If you’re going to do a lot of traveling, no one item may be more important to your success than your travel backpack. There are lots of good ones and some not so good ones out there, and being stuck with a not so good one can make your journey a heck of a lot harder. We’re talking back problems, discomfort, or worse, a break.
A good backpack, one with lots of useful features, can make your life a lot simpler and your trip a lot more fun. Here are some things that you may want to look for when choosing the perfect backpack for your overseas experience.
Rolling backpacks are a life saver. Travel backpacks can be heavy. Very heavy. You just don’t want to sling that kind of weight around all the time. Rolling backpacks can instead be rolled around like a suitcase whenever possible, so you save your back a lot of trouble and potential problems in the future.
Some people like to go really overboard and get huge hiking backpacks that are almost as tall as they are and lug them around the world. That’s not really recommended. In fact, you should look for something that’s airplane carry-on size. Backpacks aren’t as sturdy as suitcases and can get horribly beaten up if checked by the airline. Having the ability to bring your backpack on board with you can save you, your backpack, and the stuff inside a lot of trouble.
Aside from that, make sure you get a backpack that fits your body. Measure your torso length by standing with your hand on your hip bones, index finger straight and thumb back. The length is then measured from your collar bone to the point your hands meet. Have someone help you.
Extra small and small backpacks fit up to 18” torsos, medium/regular fit 18”-20”, and large sizes fit torsos over 20”. Of course, refer to the manufacturer guidelines for any differences from these general stats.
The layout of your backpack can make or break it for you depending on what you need. If you have a laptop, for instance, you might want to grab one with a laptop pouch to help protect your laptop from damage. You might need multiple small compartments to fit a bunch of small objects. Maybe side pockets for water bottles are something you need.
In some of these compartments, you may also want to seek materials that help protect your stuff better. For instance, water resistance can be a lifesaver either for the whole backpack or for individual pockets that house valuables. Padding in laptop pockets to protect your expensive hardware is also a necessity. Make sure your backpack has what you need.
Considered a luxury by some, the hip belt can help prevent a heavy load from weighing down on your back when worn. Conversely to hiking backpacks, few travel backpacks actually have these straps, so if it’s a feature you want you need to look a little harder. Either wheels or a hip belt should be enough to spare your back a lot of agony, but having both is really nice, too.
This one kind of goes without saying. A broken backpack is a useless backpack, so you want to make absolutely sure your backpack can hold your stuff without risking a bottom blow out. It can be hard to judge a backpack’s durability by looking at it, so it can be useful to browse through some online reviews. Typically though the toughest backpacks are made of nylon and polyester with nylon straps. Canvas is another premium material. If you really want to get down into it, check the stitching of the straps. You want to look for a double stitch for extra durability because this point is where they most often fail. Having a hip belt or using wheels helps take some of the load off as well.
There are a lot of things to consider when buying the perfect backpack. As stated previously in the guide, it’s highly recommended that you go to a physical store and actually try on backpacks before settling. In addition to that, check online reviews to give yourself a little more peace of mind. A backpack is an important investment, but the right one can last to carry your stuff around the world for years to come.
Contributed by Nick Bartholomew