Picking and Choosing a Travel Backpack
Travel Backpack vs. Suitcase
The usual way to travel is either lugging along a suitcase or a backpack. Which is better for you depends on your travel and personal requirements.
However, choosing the wrong travel bag will not only waste your money, but will also ruin your trip.
So let us have a quick look at the pros and cons of both, travel backpack and suitcase.
- Good storage space and contents can be easily retrieved.
- Less creases on clothes
- Fragile items can be more secure.
- You cannot carry into the aircraft cabin
- If there's no roller you will have difficulty carrying the suitcase for an extended period of time
- If there's no elevator in your hotel, it will not be easy to carry your suitcase up to your room floor.
- Suitcases are generally heavier than a backpack
- Can be stowed in the aircraft overhead compartment (for the smaller backpack)
- If there's no elevator in your hotel, it is a lot easier to carry up the stairs, compared to the suitcase
- Free up both your hands to do other things like reading a map.
- Can be used as a pillow if your flight is delayed
- Ideal if you want to travel light
- Your travel itinerary can be more impromptu; allowing you to explore areas, or shops easily with your backpack on, after you have checked out of your hotel
- May not be big enough to pack more things
- May be hard to lift and get onto your back
- If you buy a wrong backpack, it might add additional strain to your shoulders and back.
If these have reaffirmed your decision to buy a backpack, let's look at various types of backpack, available in the market.
Travel Backpack and Hikers Backpack
There are several types of backpack available in the market.
They all come in different sizes, design and features. Many of these backpacks were developed for specific uses and will differ greatly in their specifications. So if you know some of these basic types and features will help you select the right backpack for your needs.
One of the most common mistakes made by most people were to buy a backpack designed for hiking and not for travel.
Hiking backpack is designed for hiking and is top-loading. It is a lot bigger in size, compared to travel backpack. Hence you cannot carry on to a plane cabin to store at its overhead bin.
With a top-loading backpack, all of your stuff will be piled on top of each other. When you need to get something, you have to take all the stuff out of the bag.
Hiking backpack also come in various sizes depending on whether your trip is for a day or more. So it can be from 15L to well over 80L in size.
You may need this extra storage space for your sleeping bags, cooking utensils, etc. when you go hiking. When you are traveling to, says Malaysia, you don't need to carry all these things.
Hence, you don't need to buy a backpack with big capacity such as hiking backpack.
Your travel backpack must also be comfortable. A good travel backpack should have a thick, but yet soft padding to help buffer the backpack's weight. This is not just for the shoulder straps, but also for the back piece. Padding that has large grooves will allow air to circulate. This helps keep you cooler.
Other features that you may want to look for are sternum strap and the waist belt. These two additional features will help redistribute the bag's weight to your hips, hence relieving some of the burden off your shoulder and most importantly, your back.
An ideal material for travel backpack should be thick, but lightweight and at least partially rainproof (fully rainproof will cost more!) You also want it to be durable, coated fabric that is tear-resistance. There are so many choices and the price varies accordingly. The selection is very personal to suit your preference and budget. So, you need to see and touch it for yourself, before finally deciding on the material type.
Backpack - Sweaty Back
When you move around especially in the hot summer days, your back will get sweaty. This will be aggravated if you have your backpack behind you. So, when you buy a travel backpack, choose a lumbar shaped design that has gaps between the backpack and your back to allow air to move in between. This will not only help keep you slightly cool, but will be more comfortable as the weight will be redistributed evenly.
Backpack Zipper Lock
Buy a travel backpack that has two zippers for each of the compartment and use TSA approved padlocks to secure them. This will not only reduce the chances of people stealing your stuff, but also putting unwanted stuff in your backpack.
If your backpack do not have zipper lock, or for added security, consider buying Pacsafe which will wrap your whole backpack with a metal mesh. You can then lock it, even to another bigger item, to prevent it from being moved. The downside of using Pacsafe is the additional weight that you will be carrying, in addition to your backpack and all the things in your bag.
Alternatively, you may buy a backpack cover that is rainproof. This will act as a security cover as well as rain cover.
Travel Backpack Handle
Finally, look for a travel backpack that has top or side handle. This will help load and unload your backpack easily.
Pack all your heavy stuff on the upper part of your backpack, next to your spine. This will lessen any back or shoulder pain.
Buying Backpack Online Tip
Before buying backpacks online, it is important that you try them out first.
Go to a shop and try on various brands, designs and models. Choose one that best suit your intended travel needs.
Once you have decided on the model, you can then buy them online
Buying a Travel Backpack
Size of Backpack
A travel backpack on the other hand is smaller and usually about 22″ L x 14″ B x 9″ D. With this size, you can take with you to the aircraft cabin, on most airlines.
There are, however, larger sized travel backpack, to cater to travelers who need to carry more stuff and willing to check in their backpack, when flying.
Backpack Size Guide
If you plan to buy a travel backpack that is larger than 43L, then choose one that is proportional to your body.
Check for the torso and hip sizes guide on the label. This will tell you if it is suitable for your body frame. If you choose a larger backpack, it might not balance properly and will give you back pain. You might even topple over!
Front Loading Backpack
A travel backpack should be front loading. This is similar to a suitcase and gives you easy access to all your things, unlike the top loading hiking backpack. It also helps to better organize your clothes, toiletries and any personal items.
Almost all travel backpacks are now sold with several compartments, to help you organize your packing better. You may want to pack your clothes in the main section and other smaller items in the side pockets.
For a carry on travel backpack, i.e. allowed to be brought into the aircraft cabin, choose exterior compartment that is large enough to store a quart sized bag, to hold your toiletries and other liquid items. (You need to take them out during airport security examination).
Plan Your Travel
Now that you know how to buy a travel backpack, enjoy your shopping experience.
Be sure to also plan your journey well and enjoy yourself.
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