How to choose the best travel backpack is a very important question for a lot of people. What attributes does it need to have? What’s important and what is not? How much should it cost? Rather getting an expensive one or a cheap one? Which size do I need? These are just a couple questions of what you need to ask yourself.
Over the past years and all my travels I have had different kind of backpacks. Big ones, small ones, good quality, bad quality and so on. So, what is the best travel backpack and how to choose the right one? Whether you plan a big or a small trip, it is an important question. And not just only for backpackers, but also for people, who just want to go on vacations with their girl/ boyfriend or their family.
It’s all about the best fit and it depends on what kind of trip is ahead. You would probably not take a suitcase on a hiking trip through the mountains, right? 😉
Best Travel Backpack – Concerns, keypoints and options
I will tell you my opinion, my concerns and what I think are the keypoints. There are many questions to ask yourself and just like always, I am not gonna tell you, which one is the best travel backpack. I am just gonna tell you what I think is important to watch out for, tell you what I like and what I use/ have used. In the end I’ll give you some suggestions to choose from. The rest is up to you… 🙂
Best Travel Backpack – Concerns
Backpack or suitcase?
Your first concern should be, if you want to use a suitcase or a backpack. Because this post is about the best travel backpack, you can probably imagine what I would choose…
By that I don’t want to say, that a suitcase is not good. In fact it’s great pick. It is just not that convenient for more adventurous journeys.
Therefore it’s probably better for a trip to a stationary destination where you don’t want to change your location or the place you stay at. In this case, it is very convenient. You don’t have to look for stuff that much, dig in your backpack and so on. It’s just quadratic and practical. Everything is easy to find. Plus, you don’t have to carry a suitcase. Instead you just pull it behind yourself most of the time. So, it does have some good attributes…
BUT we talk about the best travel backpack in this post. And I would have to say for myself I would always choose a backpack over a suitcase. Any time!
Why using a backpack?
Reason being: I like to travel around, change places, etc. and therefore a suitcase is just more inconvenient.
You will be better off with a backpack, especially, if you go on longer trips. To give you a couple examples of situations where a backpack is just the better option:
- Going uphill
- Going up stairs
- Nature/ Hiking trips
- In tight places
Overall I think, you will have a way better time with choosing the best travel backpack possible, fitted to your specific needs.
Comfort is a big factor for me, when I think about choosing the best travel backpack possible or a suitcase. Even though you have to carry a backpack, it will be more comfortable over time. You won’t have to pull them up every time a hill or some stairs are in front of you. Additionally you can throw them around without being scared something might get damaged and they are just easier to carry in general.
Especially, the havier your backpack or suitcase are, the more you’ll be happy, that you have chosen a backpack. In my opinion it’s a big pain in the ass to heft a huge suitcase, right?
That alone is reason enough for me to say, that a suitcase is way more uncomfortable than a backpack. And I guess, you might agree on that 😉
Another big factor for me about the best travel backpack is the visability. In comparison to a suitcase, I always have the feeling, that a backpack is more visable when you want to find it on the conveyer belt at the airport for example.
Most suitcases just look pretty much the same in my opinion. Some people might say, that’s just not true and backpacks all look the same as well, but in general, suitcases are more likely to be mistaken than backpacks.
It’s also easier to attach something recognizable at a backpack, than at a suitcase. Additionally many backpacks are more colourful most of the time. Many suitcases are just black, grey and silver.
At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter where you are right now (airport, bus transport, ship, etc.), it’s always good to be able to find your belongings quickly. The more recognizable and unique your belongings are, the harder it will be to lose them. And a backpack is just the better option for that.
Best Travel Backpack – Keypoints
Now let’s come to the major points about the best travel backpack. There is a lot you have to consider.
Obviously it all starts with the size of the backpack. The first thing to think about is what you want to use your backpack for. Do you mainly want to do longer trips or are you more interested in short trips? This will give you the answer regarding the question of “choosing a relatively big or a small backpack?”. It would probably not make any sense to use a 80l backpack, if you only go on short trips. You probably won’t take that much stuff with you, even though some women do 😉
But the other way around it’s exactly the same. If you like to go on bigger and longer trips, you should definitely consider to choose a bigger backpack, because you will need more things. And if you don’t, then that’s fine too.
The second thing to think about is your own body size. Obviously you would not take an 80l backpack, if you are only 1,50m tall, right? The travel backpack would not fit perfectly and that’s one major goal we aim for. The backpack needs to be proportional to your body. Otherwise it will shift weight a lot and that’s not good, because you might get back problems and it gets really annoying eventually.
Another big factor is the way you pack and how much you usually pack. I personally don’t pack a lot, because I don’t need a lot and I have learned to live with sparsely gear on the road. But other people might need more. Every person is different and has different needs. Maybe you need to take a specific medicine, you always have to wear warm clothes or you love to read. Some people just like to take more. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but it all adds up, which is why you have to consider this when you choose the right size of your personal best travel backpack.
Try it on
I also highly recommend you to try on the backpack before you buy one. Buying one from the internet might seem like a good idea, because it’s “convenient”, but it really isn’t. You have got to try it on. It’s the only way to see, if the backpack fits and, if it has the right size. Also put some weights into the backpack while you are at the store, so that you get a better feeling for it. Almost every outdoor shop has weights. Some backpacks seem to be good at the start and once you carry them with weight, they are not that good anymore.
