Picking the right backpack is a really important part of preparing for your trip. When you’re on the road you’re going to be carrying your pack from place to place several times a week and putting stuff in and out of it more times each day than you would imagine. Not only will choosing the right bag make the experience a lot more comfortable but it will also make the process of packing and unpacking a whole lot easier.
I travel with the osprey FARPOINT 65L backpack with a 15L detachable day bag– (I have the jasper red) which I really love because it’s super lightweight, durable, and the way it’s been designed makes it really easy for me to pack and unpack it. I’ve had this backpack for about three years and it’s still holding up really well and I believe it is the perfect bag for me.
If you’re backpacking long term you become really attached to your pack, kind of like you do with your first truck. You’ll love it at times, you’ll hate it at times, but if you pick the right bag then mainly you’ll just really really appreciate that you have it. Here are some tips on what to look for when you’re shopping for your new pack.
Try It On First
The most important part of choosing your pack is trying it on, which is why I would discourage you from buying your bag online based solely on reviews. Go into a store and try it on before you decide to buy it. Sales assistants in popular outdoor stores are usually really well trained and can show you how to adjust the straps for your height and build. After a week or so of lugging your bag around you can definitely feel the difference if your shoulder straps aren’t the right length or your waist strap is at the wrong point on your body.
To ensure you’re really comfortable, get a bag with well-padded shoulder straps, support for your lower back, and a padded waist strap. My advice would be to do a little research into what you’re looking for, based on the criteria below, and then visit some stores and try on the bags that fit your wish list. There is usually one bag that you put on and it’s the perfect fit, then you know you’ve got the right backpack!
Even if you buy online you can still bring it into the store and get the staff to fit it for you.
Decide How Much You Want To Carry
Many backpackers, even long term ones, travel with carry-on luggage. You would be surprised at how much you can fit into a bag that’s still within the limits for carry-on!
There are obvious benefits to going carry-on only: saving money on baggage fees when you fly, less weight to carry on your back, and it’s probably quite freeing not to have as much stuff with you when you travel. If you like to travel light then you might consider buying a carry-on bag.
Choose Between Top Loading & Front Loading
Most backpacks come in two different designs: top loading and front loading.
Top-loading bags are the classic design where everything is loaded into and removed from the main compartment via an opening in the top of the bag.
Front-loading bags you lie the bag flat and then open the main section right up like a suitcase so you can access everything in your bag at once.
Have a think about what is important to you in a backpack and maybe try on both options to see how they feel. If you’re short or slim then top loading might be best simply because they’re slimmer and light. But if you’re travelling to a notoriously unsafe country and are worried about your stuff then consider a front loader.
Check Out The Repair Process & Warranty
Even though backpacks are a lot more durable than suitcases they still can get banged up. Straps and buckles are the most common casualties as you travel. It’s important to check out the warranty and repair service when you’re buying your bag so that you can get it fixed on the road or when you get home.
I got my bag from big brands that sell around the world – I have an Osprey, so whenever I have had any issues I can just email Osprey and they can direct me on where to get it fixed. Fees can apply unless the problem is a manufacturing error, but in my experience, they have been pretty low. When you’re deciding on a brand take a look at where their repair centres are located and what their turnaround time is for repairs.
I hope this has been helpful to you! If you would like to recommend your pack to other readers then leave a comment below and let me and others know!