When we decide to become nomads (even for a few weeks), our whole house moves to a backpack.
The backpack is the first element of travel we must acquire, the most important, and in which we must not buy the first thing we see or the cheapest.
If we do not make a good choice, the backpack may be too big or, too small, and many necessary things will have to stay at home. It can happen to us that it is of a low-quality material, and at the moment least thought during the trip, it will break!
Therefore, it is essential to spend some time analyzing the options before buying our first backpack.
My first travel companion (quality) was a Doite Expedition of 90 liters that I bought for the first trip through Bolivia and Peru. A fantastic backpack that has accompanied me on many trips has been mistreated in airplanes, buses, boats, desert, rain, salt, etc., and remains in perfect condition.
But for inexperience, I made a mistake … 90 liters is too much! And load it to the top as I used to do, it’s crazy.
Before talking about the characteristics of a good backpack, let’s talk about something very important, the weight distribution.
ATTENTION WITH THIS: A good backpack should be designed to transfer all the weight of the back, spine, and neck to the legs.
If it does not fulfill that purpose, the backpack does not work. Since the only thing that will achieve, will be tired and cause many pains in the back, removing the desire to travel.
And how is that weight distribution achieved? Through some elements that we will talk about below. The belt, the shoulder pads, the frame, and the pectoral stabilizer will be responsible for distributing the weight of our body.
Another important fact is that the weight of the backpack should not exceed 25% of the weight of our body. For example, if we weigh 70 kilos, the backpack loaded should not exceed 17 kilos.
Anyway, whatever your weight, my recommendation is not to exceed 11 kilos, and 8 kilos is ideal. Although that is achieved after enough experience knowing well that it is necessary to pack and not.
When you are in the store choosing the backpack, it is necessary that you fill it, that you add weight. Any specialized shop will allow you to do that if you do not allow it look for another store immediately. Never, but NEVER buy a backpack without first having tried it with weight, since all the backpacks when they are empty, are comfortable, but that changes when you load them.
How to Choose the Size of a Travel Backpack
This is one of the key points and one where we all have doubts when buying the backpack. Will I be too big? Will it be too young?
These Are the Typical Questions
The perfect size depends on what type of trip you are going to make. It is not the same to go around the world than to climb the Aconcagua. It is not the same to go to a cold climate than a warm one.
Therefore, no size is better than another, but there are some tips that can be followed.
The first thing is that the backpack is proportional to our body. If we are of physical complexion girl, we cannot buy a big backpack. There are backpacks for men “M” and women “W” . Sometimes, if a man weighs little and is of small build, he can serve more than a woman. Or also the other way around, a woman with a big complexion might have a better man’s one.
My opinion is that a backpack of 60 to 65 liters is enough (remember that the size of a backpack is measured in volume, that’s why we talk about liters and not kilos) to go a year to go around the world or any trip of a few weeks or months.
If when we start loading it, we see that we lack space, in reality, the problem is that we are carrying things that we do not need. If we need a backpack bigger than that, we’re doing something wrong (unless you’re going on an expedition to a remote place). It is also important that once you have saved everything, about space in the backpack, between 5 and 10 liters.
It can even be smaller; there are people who travel with backpacks of 40 liters.
My current option is a 65-liter one. (Updated: I now travel with a 45l)
Features of a Good Backpack
Additionally assuring that the pack distributes the weight well, you also have to look at several features that make the difference between a good travel backpack and a poor quality.
Unless we go to a desert, it is very likely that at some point we get wet by the rain. And we do not want things to get wet inside the backpack, clothes, camera, tablet, computer, etc.
Therefore, one of the key points is that the backpack is waterproof, or at least semi-waterproof.
The waterproof backpacks are more expensive, so a cheaper option is a backpack that has a cover. This cover, or covers backpack, is stored in the lower part of it, and in case of rain, it is removed and in seconds and the pack is covered. It is the method that I used in my travels, and I never found anything wet inside it.
