Backpacking – The 5 Things To Look For In Buying a New Backpack

I said it before in an earlier post that buying a backpack would be one of the most important, if not the most important, purchase for your trip.  Don’t buy just any old backpack, but instead, take your time and do your due diligence.  Use the below as a guide to buying your backpack:

1. Size

You don’t want a backpack that’s too big, especially if you are a small person.  If you are looking at camping out of a backpack, you may need a 70 or 80 plus liter bag to fit everything.  If you are using a backpack on a trip from city to city (like me and Christian in Europe) and if you are willing to pack minimally, wear the same clothes a lot, do laundry along the way, you can get by with a 50 or 60 liter bag.

In my opinion, the size of the backpack might be the most important thing to consider.  You want something small so its easy to carry; anything too big will wear you out and leave you miserable!  However, you don’t want your backpack to be overstuffed!  If you are like me, you will probably buy things along the way… pack with this in mind: you’re bag will probably be more full on the return trip than when you leave.

Things to consider when looking at size:

-Ask yourself, what type of trip are you taking?

-How long is your trip going to be?

-How comfortable are you carrying large backpacks for extended periods of time?

2. Internal Frame

Unless you are using the bag for camping and need the external bars to tie sleeping bags to, I believe the internal frame is the way to go!  Even if you are using the bag for camping, I believe that external frames aren’t worth the hassle.  You don’t want to spend all of your time fighting the giant steel frames popping out of your backpack/worrying about the frame catching on anything.

A frame, however, is important.  You don’t want to get a backpack without a frame or else you won’t have the proper support for your back and your trip will be miserable.  An internal frame backpack allows the support with much less hassle!  It also, in my opinion is much more aesthetically pleasing.

3. Padded Hip Belt

As you might be able to tell, much of what constitutes a great backpack for backpacking is comfort.  Padded hip belts are essential for your comfort!  The hip belts help to disperse the weight evenly across your body and take the pressure off of your back. PADDED IS MUST!  Don’t get any old hip belt.  Yes, a hip belt is better than no hip belt…  however, if it is not properly padded, it will end up cutting into/rubbing your side raw.  Nobody wants to be nursing an injury while lugging around 20 pounds on their back!  Don’t underestimate the importance of the hip belt.

4. Detachable Day Pack

For me, the detachable day pack is a HUGE selling point.  There are going to be plenty of times when you don’t need your full pack.  You may be in a town for a while just hanging around or you may be about to head into a museum (some may not want you to have a pack at all!)…  what a detachable day pack does is allow you the freedom of leaving your backpack (in a secure location which we will discuss in a couple days) and taking the much smaller day pack out and about.  In the day pack you bring only the essentials that you will need for the day’s excursions.

My recommendation: stay away from backpacks without them!  They are great backpacks in their own rights, I’m sure, but the freedom a day pack gives you is value that most travelers shouldn’t be without!

5. Breathable

“Again with the comfort!”  I know, but trust me, it may be the difference between a great trip and a mediocre trip! Most decent backpacks today are made with airflow in mind.  You want a backpack that specifically says the company has designed the backpack for just that!  You will most likely have a sweaty back from carrying around the backpack all of the time, it comes with the territory.  The airflow will help with that.  It won’t eliminate the sweat, but it will help keep you significantly cooler while you are on your adventure!

My ideal backpack, and the one I will probably go with, is the Deuter Transit!  It is a great, nondescript, backpack for any type of travel!

Tell us what you think!  What do you look for in a backpack?  Was this post helpful in your own backpack shopping?  Comment below?

8 Responses to “Backpacking – The 5 Things To Look For In Buying a New Backpack”
  1. jumpingpolarbear says:

    I always use some old bag which I regret every time :).

  2. trystrem says:

    wish I’d read this a little earlier…i’ve bought a 35l rucksack, bit of a squeeze getting it all in! great back system and hip belts thought with an integrated rain cover – great for rainy season!

  3. wheresphil says:

    Hi, thanks for the like on my blog 🙂

    I agree with most of what you said, size of pack, internal frame etc.

    In my opinion detachable day bags are useless, they are generally too small for use over much more than an easy day, if you want to load up with lunch, water, jacket etc you will find they get very full, very quickly and if you want to use them for an overnight side trip then forget it. I tossed mine 2 weeks into my trip and bought a much bigger one. where as a front pack when carrying the back pack.

  4. Steve says:

    I was torn between what hiking pack I needed, thanks for the information will help to make my decision easier.

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