Going on a long awaited trip overseas? A functional travel backpack is the most important piece of equipment for navigating through foreign cities while living on the road, whether for a few days, a few months or a year.
Spend the time to research the best tactical backpack option based on your own preferences for travel.
Do you prefer staying in hotels and rarely have to carry a full pack on your back? Or are you on a backpacking journey when every day is a nomadic adventure?
Remember that backpacking travel is not like hiking, so your pack needs to be designed for extra space and pockets, both internal and external, for quick access and packing ease.There are benefits, and potential hazards, that come with each type of travel backpack. It is very easy to buy too big and overload your pack and your body or lose the convenient option to use it as a carry on to avoid delays or lost bags at baggage claim.
Take into consideration the following selection factors and determine your travel preferences to find the most appropriate travel backpack that carries your gear without becoming a burden or a hassle.
Travel Backpack: Factors For Selection
Suitcase vs. Backpack Style – Travel luggage ranges from large travel duffel bags with straps to modified hiking packs to hybrids that combine elements of suitcase with backpack technology. Some travel packs are more like suitcases with one large compartment that opens to expose the full contents and light backpack or sling straps. These are better suited for hotels where you can spread everything out. Backpack styles are either front or top loading and provide stronger straps and waist belts for carrying comfort. These are better for staying in hostels with limited space and for navigating in crowed conditions.
Top Load vs. Front Load – Backpacks made specifically for hiking do not convert well for travelling on the road. And external frame packs are nothing but trouble when walking in cities or trying to store away. Top loading packs are effective but become a nuisance when packing and unpacking your clothes and personal items because of limited access. Front loading packs are preferable for laying flat and unzipping the main compartment to get to your gear in any situation over pulling out half your contents on the street in a top loader. When travelling for weeks or months, remember it’s the small things that turn into major annoyances.
With or Without Wheels – Backpacks rarely get lighter when on the road, so think hard about the benefits of having wheels. Sometimes it helps to get the load off your back and cruise through city streets and airports without the strain. Make sure the wheels are of the high quality in-line skating type or you’ll be dragging more than rolling. It’s also important to convert easy to backpack carry when you need to climb stairs or run into brick or stone streets, so don’t just rely on the wheeled travel pack and get a good fitting and comfortable pack too.
Carrying Capacity – Warning: Heavy packs are a pain. Packing light is part art, part attitude. When you plan for a major trip to foreign lands, the tendency is to overthink and overload. Unless you travel in cold climates or need to take special gear, you can probably get by with less capacity. High capacity packs range from 70-90 liters, while the lower capacity packs range from 40-60 liters. Go light if traveling during summertime or in the tropics; get more capacity for long trips or if carrying gear for others. You can always pick up extra clothes or items along the way, so strip down the load at home first.
Price Range – Expect to pay between US$150 to $300 for a good travel backpack. The price fluctuates depending on added features and more capacity. Look for quality materials that are tough enough for the wear and tear of everyday travel and the option to expand and collapse the space. Do not be cheap; spend another US$50 to $75 to get the best quality choice because a broken down or uncomfortable backpack makes for a miserable trip.
Travel Backpack: Tips For Buyer Satisfaction
Carry On Factor – Traveling around the world means that airports become your second home. Smaller capacity travel packs are designed to fit as carry ons on most major airlines. This is a big advantage for saving time at check-ins when on a tight schedule and to keep all your contents with you. Nothing is worse than waiting for a lost travel bag at baggage claim and wasting one of your precious vacation days.
Bulk Factor – Backpack travel can be hazardous to your health and to those around you. First, bulky loads add more stress on shoulders and cause you to tire out much quicker. External pockets and add-ons only increase the bulk load to off-set your balance for an uncomfortable travel day. Wearing a bulky pack on crowded city streets, on narrow train aisles and in transit on buses is tricky to avoid clashing into passengers and seats. And attached daypacks on the back only add weight to the problem.
Fit For Women – Larger capacity travel packs can be too heavy and cause problems for petite or small-framed women. Big packs tend to be made for men with longer torso lengths that do not fit comfortably for everyone. Check out a number of travel packs to find the best fit or choose packs designed with special features for women in mind. Don’t settle for an oversized travel backpack.
Daypack Attachment – Travelers usually require a daypack for daily runs to city attractions without messing with your full backpack. Many travel backpacks have an attachable daypack that either clings or zips to the back. This option is great for keeping your valuables and contents together as a carry on combo. Some backpackers choose to wear the daypack on their frontside when wandering in urban areas to prevent theft. Make sure the daypack attachment doesn’t make the load too bulky or become uncomfortable with added backside weight.