Best Backpack for Spirit Airlines - Personal Item Backpacks Reviewed

So you have booked your next flight with Spirit Airlines and are looking for the perfect backpack you can bring with you on the plane. Easy, right? Well, there are some rules you’ll have to follow and if you get them wrong it can cost you. 

In this guide we will go over Spirit Airlines’ personal item restrictions and recommend the best Spirit Airlines backpacks you can bring with you on your next flight.

Quick Backpack Picks

Table of Contents

Spirit Personal Item Size Requirements

Each Spirit Airlines ticket includes a free personal item you can take with you on the flight. Your personal item has strict dimensional restrictions you must follow or else you will be charged a carry-on bag fee. 

Spirit Airlines personal item backpack dimensions

The current personal item measurements at the time of this writing (January 2019) are 18 x 14 x 8 inches. These measurements are based on the official Spirit Airlines size and weight limits.

Spirit Airlines describes a personal item as something like a laptop bag or purse but it can also include a backpack that is under the maximum dimensions.

Best Backpacks for Spirit Airlines

With their strict size restrictions it can be a tough time finding the right Spirit Airlines personal item backpack. Go too small and you limit what you can carry on flight. But if your backpack is too large then you run the risk of getting hit with an extra fee. 

This is why we decided to do the research and bring you a list of our favorite backpacks that meet Spirit Airlines personal item requirements but still give you the space and features you need for a comfortable flight.

eBags Professional Flight laptop backpack - The best backpack for Spirit Airlines

eBags Professional Flight Laptop Backpack 

eBags has managed to hit a home run with their Professional Flight laptop backpack. This bag was built from the ground up to be used for air travel. The dimensions are well within Spirit Airline’s personal item requirements while the bag itself is large enough to pack everything you need for a short trip and comfortable flight. 

Dimensions: 17.5” x 12.75” x 8”

What fits inside: Clamshell main compartment holds 2-days worth of clothing and shoes while various pockets throughout the bag holds toiletries, electronics, water bottles and other personal items. Separate laptop compartment fits a laptop up to 15.6 inches. Easy-access top pocket fits a large pair of headphones.

Read more about the eBags Professional Flight Laptop Backpack

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 17.5” x 12.75” x 8”

  • Capacity: 28.8 Liters

  • Weight: 3lbs

  • Main compartment opens like a suitcase

  • Large front organization panel for easy access to small items.

  • TSA-friendly laptop compartment

The best backpack for Spirit Airlines

When we first reviewed the eBags Professional Flight laptop backpack we were impressed with  its deliberate design and functional features. eBags really did design the Professional Flight laptop backpack from the ground up to be used as a personal item on restrictive airlines like Spirit. It’s dimensions fall right under the maximum personal item size but it has somehow managed to pack a ton of features in such little space. 

As far as travel backpacks go, the eBags Professional Flight laptop backpack comes with some standard features we have come to expect. The side pockets allow for storage of water bottles, there are small pockets that work great for plane tickets or passports and the main compartment is roomy enough for clothes, shoes and other short trip essentials. 

Where this backpack really shines is in its clever use of storage space. The main compartment opens up like a suitcase to give you full access of what’s inside. The laptop compartment is TSA-friendly and opens up clamshell style for easy pass at security checkpoints. The front pocket opens up to a large organizational panel that gives you quick access to small items. 

One of our favorite features is the front top pocket especially designed for storing headphones. eBags designed the pocket to be accessible when the bag is stowed under the airplane seat. It’s little details like this that make the eBags Professional Flight laptop backpacks not only the best backpack for Spirit Airlines but one of our favorite air travel backpacks in recent memory. 

Cons worth mentioning

The main complaint we have with the eBags Professional Flight Laptop Backpack is in the quality of its zippers. Unlike the zippers featured in other eBags backpacks, the zippers on the Professional Flight Laptop Backpack feel rigid and rough. This makes hard to open and close compartments, especially when the backpack is full. 

Runner up Spirit Airlines backpack pick - Amazon Basics Slim Carry on Travel Backpack

Amazon Basics Slim Carry On Travel Backpack

Amazon offers a true eBags alternative with their AmazonBasics Slim Carry On travel backpack. The bag was designed to be used as a personal item on airlines like Spirit and has all of the features we have come to expect from a travel bag. The main compartment opens up like a suitcase for easy packing while the front pocket organizer makes accessing small travel items a breeze. 

