It seems the backpacks that often get the most buzz and attention online are the ones that have just way too many bells and whistles — intended surely more to look impressive in concept videos than to be practically useful.

I’m happy to say that the Tom Binh Techonaut 45 is very much in the opposite category.

It’s a perfect example of a streamlined design that has just the right set of features. It’s easy to use and features premium materials and zippers, while still staying wonderfully lightweight.

Having tested it on a trip in Portugal for several weeks, I’ve come to love the Techonaut’s thoughtful and restrained design, which helps you better organize without ever getting in the way of using your own packing style.

If you’re looking for a general carry-on travel backpack with a minimalist and lightweight design, the Tom Binh Techonaut is easily among the best around, though it does come with a hefty price tag.

Price $402


  • Just the right number of organizational features
  • Clever side- and bottom compartments
  • Great comfort and fit
  • Wonderfully lightweight


  • High price


The Tom Bihn Techonaut 45 is a maximum carry-on size backpack, meaning that it’s just below the limit of what most airlines allow as carry-on luggage.

While there is also a 30-liter version, I almost always go for 40 or 45-liter backpacks, as I find this most suitable for trips of a week or more.

The 45-liter capacity is ideal for extended trips. If you wash your clothes during your trip and you know how to pack light, it can even be big enough to travel for months on end. If your travel style is based mostly on weekend trips, everyday carry, or commutes, then I would certainly look at the 30-liter version instead.

The Techonaut has a convertible design, letting you use it as a backpack or a duffel bag. There are two attachment points where a duffel shoulder strap goes. There’s also a very comfortable grab handle at the top that lets you carry it by hand with ease.

It also has a pass-through sleeve so that you can easily stack it on top of rolling luggage, should you want to use it in combination.

It features a breathable, supportive back panel and a dedicated laptop compartment that should fit most laptops, including the 16″ MacBook Pro or the Microsoft Surface Book 2 15″.

Design and aesthetic

The pack’s sleek aesthetic is characterized by clean lines, thoughtful features, and a range of materials that appear to be specifically chosen for their durability. Nice and chunky YKK zippers are used throughout.

The primary material used is 1050 denier ballistic nylon, which is known for its abrasion and tear resistance and feels rather thick and sturdy. Depending on your color choice, the inner lining consists of either ultralight 400d Halcyon or 210 Cerylon, adding a distinct visual element with its grid line pattern.

The overall design is maybe not quite as sleek or unique-looking as some other brands, and I must admit that the thick and textured ballistic nylon is not usually my favorite purely on aesthetics alone. However, the Tom Binh Techonaut more than makes up for it by being focused on practical ease of use.

I like that the outer design is somewhat understated and stealthy, while the inner lining adds a bit of color and contrast. This also happens to make it a bit easier to find items inside. I went with the Nebulous Grey option, but you can check out the many different color options here.

I noticed other reviews mentioning there being different options for the outer material. As far as I can tell, all current editions of the Techonaut use the same ballistic nylon. Only the Taiga option (currently listed as being in development) has a thinner 400D Halcyon outer shell.

As the name implies, the Tom Bihn Techonaut 45 backpack has a capacity of 45 liters, offering ample room to store clothes, shoes, and travel essentials. The dimensions are 21.9″ (w) x 14″ (h) x 9.1″ (d) / 555 (w) x 355 (h) x 230 (d) mm.

Despite its spacious interior, the backpack weighs only 3 lbs (1.3 Kg), making it very easy to carry. Compared to other premium packs such as the Peak Design 45L (which weighs 4.55 lb or 2.1 kg) or the Tortuga Travel Backpack (which weighs 4.5 lbs or 2 kg), the Tom Binh will take up much less of your precious weight allowance.


Main Compartment

The Tom Bihn Techonaut 45 features a spacious and well-organized U-shaped main compartment that easily accommodates packing cubes as well as a toiletries bag.

This clamshell design allows you to quickly access your belongings. The main compartment also includes built-in compression straps, making it simpler to keep your items secure and organized.

I always appreciate it when a pack gives you just a big space to fill as you wish. The only subdivision here is the bottom compartment, which happily won’t take space away from the main compartment if you’re not using it.

Bottom Compartment

The bottom compartment of the Techonaut 45 serves as an extra storage space for smaller or less frequently used items.

