What size backpack for a years travel?

Travel Forums Travel Gear What size backpack for a years travel?

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Last Post This thread is marked as being about Backpacking (Australia)
1. Posted by Katiea723 (Budding Member 37 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Hi all
I'm looking at doing a years travel backpacking and in a dilemma with what size backpack to take?
I like the ones with the daypacks attached do people think a 60litre bag + 20litre day pack would be to big?
I'm thinking maybe a 45litre bag + 15litre daypack would be better.
Any thoughts or tips would be great

2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2247 posts) 6y 1 Star this if you like it!

Yep I'd hate lugging 80L around.

For me 35L plus a small daybag (~8L) works great. Unfortunately all the shops want to "sell up" to big expensive packs so I struggle to find anything small with a daybag, so I just use a cheap thing which stows inside the main pack.

Have you tried the 45+15 and 60+20 options loaded? Walking round for five minutes in the shop will give you an idea - if it's uncomfortable for 5 minutes you won't want it for a year. I prefer the effort of packing light to the pain of a heavy pack.

3. Posted by Katiea723 (Budding Member 37 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Hi Andy,
That's a good idea I haven't actually tried it out but will have to do that, I certainly don't want it to be uncomfortable if I have to carry it round for 12months lol
I just hope the 45l would be big enough, it would be my first time backpacking so I'm new to this

4. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2247 posts) 6y 1 Star this if you like it!

You need much less than you'd think. For a start you can buy anything you forget or run out of, often cheaper than at home.

If you ditch ideas about fashion and makeup then you can go backpacking with not much more than you probably are wearing right now. You don't need a sleeping bag or anything - many hostels ban them anyway for hygiene reasons. You need a few clothes that you can combine, some basic toiletries, depending on the climate you're going to perhaps a fleece or coat. Footwear is the biggest space hog in your pack, so if you can trim it to say something practical to use for most purposes and something lighter like flipflops. Sunhat, suncream, sunglasses.

Electronics are also where it can get unwieldy. Now i travel with just an android phone and small usb charger, which gives me phone camera internet and music player all in one. My phone died during my last trip (NZ) but it was easy to walk into a supermarket, buy a £40 phone, put my sim and micro-sd cards in and all sorted.

A universal sink plug is often quoted as the most useful thing to carry. A mosquito net is said to be the thing carried around but never used.

And leave some space in your pack so that once you're in a country you have room for some food, drinks, and a book.

Right now there's a good chance you're thinking "a FEW clothes?!" But in reality you can spend 90% of your time wearing a top and a pair of shorts. Have a second set to be in the wash. A pair of jeans. What more do you need? Bearing in mind that all the other people around you will be doing the same - apart from those lugging an 80L pack around and they'll be grumpy and irritable anyway! ;-)

5. Posted by CheersT (Inactive 2578 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

First of all, whether you're travelling for 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years your backpack size doesn't change - you're bringing exactly the same stuff for a short trip or a long trip. The only exception would be if you're camping or travelling in really cold climates, obviously that makes a difference.

Generally anything over a 50 litre backpack is too big. And forget the detachable daypack... it sticks out too far, ruining your centre of gravity. Think light, efficient and mobile... you definitely don't need to be hauling around a boat anchor on a year long trip.

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 large 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.

Everyone's needs/requirements are different though... different strokes for different folks... Have fun with your shopping/research.

Good luck and travel safe.


6. Posted by Katiea723 (Budding Member 37 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Thanks guys, that's a lot of helpful info, so I will certainly be steering away from the large ones as don't want to be hauling that around
Luckily I don't wear make up so hopefully that would free up a bit of room lol, I think I would be able to travel light it's just thinking u need so much stuff before you go!
I'll mainly be heading over australia way (well that's sort of the plan so far) but I am looking at other destinations to.
Need to save lots of money first mind
Thanks for all the help
I will carry on researching for a smaller lighter backpack

7. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1479 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Terry and Andy are right on the mark. I also travel for months at a time. My bag is 36 liters; and inside that bag is a rolled up, lightweight waterproof Aquapac daypack that I take on hikes, or on boats and canoes. I never have to check bags; and I have complete flexibility. But I do have to hand wash clothes. So I bring a universal sink stopper. I also pack a pair of flip-flops and an LED flashlight.

I share Terry's view that most of what you pack is exactly the same stuff you're likely to take trip after trip after trip. Last fall, I went from chilly mountainous Bhutan to hot West Africa. The only extra that I brought was a lightweight down vest that I rolled up and stuffed into a nylon sack.

Since you're headed to Australia, you can easily buy whatever you need there. No need to pack something "just in case."

8. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5569 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

I don't really disagree with anything said above, but just to provide a counterpoint: Although I sometimes travel light, for most of my long (2+ month) trips, I tend to bring one of those big travelpacks, frequently filled up to 18kg or thereabouts, and I have yet to regret it. I'm a reasonably tall and fit guy, and have the weight balanced out by carrying my daypack in front. That works just perfectly for the 1-15 minute walks from transport to accommodation which I tend to have to take, gives me a bit more flexibility with clothing and layering with going to colder climates (which tends to describe most of my destinations), allows me to bring things like a pair of heavy duty hiking shoes, plus the big DSLR with extra lenses and all the assorted chargers and extra electronics, some actual paper books, etc. Yes, I could make do with less, but for me, it's an easy tradeoff between the larger inconvenience of not carrying some of my things and having to do laundry all the time, and the minor inconvenience of having to carry a slightly heavier but still perfectly portable backpack.

People definitely shouldn't overpack, nor blindly go for the massive backpacks - but it's quite possible for it to be the correct choice for individual travellers.

[ Edit: Edited on 01-Apr-2015, at 17:50 by Sander ]

9. Posted by CheersT (Inactive 2578 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Absolutely agree Sander, which is why I always end my "travel light" speech with, "... Everyone's needs/requirements are different though... different strokes for different folks..."

Personally your style of travel would be hell for me - I can't imagine fitting your stuff onto a motorcycle or into a dugout canoe - but that's one of the things that makes travel so fascinating... there's no set rules, anyone can do whatever makes them feel comfortable.

And even though I'm definitely a pack light traveller there's no one more irritating than the guy who treats packing light as some kind of a religion, screaming it over and over... and every forum and every hostel and every group of travellers seems to always include that one unrelenting nutbar who thinks his way is the ONLY way...


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