In a market teeming with many types of travel backpack for women, men and children, choosing the best backpack for traveling abroad can be a bit daunting. However, this backpacking guide will bring you the appropriate tips for buying a good pack. Backpacking is not just about adventure, but it is about freedom. Freedom to see the world, to enjoy yourself, to mingle with many people from different backgrounds, experience new cultures, enlarge the scope through which you see the world and above all things, have something to tell your grandchildren one day.
Best backpack for men
People attempting backpacking for beginners should know one important thing – that enjoying your travel experience depends mainly on one thing, and that is your backpack. Remember, all the time that you will be traveling, you will be virtually living off your backpack. Therefore, it had better be good.
Does that mean that you have to break the bank to buy the best backpack for men? Apparently not. You see, backpacking is the most economical way to see the world. Therefore, you will be looking for a travel pack that does not cost a lot of money. Find a balance between price and quality, for it is much better to pay more for a pack that will last many years than pay less for a pack that will not last through your three-week hiking or backpacking trip.
Whether you are going for a backpacking experience in your own country or to an international destination, you need the best backpack for traveling. This will be your wardrobe, safe deposit box and your store all rolled into one. So, as much as you are looking for an affordable travel pack, you need to go for the best quality available in the market.
Your flight ticket, accommodation and travel gear will take the biggest chunks of your travel budget, so you had better make the pack count.
Things to consider for the best backpack for traveling abroad
Backpacking for beginners is often hard, because they just buy the first backpack they come across and in the course of their travels, they find that it was not the right one. Buying a good pack for a man or woman requires some knowledge. With a wide variety of backpacks online, you need not fret because there is a nice one for you. But first, a few things to help you buy the pack that will give you value for your money.
1. Size of the backpack
In one short sentence … it must fit. And there are no two ways about it. But size in a backpack is a complex issue on its own. The reason for this is that the back pack has so many features, and you must make sure that they all fit. A few things to consider here would be:
Torso size – You should not buy a backpack blindly, without knowing your exact, or close estimate of your torso length. However, there is a nice way to measure that. Just at the top of your neck, there is a small bone that sticks from your spine. It is called the C7 vertebrae. That is where your torso begins, and it ends just right at the top of your hips. That is how you measure you torso length before buying a backpack.
Hip straps – Also called hip belt, this is the one most crucial feature of a backpack. Know one thing from today – the weight of the backpack should rest on your hips and not your shoulders. Therefore, all those backpackers that you see with their hip belts hanging loose risk hurting their backs.
The hip belt needs to be closest if not exactly on your center of gravity so that all the weight can be directed there. Make sure the hip belt is not too low or too high.
The shoulder straps – The hips carry the weight of the backpack, but the shoulders offer much needed support. If you can find a pack that has ergonomic shoulder padding so that it can adapt to the shape of your shoulders, that would be great. For maximum comfort, ensure that the shoulder straps go about three inches away from the armpits.
The load lifters – These are the small straps that join the shoulder strap to the bag. Their main purpose is to help you transfer the load to the hips for maximum comfort. It is recommended that the angle between the backpack and the shoulder strap should be 45 degrees or thereabouts. Although small, these straps should guide you in how to choose a backpack.
The back panel – The back panel is a very important feature for backpacks. For example, it should be padded for maximum comfort on your torso but at the same time, it should be breathable to allow airflow between your back and the bag. That way, you will not sweat too much and even if you do, the dampness will not penetrate your bag. Avoid too thick padding.
2. Backpack volume
Any backpacking guide will show you that the volume, or the carry weight of a backpack is measured in liters. Some are as small as 15 liters while others can be as large as 125 liters, perhaps more.
What you buy is determined by your budget as well as how you like to travel. For example, if you are traveling outside the country and you would not like to check your travel backpack at the airport, you should buy a size/volume that is within the airport luggage limits. Make sure it can fit in the overhead compartment of the plane.
Maybe you should find out how to pack a backpack first and then you can decide what size to buy. If you love to travel light, buy a small backpack that can house your travel documents, travel coffee mug, two to three pair of trousers, hiking boots, walking shoes, three or four t-shirts, a pullover/sweater, first aid kit, portable water filter, laptop and so on. Most light travelers consider buying a 20L to a 40L backpack.
