Your backpack(s) will be like a loyal and beloved friend, or a real pain in the ass. You’ll notice the difference quite quickly. Some travellers keep it clean (as far as that is possible), handle it with care and decorate it with the flags of countries they have visited. Others don’t really care about it or have it all dirty and beat up. That can be the difference between a good and a bad buy.
Whatever you plan to do with your backpack, be aware that it will significantly contribute to either your wellbeing or suffering. Take some time to locate a good shop. Try a few different ones. Let yourself get advised from the sales staff. Don’t order something from the internet, just because it’s cheap or someone recommended it, to get an Amazon commision. Probably you’re lucky and it fits you, but it can be horrible for you aswell.
Some options to store your belongings:
- 1 big backpack:
The traditional way of backpacking. It’s not very common to just have 1 big backpack anymore, since it comes along with a few downsides.
- 1 big + 1 small backpack:
Most people carry a second and smaller backpack, besides the big “main backpack”. The advantage is that you reduce the risk of theft and the most important things are always at hand. That’s especially important nowadays, since everybody is travelling with expensive cameras and laptops. It’s easy to take care of a small backpack with all of your valuable belongings in it. You can always take it with you, making sure nobody mistakes it for their own. It is also more likely to find a locker for your small backpack. When you just have 1 big backpack you will sometimes want to leave it, without watching it. You can only try to hide valuable things and hope for the best. Unless you want to use a PacSafe and attract even more unwanted attention.
- Backpack-suitcase-crossing with wheels:
You won’t see those often, but if you plan to stay mostly in citys it will be more comfortable than a backpack. Longer trips in nature will be problematic. “Real backpackers” might sneer at you.
Once again, choose what seems to fit your way of life best, not what someone recommends. Also, make sure to inform yourself about what’s going on in the markets.
Usually the big backpacks have an opening at the top and the bottom. That makes packing it a little complicated, after some time you might start to just squezee everything inside it, without any order. That leads to you spending a lot of time searching for stuff, since the things you are looking for are always where you look for them latest. I prefer a backpack with a zipper that opens up on 3 sides, just like a suitcase would.
Some more things to take into account when buying your backpack:
- Size: I recommend to limit your big backpack to 50-60 liters and your small one to 20-25 liters. Smaller volumes are always better, don’t buy bigger ones. Especially on your first trip you might get tempted to pack a lot of shit, just because you can. By limiting your backpack size you reduce the risk of sore shoulders. People travelling warm regions sometimes just take a single 40 liter backpack, which can be declared as handluggage. Maybe that’s something to consider for you.
- Quality: Pretty self explanatory.
- Material: You will need a rain cover for your big backpack anyway, but you should make sure your small backpack is rain-resistant. Atleast it shouldn’t become soaked through immediately. Some come with integrated rain covers.
- Compartments: Compartments help you keep things in order. Not mandatory, but safes you from wasting a lot of time for looking for your things.
- 2 way zippers: Choose a backpack with 2 way zippers, if you can. You can lock the zipper with a little padlock, thiefs will need tools to steal something from it.
- Color: Avoid fancy colors like yellow, it will draw unwanted attention to your backpack.
As always you are very welcome to leave additions/suggestions/opinions in the comments!
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