Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack Review

It has all the design élan of a Soviet housing block. But it’s very affordable and certainly sizable—it just might not fit under the seat.

Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack Photos: Michael Frank and Mark Miller

The Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack is one of 10 travel backpacks I evaluated for qualities including organization, comfort, and sturdiness as part of CR’s “Outside the Labs” review program.

Price: $53.83
Where to buy: Amazon
Dimensions:  21.5 x 15.75 x 8.25 inches
Weight: 3.6 pounds
Construction: Polyester
Claimed capacity: N/A
Tuckable pack sleeves: Yes
External bottle sleeve: No
Shoulder carry: Yes
Waist strap: Yes
Eyeglass sleeve: No
Extras: Compression straps

Here’s My Review
When packing my gear into the Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack, I tried to imagine Jeff Bezos filling it for a trip . . . into suborbital space. Would he coo about the extra-large laptop cavity that was big enough not just for my iPad Pro and my MacBook Air but also my magazine, book, and adventure guide? Heck, I even managed to stow my dopp kit and windbreaker into this portion of the bag—since it’s subdivided into an overlarge electronics sleeve and then a capacious secondary bin that stretches the length of the pack. Overfilling this section chewed into the capacity of the center compartment (the largest of the group I evaluated), but that was okay because it meant that I’d have more ready access to the items I’d want to grab in-flight. I stuffed whatever I wouldn’t need en route (umbrella, extra clothing, camera) in the pack’s harder-to-access core.

See our review of the best travel backpacks for more information, including details on how we evaluated them.

But note to Jeff: All that space travel has you neglecting earthbound travelers. The Carry-On’s construction has a flimsy, slippery quality, and some interior stitching looks especially weak when compared with all the other bags I evaluated. Likewise, the external grab handles are large but they’re also slick and harder to grip. The Carry-On feels like what it is: a price-targeted item that left the needs of real-world travelers out of key design decisions save one: The waist belt makes this an easy bag to carry in spite of its size.

But it’s also a super-tight squeeze for underseat cramming. It just makes it—with total toe overlap in my mock airline setup. I fear that some stricter flight attendants might relegate this one to the overhead bin—or to the cargo hold, if there’s no room up there. 

Bonus! Zip-away backpack straps should protect them from damage if you ever need to check this bag.

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Michael Frank

Michael Frank is a freelance writer who contributes to Consumer Reports on the intersection of cars and tech. His bias: lightweight cars with great steering over lumbering, loud muscle cars any day. You can  follow him on Twitter (@mfwords) and  Instagram (mfwords).