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How do I choose a Backpack???

Travel Forums Asia How do I choose a Backpack???


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1. Posted by tamara1kt (Budding Member 20 posts) 1y

tamara1kt has indicated that this thread is about Travel Tips and Advice

Hi, so I am going travelling around SE Asia & India for 6 months and need to buy a suitable backpack to take with me to put all my stuff in. I have researched it so much, but the more I read the more it stresses me out! There seems to be so much to think about (like torso length, size etc.), and everyone says how important it is to get right. I don't want to risk anything putting a downer on my trip, particularly something I could avoid, so I really want to get it right. Is it really that important? What is the most important aspect to consider when choosing one? HOW do I choose one?! And how much do they roughly cost? I don't want to spend loooaadss but of course I don't want to get a completely rubbish, cheap one. And what size is sufficient?! I know it varies from person to person but I've never been travelling before so I've just not got a clue. Also, I have no idea where to look for them near where I live (in Kent, England), but everyone says you have to try them on before buying, so I don't really know how to get around this. What are some good websites I could look at for good quality/not too expensive in the UK?

Help me please!

[ Edit: Edited on 15-Mar-2015, at 09:00 by tamara1kt ]

2. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru 2488 posts) 1y

Regarding fit... if you're purchasing a travel backpack and not a hiking backpack then proper fit is not nearly as important as some people would leave you to believe.

Think about it... a travel backpack that is spending 99% of its life making the short trip from the airport/bus/train to your hotel/hostel where it sits until you go back to the airport/bus/train to continue onward to your next destination does not have to fit you perfectly because you're simply not carrying it enough to matter.

Secondly, unless you're in cold climates or camping/cooking or doing special or odd activities your travel backpack load should be light and small - 40 litres maximum including daypack. Again, that light load also makes fit less important.

If you're doing actual hiking/trekking then of course fit become paramount - you don't want to walking for hours and hours day after day with a backpack that is anything less than 100% comfortable.


For an India/SE Asia trip a carry-on size backpack is more than sufficient. Think light, efficient and mobile... you definitely don't need to be hauling around a boat anchor in that part of the world.

I travel independently for indefinite periods (several months at a time) via hotels/hostels through 3 climates with a carry-on size 46 litre backpack with LOTS of room left over - all the cinch straps are yanked to their tightest dimensions so the backpack is really only about 35 litres.

That's including a set of nice clothes to crash an Embassy party or high-end club, normal day-to-day casual and hiking wear, beach clothes, personal hygiene products and everything else you need to be safe/comfortable plus a laptop, digital still/video package and all the peripherals.

I have a separate daypack that fits inside the main backpack. I use it to carry all my essentials when the main backpack is in an overhead bin, etc.

It's easily doable and you'll see LOTS of experienced backpackers doing the same - and in warm climates going even lighter. Seeing other travellers - especially smaller women - struggle with 60-70-80 litre backpacks (usually with additional daypacks!) is insane.

Going light makes sense to me because it allows me to keep my backpack with me (almost) all the time - it's carry-on size for aircraft, it doesn't need to be checked into the baggage space under the bus where it's out of my sight and out of my control - and it's obviously way easier/faster to navigate a crowded train aisle, keep with me inside the taxi, stow in a small boat, fit into a tuk-tuk, onto the back of a motorcycle and a million other situations which are crucial for travel in India/SE Asia.

Good luck with your shopping and travel safe.


3. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 659 posts) 1y

Terry has excellent advice.

I use a 36-liter backpack for valuables (laptop, 2 cameras; related accessories), medicine, travel papers, small LED flashlight, and extra set of underwear and socks. Everything else, including a rolled up waterproof Aquapac that I use on hikes, goes into a small fabric bag that I hand carry. I like that bag (53cm x 20cm x 33cm) because it allows me to retrieve items quickly, instead of having to dig through a large backpack. I limit the weight of each bag to no more than 7 kilos. That's bag and contents. So I never have to check bags; and nothing weighs me down, increasing flexibility wherever I go.

4. Posted by Andyf (Moderator 710 posts) 1y

As you're in Kent my suggestion for a first port of call is Cotswold Outdoor who have shops in Canterbury, Maidstone, Sidcup and Tunbridge Wells. Try on some packs for size and comfort - they carry enough brands to give you a good idea what you like. Even if you then buy elsewhere.

You probably want both a main pack and some sort of small day bag. Travel packs often have a daybag which zips onto the main pack, but these often end up being huge - maybe a cheap squishable daybag would do you just as well and then you have a wider choice of main pack.

Like the others I prefer to travel light with a small bag - 35L or so works for me. This is vastly more fun than lugging a 70L monster around and being a slave to your stuff. Unfortunately a lot of the bags on the market are of the 70L monster variety, as they can charge you more for a big bag.

If you can find a smaller travel pack, these have advantages like lockable zips, front loading, straps designed to fold away during flights, features which you may prefer.

5. Posted by Andyf (Moderator 710 posts) 1y

Forgot to say :

No it's not major to get the perfect pack, just choose one that's comfortable with features that you like, but the biggest factor in "comfortable" is not too heavy when loaded - more about your packing than your pack, but a smaller size keeps you from going silly.

6. Posted by evaontour (Budding Member 6 posts) 1y

i have a 6o liter that I can make in to a 70 l just if I need it, and the best tip is get one with a zipper in the front so you can unzipped to get your bags out that are in the bottum of your backpack. good luck!

Post 7 was removed by a moderator
8. Posted by tanvirnabi (Budding Member 4 posts) 1y

The backpack is genuinely needed while travelling. My preference goes with enhanced features and medium size. Looking and comparability are two important aspects that I like to be assured. Wish you a great travelling.

9. Posted by tamara1kt (Budding Member 20 posts) 1y

Quoting CheersT

Regarding fit... if you're purchasing a travel backpack and not a hiking backpack then proper fit is not nearly as important as some people would leave you to believe.

This is such a good point! Can't believe this didn't occur to me haha. I won't be hiking much or maybe at all so I think I'll be fine without a crazy expensive/fancy backpack. Thanks so much for your response, that was really helpful! I think I'll definitely get a smaller one now and just be strict about what I take with me.

Thanks for your help Terry!

10. Posted by tamara1kt (Budding Member 20 posts) 1y

Quoting Andyf

As you're in Kent my suggestion for a first port of call is Cotswold Outdoor who have shops in Canterbury, Maidstone, Sidcup and Tunbridge Wells.

Thanks, that's really helpful, I should be able to get to one of those shop easily so that's perfect I'll definitely check it out. I've read lots about the best ways to pack so hopefully I'll be able to do it in such a way that makes it not too heavy. Thanks a lot for your help and advice, much appreciated! :)

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