Are you planning to explore South East Asia? Or you want to go traveling around in South America? It is wise to buy a good backpack. With this kind of traveling, a backpack is much more convenient than a suitcase. You are more flexible with having a backpack on your back than carrying around a suitcase.
My first 15 minutes backpacking
When I went backpacking for the first time, I was not well prepared. My backpack was a cheap one, way too heavy and I never tried to carry it for a while.
Loaded with a heavy backpack I waited at a bus station for the bus to take me to the train station. I had to wait for 15 minutes and all that time I was carrying my backpack on my back. I remember in those 15 minutes I already decided it was way too heavy, my shoulders and back were hurting and I couldn’t travel like this. Everything I, then found convenient to take with me, was in the bag and it was big enough to fit it all in. A few weeks later, I was sending a box full of unnecessary stuff home and I went shopping for a good, fitting backpack.
In the shops there is a lot of choice, but how do you decide which one is good for you? Here are some points of attention.
First thing…the quality is very important
You don’t buy a backpack for a one time trip, but it is a long-term investment. The quality must be good, so you can use it several years without flaws. A good quality backpack is not cheap, but the chance a zipper breaks or it falls apart is very small. Don’t try to save too much on this purchase.
Carry convenience and fit, everyone is different
It is wise to inform you on adjusting the length and fitting when you are in the store. Those people often know a lot about the backpacks and they know how it should be adjusted to you body. Walk a few laps in the store and feel if it is comfortable or not. By adjusting the straps you can find good support at your hips, to relieve the weight on your shoulders. The tighter you put your hip and shoulder straps, the more stable the bag will be.
Way too heavy…
A fully packed backpack can be very heavy. In the beginning it seems to be fine, but if you have to walk for half an hour in the burning sun, it can be hugely disappointing. A loaded backpack should not exceed 20 to 25 percent of your body weight. Furthermore, in planes you’re often allowed to take 23 kilo’s with you. Therefore it makes no sense to buy an extra-large backpack that will be way too heavy once it is packed.
Some extras for your backpack
When backpacking, you also need a rain cover for your backpack. Of course you will use it when it is raining, but also for protection during transport. Many backpacks have a matching rain cover somewhere in a small compartment of the backpack. If not, you can try to get one for free, many stores do that.
To fully close your backpack and prevent it from being opened by accident, it is wise to buy some locks. The best are the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) locks. Using TSA locks allows your luggage to be unlocked and inspected by security authorities without damage.
Have you packed your backpack and attached some attributes to the side? Buy a flight bag! It protects the backpack from wear and tear when travelling by air and also serves as rain cover when you arrive and go trekking.
How do you determine the size of your backpack?
There are many different backpack sizes. It differs per person and trip what fits best. There are basically three groups:
1. small (40 to 60 liters)
2. regular (60 to 80 liters)
3. large (80 to 100 liter)
When choosing the number of liters, you should consider how much you can carry. It is also useful to look at your length and muscular. Who is slightly longer, will probably be able to travel better with a bigger backpack. Also assume that if traveling to warmer countries you need a smaller backpack, because summer clothes take less space. There are men and women different backpack models, so this is also something to keep in mind when buying.
A small backpack 40 to 60 liters
If you don’t take a lot of stuff with you, because you go to a warm area, this is sufficient.
A regular Backpack 60 to 80 liters
You go backpacking for a few months or are you going to hike for a couple of weeks? Then choose a backpack between 60 and 80 liters. This is not too small. Remember that, for example, you also have to take a sleeping bag with you.
A large backpack 80 to 100 liters
For long expeditions, more week camping trips or traveling to cold areas it’s best to take a backpack of 80 to 100 liters. Think about warm clothes, a sleeping bag and camping gear.
Remember… it’s easy take too much stuff with you. Try to travel as light as possible and leave unnecessary items at home.