What Makes a Great Travel Backpack

Size

Size is a personal choice and the best travel packs have no definitive size. If you are a traveler who needs more space for camping gear, you want to pick up lots of trinkets or you travel with a full wardrobe then a sixty liter plus backpack will suit your travels.

Larger backpacks, however, mean checked baggage fees and you are less likely to be able to take your backpack into the bus with you, instead, you’ll have to strap it to the roof and hope it doesn’t rain!

The smaller your travel bag, the less you can take, but the big bonus is no checked bag fees and it’s easier to keep tabs on your pack at all times. If you can keep your backpack below fifty liters you will save a fortune when flying.

Think carefully about the size of your pack and what’s best for you, the best backpacks for travel are different for everyone – personally, I travel with a seventy-liter pack as I am often carrying camping gear.

Straps

Carrying everything you need to travel the world on your back doesn’t come lightly… even when you pack light!

Wandering lost, trying to find a hostel in the heat of the day with a travel bag is not fun, even the lightest packers will agree.

So how do you combat this? Well, the best backpacks will include well-designed load-bearing straps to help turn that heavy backpack into a fairly light backpack.

The aim of the game is to take the weight off your shoulders and onto the hips. This is significantly better for you and you can walk, climb and even jump around pretty comfortably if your pack’s weight is distributed evenly. These days most larger backpacks include hip belts as standard.

For me, quality hip belts are what makes a great travel backpack. Without a hip belt, even the best backpack can turn into a nightmare. Some backpacks have heat-molded custom made hip belts that may appear somewhat gimmicky but are very comfortable.

Your shoulder straps are equally important and should be comfortable to wear, without the hip belt. Look for shoulder straps that have plenty of padding.

Pockets

Well organized travel bags make the best travel bags. There’s nothing more annoying than a typical backpack which only opens from the top meaning that each and every time you need something you’ll be pulling literally, everything else but that, out.

Pockets alleviate this problem; allowing you to assign certain segments of your travel backpack to particular items (e.g. clothes, toiletries, passport, and money) for easier access. The best pocket is a U Shaped opening pocket as this allows easy access.

Weight

Great travel backpacks are those which are as light as a feather, right?

Sadly these don’t really exist and instead, you need to consider the best weight for what you’ll be doing. Backpacks themselves are not weightless, the heavier the frame, the more weight you have to start with.

In general, you want to go for the lightest, but toughest, pack you can find. Gregory packs are some of the lightest packs on the market but they are simply not as tough as Osprey or Nomadic and that is their downfall…

Comfort

Your travel backpack will become your new best friend, it’s where you will store all of your shit, it will basically become your home; therefore you need to choose a decent backpack that is comfortable.

You’ll find the best travel pack by trying it on in the store before buying. When trying it on, load it up with some weight to take it for a proper test drive. I strongly recommend trying a bunch of different backpacks on at an REI or Outdoor Store before making your choice.

You want an even distribution of weight across your hips, shoulders, and chest, and to make sure there are no pressure points that may cause the bag to rub or pinch as you walk. Cushioned shoulder pads and padded hip belts are always a winner my friends…

The better your hip belt, the better your pack will sit upon your body and the more comfortable it will be.

Material

So it’s raining and you’re still trying to find your hostel? Or you can see your backpack from the plane window waiting to be loaded and it’s sitting in the rain? (Fuck you Kingfisher Airlines).

Water-resistant material is essential when traveling!

Your travel bag will be exposed to rain, puddles or leaks at some point. There’s nothing worse than opening the bag to find your clothes soaked and stinking or worse, your electronics damaged. The best backpacks are made from strong, durable, stretchy, waterproof material.

So look out for a material that will last for years – the last thing you want is a ripped bag halfway through your travels!

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