The best backpack for travel is the one that is right for you and it can make all the difference, so don’t cut any time on your research for the perfect backpack. Also, this might not be the best time to save money. While on the road, you probably won’t notice if you made a good choice, but if you made a bad one, believe me, you will curse yourself every day.
For me the best travel backpack is a Osprey Farpoint 70 Travel Backpack and she was an incredible travel companion!
Whether you’re going on a long adventure around the world or on a trip for a couple of weeks, you will need to think about how to choose the best backpack for travel. It all starts with what type of bag you want to take. For big trips, most travelers go for a backpack because it really is a practical choice.
Unless I go from an airport to a hotel and vice versa, I will take a backpack on every trip. I have tried walking a few miles in a city center with a trolley bag and believe me, it was hell. A backpack is especially useful for adventure trips when you have to travel on local buses, trains, and other local transports, or if you have to walk through not so well taken care of streets.
How to Choose The Best Backpack for Travel
Take your time and do your research before making a purchase. If you can, try a few backpacks before making a final decision.
These are the main aspects you should consider when choosing the best backpack for travel that is comfortable for you:
After analyzing these main aspects you can then look for color, good backpack brands, and any other criteria to help make a final decision. You will have chosen the best backpack for travel.
Price is always important unless you’re rich. I want to alert you that trying to save money on your backpack can backfire on you. You get what you pay for. That being said, let’s check the real important features.
In my opinion, there are two perspectives on backpack sizes. First, you can choose a desired weight/size to travel with and buy a corresponding backpack, meaning what fits, goes, what doesn’t fit stays behind. Another perspective is you estimate how much stuff you want to take and pick a backpack that can take it all. With both perspectives, it’s always good to have a little extra space for stuff you may need on the road, souvenirs, gifts, etc.
I went with the first perspective. The idea was to force myself to strip down to essentials. The bigger the backpack, the more stuff you’re likely to pack. Ideally, I would have around 13kg on me so I chose a 70-liter that’s not really small but is a good size for me. This is a quite comfortable weight for me, although, in the beginning, it was a challenge to pack all my stuff. It did come with a small disadvantage: I didn’t have much space left for souvenirs. I mainly purchased small objects and left the bigger ones for my last days.
This ended up being an important part of my learning process: detachment from things. It can be surprising how you can get along without the stuff you think is important. I was also happy not to buy too much stuff on the road and just enjoy the trips.
This one I learned from doing a bit of research. You should definitely not buy a top loader, because if you do, every time you want something from the bottom of your backpack, you will have to take everything out! Can you imagine all the awkward situations this can get you in?
The best option is a front loading backpack: a backpack that opens with a U-zip. It basically gives you the same type of access as a suitcase, meaning you can easily get to any part of the backpack. It’s very practical.
There are several types of straps you should consider having on your backpack. Although they might seem obvious, it’s worth pointing them out:
- Padded shoulder straps: these straps being padded make the backpack more comfortable and less bruising on your shoulders;
- Padded hip straps: these are essential for spreading the weight, taking a bit of the load off your back; using them or not makes a huge difference.
- Chest strap: these connect across your chest between the shoulder straps and helps distribute the weight more evenly;
I chose an internal lightweight frame because it’s light and really supports the backpack load without issues and you almost don’t feel it’s there.
Some people are tempted by external frames with wheels. Although they will come in handy at airports, it’s an unneeded extra weight and extends the space needed to store the backpack. If you’re traveling through developing countries, the probability you will use the wheels is very low.
Other backpack aspects to consider
The previous aspects are major factors that lead to a good balance between weight and comfort. The following aspects are great add-ons for safety and protection and will help you find the best backpack for air travel:
- Carry handle: this handle helps you easily pick up the backpack or carry it on very short distances;
- Compression straps: useful to keep the backpack compressed, both on the inside and outside;
- Backpack cover bag: I started out without one, but on my first flight they broke an outside compression strap so I bought one at the airport. It stayed with me on all my trips, protecting my backpack on flights, bus rides, trains, boats, etc. It also kept the backpack clean. It’s a great investment. Make sure you have a padlock for it;
- Backpack rain cover: essential to have for both main backpack and daypack;
- Backpack steel mesh: this might seem extreme, but if you’re on a long bus ride with your backpack stored on top of the bus, it’s an easy target for thieves. The steel mesh avoids it being torn open with a knife;
- Sliding cable lock: essential for keeping you backpack safe at hotels, bus rides, train rides, etc.;