If you intend to choose the right backpack, the first thing you have to consider is the type of trip you are going to make. There are two main versions, backpacking or an expedition.
The majority of people reading this will be doing backpacking, a trip where you intend to travel more than one destination or country. You are going to stay in hostels or cheap hotels and move around by buses, trains, taxis and local transports.
An expedition is a trip where you will trek to someplace carrying your stuff all the way. You probably will sleep in tents and cook your own meals. It’s more like camping in the wild and the type of backpack must be adapted to it.
For these two types of trips, there are appropriated backpacks. A travel pack that is designed for backpacking and a top loader that is designed for expeditions. Since we are doing backpacking and the majority of you will do the same, we will focus on travel packs.
A travel pack is a large rucksack that often had attached a daypack. This is the best options for backpackers since they open like suitcases, which means that is very easy to pack your stuff. They have two zippers that can be locked together adding some security. The straps can be covered with a flap, this is very important when you check your luggage at airports, prevent the straps to be ripped off in the various luggage mechanisms.
We have done so many research about backpacks since it’s our first time and we want to buy a really good one. Backpacks can be expensive so you need to buy one that will compensate for all the money invested. In our research, we write a checklist that will help you decide what’s best for you.
So how we choose the right backpack?
Bellow, you can find our checklist of the essential characteristics that a backpack must-have.
You don't need a backpack that is 100% waterproof but made sure your bag is done of a semi-waterproof material so everything doesn't get wet fast. You probably have electronic equipment in your bag, so to add extra protection to buy a waterproof cover that you can use in case of severe rain. Like us, you probably don’t travel during monsoons but if you are caught by a small rainstorm you will need to have waterproof protection.
Most of the travel packs come with two zippers so you can lock them together. It’s important to maintain your stuff secure to avoid stealing in airports or when you walk with your bag. Choosing the right backpack can save you from problems and safety is one of the most important.
Nowadays most backpacks don’t have an external frame but an internal one. The support frame is built into the backpack and hidden from view. There are some brands that build external frames but these are heavier and look awful. You should buy a backpack with an internal frame, looks better, it’s lighter and easier to move around.
Padded Hip Belt
Most of the weight that you carry will be pushing down on your shoulders. That can hurt your back if you walk a lot with your bag full load. If your backpack has a padded hip belt, the weight will be more evenly distributed so you will feel more comfortable and prevent back problems. Your hip belt should also be adjustable so you can adapt it for better support.
Padded Shoulder Straps
It’s very important that your backpack shoulder straps are padded. Good quality pads put less pressure on your shoulders and also help take the pressure off your lower back. Make sure the pad is thick and made of a single piece so don’t slip with usage.
Ergonomic lumbar support makes your backpack more comfortable and distributes weight more evenly. Also, the small space created between your back and the backpack allows air to move through keeping you slightly cool.
This option is a personal choice and in our opinion, it’s a fantastic idea to have a smaller bag to carry around during the day. Normally these bags are detachable from the main backpack and you can use them separately. When you check your luggage at airports you can take with you the daypack as carry-on luggage. In your daypack you can put your electronic equipment and important things, this keeps your stuff safer when moving around.
Choose the right backpack size
Aside from all the characteristic mention before, the size of your backpack it’s a personal choice. There isn’t a perfect size for all, choosing the right backpack depends on your size and how much space you need for your stuff. Normally backpackers travel with 50-70 litres of capacity. Girls prefer from 50-55 and boys from 60-70 litres. The right size is the size that makes you feel comfortable when using your backpack full load.
Another variable is the quantity of stuff that you will put in your bag. If you intend to carry a lot of electronic equipment like cameras, laptops and all the accessories, you will need a bigger size. You should consider all the things that you need to carry and avoid useless things so you don’t end up with a giant and super heavy backpack.
Finally, besides the capacity of the backpack, there is also the size of the adjustable straps system. Generally, producers offer two sizes: S/M for ladies and M/L, the standard size for guys and tall ladies. Short guys or with a shorter torso can use the S/M size.
The majority of backpacks that we view cost between 100€ and 200€. The price depends on the type of bag and size. For around 150€ you can find a backpack from a good brand like Osprey, Thule and North Face.
When we choose the right backpack, we had written a checklist of essentials characteristics and a list of stuff that we need to carry. That helps you focus on a more specific range of size and price. We decide to search for 55 litres and 80 litres because these sizes of backpacks are the best for us since it’s big enough to carry all our stuff and comfortable for our height. Since we travel as a couple we can divide things between bags so they can fit better and don’t overweight the backpacks.
I had chosen an Osprey Farpoint 80, this bag is big but I need to carry a lot of equipment for photography and filmmaking. She opted for an Osprey Farpoint 55 that is smaller and fits perfect for her height. The Farpoint 55 has a detachable daypack that is awesome. You can carry electronics, documents, bottles of water and all the stuff that you need when you are on the plane or in daily activities. Since we are only preparing our first trip, forward we will have a full review of our backpacks. Stay tuned by subscribing our newsletter.