy to get in and out of the airport.

The best women's travel backpack for Europe and for hiking is The North Face Recon backpack

I used to travel with a hand-me down backpack from my husband and would often return home from vacations with sore shoulders and an aching back. When the straps on that backpack started to tear, I began to research and look in earnest for a new backpack that was designed specifically for women and for my size.

At 5’2″ to my husband’s 6’4″, I needed a backpack that was designed for me.

The good news? The North Face makes a STANDARD SIZE Recon backpack as well. It is perfect for my husband’s tall frame.

The Best Women’s Travel Backpack for Europe

Let’s be clear though. This review is intended to showcase The North Face Recon backpack as a personal travel bag for women.

If you are planning a backpacking trip across your Europe with ALL of your clothes, toiletries and essentials in one bag, you may wish to look at a pack that is a little bigger.

My husband and I both travel with our respective backpacks; they are just enough different that we don’t get them mixed up. I’d like to say that his is heavier, but mine is filled with camera equipment, so it can be a toss up!

If you are in the market for a new backpack, look no further than The North Face Recon backpack for women (or men).

>> Related: 41 Cool Gift Ideas for Travelers (That They Actually Want!)

As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This page may contain affiliate links. I would love your support through clicking on the links. Read the full disclosure here.

Size Guidelines for the Best Women’s Travel Backpack for Europe

The North Face Recon Backpack is The Best Travel Backpack for Europe
Photo courtesy of The North Face

The benefit of traveling with a backpack as a personal travel bag is that it allows you to travel hands-free through airports, on trains, and as you are sightseeing. Not only that, The North Face Recon Backpack has pockets and storage galore.

As a plus, The North Face Recon backpack can handily fit under the seat on an airplane.

United Airlines specifies the maximum dimensions for personal items fitting underneath the seat in front of you should be: 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 centimeters x 25 centimeters x 43 centimeters).

>> Related: Travel Tips: How To Be a Confident Traveler

Travel Essentials for Your Backpack

Travel bag backpack for travel

When using The North Face Recon backpack as my personal carry on for travel, I fill it with all of my essentials—items that I specifically want close for easy access.

Features to Love About The Best Women’s Backpack for Traveling Europe

As I travel, hike, or sightsee as a tourist while on vacation, I often wear The North Face backpack all day long.

You may find as YOU travel that your backpack becomes your home-away-from-home where you can have all of YOUR travel essentials close at hand.

The North Face Recon Backpack is The Best women's Travel Backpack for Europe
Photo courtesy of The North Face

The North Face Recon backpack for traveling Women boasts the following features to make them comfortable for you to carry all of your essentials AND to wear for an extended length of time:

  • “The women-specific FlexVent™ suspension system, certified by the American Chiropractic Association, has articulated shoulder straps, a rounded back panel, comfortable stitch lines and soft-touch chemise fabric.” The North Face
  • Extra padding on the adjustable shoulders straps and the back panel
  • A large middle section
  • A protected laptop section with a divider lined with fleece
  • An abundance of interior pockets
  • Expandable side pockets for a water bottles, hand sanitizer and an umbrella
  • A mesh front pocket with compression straps (design varies on newer models)
  • An adjustable sternum strap with a buckle that doubles as a whistle
  • An adjustable waist belt (newer models have removable waist belts)
  • Front compartment has internal organization with pockets and a fleece-lined tablet sleeve
  • An external, fleece-lined pocket to protect your cell phone or sunglasses
  • 360° reflectivity for safety
  • Zipper pulls that are easy to grab
  • Comfortable, padded top grab handle
  • Great for hiking too!
Woman hiking with the North Face backpack and Peak Design Capture clip

Whether your travel backpack is carrying a Kindle, laptop, travel snacks and a travel blanket or if you’re using it as a true carry-on, packing it like a suitcase with your trip’s wardrobe and necessities, the key is finding the right one for you.

In addition to size, you’ll also want to be on the lookout for one that’s lightweight, that’s comfortable to wear and [is made of] durable materials…


Cost: Is The North Face Backpack Worth The Investment?

The North Face Recon Backpack for women comes in just under $100 for the regular price.

Is it worth the splurge?

As already noted, your backpack often becomes your home-away-from-home as you travel, especially as you travel through Europe. A backpack for women who travel is an extension of you. You want your travel backpack to have room for travel essentials such as your phone, ipad or laptop, snacks, water bottle and an umbrella (in case of a sudden rain shower).

The North Face Recon backpack is in line with pricing on similar backpack models.

Why Choose a Backpack as a Personal Travel Bag?

The North Face Recon Backpack is The Best Travel Backpack for Europe
Photo courtesy of The North Face

Obviously you have options for a personal handbag or backpack as you travel. I love traveling with a backpack instead of an over-the-shoulder handbag because:

#1 A backpack allows me to be hands-free

#2 A backpack is the perfect size to fit all of my travel and camera essentials:

#3 Travel backpacks designed specifically for women are perfect for my 5’2″ frame

#4 The Recon is a stylish women’s travel backpack

How I Use The North Face Backpack to Carry My Camera Equipment

In addition to carrying travel essentials in my backpack, I also use the Recon to carry my camera equipment.

I consider myself a hobby photographer and usually only travel with one or two lenses. Hardcore photographers may travel with three or four or more lenses, which add significantly to the weight of the backpack. Their camera backpacks are designed for their specific needs.

