Backpacks vs. Shoulder Bags for travel

Nowadays, no one can even think about going out of their home without the “right bag”. Some of the popular bag choices for daily commutes are shoulder bags, messenger bags, backpacks, and fanny packs. However, a common concern is “Are backpacks better than shoulder bags for travel”. In this article, we compare backpacks with shoulder packs according to different factors.

Related: Backpack vs. Suitcase for Traveling

Backpacks versus Shoulder Bags: Which One is Better for Travel

Here, we will compare backpacks with shoulder bags with the help of the following factors so that you can make the right choice for yourself.


Backpacks win the race in comfortability. As they distribute the weight evenly across your back instead of putting it on a single shoulder. Thus, they help in maintaining your body’s natural gait and reducing back pain.

To add more comfort to your backpack, pick backpacks that have:

  • Wide, breathable, and comfy shoulder straps.
  • Comes in a rolling style.
  • Adjustable straps.

Long Distances

Carrying shoulder bags for long distances causes muscle tightness, neck pain, backache, and bad posture. Backpacks are the best option for you if you have to walk long distances. They are also a good option for comfortable handling while commuting by biking, scooting, skating, etc.

But, if one needs to carry his/her bag from the parking lot to the office, then the shoulder bag will work for professional chics.


If you are going to carry some extra pounds i.e. lunch, water bottle, laptop, charger, umbrella, books, and other material, then a backpack is a lifesaver for you. This will avoid pressure on your back, neck, muscles, and single shoulder. Backpacks work best for medical professionals, nurses, students, and travelers.

Hands-free Style

If you love to go for a hand-free style, backpacks are a much better option for you than shoulder bags. For example, it helps mothers to handle their kids with a hands-free style.

They are also good for travel junkies during their rough and tough trails, hiking, camping, and also for many water activities.


You can find a number of backpack styles, nowadays. Backpacks are once again a step ahead of shoulder bags in terms of versatility. Some of the latest styles are:

  • Basics: It’s a classic style with one main interior compartment and a smaller exterior compartment or an outer front pocket. Best for daily commuters, schoolies, light travelers, and teens.
  • Laptop Style: It is a more sturdy and durable option that typically comes with a padded interior laptop compartment for your laptop. Some laptop backpacks come with a detachable sleeve option.
  • Rucksack: This style works best for adventure travelers. Comes with travel-specific features like water bladders, waterproof material, etc.
  • Duffel Style: It provides you the size and function of a typical duffel bag but has straps like a backpack.
  • Rolling: It is an easy-to-go option with rolling wheels.
  • Athletic: It is specifically made for sportspersons and athletes. It comes with multiple compartments for securing carry balls, gym shoes, gym wear, and other accessories.

Easy Access and Secure

If you are still loyal to your shoulder buddy, then the good news is that they give you easy and convenient access to your belongings as compared to a backpack.

While traveling in public transportation, they give you a sense of security and don’t bother others.

There is a stigma attached to backpacks that they are meant for college students, teens, school kids, and travelers. Even some latest backpacks come in a more professional style but still, you may not like to see a well-suited professional with a backpack. So in this way, shoulder bags make their way ahead with their typical professional style.

In addition, you can’t say that only shoulder bags cause back pain. Carrying heavy backpacks for too long can also cause problems such as:

  • Spine compression
  • Hip pain
  • Back pain
  • Hunched posture

Tips for Carrying Backpacks and Shoulder Bags

  • Make sure to select bags with wider straps that will help more evenly distribute the weight across your back and shoulders.
  • If you carry a shoulder bag, try to switch the shoulders to take it.
  • If you are required to carry heavy bags then make sure to avoid heels. Wearing heels while carrying heavy bags will cause more imbalance, strain, and pain.
  • Last, but not least, try to travel light and shed those extra pounds.

Final Words

Hope our blog post will clear up the confusion in your mind “Are backpacks better than shoulder bags”. The end decision is yours because whatever bag you choose, should match your needs, traveling style, and personality.

If you are still confused then go for the hybrid options:

  • Go for convertible-style bags that can be easily carried on the shoulder or back.
  • Or buy the backpacks that come with adjustable and removable straps so that you can carry them as a cross-body backpack style or as a shoulder bag.

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