Dimensions: 18” x 12.5” x 7.8”

What fits inside: The main compartment is large enough to fit one or two days worth of clothing while a separate compartment fits a laptop as well as a tablet. The outside of the bag features two expandable water bottle pockets. Small items such as passports, tickets, earbuds and phones can be placed in the large front pocket organizer.

Read more about the Amazon Basics Slim Carry On Travel Backpack

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 18” x 12.5” x 7.8”

  • Weight: 1.68 lbs

  • Fleece-lined top-load tablet pocket and a dedicated laptop sleeve

  • Vertical and horizontal pass-through trolley panels for easy carry on luggage handles

  • Main compartment opens clamshell like a suitcase

A near perfect Spirit Airlines personal item backpack

The Amazon Basics Slim Carry on Travel backpack definitely takes some design cues from popular eBags travel backpack models such as orange lined interiors and large front organizational pockets but it brings plenty of its own design features to the table. These features are what makes the Amazon Basics Slim Carry On Travel Backpack such a great personal item backpack for airlines with strict bag requirements like Frontier and Spirit Airlines. 

Examples of useful travel features include its zippers that are made to accommodate locks or a top-access table pocket that allows grab your tablet if your bag is under the airplane seat. Speaking of airplane seats, Amazon Basics Slim Carry on Travel backpack is just the right size to comfortably fit under a plane seat.

Versatile carry is another great design feature of this backpack. The bag can be carried like backpack or as a shoulder messenger bag. Side and top handles also allow you to carry the backpack like a briefcase while the pass-through panels allow for easy carry on luggage handles

Cons worth mentioning

While we think this backpacks makes a great Spirit Airlines personal item, it’s not perfect. The first main con is that the main compartment is slimmer than we would like. The backpack is split into two compartments; the main compartment for clothes and the laptop compartment with a tablet sleeve. Unfortunately, both the main compartment and laptop compartment take up the same amount of depth which results in some wasted space. Although this design gives your laptop compartment plenty of room, it leaves you with little room for your clothes. So instead of having room for 2-3 days worth of clothes we are only getting 1-2 days worth of clothing storage. This is where the eBags Professional Flight Laptop Backpack does better than the Amazon Basics Slim Carry On backpack. 

The second con is the quality of the plastic shoulder strap clips which tend to break and snap under the weight of the bag. This isn’t terribly widespread problem but one that enough people complained about that it’s worth mentioning. In the spirit of being able to switch back and forth between a backpack and a messenger bag, the backpack straps are held together by plastic clips. If these clips break then you can say goodbye to a backpack and hello to a permanent oversized travel briefcase. 

Best Seller Spirit Airlines personal item backpack: Osprey Daylite Plus backpack

Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack

The Daylite Plus Daypack is one of Osprey’s most popular small backpacks and it’s easy to see why. At 20 liters, the Daylite Plus is versatile enough to be used as an airline personal item as well as a daypack once you get to your destination. Whether you are taking a hiking trip or exploring a new city, the Osprey Daylite Plus is a true travel companion.  

Dimensions: 18” x 10” x 9”

What fits inside: 20 liter main compartment is large enough for a change of clothes, shoes or various travel essentials. Sleeve in main compartment can fit a laptop or tablet up to 15 inches or a water hydration pack up to 3 liters. Front stash pocket is perfect for small items and can stretch out for more storage. 

Read more about the Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 18” x 10” x 9”

  • Capacity: 20L

  • Weight: 1lb

  • Versatile backpack that can be used for travel, hiking or days out on the town. 

  • Can be used as an attachment to larger Osprey packs

  • Padded compartment fits a laptop, tablet or a water hydration pack

More than just a personal item backpack

We made to sure include the Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack on our list of best Spirit Airlines backpacks not just because of how popular it is amongst travel enthusiasts but because of how versatile it is for those who need more than just a personal item backpack. 

The Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack can be used as everything from an everyday backpack for exploring a new city or as a light hiking backpack thanks to its laptop sleeve that doubles as a water hydration sleeve. 