In addition to the material having a specific tolerance to water, it also needs to be of excellent quality and resistant.
We want the backpack, one of the most expensive accessories we have to buy, to last for years and years (mine is four years old, and life more than enough for another four years).
During the trips, the backpack will be very mistreated. They will step on it, crush it, throw it into the cellar, get wet; it will have dirt, sand, mud, etc.
That is why it is essential that it be of excellent quality, we do not want it to break us in the middle of our trip.
Access to The Internal Part
The backpack should allow access to our things both from above (as in all bags), as well as from below.
Imagine that you left a pair of pants in the back of your backpack? Are you going to take everything out and then go back to save just to take out those pants? Not!
A good backpack should allow access also below.
Make sure that each pocket of the backpack has double closure, and that for two reasons.
First, if one is broken, we will have the other “reserve”.
And the second and most important point, for safety.
By having double closure, we will be able to put a lock on them and block access to our backpack.
If we are in the accommodation all things of value must be in the locker (a lodging that does not have locker discard it, I recommend you read the article on how to choose a hostel ), so that the backpack will not be anything of value.
But where it is important the double closing is while we are moving, while we are traveling. In Thailand, for example, there have been many cases of people placing drugs in the backpacks of travelers without them noticing, and therefore are arrested, and in these countries, there are very severe penalties. How do you explain to the officers that someone put it in your backpack?
Also, to avoid theft at the airport or when the backpack goes in the hold of a bus.
It is essential that a good backpack has different compartments or pockets. In this way, it is possible to divide our luggage into smaller sections which will allow us to access our things more easily, without having to disassemble the backpack each time.
A good option is a backpack that has an internal pocket, side pockets, and another in the head.
Formerly the backpacks came with an iron frame, which made them heavier and uncomfortable to carry.
But today that ugly iron structure was replaced by carbon fiber, and also goes inside the backpack giving it a better aesthetics and ease to transport it.
In no way buy a backpack where you see the frame of iron or fiber. Yes or if it must be internal.
The belt is a fundamental part of the backpack. He will be in charge of distributing the weight of our body and relieving the strength and tension on our spine and neck.
That is why it is necessary for the belt to be adjustable, to adapt it as best as possible to our body, and it must also be padded so that it does not hurt us and is more comfortable to go with the backpack.
A good belt will be able to hold the backpack without wearing the shoulder pads!
In the shop, test the belt thoroughly. Ask them to let you fill your backpack and walk with it. Make sure the strap is well attached to your waist.
In men, the belt goes by the hip, but in women, it should be slightly above it.
Cushioned Shoulder Straps or Shoulder Straps:
Like the belt, the straps that pass through our shoulders to hold the backpack should be adjustable and padded. They will thank you for walking a few hours with your backpack on. Also, the wider they are, the better, since that way the pressure on the shoulders will be less.
Strap for The Chest or Pectoral Stabilizer:
Another important element is the chest strap. If it’s better cushioned, but it’s hard to get. What it is, is that it should be adjustable as all the straps of the backpack.
I love this chest strap; it’s my favorite. By placing it, I immediately feel how the weight is redistributed, and it becomes more comfortable to walk with it.
Padded Back and Ventilation:
The part of the backpack that remains in contact with our back should also be padded for comfort, weight distribution and to relieve pain in the spine.
Also, it is important to have a ventilation system, especially if we are going to be in warm environments. We do not want to feel as if our back were set on fire by the heat.
Although it is not a requirement, it can be useful.
Some backpacks have a compartment to place a bag of water, and place to take a hose that is accessible to us while we go with the backpack on.
Personally, I have never used it in the big backpack (yes in the girl), that is why it is not indispensable, but if it has it, better!
What is The Price of A Good Travel Backpack?
It is a difficult question to answer since it depends on the country where you are going to buy it. But for you to have a reference.
At US price, a backpack between 100 to 200 dollars will be more than good! In Latin American countries, it is usually necessary to add 60% to 80% to the US price.