The material is quite important as well. The best travel backpack you can possibly get, should have a good material quality. Why? Mainly because you don’t want to buy a new one after a short period of time. A good quality backpack will last for a long, long time. A bad one probably won’t. I have tried a cheap one once to see how they are. After 2 weeks on my trip through the Philippines, the ribbons, which are attached to the zipper, fell off.
It’s always a good idea to buy a backpack, which is waterproofed. You don’t really want to deal with the situation where your whole backpack gets wet. Trust me!
I have been in bigger rain storms in Southeast Asia and it’s pretty annoying, if you can’t change your clothes, because they are all wet and your backpack is wet too. Even, if you dry out your clothes afterwards, your backpack can still be wet and that’s not beneficial.
Also make sure, that the material is as light as possible, but still resiliant. The lighter the better, because as soon as you hit the airport every single gramm can be important. Bigger airlines only have additional charges, if your luggage is to heavy, but some budget airlines charge a fee based on the backpack‘s weight.
Hip belt, shoulder straps, back air
These three things are pretty important when it comes to comfort. The best travel backpack does not only have to be convenient, but also comfortable in my opinion.
The hip belt is one of the most important aspects for the comfortness. It’s crutual, that the hip belt is tightly attached to your waste in order to take a lot of weight off your upper back and your shoulders. It will shift the weight onto your hips, which is way better. Make sure, that the hip belt is patted. Otherwise you might get pressure on your hip bones, which is very unpleasent. The belt should also be adjustable, so that you can accommodate it the way you need it to be.
The shoulder straps are the second thing on the list. They should have a padding and preferly some vaultings for a better air circulation. If the shoulder straps are good and comfortable, they will take some pressure off your shoulders and your lower back, which is good, if you have to carry your backpack for a longer time.
Also make sure, that the best travel backpack possible has a padded back, because of comfort reasons. Additionally watch out for a lumbar shaped pack. It ensures to spread the weight more evenly and it creates some space between your back and your backpack, so that the air can circulate more easily. If the backpack doesn’t have that, your back will sweat eventually.
This is pretty much common sense nowerdays. Most travel backpacks have an inner frame, but this was not always the case. About 30 years ago, there was no frame or the frame has been on the outside. To have an inner frame is important for the stability of the backpack. If you put it on the floor, if it gets pressed into a tour bus or, if it falls down somewhere, it’s good to have an inner protection to cover your belongings from bigger damage.
The best travel backpack needs various inner compartments. This has many benefits. The main advantage is, that you have a better overview. You can put multiple types of gear into different compartments. I put all my clothes, towels, etc. into the biggest compartment. Smaller stuff like hygenical products or medicin will be put into other pockets.
Futhermore it’s good to have various compartments on the in- and outside. The hip belt usually has some pockets too, where you can put in your smartphone or any other smaller things. If it is something more valuable like your passport, you can store it in an inner compartment.
Now we come to the one of the biggest questions about the best travel backpack and how to choose the right one – the price. There is one question coming up on the internet all the time.
How much should I spend on a backpack?
I thought about this a for quite a while and there is only one right way in my opinion. You need to spend a bit more on a good backpack, but not to much. What do I mean by that?
Spending 500$+ on a backpack is pointless. Why? Because the quality from about 200$ – 500$ does not change that much. But below that, you have drastic quality changes. Everything under 200$ slowly gets worse in 50$ steps. A 50$ backpack can just not be as good as a 200$+ backpack. I think from 175$ – 350$ is a reasonable price range, if you want to have a good one, which lasts for a long time. I have to say though, that, if you decide to get a backpack for 250$+, then everything MUST be perfect for you.
You can give the low price ones a try, but I can almost promise, you won’t be satisfied. I have personally set my price range between 150$ – 250$. Most good brands offer their backpacks in between this scale.
Best Travel Backpack – Options
I want to give you some options and show you some good brands you can definitely trust. All of them gonna be of good quality and set in between the price range that I have mentioned above. They gonna be different sizes, so you have some different options. Furthermore I tell you what I use, so that you get a little inside 🙂
By the way, if you decide to by one through my affiliate links, it will not cost you any more (not even 1 cent) and it helps me to keep this website running. No advertising here, but it would be appreciated 🙂
- Jack Wolfskin Denali (75l)
- Osprey Xenith (75l)
- Zenith High Peak (75l)
- Deuter ACT Lite (50l)
- Deuter ACT Explorer (55l)
What I use
I actually have three different ones in use at the moment. I still have two of them from my time in Australia. Because my beloved backpack got stolen once in Brisbane (I had nothing anymore), I had to do it differently. I realized during my time in Australia, that I don’t really need much to travel, which is why I got two small backpacks and they fit fine for me (sizewise). Back in the days my credit cards and everything else I had have been stolen as well, so the two backpacks needed to be cheap. This is why I got one from the internet (55l) and one from Kmart (shame on me 😉 – but there was no option). I still every now and then use both of them, but only for very short trips, where the backpack’s quality can be a little lower.
Other than that, I always go with the Lowe Alpine Unisex (55l) one in black, which is of high quality. It’s a higher price class for a backpack of this size. A bigger one would obviously cost more. But as I said, rather pay a little more and be happy for a longer time than paying just a little and be disappointed…
Want to know more about the ultimate packing list? Read here
What could also interest you:
- Ultimate packing list – What’s in my Backpack?
- The best Travel Gear to explore the world
- What to pack for a short camping trip