This backpack is incredibly light. At only 1 pound, carrying at-capacity is easy and you can really tell the difference in weight when compared to heavier bags. Features such as the front stash pocket also makes finding smaller items a breeze. This is especially true when you are at busy airports and need to quickly access items such as a passport, tickets, sunglasses or a wallet.

When it comes to using this bag as a Spirit Airlines personal item backpack, the bag is 9-inches deep which is 1-inch over the size capacity yet we haven’t heard of anyone having any trouble using this backpack as a personal item on airlines such as Spirit, United and Frontier. Osprey Daylite Plus also fits great under airline seats as long as it isn’t at bulging capacity which is common at backpacks this size.

Cons worth mentioning

A common complaint with the Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack is the side water bottle pockets. Although these stretchy side pockets are great for smaller items they can be a bit too shallow for some water bottles causing them to slip out of the pockets when you are on the move.

Cheap Spirit Airlines backpack - Matein Laptop backpack

Matein Laptop Backpack

Matein offers a great budget backpack that exceeds expectations in terms of functionality, quality and style. This medium sized backpack fits perfectly under an airplane seat and is well within the size restrictions of a Spirit Airlines personal item. 

Dimensions: 18” x 12” x 7.8”

What fits inside: While you won’t be cramming days worth of clothes in the main compartment, it is roomy enough for a few clothing items, large headphones or other travel essentials. Separate laptop compartment can hold a laptop and tablet up to 15.6 inches. The front of the backpack features multiple pockets and organizers for a phone, wallet, passport and other small items while a built-in USB port allows for charging phones and other electronics on the go. 

Read more about the Matein Laptop Backpack

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 18” x 12” x 7.8”

  • Weight: 1.5 lbs

  • Hidden anti-theft pocket on the back panel allows for safe storage of small items such a wallet, passport or plane tickets.

  • Mesh side pockets stretch to fit various water bottle sizes

  • Front pocket is surprisingly large and makes it easy to organize small items

Matein Laptop Backpack Demo

A great Spirit Airlines backpack for those on a budget

Matein did a great job at designing a well-rounded backpack for a budget price. At less than $50 you can have a well-made backpack with features that are usually reserved for more expensive bags. 

As a travel bag, Matein does a great job incorporating must-have features such as an easy-access front pocket with organizers for small items, a trolley pass through so that you can attach the backpack to rolling luggage, and dimensions that allow the backpack to fit underneath a plane seat. 

If you are looking for a good Spirit personal item backpack, then the Matein Laptop backpack will be within the size requirements. The main compartment is big enough for most travel essentials and some clothing items. When you aren’t traveling the Matein also makes a great school bag or work backpack thanks to it’s roomy main compartment that can fit books, binders and other daily essentials.

Cons worth mentioning

A common complaint with the Matein laptop backpack is with the quality of the zippers that can feel sticky and rigid when opening or closing compartments. Laptop compartment padding is on the thinner side and could be a lot better. This could be a problem for anyone with an expensive laptop that finds themselves being rough with their backpack while on the move. 

Spirit personal item backpack: Briggs & Riley Transcend Cargo travel backpack

Briggs & Riley Transcend Cargo Backpack

Known for their high quality luggage, Briggs & Riley offers up a sophisticated travel backpack that falls well within Sprit Airlines personal item size requirements. This sleek backpack opens up like a suitcase for easy packing of clothing, shoes and other travel essentials. Diverse organizer pockets gives the Transcent Cargo backpack plenty of storage options for busy travelers who want a mature and professional looking backpack while on the move. 

Dimensions: 18” x 11.5” x 8”

What fits inside: 24 liter capacity allows for 1-2 days of clothing to be stored in the roomy main compartment. Front organizer pocket can hold small items including a tablet or small notebook or booklets. Open side pocket is large enough to hold a water bottle or umbrella while zip side pocket can safely store smaller items. Top front pocket is perfect for sunglasses, headphones and other quick-access items. Separate zip compartment can fit a laptop up to 17 inches in size. 

