8 Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Travel Backpack
Date Posted:16 August 2019
Travellers and adventurers of all stripes deserve a good backpack. Learn how to find the best backpack for your journeys.
Traveling with nothing but a backpack on your back is one of the most liberating experiences you can have. It makes you realise that you only need a handful of things to enjoy your adventures to the fullest.
To make this happen, you need to make sure that you can bring all the essentials with you. It’d defeat the purpose to have to buy or borrow something that you absolutely need when you’re in the middle of your travel.
This is why finding the best rucksack for traveling is hugely important. It should let you pack up everything you need without weighing you down. It will likely be your best travel companion, so it’s crucial that you choose the right one.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. There are all kinds of things that you need to take into account before arriving at the final decision.
Don’t know where to start? All the more reason to keep reading and learn how to choose the best travel backpack.
1. Backpack vs. Suitcase
There’s a misconception that a backpack can’t fit everything you need, especially for long-distance and lengthy travels. This is why many people think that they’d be better off with a suitcase.
In reality, this isn’t true. A suitcase might be suitable for a getaway at a resort or a relaxing vacation where you’ll stay in one place. But if you plan on exploring the world, it just isn’t up to the task.
Imagine having to lug a suitcase around and navigate crowds of people or move along stretches of cobblestone streets. Or carrying them up and down countless flights of stairs where there are no elevators. Not to mention that you’ll need a backpack anyway if you plan on exploring the wilderness.
In light of this, why not find a backpack that will serve all these purposes? If you can find the best rucksack for travel, you’ll realise that it’s the only thing you need for all your travels.
Now that we’ve gotten this perennial dilemma out of the way, let’s take a look at the other decisions that you’ll have to make.
2. One Size Doesn’t Fit All
There’s no one answer when it comes to choosing the right size backpack. The best thing that you can do is just to see what you need to carry with you and base your decision on that. If your backpack is too large, you’ll end up with unnecessary bulkiness and weight to carry. On the other hand, you don’t want to have your things poking out of the backpack either.
As a general rule, the best travel backpack is one that’s a bit more spacious than you actually need. You never know when you’ll stumble upon something that you want to buy and carry for the rest of the trip.
In addition, you should also make sure that the size and weight are proportional to your body. Carrying too much stuff, above and beyond your capability, will slow you down and might inflict various aches and pains.
Here’s the best way to approach this. Estimate the amount of weight that your body can comfortably carry and then look at the weight capacity of the backpack.
In general, your backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 15kg, and that’s for longer-term travels. In addition, a backpack of the right size can hold everything that you need to bring with you without leaving unnecessary space.
You should also think about carrying the backpack with you on the airplane. Most airlines have a carry-on size limit of 56 x 36 x 23cm. Ideally, you’ll be able to fit your backpack in the overhead locker to avoid it bouncing around.
To sum it up, think about everything that you can’t travel without. These don’t have to be the bare essentials, but the whole point of traveling with just a backpack is to strip away the unnecessary. When you have your list of what to pack, find the backpack that will comfortably hold everything while leaving some space for things that you might pick up along the way.
If you need a reference volume vs weight capacity, most people will find 40 to 65L enough. You should be able to fit approximately 12 to 20kg of things in backpacks of these sizes. Learn how to pack light and you won’t need more than that; no matter where you go.
3. Fit and Adjustability
Aside from the practical side of choosing the right size, you need to make sure that your best travel pack fits you perfectly. There’s an untold number of models to choose from.
You’ll want to start with the belts and straps. If the backpack doesn’t offer a tight fit, it’s a clear sign that you should keep looking. You might think that you can make it work, but you’ll only create unnecessary inconvenience. Especially if you’re not pressed for time and you can afford to look for your ideal backpack. After carrying a backpack for hours on end, you’ll see the importance of having the right fit.
Obviously, the first thing that you need to look at is the shoulder straps. They need to be well-padded and adjustable enough to ensure comfort. If they don’t sit well on your shoulders, carrying the backpack might be quite painful. Instead of rubbing against your shoulders too much, the fabric should sit tightly without causing discomfort.
Another thing to remember is to never buy a backpack that doesn’t have a hip belt. Even if you don’t end up using it much, it’s better to have it as an option. This is because putting too much pressure on your upper body can be a big mistake. Not only can it get very uncomfortable, but it can also cause injuries.
