Choosing the right backpack is absolutely essential to any successful traveling experience, but with the market being flooded with so many sub-par, generic rucksacks it difficult to know what to choose! How many litres should your backpack be? Is the brand important? How much should I pay? I’m going to run through the criteria you should consider when purchasing your backpack
SIZE: Backpack size is measured in litres, so how many litres should your backpack be? You want to choose something between 55litres to 70 litres. In terms of kilos, a full 55 litre backpack will weigh around 14kgs approximately whereas a full 70 litres backpack will weigh around 20kg. Naturally, as a backpacker you want to travel as light as possible so I would recommend taking a 55litre, although on my first few trips I struggled to choose what to take and went with a 65. Now I carry an (only partially) filled 55 litre and it’s perfect. Just remember though if you take a larger bag, you will fill it (probably with unnecessary extras!) so be vigilant, buy a smaller bag, and reap the benefits for the duration of your trip. No-one wants to be lugging around 20kg I promise you that!
SHAPE: If I had one piece of advice for any first-time backpacker it would be this – get a side access backpack, NOT a top-loading one. This is one feature you should not compromise on, there’s few things more infuriating than having to unpack your entire belongings to get access to the one shirt you carry for a special occasion! With a side zip everything is on hand and easily accessed, much much more desirable!
Also, search for as many interior compartments as possible. Certainly a minimum of a mesh divider in the main body to keep either your dirty clothes or electronics separate is a must. Hidden pockets for US dollars/spare credit cards etc is a huge plus too.
BRAND: To be honest unless you plan to redesign your life and be on the road constantly over the next few years then brand isn’t important. Any run of the mill backpack should last the course of one 3month-1year trip, however if you plan to be on the road indefinitely it would be worth your while to go for a high-end brand (Berghaus, , Osprey etc) as they are much more robust (and expensive!)
COST: Backpacks range from $50-$250 so the choice is ultimately dependent on your budget. I’d avoid the cheap cheap, cheap bags unless you’re just jetting off for a week or two. Normally you get what you pay for and you don’t want the bottom of your bag falling out on the way up Machu Pichu now do you?! If you spend more than $150 you’re getting top of the range, from there on up you’re pretty much guaranteed top quality bags. Aim to pay over $85 but no need to pay more than $150 really.
That’s the quick rundown then guys, I went through the purchasing process myself last week and it can be a real nightmare – have an idea of what you want before you step into the store and you’ll be all set. Good luck!