I add a camera insert to the middle section of my backpack and have found that it works perfectly to carry my camera equipment PLUS what I need when I travel:

The insert has two removable fleece-lined dividers that you can detach and reattach to DIY the interior space to best fit your camera body and and lens needs.

The material for the camera insert is anti-static, offers thicker padding and enhanced water resistance for camera protection.

Love this Post? Pin it!

The best women's travel backpack for Europe

Final Thoughts on the Best Women’s Travel Backpack for Europe in 2023

Choosing travel gear is often left up to personal preference. Sometimes you just don’t know what to choose though.

Whether you are looking for the standard Recon backpack or a backpack created specifically for women, The North Face backpacks make perfect travel gifts. For me, it is the best backpack for travel in Europe. (In my humble opinion).

As you sightsee and plan travel adventures and day trips in Europe, you will use your travel backpack literally all the time.

Finding the best women’s travel backpack for Europe may seem like a daunting task as it may be one of your bigger investments in travel gear. Small travel backpacks for women—designed specifically for women—are essential. They are still big on storage and pockets and functionality. They just fit YOU better.

The opinions in this post are solely my opinions. I purchased my own backpack and have not received any gifts in exchange for this article. (The North Face did send me a few pictures though!)

You may also enjoy these posts…

Share on Social Media

Do you have a TRAVEL bucket list?
I can help make your dreams come true!

If you love reading good stuff as much as I love writing it,
subscribe to my
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 month ago

As an avid backpacker, I can appreciate this post! Very thorough and seems like a great pack!

Sarah Ruesch
Sarah Ruesch
1 month ago

Thank you, I will check it out, going to Europe has always been my dream!

Kirsten Smith
Kirsten Smith
1 month ago

Great post! Thanks for sharing!

1 month ago

Thanks for sharing. I’m still using my husbands hand me down backpacks and the straps are way too wide for me too.

1 month ago

The North Face Recon Backpack sounds like the perfect solution to fitting all your travel necessities while traveling. I also prefer to use a backpack instead of a purse. Love this one!

1 month ago

I love finding out about new pieces of gear. This makes me excited. Thanks!

Jenny- Seekign Stamps
1 month ago

That backpack looks super functional! Thanks!

Jenn Record
1 month ago

We have almost this identical NF backpack and LOVE it..perfect for travel and day excursions!

1 month ago

Seems like the perfect backpack! I love when there’s enough space to safely fit all the camera equipment!

Lisa Emmerman Lahue
1 month ago

I honestly didn’t know you could buy camera gear separators for any backpack! I have a backpack specifically for camera gear but it doesn’t leave room for much else. I’ll have to check this out!

Catherine Tyler
Catherine Tyler
1 month ago

I’m heading to Norway next summer! This would be perfect for my trip. Thanks for sharing all the great info about it.

1 month ago

Great post! Heard about this brand but don’t have any yet! Thanks for sharing !

1 month ago

This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I am planning to visit Europe next year, and I am looking for a backpack I can fit lots of stuff in. This one looks great! Thanks for sharing.

1 month ago

I wish I read this post before our 3 weeks in Europe this summer. Very detailed and helpful post. Seems like a good choice. Thanks for the recommendation.

Renata -
Renata -
1 month ago

This backpack looks really great. However, I use backpacks only for day tours since I hate to carry all my stuff. But also as a carry-on, this backpack should be great. Well, North Face is a popular brand for a reason, can’t argue with that!

True Self Growth
1 month ago

I had been looking for a sustainable travel backpack for a while. This post is literally a revolutionary for me.

Linda (LD Holland)
1 month ago

I own far too many backpacks. Each seems to have its own strengths and weaknesses. So I keep checking out new recommendations like this. I carry a lot in my backpack so need somethign like this where things are accessible and the backpack is strong enough to carry it all. But doesn’t add weight for just the backpack. I love the idea of an external fleece pocket! And I am going to be checking out that camera insert.

1 month ago

Such a great travel backpack! Not only for hiking, but think it would make a great carry-on or exploring new destinations where I need to bring my camera.

1 month ago

I love a lightweight and durable backpack that doubles as a personal travel bag. And this one seems perfect for Europe.

Lisa | Waves and Cobblestones

When we travel, we try to just bring carry-on luggage to avoid the hassle of checked bags (and the risk of them getting delayed or lost!). Bringing a backpack as a personal item rather than a handbag is a great idea to maximize the amount of space you have to work with.

1 month ago

That backpack looks very comfortable, I’m going to look into getting one for my travels. Great post, thanks for sharing!

1 month ago

I love traveling with backpacks too. I just might give this one a try. I like that its made for women. My husband and I have a similar height discrepancy. 5’4″ and 6’4″ 🙂

22 days ago

This is such a helpful post! I never have luck finding good travel backpacks, so definitely saving this post.

Andrea Cannon
22 days ago

So important to choose the right backpack while traveling – don’t need to add extra soreness when it’s unnecessary. Thank you for sharing.

22 days ago

I have heard a lot about this brand actually. I think I will be buying one now for my husband.

22 days ago

My backpack is getting pretty run down, so I’ve actually been looking for a new one. Thanks for putting this one on my radar. It seems really great!

Puloma Bhattacharya
Puloma Bhattacharya
21 days ago

The North Face Recon backpack looks like an amazing backpack choice for travel purpose and built for women. It had padded shoulder straps, laptop section, and several compartments for carrying camera parts, snacks and other travel essentials. I indeed looks like a “home away from home”.

21 days ago

Thanks so much for breaking it down, this was just what I needed.