It’s up to you how to use it, though I see it as a perfect storage area for shoes. Having them at the bottom is great for weight balancing and it’s nice to isolate potentially dirty or wet footwear from your main clothing compartment.

Making the bottom compartment optional supports different packing styles rather than forcing you to use it, which is why I think this particular implementation of the idea is really great.

Laptop Compartment

In addition to the main compartment, the Techonaut 45 also offers a padded laptop storage compartment for safely stowing your electronic devices.

This specialized section provides extra protection to your laptop, while having a slightly raised bottom so that your electronics are safe from accidentally hitting the ground.

My Macbook Air 13”, Dell XPS 13, and Acer Chromebook 13” (which has quite a thicker bezel and body) all fit nicely in this compartment. Tom Binh says laptops up to 15” will fit here.

Additional pockets

Aside from the main compartments, the Techonaut 45 is equipped with several quick-access pockets on the exterior. This is where the Techonaut diverges quite a lot from typical backpack design in ways that I think are really awesome.

There is one full-length side pocket on one side, and one that goes about half-deep on the other end. Thirdly there is a quick-access pocket on the top, just below the grab handle.

I like how this gives several options for storing separate items, while keeping the main part of the backpack uncluttered and just one open space to fit your main travel items.

Comfort and fit

The Tom Bihn Techonaut 45 is very comfortable to carry. It features edgeless shoulder straps that contour to the wearer’s body, providing a comfortable fit. They are adjustable to ensure an optimal fit and help distribute the weight of the backpack evenly. The shoulder straps also come with a removable sternum strap.

The back panel provides excellent comfort during longer use. The padded back panel not only offers ample cushioning but also conforms to the body rather nicely. The mesh-covered foam back panel allows for sufficient airflow and helps to dissipate heat and moisture when carrying the bag.

The harness is well-designed for carrying this pack while, say, navigating through an airport or walking to your accommodation.

It’s maybe not ideal for very extended walking or even hiking, for which I would ideally recommend a different backpack with a more advanced harness such as the Osprey Farpoint 40. However, the Tom Binh prioritizes the organizational features and maximising the available packing space inside, which I think makes sense for most types of travel.

What’s interesting — and I believe unique to Tom Binh — is that you can beef up the suspension system with several accessories. You can actually separately purchase an internal frame that will add additional structure to the back panel. I haven’t tried it myself, but if you expect to carry heavier loads, you may find this a worthwhile upgrade. You can also add on a thicker hip belt for more support.

What really enhances the portability is the pack’s low weight. Weighing in at around 3.5 pounds, it’s almost 2 pounds lighter than many other premium backpacks. Depending on your perspective, that’s either 2 pounds less of weight on your back, or 2 pounds more weight allowance available when flying carry-on.

Since airlines seem to be reducing the free weight allowance all the time, freeing up almost a kilo of weight is a real boon for anyone using this backpack as a stand-alone carry-on, rather than a pack to use in conjunction with check-in luggage.

Final Thoughts

The Tom Bihn Techonaut 45 is a versatile and well-designed travel backpack that offers ample space for various items such as laptops, camera gear, and clothing. Its design allows it to be used as a backpack, duffel, or shoulder bag, making it suitable for different types of travelers.

The aesthetic is not as immediately eye-catching as some other brands out there, but I have to appreciate the brand’s commitment to using the best possible materials and prioritising usability as well as the overall look.

The only area where I find myself stroking my beard a little is the price tag. This pack is not exactly cheap, currently selling at $402.00.

There is recent inflation to account for, and Tom Binh manufactures its gear in Seattle in the United States rather than in a low-wage country such as Vietnam. Still, the price is definitely on the very upper end for a backpack.

If you’re comfortable with this type of expense for a premium product, then I can offer no reason not to get it, but I won’t be surprised if budget travellers will balk at the price.

That said, if you value organization, versatility, and portability in your travel gear then this is definitely a backpack to strongly consider.

It’s rare that a backpack design has the discipline to be as light as the Tom Bihn Techonaut. Its simplicity is also quite deceptive as I’ve found its design to be incredibly helpful in packing well, with its optional bottom compartment and the side position of the travel organizer compartment being two stand-out features.

If you need a lightweight but reliable carry-on, and particularly if you’re a one-bag enthusiast, then the Tom Binh Techonaut 45 is a worthy investment.

The backpack is sold through Tom Binh’s online store.

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