How to Choose the Appropriate Travel Backpack

Choosing the appropriate travel backpack takes a lot of time and research.

But this is your one stop for all the research for choosing the appropriate travel backpack.

The right backpack is an essential travel accessory, so you want to make sure you have the right one for you! There are so many things you need to decide before you pick the right bag, especially if you plan on using this bag consistently.

Choosing the Appropriate Travel Backpack

1. Size

What size you want is the first thing you need to decide.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Plan on traveling for months at a time or a week at a time?
  • Do you want to be able to check your bag or use it as a carry on?
  • Do you plan on buying a lot of gifts or not?
  • Is a backpack really needed?

Keep in Mind

  • Small bags: up to 29L are for light packing and even can go on the flights with a weight limit of 7kg. Personal item size.
  • Medium bags: between 30-55L are great for carry on size. These sizes can help with overpacking or if you’re a great packer, can allow room for souvenirs.
  • Large bags: 60L or more are too big to be carry ons, but allow you to carry so much more. Also, can make the daily packing and unpacking fight easier. Be mindful of more stuff in the bag, the heavier.

When picking the right size be realistic to your body size as well. Some brands sell women and men backpacks. This may be something to look into if you are having trouble with a bag that is too big. Other brands, like the Gregory, can vary in sizes for hip belts and torso sizes.

2. Price

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is this a one time trip?
  • Will I ever use this bag again?
  • What if I don’t like it, are you okey spending that kind of money?

Common prices for great travel bags are between $99-250 USD. Bags over $250 USD aren’t worth all the bells and whistles when traveling a week at a time. Keep in mind, the cheaper the bags, the more at prone they are to tear, have broken zippers or broken straps.

Once you find the bag you want, shop around for the best price.

  • Small Bags
    • Osprey Ozone Day Pack $100
    • Kelty Redtail 27 $79.95
    • Gregory Jade 28 $139.95
    • REI Co-Op Ruckpack 28 Pack $99.95
    • Tom Bihn Synapse 25 $200
    • Deuter Giga Bike $119
  • Medium Bags
    • Osprey Porter 46 $140
    • Kelty Redwing 50 $139.95
    • Gregory Jade 53 $199.95
    • REI Co-Op Ruckpack 40- women’s or men’s $139
    • Tom Bihn The Guide’s Pack $250
    • Deuter Act Lite 40+10 $179
  • Large Bags
    • Osprey Farpoint 70 $200
    • Kelty Coyote 65 $179.95
    • Gregory Jade 63 $229.95
    • Deuter Act Lite 75+10 $229

Other bags to consider: Rick Steves, Eagle Creek, Tortuga Backpacks, Mountain Hardwear, The North Face, High Sierra, Millet, Marmot, Black Diamond, Patagonia, Timbuk2 and Mountain Co-Op.

3. Capabilities

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What will I be using this bag for?
  • Hiking or sedentary?
  • Will I be using packing cubes?
  • Will it rain?

Bag Features:

  • Front Loading vs. Top Loading: Front loading is a lot easier than top loading for packing and unpacking. If your bag is a top loading bag you have to pull everything out to get to something that is on the bottom. Whereas, front loading your bag unzips all the way down the front and you can see everything in your bag.
  • Internal Compartments: Have plenty of compartments to make organizing easy. Some people are looking for laptop protection in this area as well.
  • External Compartments: The external compartments are great for snacks or small items.
  • Detachable Daypack: This may be a feature you are interested in if you want a daypack.
  • Padded Hip Straps, Shoulder Straps, Back Pad and Contoured Back: Having all these features will make for a comfortable carry for your bag.
  • Internal Framing: External framing is old fashion and uncomfortable, upgrade and get an internal framing bag.
  • Compression Straps for Storage: Compression straps are nice to have to compress your bag for storage when not traveling. Also allows you to compress your bag to fit into small carry-on space.

There is even more capabilities:

  • Water Bottle Holder: Pulling your water out from the front of your bag, in an external pocket, will make it easier than zipping and unzipping your bag each time.
  • Roller Bag: If you love to travel but can’t tolerate carrying the bag the whole time, consider getting bags that have wheels.
  • Front Cords: Having these cords on the front of your backpack are useful for sleeping bags, shoes, or tents.
  • Camelbak Hookups: If you are doing a lot of outdoor activities, having hookups for your camelbak may be a top priority for you.
  • Lockable Zippers: Buying a bag with lockable zippers make it easy to lock and unlock you bag. If you don’t buy a bag with lockable zippers you could always buy separate locks as well. Make sure your locks are TSA friendly so they don’t get cut off in security.
  • Expansion Gusset: This allows you to start more compacted and expand when needed if you buy items when traveling.
  • Rain Resistant Material: You won’t have to worry about the weather if your material is rain resistant.

Tips

  • When you get your bag delivered or bought- go into a retail store, like REI, and get your bag fitted to you.
  • Try your bag on with weight before you travel. It is more realistic if you fill your 55L bag, rather than putting it on empty.
  • To prevent back pain, put the heaviest items between your shoulder blades, not at the bottom of your backpack when packing.
  • Use your hip straps and chest straps whenever the bag is on to decrease fatigue later.
  • If you don’t purchase a water resistant bag, look into getting a rain cover for your back pack.
  • Worried about the quality or your bag breaking, check to see if the bag has a warranty.
  • Don’t be upset if the first bag didn’t work out for you, you need to test out what works best for you. If your first bag doesn’t work out, sell it on eBay and get another one.

Where to Buy:

  • Ebay: If you would like to buy a used bag and not spend as much, make sure it is in good shape
  • Amazon: Amazon has everything, possibly even lower prices or free shipping if you have prime
  • REI: Able to buy bags here and get them professionally fit
  • Steep and Cheap: Shows deals for the week or day on outdoor items
  • Kathmandu: Australia’s top outdoor store
  • Mountain Co-Op: Canada’s top outdoor store
  • Backcountry: Great deals on popular backpacks
  • Moosejaw: Sells popular backpacks with honest reviews
  • Sierra Trading Post: Offers backpacks 35-30% off retail prices
  • Cabela’s: Has a wide variety of backpacks for outdoor activities and travel
  • Go Outdoors: UK’s top outdoor store
  • Any local outdoors shop in your town

Choosing the appropriate travel backpack could be stressful if you have a budget or don’t know what exactly you want.

I would suggest:

  1. Look online for all your bag options
  2. Read blog posts (like mine) on how to choose your bag
  3. Go to your local outdoors store, try some on and look at the capabilities
  4. Shop around for the best price

If you follow all these steps and research what you would like, finding the appropriate travel backpack for you should be a little easier.

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