How to Choose a Backpack While Travelling: Expert Advice

How to Choose a Backpack

Updated On: November 09, 2023 by   Rahma AliRahma Ali

Planning for a new tour around the world? Need to buy a new backpack for unbelievable backpacking? Here is our guide that will explain everything on how to choose a backpack.

We make upwards of 35,000 decisions in our daily lives, according to a leading psychological study. This includes major decisions such as the career we want to pursue and what we need to bring from the supermarkets. 

Choosing a backpack is still considered important! It is our first adventure love (With an intimate wanderlust, we’d love to travel the whole world with one comfortable backpack).

How to Choose a Backpack

Your backpack is the most important item you should think of before even picking your destination. Simply imagine a backpacker without a backpack! It doesn’t make any sense, right?

With countless options out there in every imaginable size, shape, and style, you absolutely may ask: “How do I choose a backpack?” The first thing when choosing and fitting one is to consider what you would pack inside it. In other words, think of how much capacity you need. 

Here are the most important questions you have to ask yourself before looking for your next backpack so that you have a smooth backpacking journey! Let’s go!

Do You Really Need A Backpack?

You need to figure out multiple things before you hit the road: Do you need a backpack or a suitcase? To what extent does it matter? Will you regret it if you drag a bulky case behind you?

When I wanted to know how to choose a backpack, I asked a friend of mine to guide me to pick the best one. After a brief pause, he said, “You need to buy a top-quality backpack! Imagine how this could turn your travel fantasies into reality”. Yes, he was right! However, you need to consider the type of travel you’ll experience, where you’re going, who will travel with you, and what your travel style is. 

Let’s imagine you’d take some days off to explore the cobbled streets of the old districts around Egypt, cross the red dirt roads of Argentina, or take a busy bus in any country to take memorable photos of their people’s daily lives.

If you really seek this kind of adventure, a suitcase is impractical. These itineraries are quite simply not suitcase-friendly. If you bring your own suitcase, it will ruin your whole trip and may likely get damaged. 

How to Choose a Backpack

Picture this: You try to carry your rolling suitcase because its wheels are broken. Meanwhile, you’re exhausted as you spent most of the day searching for an abandoned hostel in a super busy district! The suitcase will frustrate you all the way, especially if you’re planning to visit many destinations that require using public transport. It’s not really a good start for a perfect trip!

Forget about the wheels that fall off and think about a cool backpack. It’s super easy to make it your best friend. On top of that, you will look like an adventurous traveller and not a foreigner with a map trying to find the right destination.

Travelling with a suitcase is, sometimes, fancy but not the right option for a backpacker! A backpack will make you feel agile. Nothing can stop you from reaching the peaks of Morocco, for example. You will also not worry too much about the things you need to pick with you; You will pack smart and travel light!

With a backpack, you’d be able to order your morning takeaway coffee without having to carry your heavy suitcase in your arms because your other hand is searching for your next stop on Google Maps or requesting an Uber ride. You absolutely need this bag unless you plan not to leave your accommodation for good!

What are the Types of Backpacks?

How to Choose a Backpack

There’s no standard backpack, so there’s no one right way to categorise them. However, we can group them into three types based on their capacity and how long they will survive. 

Less Than 50 Litres

If you plan to stay for one to three nights, a backpack of less than 50 litres is your best choice. It’s super efficient for travellers who pack only what they need and bring less bulky gear. To pack light, a 30-50 litre backpack is more than enough.

However, if you buy a smaller size, you need to plan your trip carefully with high self-discipline. If you can pull it, you’ll have a fantastic trip without hurting your back with so much useless stuff.

Less Than 80 Litres

If you plan to spend five nights, a backpack of less than 80 litres is still considered a light-on-your-feet reward! Backpackers love it as it has the perfect space for all their essentials—no more, no less.

It’s also a decent choice for warm-weather destinations. You’d need it for different purposes, like hiking and camping. It fits the most if you go for a skiing journey or do a multisport activity. 

More Than 80 Litres 

Travelling for more than five days? You will probably need the largest backpack version. It’s a great option for adventurers dreaming of winter treks because more capacity means additional space for a comfortable sleeping bag, extra poles, and extra clothes. Additionally, it is great for family trips because parents can take all their kids’ stuff. 

How to Choose A Backpack That Suits Your Needs

While looking for a guide on how to choose a backpack, you need to be aware of the features a good one must include. As we mentioned before, there is no perfect size that suits all people. What really matters is choosing a backpack proportional to your weight to keep balanced while exploring your destination.

A very big bag will cause back pain and ruin your adventure. On top of that, you might topple over while hiking if your luggage is super heavy. On the other hand, a very small bag is not the perfect choice since your stuff might overflow. 

So here is how to choose a backpack. A good one lasts the longest, no matter how you treat it. That’s why, in the following lines, we list all the features you must look for when choosing a backpack. It must be durable, well-organised, weatherproof, and long-lasting! So, don’t purchase anything that doesn’t offer all the following features:

How to Choose a Backpack


Well, you don’t need to find a 100% waterproof backpack unless you go on a long hiking trip around Scotland! Having a somewhat water-resistant bag is important to avoid getting overwet when it drizzles. So make sure your bag has a cover that you can use to shield it against any unexpected downpour.

Another hack is to avoid thick material. This is because you do not want your bag to be wet for a long time and get musty until you find sunlight. Always look for lightweight material, like nylon fibre.  

Expert advice: Before purchasing your backpack, ask the seller to test it by pouring a glass of water over it. This way, you will find out whether the inside of the bag is getting wet.

Two Zippers 

If you love outdoor activities, it’s better to obtain a backpack with a two-way zipper to be able to lock them all together and unzip a small part of the bag. This makes you avoid being stolen. 

Expert advice: When purchasing lacks, only choose the TSA-friendly locks with a release valve that enables you to unlock your bag without breaking it. You can find it in any large retail store. 

However, if you’re still concerned about the security of your precious stuff, invest in a Pacsafe bag. It is packed with premium features that keep your belongings safe and secure. No one can access your stuff but you.

Enough Compartments and Storage Units 

How to Choose a Backpack

What makes a backpack good is the multiple compartments it has that enable you to carry all your necessities. That means you have enough room to sort your belongings into tiny sections to make it easy for you to find all your stuff without unpacking the whole bag. 

For example, you can fold your clothes and keep them in the main compartment. Your shoes and any footwear could be stored on the side, and your expensive stuff in a separate compartment. Not only will you keep everything clean and neat, but you will also save hours of anxiety when trying to find a specific item, thinking you might have forgotten to bring it.

Expert advice: Many backpacks come with extra components. Look for the one with a separate side pocket for your water bottle. You can bring packing cubes if you need extra space. 

An Attached Hip Belt

Almost all backpacks have a padded belt to make you feel more comfortable while moving around with a lot of stuff. It also helps you feel less back strain as the load will be distributed evenly. 

Expert advice: Choose a hip belt that is adjustable to your body. The padded belt with zippered pockets is always the best!

Now that we have learnt everything about our little adventure companion, go ahead and live your travel dreams. Grab the backpack that suits your style and needs. Are you up for it?

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