Read more about the Briggs & Riley Transcend Cargo Backpack

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 18” x 11.5” x 8”

  • Capacity: 24 liters

  • Weight: 2.3lbs

  • Super smooth YKK RC zippers

  • Main compartment opens like a suitcase for easy packing

  • Roomy compartment for laptops up to 17”

A backpack for those who like to travel in style

The Briggs & Riley Transcend Cargo backpack is great for carrying those last day items such as a change of clothes and toiletries without having to dig through your checked-in luggage. This is thanks to the Transcend’s Cargo clamshell main compartment with room for clothes, shoes and more. The backpack also features plenty of easy-access pockets throughout the bag to store everything from water bottles, electronics chargers and sunglasses without having to rummage through the main compartment. 

Briggs & Riley also does a great job at providing a separate laptop compartment that is actually pretty roomy. While other bags in this class feature laptop sleeves for smaller laptops, the Transcend Cargo backpack fits a laptop up to 17-inches. 

At 18-inches in height and under 12-inches in width, the Briggs & Riley Transcend Cargo backpack is well within the Spirit Airlines personal item requirements and it’s storage capacity would make it a great backpack to have when traveling with just a personal item on budget airlines and business class alike. 

Cons worth mentioning: 

There are very little complaints about the Briggs & Riley Transcend Cargo backpack. One con worth mentioning is that the backpack isn’t fully waterproof. This isn’t a big deal but for the price you would think this backpack could protect expensive items such as a laptop or a phone in the case of a bad rainstorm. 

Timbuk2 Ace Convertible Backpack - Spirit Airlines backpack

Timbuk2 ACE Convertible Backpack 

Timbuk2 offers a medium size laptop backpack for those who want the utility of a travel backpack with the convenience of a messenger bag at lighter loads. At 20 liters, the Ace Convertible backpack is large enough for extra clothes and other travel essentials while still falling under the Spirit Airlines personal item requirements. 

Dimensions: 17.3” x 11.4” x 5.12”

What fits inside: 20 liter main compartment allows for storage of 1 or 2 days of clothing and personal essentials. Front pocket allows for storage of smaller items such as a passport, wallet or phone. Separate laptop compartment allows you to store a laptop or tablet up to 15-inches without disturbing the main compartment. Webbing on front allows for additional attachment of carabiner accessories.

Read more about the Timbuk2 ACE Convertible Backpack

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 17.3” x 11.4” x 5.12”

  • Capacity: 20L

  • Weight: 3lb

  • Converts from a backpack to a messenger bag

  • Front zip pocket fits phone, passport and wallet

  • Timbuk2 Lifetime Warranty

A Spirit Airlines backpack that converts into a messenger bag

Timbuk2 offers a few different travel backpacks but the Ace Convertible backpack is one of the only that is small enough to fit the Spirit personal item size requirements. It’s large enough to hold enough essentials for an overnight stay yet small enough to fit under an airplane seat. The bag itself is made of two large compartments; one main compartment and a separate soft-lined compartment for a laptop and tablet. Smaller pockets line the outside front of the bag. 

The Timbuk2 Ace converts between a messenger bag and backpack. The backpack straps stow away in their own zip compartment against the back panel. The messenger shoulder strap is removable. A pass-through trolley panel allows the bag to be attached to luggage handles for easy carry at airports.

We like the Timbuk2 Ace for its style and versatility. It’s just the right size to be used as a personal item on most airlines but it doesn’t scream “travel backpack” like some of the other bags on the list. As a result you can use your Ace Convertible bag as a business backpack on work trips or as a casual messenger bag on vacation. 

Cons worth mentioning

One common complaint with the Timbuk2 Ace Convertible bag is with the outside pockets. Although great for small items such as glasses, phones and wallets, the outside pockets are not gusseted and no stretch to them. This means that the pockets become incredibly hard to use when the main compartment is full.

A lack of outside pockets in general can be an issue if you need a bag with side pockets to hold water bottles and other quick-access items. One could argue that the lack of pockets is what gives the Ace bag its clean and modern look yet this design can be less than functional during air travel where a water bottle pocket is sometimes needed. 

Fjallraven Kanken - Best Spirit Airlines small backpack

Fjallraven Kanken Backpack

Those looking for a small backpack to use as their Spirit Airlines personal item will love the style and features of the Fjallraven Kanken. Large enough to hold a days worth of stuff yet small enough to comfortably fit under airplane seats, the Kanken is the take-everywhere backpack for long relaxing vacations or quick weekend adventures. 

