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If you’re starting to plan a backpacking adventure, consider yourself lucky to be embarking on one of the greatest experiences you can have! But first, you need to pick out a backpack that’s going to make your travels as easy, comfortable and convenient as possible, or you may want a simple strong cotton bag. Not only do you have size to consider, but there are so many features on packs these days that it can become overwhelming! Here are 5 tips for choosing a backpack that will last you for your journey and many more to come:

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Size This is always the “big one” when choosing a backpack; should you pick a smaller, lighter bag to make traveling easier, or a larger bag to fit more? Basically, the ideal size for a backpack is the one that’s proportional to your body. The weight should be properly balanced so your back doesn’t hurt or you fall over when you try to walk with it.

Internal/External Frame Internal framed bags mean just that: the frame and support rods are built into the pack. External framed backpacks are designed for a real workload; think carrying large loads for long distances. For most travelers, internal framed packs are the way to go. They are far less bulky, slimmer and won’t get caught on anything as you’re moving around. These packs are also lighter and easier on your back, so unless you plan to carry huge loads for days at a time, stick with an internal frame.

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Padding and Straps Try on your pack in the store and walk around a bit to make sure the padding and straps fit your body well. The last thing you want is to fill your pack then wear it for a few hours to find that it’s chafing you in certain areas. Make sure the padding strips are a good width for your body and that you can adjust the straps to fit your body.

Water Resistant One thing is for sure when traveling (and anytime!): you can never predict the weather, so it’s best to be prepared for all conditions! Pick a pack that’s at least semi-water resistant to protect your belongings from the rain. Depending where you buy your pack, you may even be able to test it out its water resistance by pouring water over it.

Multiple/Removable Compartments When you’re traveling, it’s great to have luggage that comes apart into different detachable sections to lighten up your load when you don’t need some things. It also helps keep you organized and saves you time finding your things when you have different compartments in the backpack.

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