The Backpack That Solves The Problem

So you have a dilemma. You want to be a true backpacker but for one reason or another you’re concerned about carrying a 20kg bag on your back for 6 weeks.

Many travellers I have met have had the same dilemma. Perhaps they are going on a Busabout or Contiki type trip and feel that maybe they can get away with a wheel along suitcase, others just struggle to walk for any length of time and find it difficult to get it on their back. Not sure about you, but I don’t fancy pulling a 20kg suitcase up some 100 year old steps much more than walking for hours with it on my back!

Why not have the best of both worlds? Try a back pack with wheels and a pull up handle just like a conventional suitcase. This will give you a little more flexibility. This style means you can wear it like a conventional backpack but have the choice to take it off your back and wheel it should you need to. The wheels are discreet and the straps are zipped away nicely when not needed.

I have some tips on picking the right one for you. Most of these are also true for a conventional backpack.

1.    Size
Make sure that it is not too big or too small. Think logically about what you will be taking, and be honest about what you can carry. Yes you could carry it and jump with it on your back in the store … when it was stuffed with bubble wrap.  Please always check the weight restrictions of all the flights you are going on (remembering that domestic internal flights may not allow such large bags). If you are going on a set tour like a safari, also check their restrictions and their suggestions.

2.   Comfortable on your back
Make sure the back is comfortable and is moulded to your back. There is nothing worse than a rock hard back that feels like you have been strapped to a piece of plywood. On the other hand you don’t want to be feeling that bottle of shampoo digging into your spine for 3 hours. This is especially important for those with a pull up handle – make sure you don’t feel bars in your back.

3.    Straps
Similarly also check the comfort and adjustability of the straps. If you can, it is also suggested you get one with a waist strap as it helps distribute the weight and helps it stay in place.

4.    Quality
Don’t be tight with your money. I know it’s hard to say when you are on the tightest budget in the world but it is important to go for quality and durability. A handy tip I picked up was to pick baggage that has an international warranty, so it can be replaced if it does fall apart, even if you are on the other side of the world – saving you money in the long run! It is essential to invest in a good quality bag. Check seams, the strength of zips, the material etc, the quality of the wheels.

5.    Opening and accessibility
Everyone has a different opinion on this one, many travel veterans will never stray from a conventional top opening backpack however I suggest picking one that opens like a normal suitcase. There is nothing worse than wanting the t-shirt at the bottom of your bag. Opening like a regular suitcase will also help clothes stay less crushed, also making room for clothes separators etc. It is also much easier to pack!

6.    Extra Features
Be careful with features like extra zip up pockets etc. As wonderful as they are, it is not advised to put things in zip pockets that are easily accessible to people behind you – you are asking to be robbed. Don’t fall for features that are really redundant.

7.    ‘Bonus’ Daypack
An extra day bag that can be zipped to your backpack. Some backpacks these days have the ‘bonus’ of having a day pack which can be attached to the back of the bag. Again be careful – they are very easily opened and emptied without you even knowing. If you are going to use them, don’t fill it when it is attached to your backpack.

I do suggest visiting a store to try out a backpack however I will show some examples and stores soon. I am waiting for permission to use their pictures just now and it’s taking longer than expected.

Here is a temporary link so you can get an idea: Click Here

Have any other tips to share about choosing the best backpack?

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