Things to consider when making that all important decision
Choosing your backpack can be a daunting experience. Every travel shop around stocks loads of different ones with various features, knowing where to start can be a challenge.
Things to keep in mind:
Size- Don’t always think bigger is better. Yes you may be travelling for a while, and your thinking you will need all that stuff you use everyday. Believe me (I started with a 90L rucksack for my first travels), size can be a hinderance. Of course having the big rucksack meant I could have lots of choice in my clothes and all bring lots of bits and pieces I never used, but when I needed my rucksack to be functional and helpful it really held me back. There’s nothing like walking for miles to a train station, or similar destination, carrying 25kg on your back.
Moral- Think about whether you would want to walk with that rucksack on your back for a couple of miles in 30C heat, then put it back and get the next size down- you will only use about half the stuff you take with you.
Features – rucksacks now come with various features to make your life a bit easier. From handy pockets to daisy chains and elasticated storage points, these extra features will help you to maximise the usefulness of your backpack and be able to use it more effectively. Things like wand pockets (small pockets at the bottom of the backpack) are handy for storing small items that need to be used regularly and will benefit not being in the main compartments of the backpack, allowing for fast access to things like cameras, water bottles and sunscreen. Daisy chains are great for when you just don’t have enough room in the main compartments. They allow for all kinds of things to be attached to the outside of the rucksack such as shoes, sleeping bags, torches, camping equipment- the list is endless! It’s also worth considering whether the backpack has a built in rain cover (usually at the top or bottom of most backpacks in a small pocket, so that it can be pulled out when required) as most backpacks are not waterproof, and there is absolutely nothing worse than everything in your bag being soaked through- guaranteed to spoil your day!
Moral- Think beyond the standard compartments. In my experience, the more additional features, the more useful in the long run.
Opening- Think about it- you’ve been travelling for hours, you get to your accomodation and are desperately tired. You then realise everything that you need is in your rucksack- and at the bottom. With a conventional backpack the opening is at the top and sooner or later you will have to get everything out to find that all important item you need. From my experience I would now never buy a backpack that doesn’t have a front opening so that you can get into the backpack without disturbing everything else.
Moral- Consider that moment where you would have to take everything out of backpack to get something out of the bottom. If your have the patience of a saint then by all means go for a conventional backpack. However if your anything like me, make sure your backpack has panel loading and a front opening.
Comfort – It’s important to remember that backpacks can be heavy, and ultimately comfort should be one of your top considerations when choosing your backpack. Most backpacks these days come with features to help to maximise comfort and avoid strain. One of the most important comfort features would be the hip belt. Although no fashion statement, this padded belt will take the strain of the majority of the backpack’s weight (keep in mind most the weight in the backpack is held on your hips). Its also worth making sure the backpack features padded shoulder straps, as again alot of weight is on them and a sternum belt (usually two thin straps coming off each shoulder strap that clip together on your front) will help to bring the weight forward, avoiding strain on the shoulders and back.
Moral- Think comfort, comfort, comfort. If nothing else is considered when purchasing a backpack this has to be at the top of the list.
Fingers crossed this will help you to make the best decision when choosing your backpack, let me know your thoughts!