When looking at the best rucksack for traveling, always make sure that the design of the hip belt distributes weight evenly. You might also want to look for a backpack that’s equipped with a cross strap, one that connects the shoulder straps and runs across your chest. This is especially if you know you’ll be carrying heavy loads.
Aside from the straps, you’ll want to make sure that your best travel backpack has a padded or contoured back. It can make a world of difference to your comfort and prevent injuries.
4. The Right Frame Type
Have you ever seen people walking around with rods sticking out of their backpack? If you thought that it didn’t look very comfortable or practical, you’d be right. Backpacks that come with an external frame can be a nightmare to work with in some situations. For one, it’s near impossible to walk around the woods or busy streets without the poles getting caught on something.
What’s more, these heavy-duty backpacks are often unnecessarily heavy. In most cases, the extra sturdiness isn’t worth the extra weight and inconvenience.
This is why most travellers choose backpacks that are equipped with an internal frame instead. They look and feel much better, and you don’t have to bother with exposed poles and rods. The best quality backpacks for travel don't sacrifice sturdiness just because the frame is internal rather than external. Carbon fibre frames, for example, are durable, light, and tougher than metal.
5. Top or Front Loading?
Most people’s idea of a backpack comes with a top zipper. But this may not be convenient at all. You’d have to dig through a ton of stuff to you find what you need. Sure, they might come with a few external pockets for easy organisation, but this is like putting bandages on an obvious flaw.
This is why you might be better off with a front-loading backpack. The clamshell design allows you to find what you’re looking for without making a mess of the bag’s main compartment.
Speaking of compartments, the best travel backpack should have enough of them for you to neatly organise everything you carry. The outer pockets should be easily accessible. Keep things that you’ll need often in those and everything else, such as your clothes, in the main compartment.
Again, this depends on what you’re bringing with you, but it’s always better to have an extra pocket or two than not having enough of them.
6. The Right Material
There are plenty of backpack materials. While it’s common sense to choose the highest-quality fabric, you’ll have to first be aware of the right material for the right purpose.
For example, let’s compare nylon and canvas. While nylon might seem flimsier, the best quality backpack for travel may come with high-strength nylon fabrics, such as those that feature specialised weave. Some of them may feel much thinner than canvas yet virtually unbreakable.
In addition, materials like canvas or leather can add weight without adding more protection than lighter materials. Their sturdiness can also make them more uncomfortable to carry. If you’re going to spend a lot of time carrying the backpack around, aim for the right balance between weight and durability.
Of course, there are other features as well when it comes to the material used, some you might not need but you might find it better to have them than not. Waterproofing is a good example. Even if you don’t plan on travelling during the rainy seasons, you never know when the weather might catch you by surprise.
7. Safety First
While nobody likes to think about them, thefts aren’t uncommon. It doesn’t matter where you’re going. You never know when someone might take a liking to what’s inside your bag.
This isn’t to say that you should be paranoid while travelling. But it does mean that it’s better to be safe than sorry. This is very preventable in most cases, so why expose yourself to unnecessary risks?
The best way to go about this is to find a bag that comes with lockable zippers. The best travel backpack should have them by default, but you can also find aftermarket solutions for your backpack. For example, you can buy a lockable metal mesh for wrapping around your bag and tying it to something. This can keep your bag safe when you’re away.
8. How Much Should You Spend?
To find the best quality backpack for travel, know that a higher price point doesn’t always equal better quality. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find an affordable backpack that can serve you with competence for years.
With this in mind, a travel backpack isn’t something that you’ll want to buy every few months. It always pays to go for a better backpack than to regret later on. Think of it as an investment that can actually save money in the long run.
Let’s cut to the chase. You need a backpack that can survive occasional rough handling and if you have to pay more to get it, then do it!
Hit the Road
When you go backpacking, your whole life for the time being needs to fit in your backpack. The best travel backpack needs to ensure that you have everything you need to set out on an exciting journey. It should also support you instead of weighing you down.
Now that you’ve seen what to look for in the best rucksack for traveling, it’s time to see what these features mean to you. As mentioned, there isn’t a backpack that’s perfect for everyone, so you may have to prioritise certain features over others.
No matter which you end up with, don’t forget to make the most of the space. In making a list of what to bring with you, choose the things that will add the most value to your adventure and leave everything else behind for when you come back.
If you want to see some of the best travel backpacks in one place, you’re going to want to visit our website.