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 is 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 from my experience traveling to all 197 countries in your beautiful world.
Table of contents
What’s your backpack for?
The first question of all. It sounds obvious of course, but it changes everything! This article is for things to remember when you’re buying a full-size backpack to go backpacking around the world. You need a small ‘day pack’ in addition to this too (the one you see in the above pic).
Also, if you’re going to be climbing mountains or doing long-distance hiking, that’s a different backpack too. I use a different one when I’m trying to climb the seven summits than I do when I’m traveling around the world.
But, like I say, this backpack is a traveling backpack. For your gap-year, career break or retirement. So remember these points:
What Size of Backpack Should I Buy?
Backpack size is measured in litres, so how many litres should your backpack be?
When Choosing the right backpack, 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 litre. 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+ from country to country I promise you that, and that’s what you’ll do if you go with a larger size.
TLDR? Get a 55 or 65 litre backpack to travel the world.
What’s the best shape of backpack to buy?
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 are 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.
What’s the best backpack brand?
To be honest, unless you plan to redesign your life and be on the road constantly over the next few years then the 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!). I use a Macpac one personally.
How much should I spend on a backpack?
Backpacks range from $50-$500 so the choice is ultimately dependent on your budget. I
I’d avoid the 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 to Machu Pichu now do you?! If you spend more than $200 you’re getting towards the top of the range, from there on up you’re pretty much guaranteed top-quality bags. Aim to pay over $100 but no need to pay more than $250 really.
Final thoughts on choosing the right backpack?
These 2 are the best in my opinion. Knock yourself out:
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