Which backpack to choose, what is the best size and weight? It is one of the first questions that comes in mind when you are have an official date for your long trip. Quite important indeed,as you will carry it for some time, everywhere and in every condition!
First question, which backpack to choose?
Let’s begin by the beginning, how to choose your next best and loyal friends during the next months? All backpackers go on world trip with two bags. A big one (around 60 litres for men, 50 for women) and a smaller one which will be carried away during day tours (around 15 litres for hiking, going to the beach, cultural visits of temples or museums…). It absolutely needs to fit in your big backpack when it is empty (ie during long transports).
Furthermore, the small backpack will contain your more precious belongings (such as camera, gopro, laptop, drone, hard drive…) when the big one is put as a checked baggage during long transports in plane or bus.
Volume and weight?
First and foremost, which weight for the backpack? Not too heavy (still personal bad memories of a several days trek in Nepal…) but which contains the essential! According to us, an ideal backpack should be around 12/13 kilos (normally 15/20% of the weight of a traveller). Note the exhaustive list of what you absolutely want to take with you and the list of the items with an alternative solution (for example what can be bought while you travel, or lighter solutions like an e-book instead of physical books, take away what you don’t really need…)
When you buy a backpack, always check the empty weight, should be around 1.5 and 3 kgs, so a big difference to take into account, even if the “heaviest” are also the more comfortable one usually.
Another question, what is the ideal volume? Not too big (a more visible one will also attracts more attention in the streets and will also be more likely to pack it to the maximum so heavier!), nor too small of course. And a tip: choose a discreet color of course. Our recommendations in the first part.
Organisation, comfort, ergonomy…
A good backpack can be carried on a long time without feeling any pain or tiredness, directly linked to the comfort of the bag. Below some parameters to take into account:
- The porterage system: A flexible but firm and stable allows to adapt the moves of the backpack to the body ones and be a relief for your back as most of the weight need to be taken by the lumbar belt.
- The heaviest elements have to be at the bottom of the backpack, on the back side, in order to relieve the shoulders and the vertebral disc. Both sides, left and right, should bear the same weight.
- The adjustment of the braces need to be wide and loose enough in order to be able to adapt them according to your body and your height. Again, think the weight has to be taken in majority by your hips and your lumbar belt and not the shoulders. Braces for the chest are also particularly appreciated, mainly for women.
- Ventilation and spaces. Some backpacks can offer wide but solid and flexible braces that allow you to benefit from a “space” between your back and the backpack, sometimes useful to evacuate perspiration.
- A good resistance. Make sure the seams are strong enough to last for the long trips, notably the ones near the braces, as well as the zippers. Backpacks can be mauled by employees on the airports so make sure they will resist (almost!) everything.
- Several pockets to access easily everything you need particularly the elements you need to use almost on daily basis. Some may be waterproof, like the ones near the belts, but also the lateral ones or the pockets at the top of your bag when you could put your bottle of water, biscuits, maps, books…
The right price
The right price should be around €125 and €250 for a reliable and comfortable backpack. The best ones, directly coming from the store Decathlon, are the ones from the Quechua brand according to us, but the brands Deuter, Milley Osprey or the North Face are also very good.
What’s in our backpacks?
Firstly, some piece of advice to respect in any situation…
- Please remember the washing liquid exists! In many hostels you are able to manually wash your clothes or use the laundry and you can wear them again straight away after that! A hand wash and a quick drying can be a solution and the clothes can also be bought wile you are travelling (particularly, heavy polar jackets, hiking shoes…). For example, we found excellent warm jackets in Pokhara, Nepal before heading for a trek in the Annapurna for very interesting prices and there were many choices!
- A sleeping back is optional according to us and will depend of the countries you will travel in and at which season. If you feel you really need it, take a small and compact one. It may also be a good friend during long journeys in public transport with very strong air conditioning!