5 Things to Look for in a Backpack

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Before you purchase a backpack, here are some of the things you should consider.

1.      Size

One of my most frequently asked questions about backpacks is about size. Everyone wants to know what the perfect size is. No one backpack size is better than another. What matters is that your backpack should be proportional to your body — that might mean a backpack that is 40 liters or 80 liters. If your backpack is too big or too small, the weight won’t be balanced properly and will cause back pain or maybe even make you topple over. You don’t want a skyscraper rising up from your back, but you also don’t want a pack that is clearly too small and overflowing with your stuff.

You want a backpack that is big enough to hold just a bit more than the stuff you are bringing and not more than that. If a backpack fits everything you want, has a bit of extra room, and feels comfortable, then you have found the perfect backpack size. When you are at the store (and any good camping/outdoors store will do this), they should be able to stuff your backpack with the equivalent of 30 pounds (15 kilograms) so you can see how that much weight feels on your back.

Traveling carryon isn’t just about saving money on baggage fees; it’s also about packing light. Choosing a travel backpack that’s smaller helps you pack less, which means you have less weight on your back and that ultimately equates to one magic word: convenience.

No one wants to pick up a bag that’s bigger than them, is stuffed to the brim, and weighs a ton. Not only is it a strain on your back and a pain to carry when you’re walking for miles searching for the cheapest accommodation, but it also makes the process of traveling less fun.

Depending on the length of your trip, you may be picking up your bag every other day or every other week. But at the end of the day, no one wants to carry a bulky, heavy bag.

If you’re planning a long trip, this doesn’t mean you need a bigger bag. Packing for a 12-month trip is the same as packing for 12-day trip. Here, we’ll explore some size options for travel

It’s important to remember that the bigger your backpack is, the less likely it is that you’ll be able to carry it on the airplane. Additionally, since you can no longer bring liquids in containers larger than three ounces on airplanes, if your bag has soap and liquids in it, you’ll be forced to check the bag. The only inconvenience will be having to wait at baggage claim for your bag.

You won’t face any baggage fees from the major airlines for checking your bag when flying internationally. Budget airlines, on the other hand, charge a fee for checking a bag based on weight, so the more your bag weighs, the more you will have to pay to check it at the gate.

2.      Panel access

Choosing a top loading or side panel travel backpack is a tough decision and one of much debate.

Top loading travel bags are made with the backpacker in mind and include organizational compartments along with convenient features such as straps, mesh pockets, and ties, which allow you to attach all your odds and ends. (Read more details below in Features section). One of the best things about top loading bags is that they usually have several pockets that allow you easy access to your belongings and the ability to organize. If you use the exterior pockets for your clothing, you can even use them to compress instead of using packing organizers.

The bad thing is, the more you stuff in the exterior pockets, the less space you have inside. You’re then left with an odd-shaped space on the interior that can make it difficult to maximize your bags contents. Because a top loading travel backpack loads from the top, it also makes it difficult to find things and if you want to get something out from the bottom, you have to unload your entire bag. Also, many top loader bags have a pull tie closure, which means you can’t lock your bag as you would with a zippered bag.

3.      Liters

Regardless of your frame, backpackers traveling light tend to stick to travel backpacks ranging between 35 and 50 liters. You will most likely also be carrying a daypack, and this usually varies in size from 15 to 25 liters. Your total space between these two should be 50 to 65 liters to maintain a good balance.

When you first pick up a bag, you might think that there’s no way you’ll be able to fit all your belongings inside. However, by using packing organizers and choosing your contents strategically, you’ll make it work. If you just can’t bear the thought of packing in the above sizes, try to choose a backpack no larger than 65 liters.

4.      Brand or company

There are a lot of camping stores out there:

  • REI
  • EMS
  • MEC (Canada)
  • GO Outdoors (UK)

You can get all the big-name brands at any of those stores.

5.      Price

Backpack prices depend a lot on size, fabric, and brand. Most backpacks cost between $99–300 USD. The medium-sized store brands generally cost around $199 USD. Store brands are cheaper than big-name brands like North Face, Osprey, and Gregory.

In fact, no backpack should be worth $300 USD, no matter how nice it is. These expensive backpacks tend be large and have more bells and whistles, special padding, and material than you really need as a traveler. Anything in the $100–200 range will be perfect.

 

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