Top tips for choosing the right backpack

Whether you are travelling for just a week or several months, choosing the right travel bag is an important aspect of your pre trip planning.

Many people believe that any large backpacks will do, even if they aren’t specifically made for travelling. Often people choose climbing or trekking backpacks; however these types of bags are not made for travelling due to their shape, design, numerous straps and outside pockets.  

Often backpackers who purchase these bags end up cursing them for the rest of their trip. Below is a list of what you should look for when buying a new travel bag or backpack:

  • A backpack or travel bag should be no bigger than 60L, as the bigger the bag the more stuff you are likely to put in it. Everything you need, including warm clothes, jacket and shoes should fit easily in a 60L bag; if you can’t fit everything in, you don’t need a bigger backpack, but fewer clothes. Remember:  you can always buy most items while travelling often at a lower price.
  • The backpack or travel bag should be made of a strong hard wearing material so it doesn’t rip or break. Good brands always offer one year warranty or more.
  • Do not buy trekking backpacks as they are not designed for travelling. One of the biggest problems is you can only access them from the top making it difficult to reach items at the bottom.  They also  have lots of straps which can get caught on things, especially when in transit. Outside pockets are another downside because you can’t lock them.
  • Specifically made travel packs or backpacks are compact, easy to handle and have a good shape, not too tall or large. They travel well on buses and trains and don’t annoy the airlines with all those straps. A good travel backpack is made by Karrimor.   We have tried and tested this bag on an 11 month trip and it worked pretty well. Recommended.
  • Look for quality not just the lowest price. Don’t buy anything too cheap, which can rip or break easily: the last thing you want to happen is a ripped backpack after your first bus ride. A warranty is a good starting point when deciding on a travel pack.

The ideal solution is to have a travel bag that is both backpack and wheeled bag: at the airport or bus station you can wheel it, when on uneven ground you can use it as a backpack. We have come to this conclusion after many years of travel and realised that actually 95% of the time it is not necessary to carry a backpack on your back because you can simply wheel it. We have been using a Wheeled Convertible Pack, as they are called, for the last two years and are very satisfied with them. It can make a huge different especially when you have to walk long distances with your bag.

With the Wheeled Convertible Pack the wheels are big exactly the same as those used on Rollerblades therefore you can pull the pack pretty much anywhere. In circumstances where you need to walk on a beach or cobbled street, just pull the straps out and you have a comfortable backpack. 

We use Osprey: these bags are incredibly strong, only have two outer straps and don’t show dirt or marks. The best thing of all they come with a life time warranty. Also Victorinox have a similar product.

In our opinion these two brands are the best available on the market.

Feel free to leave any comments or advise on different makes of travel packs.

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Lived in England since 1998 and travelled the world since 2005, visiting over 100 countries on 5 continents. Writer, blogger, photographer with a passion for adventure and travel, discovering those off beat places not yet on the tourist trail. Marco contributes the very best in independent travel tips and lifestyle articles.

4 thoughts on “Top tips for choosing the right backpack”

  1. Very useful advice. The most useful tip was to look for a travel backpack and not a trekking one. Because that is what is first suggested by stores when you go to buy a backpack.
    Thanks for this one !

  2. Few years ago they didn’t really have proper travel backpacks but these days you can find them relatively easy.. Glad you found the article useful 🙂

  3. Hey man! Nice piece here. How to differentiate between a travel backpack and a trekking one? 🙂

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