Dimensions: 14.9” x 10.6” x 5.1”

What fits inside: The Kanken’s deep main compartment can fit a day’s worth of travel gear such as a light jacket, camera, snacks and water bottles. The main compartment can accommodate a laptop or tablet up to 14-inches while the bag’s side pockets can hold water bottles or an umbrella. 

Read more about the Fjallraven Kanken Backpack

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 14.9” x 10.6” x 5.1”

  • Capacity: 16L

  • Weight: .7lb

  • Made of waterproof material

  • Main compartment opens 3/4 for full access to the things inside

  • Perfect size for women, children and people who need a small travel backpack

Our preferred Spirit Airlines small backpack

The Fjallraven Kanken has been one of the most popular outdoor backpacks in recent years thanks to its waterproof features, endless color options and unique rectangular design. It’s this boxy rectangular design that helps give the Kanken it’s roomy main compartment. Unlike other curved backpacks, the boxy main compartment allows you to store more while still keeping a small footprint. This makes the Kanken perfect for women, kids or anyone with a smaller frame where full sized travel backpacks may be too large and heavy. 

Although the design is cool, it’s the small details that make the Kanken such a great travel backpack. The main compartment opens up 3/4 of the way for full access to the contents inside. On the back of the main compartment you’ll find a Fjallraven tag that allows you to write down your name and contact information for the off chance that you lose your bag. On the outside of the bag is where you’ll find a reflective logo patch for safety as well as a top handle so you can carry your Kanken like a tote when needed.

Size wise the Kanken meets the Spirit personal item backpack requirements and perfectly fits under airplane seats so you won’t have to place it in overhead storage. If you like the idea of a Kanken but want something a little different then make sure to check out our backpacks like Fjallraven list for similar options.

Cons worth mentioning

The Kanken was originally designed to help with back problems in school children. It’s ergonomically “X” shoulder strap design provides optimal support but unfortunately the thin straps can sometimes dig into shoulders if the bag gets too heavy. 

Herschel Little America Mid-Volume backpack - Spirit Airlines personal item backpack

Herschel Little America Mid-Volume Backpack

Herschel takes their popular Little America backpack and shrinks it down in size with their Little America Mid-Volume. At a 17 liter capacity, the Little America Mid-Volume is the perfect size to use as a Spirt Airlines personal item while still having plenty of space for travel essentials. 

Dimensions: 16” x 10.75” x 5” 

What fits inside: The outside front pocket is great for small items like keys, a wallet or phone while the main compartment fits a light jacket, camera, books and other travel essentials. A padded and fleece lined sleeve holds a 13-inch laptop. 

Read more about the Herschel Little America Mid-Volume Backpack

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 16” x 10.75” x 5”

  • Capacity: 17L

  • Weight: 1.9lbs

  • Smaller version of full sized 25L Herschel Little America

  • Padded and fleece lined 13” laptop sleeve

  • Internal media pocket with headphone port

Herschel offers stylish airplane carry

We are big fans of the Herschel Little America for its iconic design and throwback features but we found the full sized version to be a bit too big to carry on as a personal item on Spirit Airlines. The Herschel Little America Mid-Volume however is the perfect size as it comes in under the Spirit personal item requirements.

What sets Herschel apart from other big backpack brands is their heritage designs that are a cross between a vintage outdoor and urban modern. The Little America backpack is one of Herschel’s most popular designs because of its blend of old and new. With a mountaineering inspired rucksack opening and classic woven label it is a fresh take on old outdoor gear. If you like Herschel’s heritage look but want to see what other brands are out there then make sure to check out our list of backpacks like Herschel.

Cons worth mentioning

Lack of water bottle pockets and small compartments may be a deal breaker for some people who need lots of organization. The Herschel Little America Mid-Volume only has a main compartment, laptop sleeve and a small front pocket. 

This backpack also lacks lots of the travel features other backpacks on this list have. It does not have a pass-through trolley panels for easy carry on luggage handles and its rucksack design makes it harder to access clothing or items in the bottom of the bag. 

FAQs

Now that we have listed our favorite Spirit Airlines backpacks let’s address some common questions.

Can I bring a backpack on Spirit Airlines?

