How to choose a backpack for traveling: Basic Guide

January 18, 2021

Choosing a backpack is a critical decision. It has the potential to make or break your trip as this is going to be your constant travel buddy throughout the trip. There is an overwhelming choice of backpacks depending on size, weight, closure type, material, and back straps. If you are going on an adventure trip that will happen close to water or with high chances of rain like for instance on a surf trip to Indonesia, then your best choice would be a waterproof backpack.

Waterproof or not, a backpack has many advantages over a typical suitcase. First, you have both your hands-free, and thus you can easily move around even on the rough tracks, stairs, and on the street. Second, backpacks are usually lightweight, and you can achieve almost limitless mobility.

Let us see how to choose the best backpack for your traveling adventures.

1.    Backpack Size

We usually mention backpack sizes in terms of volume, i.e., in liters. This capacity includes the main compartment and the pockets both. However, you may find this unit of measurement confusing. In that case, looking at the backpack physically or a review video may help you immensely to see how much you can fit into this backpack.

Mini Backpack

It is a small backpack type, ideal for children, cyclists, or travelers to carry the things they frequently need during their journey. It is not designed for bearing heavyweight, and the capacity is around 10 liters. You may find mini waterproof backpacks too that can withstand the tough weather.

Another variant of the mini backpack is the daypack. It has a capacity of 10 to 30 liters. It can easily fit a change of dress, electronics, and related stuff for a day trip. It is a popular choice among hikers and people on brief trips or exploration trips.

Medium Backpack

It is a very versatile size for a waterproof backpack. You can even fit your tent or a sleeping bag inside it along with your necessities for a trip of 5 to 10 days. It is perfect for camping and as carry-along luggage. Clever travelers can make a complete trip only with this backpack. The capacity of a medium backpack ranges from 35 to 50 liters.

Large Backpack

This big brother has a whooping 65 liters plus capacity. You can easily travel for a month or go for a long camping trip with your belongings safely packed in this size of a backpack. However, you may find it heavy to carry for long walks or hiking trips. Keeping a daypack packed inside this large one is a simple solution, though. Get more at word travel

2.    Backpack Features

Apart from the size, choose between the load type, strap type, and weight of the backpack. These features must be decided based on the purpose of your travel and the trips you usually take.

Panel Access

Backpacks are available in both top-loading and front-loading access. It is essentially a personal choice. Top loading backpacks are great for people who want to use the exterior pockets and the mesh compartments for organizing the stuff. Since everything piles up in this type of backpack, it is important to stuff your travel bag carefully so that the things needed frequently are on the top, and you do not have to dig deep down to grab the things you need just in case.

Front-loaders are more like suitcases, easier to organize, and everything is neatly placed. These backpacks have double zippers to allow locking. If you are going for a waterproof backpack then these will always be top-loading.


Internal frames are popular in backpacks. These metal frames allow the even distribution of weight to support walking posture and make the journey less tiring. They also maintain the shape of the backpack when it is not full. On the other hand, they prevent the backpack from being folded which comes in handy when you are taking a big backpack on the plane.

Straps and Belts

Padded straps and belts assist in better load distribution and easy carrying around. The adjustability of straps and belts in height and fit is also important to ensure proper fit of the backpack so that there is no strain on the traveler’s backbone or muscles.

Other Features

Extra features include air space ventilation so you can carry your waterproof backpack without sweating and without direct contact with your skin. Lockable zips ensure the safety of your belongings, while a rain cover comes in handy if your backpack is not completely waterproof.

If you are buying a medium to a large backpack, you might prefer a separate sleeping bag compartment and plenty of pockets and mesh compartments as well.

3.    Weather Resistance

Weather resistance is a critical factor in the choice of backpack. Ideally, your backpack must be able to withstand whatever nature throws at you. A real waterproof backpack can do that and more. It will even survive dropping it into the sea. A waterproof backpack is crucial if you don’t want to end up with soaked clothes or gadgets during a downpour or a boat trip. Humidity can also play a role in making things difficult for you if your backpack material cannot withstand moisture. 

A water-resistant backpack on the other hand is much worse when it comes to water protection. It will usually stoplight to medium rain that does not last a long time. A water-resistant backpack is okay if you are going somewhere with not a lot of rain or if you will always have a chance to go inside if it starts raining. On the other hand, water-resistant backpacks are much more versatile with more features because they are easier to make. A good option for a waterproof backpack with lots of features is DryTide.

A poor choice of a backpack can easily ruin your journey with all the problems and issues it can pose. It is important to figure out what type of backpack works the best in your trips and buy one with all the required features and the best fit. A waterproof backpack is an ideal choice because you never know how nature will treat you.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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  1. Pingback: Working While Traveling: Five Best Backpacks To Consider For Your Lifestyle | My Beautiful Adventures

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