Choosing the best backpack for backpacking is as important as any step when planning a trip around the world.
However, the hunt for the right backpack is confusing as the market is flooded with many brands, shapes, and sizes that are loaded with tons of fancy gadgets and features to keep up with today’s rigorous demands.
Keeping in mind that you will virtually be carrying your house on your back, there are many questions to be answered that will ultimately lead to your new backpack (including which ultralight tent you should pick out, of which I narrowed here).
I’ve come up with a few question to help you decide which pack style, functionality, and features are right for you. Take a look at the nifty guide below to help you choose the best backpack for your next outdoor adventure and/or a trip around the world!
Choose Wisely for your Backpacking Adventure…
Where will I be traveling?
How long will I be traveling for?
Are you backpacking for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months? The longer your travel, the more preparations you’ll need to ensure you have the right clothing and equipment for each environment.
How will I be getting from point A to point B?
Will you be taking public transit like buses, planes, or trains? Do you plan on doing any hitchhiking? If so, be sure to consider purchasing a backpack that is very durable and can handle those back road bus rides through Africa.
What will I be carrying with me?
Do you plan on using a tent or hammock? Jeans or cargo? Decide which items you will be carrying with you for the trip and then leave half of it behind.
Where will I be living?
Where will you be sleeping while traveling? Once you decide on how to find a place to stay while traveling, do you plan on living in a hostel, hotel, guest house, or tent? Depending on where you stay will depend on the amount of gear you need and ultimately what kind of security you’ll need to keep your gear safe and out of the wrong hands.
Backpacker or Flashpacker??
If you plan on becoming a minimalist then all you’ll need is a few pair of clothes, a tent, a sleeping bag, and some cooking supplies. However, if you plan on running your own business online or have a blog set up to keep your family and friends up to date on your travels, you may want to carry a laptop, external hard drive, camera, and an iPod.
So many questions, so many answers, but so little time.
How do I choose which backpack is right for me when I don’t even have a planned itinerary? Sure, functionality and price make a big difference in your decision making but do they outweigh comfort and size when deciding how much you’ll be carrying around with you on your back?
All these questions and more came to my mind so I decided to take a ride to my local outfitter store to speak with like minded individuals who have had the same dilemma I have in the past.
Making the right decision
The number one thing to remember when choosing the right backpack is the comfort. Sure, that Golite pack may be on clearance and marked down $80 dollars, but does it fit comfortably? Trust me, after hiking for hundreds of miles in the backcountry, no dollar amount will rise against what a backpacker calls comfort. This is exactly what came to me when I was confronted with hundred of different designs at my local outfitter store.
Secondly, just as important as comfort will be the size and frame of the pack. Do you want an external or internal frame? And how large? Will you be traveling lightly or heavily? This all comes into account when planning your trip and what gear you’ll be carrying with you.
As for me, the very first pack I settled for was the Gregory Baltoro 65 (you can read my review here). It’s medium size pack, light weight, and comfort to me was like no other. It was designed around a smaller frame body like mine and fits very comfortably. Sure, it cost me nearly $300 dollars, but after wearing it on a weekend hike through the Ocala National Forest, I am confident I made the right choice for the long journey ahead of me and with its internal frame structure all of the weight is focused towards my lower torso and not my back ensuring the best in comfort.
Thirdly but definitely not last, you’ll want to consider the many different compartment and pockets on your pack. Some packs are only accessible through the opening at the top but modern age packs offer access to your pack virtually everywhere, allowing you to fetch that cooking canister or your camera for that spontaneous shot that you were not expecting.
Now that you have an idea of what to look for when shopping for the right backpack, don’t forget to ask yourself these essentials questions. The many different features and gadgets can make decision making confusing but, if you stick to this quick guide, that small investment can make that backpacking trip, wherever it may be, a pleasantly memorable one!
What do you look for in a backpack?