If you're confused on what you may bring onboard for free these days, you're not alone. More and more airlines are slimming their economy fare down to include nothing but transportation for you and an ambiguous "personal item". Exact dimensions for a personal item will vary slightly by airline, but in general, it needs to be an item that will fit underneath the seat in front of you.

Small Backpacks That Fit Personal Item Dimensions

If you're able to pack super light, you can still get by on short trips with just a small backpack. Some minimalists may even be able to travel this way on extended trips. Here are some top picks for backpacks that will always be free to carry on-board.

Boarding Blue Personal Item Laptop Backpack


This bag is spacious and durable without the high price tag. It has many compartments to organize your belongings and weighing in at just 1 lb., it won't break your back either.

Amazon User Review: "I packed so much in it. It also does fit under all seats in a plane (I traveled United, American Airlines and Spirit)."

Price: Starting at $18.88 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4

Modoker Vintage Laptop Backpack


This backpack is both stylish and functional. It's small enough to fit even the most stringent personal item limits, but can still pack what you need for a quick weekend trip. The standout feature of this vintage laptop bag is its pocket specifically designed to hold a backup battery so you can easily charge your phone on the go.

Amazon User Review: "Comfortable straps, a decent amount of pockets and the clever backup battery charging slot thing round it out (just note that it doesn't come with a battery)."

Price: Starting at $25.99 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4.6

Related: How to Avoid Paying Airline Seat Fees

Swiss Gear TSA Friendly ScanSmart Laptop Backpack


If the TSA checkpoint stresses you out, this quality pack from Swiss Gear may ease your pain. It unfolds flat allowing you to place your bag on the x-ray machine without removing your laptop. With multiple pockets, your belongings will be well organized for your entire trip.

Amazon User Review: "It has many cool hidden pockets, even one on the strap for sunglasses."

Price: Starting at $54.63 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4.7

Osprey Axis 18 Laptop Backpack


From one of the top-rated brands, this Osprey pack is great for the trail and also includes a padded laptop sleeve for multiple uses. The bungee compression system allows you to easily store your jacket on the outside and the removable waist belt will keep the bag positioned correctly on your back.

Amazon User Review: "In short, a really good urban EDC (every day carry) pack. Can't go wrong with its light weight and typical Osprey build quality, and their bomb proof warranty."

Price: Starting at $62 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4.3

Related: The Best Checked Luggage for Travel

JanSport Hatchet Backpack


A classic name in backpacks, JanSport has come out with a stylish pack that can be used for more than lugging school books to and from class. This spacious pack has many compartments inside and comes in many different color choices for you to match your favorite look.

Amazon User Review: "I use it for everything. Flight carry on, daily work use, day pack for hiking. It's comfy, sturdy, and seems high quality."

Price: Starting at $53.27 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4.7

eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack


A sleek and well thought out pack from eBags. This bag comes with a lifetime warranty and separates your laptop into a fully padded, lockable compartment. It has a low profile design and all the compartments you could think of to keep your life organized. The pack can also easily convert to a briefcase allowing you to have a professional look by day with the option to comfortably carry on your back while sightseeing.

Amazon User Review: "It is good looking yet subtle, and you can tell that someone (or a group of people) really put effort in to thinking about how people would use the bag."

Price: Starting at $97.99 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4.6

Related: 10 Airline Perks That Are Still Free on U.S. Airlines

Travelon Anti-Theft Heritage Backpack


A nice looking canvas bag that has a padded laptop sleeve and an RFID blocking compartment. The locking zippers are a nice feature to give you some peace of mind if you carry any valuables on your back. With a slash-resistant body and shoulder strap, this pack has all the security you could ever find in a backpack.

Amazon User Review: "The locking clips give a sense of security. I use this for school and work every day, and I love the amount of space it has."

Price: Starting at $125.48 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4.7

Modoker Vintage Canvas Backpack


Another canvas backpack with an old-school vibe. This bag is suitable for multiple activities from hiking to strolling the city streets. It features high-quality metal hardware and 100% cotton canvas along with genuine leather. Suitable for both men and women, this pack comes in a variety of colors to go with your choice of fashion.

Amazon User Review: "I was able to pack an entire summer 4 night trip to Disney in this bag with 2 Tank/1 shorts and sundress for each day."

Price: Starting at $27.98 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4.7

Related: How to Pack in Just a Personal Item Sized Bag

Stay on top of breaking sales, fare drops, and more! Follow us on Twitter @Airfarewatchdog. And make sure to sign up for FREE airfare alerts to be notified when prices drop.

Product images: Amazon
All products and services mentioned on Airfarewatchdog are independently selected by our team of expert travelers. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

More Stories You'll Love

Airfarewatchdog.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com