Choosing the perfect backpack can be a hard decision.
A backpack or rucksack is an essential purchase for any traveller heading overseas and choosing the perfect backpack can be a hard decision. The backpack, once seen as the budget traveller’s best friend has evolved making it the ideal companion for the modern traveller. Their biggest advantage is they are easy to carry around. So what do you look for in a pack? I have had a couple of backpacks (and suitcases) that I have travelled with over the years and I love them all. Here is what I consider when I look at buying a new one.
New travellers are notorious for filling their luggage with clothes they might wear and knick-knacks they might use and so purchase the largest pack possible. Big is not always best. The bigger the pack, the more likely you are to over pack and end up with a very heavy pack which can hinder your well-being while travelling. Buy too small a pack and you won’t be able to fit in everything you need to take.
Most packs are measured by their litre capacity which, if you’re like most, doesn’t mean very much at all. Therefore, a visual evaluation and some guidance from an specialist outdoor attendant in a specialist travel/adventure accessory store will be your best bet.
Not everyone is the same height or size so try the pack on first. The only thing worse than a heavy pack is an uncomfortable heavy pack so choosing the perfect backpack is essential for your travelling comfort. Your pack should fit you like a glove because the more comfortable you are the better you travel. You never know what you might do, like jog up a mountain, walk around town for hours or stand in a que waiting to get on to your transport – your backpack needs to be comfortable.
As well as being the right length straps should be adjustable (padded for comfort – particularly the shoulder straps) and removable so they can be easily storable in a compartment in the pack. Most packs have straps and handles that you can change enabling you to carry the pack like a suitcase making them very versatile.
There are many styles of backpack. One that has an inner frame is best because you cannot see the frame and it won’t get caught on anything while you are travelling. Having an internal frame also makes it look nicer.
Some packs unzip like a suitcase while others open at the top. A pack that unzips like a suitcase is much easier to pack and re-pack than top-opening ones which are mostly used by hikers. This is because people with top opening ones may have to dig deep or unpack their belongings to find what they are looking for.
Many packs come with a detachable day-pack which will be handy for overnight stays and for carrying knick-knacks around. Some packs include a removable toiletries bag. The more compartments the better because you will be able to categorise your gear, ie. underwear, sleeping gear, toiletries, digital nomad electronics, etc. and make them easier and quicker to find.
The quality of the pack will determine its strength and sturdiness. In particular, a lot of strain is exerted in the zip area. A pack with a heavy-duty lockable zip is a good investment. Also consider the type of material the pack is made from. Strong material that isn’t heavy is a good investment to help keep the pack in tact and free of tears and holes which can only get bigger with wear and tear. I would also look for a pack that is waterproof as you never know when you will be caught in the rain. And if your things get wet, they get heavier to carry.
Packs can and do vary in price so it is really up to you to do your research and purchase a pack that will suit your needs and your budget. Speak to staff in adventure gear, camping and disposal stores.
My tip for choosing the perfect backpack: try different backpacks on first before your buy – whether that be from the store or online.
I don’t sell packs in my online store because there are so many out there to choose from. I do sell travel accessories such as wallets, travel plugs, that I have found to be very useful in my travels. Check out my store at www.liveworkplaytravel.com/store/
About the Author: Sharyn McCullum has spent a number of years working and travelling around the world. She now calls Melbourne home and travels to and from there. She has purchased many travel items over the years including different types of backpacks and suitcases. She adapts her luggage to the type of travelling she is doing.
Sharyn has travelled most of her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. In her 20’s she went overseas and spent 4 years living, working, playing and travelling through many countries. Her travels inspire her ‘Live Work and Play’ series of working holiday guides and LiveWorkPlayTravel where she shares her knowledge of travel, being a digital nomad and blogging. Sharyn continues to travel and currently calls Melbourne home.