8 things to consider when choosing a backpack

Picking the right backpack is an important part of your travels and it’s very exciting! There’s a lot to consider, size, straps, material, day packs, wheels and pockets! So it’s best to put in a bit of research before you go and buy one. If you’re stuck for ideas or your not sure what works best, there are plenty of reviews and videos online to help you decide.

Before we bought our backpacks we spent a lot of time doing research online, and went to several outdoor stores to try on bags. If you’re still in the research stage of buying a backpack, there are a few things you need to consider before you take the leap. Get it right now and your bag can last for years! Here are our top 8 things to consider when buying your backpack.

1. Size matters

Choosing the right size is arguably the most important part of buying a backpack. You don’t want to end up with a bag that’s too big, carrying around excess weight that you’re not using. But on the same note, you don’t want to buy a backpack that’s too small to take everything you need.

Consider the type of travelling you’re going to be doing, and where you’ll be going. Colder destinations typically mean you’ll want more, and thicker clothing – which means you’ll likely want a bigger bag. You also need to think about what you’ll be doing while you’re away, for instance, if you know you’re going to be doing a lot of hiking, you’re might want the proper gear, which will take up more room in your bag.

Going to hotter destinations will allow you to travel lighter. But you should also take into consideration how long you’ll be gone for. Backpacks are typically measured in litres, and it can be beneficial to actually go and look at packs to get a better feel for the size.

2. Water resistant material

Another very important part of bag shopping is looking for water resistant material. After all, the last thing you want is a backpack full of damp clothes. Some bags come with a built in waterproof cover that you can stretch over the bag, so check the hood of the backpack if the material doesn’t seem like it’s going to be water tight.

Alternatively, you can buy these covers separately to take with you on your travels. These covers are also great for tucking away any straps and pockets that might get caught while you’re on the move.

3. Fully loaded

Something that’s easy to overlook is how you access your stuff. There are generally two types of backpacks, top loaders will have a hood and zip (or a pull toggle) at the top of the bag. This can make it harder to get to the items at the bottom of your bag. That said, there are luggage organisers that you can use when packing to make accessing your belongings much easier.

You can also get bags that unzip all the way round like a suitcase. Personally we much prefer these as it makes them easier to pack and find your things.

4. To wheel or not to wheel

Consider whether you’re ever going to want to take your bag off and pull it like a wheeled suitcase. Some backpacks come with fold away wheels – though these are typically the bigger bags (60 litres and up). If you think you may struggle to wear your backpack while travelling long distances, wheels could be the best option for you.

5. Day packs

Some of the larger bags also come with separate day packs, ranging from roughly 5 to 25 litres. These can be attached and removed form your main pack, and are really helpful if you know you’re going to be going out on day trips and excursions, but don’t want to take a full sized backpack with you. Not to mention this can be used as extra storage, or hand luggage while you travel. So think about whether you’re going to want a detachable day pack on your bag.

6. Storage and pockets

Many backpacks come with more than one compartment, and particularly nowadays you can get some with padded pockets for laptops, tablets and tech. It’s always useful to have more than one area in your bag. Some bags even have separate compartments at the bottom where you can keep damp or dirty clothes to keep them separate from the rest of your stuff.

Be careful of bags that have pockets on the front. Having pockets on the front of your bag can make it easier for others to access your belongings without you noticing. If you are going for a backpack with a front pocket, be sure not to keep anything of importance in these areas. Also check whether your zips allow for using padlocks. This can be extremely important if you’re checking your bag in to ensure that no one can go through your things.

7. Strap in

It’s important to look at the straps on your bag. It’s vital that your bag is comfy, otherwise you’re not going to want to take it with you. Padded straps are the way to go. And particularly if you’ve got a bigger bag, look for backpacks with hip and chest straps. These can be a great extra support to spread the weight across your body. The last thing you need is your bag giving you a bad back or causing you pain.

8. Shop around

Once you’ve tried on a few packs, decided how big you want it to be and whether it’s going to have wheels or other accessories, it’s time to buy! But before you settle for the first price you see, take a look online, you will often find your bag cheaper on different websites. Typically a good backpack could cost you anywhere between £60 – £250, though it depends on the make and model of your backpack.

Choosing a backpack is an exciting step towards seeing the world, so it’s important to get it right! Take these eight things into consideration when shopping, and make sure you look at and try on a range of bags before buying. Happy backpack shopping!

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