Your backpack is either front loading or top loading. Look for the front loading one as it will allow you easier access to your things. Top loading/rucksack style backpacks are not easily accessible as you would have to remove everything from the top if you want to access a t-shirt at the bottom.
Front loading packs have a zipped opening at the front, usually in u-shape. That gives you access to your stuff without having to disorganize anything.
The best backpack for men should have the flexibility of a rucksack and the “organizability” of a suitcase. This means that a good backpack comes with a few compartments that can allow you to organize your stuff for easier access and storage.
The biggest compartment is the one that you access directly when you unzip the front-loading opening. This carries most of your stuff like clothing, shoes and so on.
Zippered pockets, many of them with lockable zips allow you to store your smaller items in an organized manner. Keep your insurance card, driver’s license, money, mittens, scarf, cellphone and iPad charges, trinkets that you collect along the course of your travel in a lockable pocket. Lock the zips to protect your possessions.
A stow-away compartment is important if you intend to check your luggage at the airport. You can stow the straps and loops into the stowaway suspension to prevent them from snagging on the conveyor belt as such could damage your travel back pack.
As you read backpack reviews, consider the material used to make the backpack. Cotton canvas is the most popular material. Some are made of Cordura Nylon coated with Polyurethane. Basically, today, the market is shifting to the nylon materials.
The best material should be waterproof to protect your stuff. If the backpack is not waterproof, the manufacturer/supplier will sell the cover separately or together with the pack.
6. Compression straps, daisy chains and gear loops
While your hiking backpack will not have all of these, it should have about two of them. If you put them to their full use, you will see that a pack can actually carry more than its size and weight. Compression straps are useful for compressing the weight of the pack to bring it closer to your main muscles, but you can also attach many other things like sleeping pad to them. Daisy chain is a webbing on which you can attach gear with webbing straps.
7. Frame or not?
When looking for backpacking tips, you will find that the backpack comes in three main types – with internal frame, external frame and without frame. If you expect to be hiking on areas with uneven trails, buy a backpack with internal frame as that will stay steady on your back even when you stumble. It will not slide on your back. Frameless backpacks are great for people who want to travel light, and external frames are for people who will be carrying bulky loads like inflatable kayaks or inflatable lounger on their back.
8. Your gender
Women have smaller shoulders, smaller waists, a smaller body frame generally. Therefore, if you are looking for a womens backpacks, look for a smaller volume, smaller torso length and so on. Basically, these are products made for back packing for women. The shoulder straps are targeted at the narrower shoulders of the women.
Is color an important factor when considering how to choose a backpack? To many people, yes. Basically, the idea is to just go with a pack that makes you happy. It could be green, dark or navy blue, gray, brown and so on… just make sure the color does not show dirt or stains too much because it could be some time before you are able to clean it.
10. Brand name
The best backpacks are from the most renowned brand names. Because this is a substantial investment, buy the best quality that you can find. It is better to spend more money on the pack and get more features than spend less money and get fewer features.
Some of the most renowned brands of backpacks include:
Not necessarily in that order. Later, we will review these packs one by one so that you see the features that you can look forward to:
11. Travel backpacks with wheels
There are travel backpacks with wheels, making maneuverability easy in the airports and other even services. Some come without and you have to carry them on your arm or back all the time. If you are buying a wheeled backpack, make sure it comes with full swing wheels that rotate 360 degrees rather than fixed wheels.
How to pack a hiking back pack
After buying your backpack, you know, right size, color and volume et al, now comes the hard, but pleasant job of packing. This is where you will need tips for backpacking for beginners, but the general rule of traveling either locally or internationally is to travel as light as possible. Depending on the season, how long you will be gone and where you will be traveling to, different people have different needs. Just make the pack light because most of the time, it will be on your back.
It takes more than just the pack to have a great trip
Knowing how to buy the best backpack for traveling abroad is just one of the things that make a successful backpacking experience. There is much more to it. Read a good backpacking guide and know everything, from budgeting for your trip, to packing. The first time can never be perfect, but you will enjoy a great experience all the same.