You can bring any type of bag, including a backpack, as your personal item free of charge as long as the dimensions are under size limit of 18 x 14 x 8 inches.

What about Jansport backpacks?

A common question we get is “Can I bring my (insert brand name here) backpack?”. The short answer is that you can bring whatever brand backpack you like as long as it falls under the size requirements for a Spirit Airlines personal item. 

The longer answer really depends on the brand and backpack model. We have found that most basic school bags (like the ones pictured below) fall well beneath the personal item restrictions and are ok to bring with you on the flight without being charged a fee. To be more specific backpacks like the Jansport Superbreak and Herschel Settlement count as Spirit Airlines personal items. 

Jansport backpack Spirit Airlines

Although we are big fans of brands like North Face and other outdoor/travel brands we found that a lot of the most popular North Face backpacks run a few inches too large to be considered a Spirit Airlines personal item. In this case it becomes a bring at your own risk situation when it’s time to board the plane. Spirit Airlines can be strict with their bag restrictions and you may be charged a fee if the bag is considered too large.

North Face backpack Spirit Airlines

If you are unsure as whether you can bring your backpack on a Spirit Airlines flight as a free personal item then the best thing you can do is look up your specific backpack model on the brand’s website for the backpack’s dimensions. 

What’s the difference between a personal item and carry on?

There are three categories of bags that Spirit Airlines allows you to bring with you on flights. The first is the “personal item” which was covered extensively in this guide. The second is a “carry-on bag” which is larger than a personal item and can be stowed in the overhead compartment when you board. The last kind of bag is a checked bag which is any bag or luggage that is bigger than a carry-on but smaller than 62 linear inches. 

Spirit Airlines personal item and carry-on difference

Any bag that surpasses the 18 x 14 x 8 inches personal item size limit but is under 22 x 18 x10 inches is considered a carry-on bag and will accrue a fee. If your backpack is too large to be considered a personal item than Spirit Airlines treat it as a carry-on. 

Criteria Used for Evaluation

With hundreds of bags to choose from we had to come up with system to filter through a lot of the noise. Instead of going through each and every one we decided to set a standard in which each backpack must have before we further reviewed it.

We decided on a 5 point system to determine the quality of each backpack we researched and reviewed:

  1. Size and Dimensions

  2. Easy Storage of Travel Essentials

  3. Style and Design

  4. User Reviews

  5. Availability

Read more

1. Size and Dimensions

The first criteria we looked for was that size and dimensions of each backpack fit the Spirit Airlines personal item requirements. If the backpack ran too large or way too small we did not consider it for our initial picks. A good travel backpack should be small enough to be considered an airline personal item yet large enough to safely store everything you need for a comfortable flight. At this size each backpack on the list should fit under an airplane seat to avoid having to stow it above with the carry-ons. 

2. Easy Storage of Travel Essentials

There are countless little things that each of us won’t leave home without when traveling by airplane. These things can include chewing gum, water bottles, headphones and laptops. 

One of the features we look for was easy access to these important items both during regular carry and when on the plane. Backpacks are usually stowed away under airplane seats with limited room to get to the things we need for a comfortable flight. Backpacks with specially placed and easy-access pockets took a priority over backpacks that didn’t have these storage features. 

3. Style and Design

When it comes to backpacks, no one wants to own an ugly bag. We took style into consideration when making our list and excluded any bags that were poorly designed or just not fashionable. Build quality is just as important as style. Backpacks with well constructed laptop sleeves, high grade materials and built-in comfort features were put into a higher priority for consideration.

With this said, bags like the Herschel Little America Mid-Volume and Fjallraven Kanken can be considered by some less travel bags and more like everyday fashion backpacks. But we see them as good reliable bags that countless people have used as their go-to travel backpacks. Because of this we made sure to include them on our list. 

4. User Reviews

We considered thousands of online user reviews and excluded any bags with too low ratings. Only backpacks with high user reviews were considered for review. 

5. Availability

We only included bags that are widely available in stores and online. This makes it easier for you to shop for a bag you like without having to worry about low stock or shipping restrictions. We excluded bags from some of the smaller backpack brands because of this. Instead we made sure the bags on our list are readily available at multiple retailers online and can easily be shipped within the US.