How to Choose the Best Travel Backpack – BestbackpackLab

How To Choose Best Travel Backpack

Why I usually recommend a backpack instead of a suitcase for traveling is a question many people ask me. One word that can sum up my normal is explanation is 'convenience'.

However, it's not so easy to explain how you can choose the perfect backpack for you.

When I went to pick my first travel backpack I wasn't sure what to look for. I didn’t have much of an idea about the features, brands, and price, and that meant I ended up having a bad experience with my first one. 

However, having owned various types of backpacks over the years, I now know how to go about picking the right one and am here to share my knowledge with you.

Below, I lay out all the qualities that a good backpack should have to make sure you don't pick the wrong one.

Factors to Consider

These are the most important considerations you need to keep in mind when choosing a travel backpack. Read on to find out more.


Too big and you won't be able to lift it up when it's full. Too small and you won’t be able to fit all the things you need to take with you into it. 

The size mainly depends on the trip duration. However a long-term trip doesn't necessarily require an excessively large backpack. 

How To Choose Best Travel Backpack

If you're tricky, you'll manage packing for a 12 month trip in the same way you would for a 12-day trip. After all, if you try and take a larger bag with you and pack it full then it will weigh you down both literally and metaphorically. 

Try to choose one that's no larger than 65 liters. I always recommend that you go for a total of between 50-65l so as to keep things light.


The durability of your backpack depends on the fabric.

There are backpacks made of cotton canvas, polyester, leather, pack cloth nylon.

Be sure you know the material of the backpack you're buying. 

How To Choose Best Travel Backpack


How To Choose Best Travel Backpack

Water-resistant material will allow you to move around regardless of wet weather. 

It will protect your belongings from getting soaked in the case of sudden downpour or boat-trip.

Even if you think you're heading to a dry climate, you're bound to get wet at some point! Make sure your bag is at least water-resistant if not fully waterproof. 

For fully waterproof backpacks, we have a guide that is perfect for you.

Infernal Frame

Most backpacks nowadays have internal frames, but there are still a few out there that have external ones. Make sure your choice has an internal frame.

Hip Belts

Hip belts help to distribute your load on your hips so that all the strain isn't put on your back. But be sure that the belt is sturdy and aligns with your hips when trying it on.

Shoulder Harness

Good shoulder straps push the weight of your backpack downward making it more comfortable to carry.

They lessen the pressure on your shoulders as well as lower back. Make sure they fit you well and spread the weight equally between the two. There are also backpacks that are specially made for this. Be sure to check our guide on backpacks for back pain if you are one of those that have a condition.

Multiple Compartments

Compartments make your belongings easier to access and keep track of.

You can keep things separately in main, side, top compartments so that you don't have to search through one big compartment trying to track down a certain item. 

Lockable Zippers

Make sure each compartment contains two zippers from both sides. They will allow you to lock them together.

Purchase locks that are TSA-friendly so that you can open the lock without breaking it to allow the bag to be checked.

Compression Straps

These straps compress your gear meaning you can fit more into your bag. 

Bungee Ties & Draw Strings

You can attach items to the outside of your bag by using these. For example, things you don’t want to put things like dirty shoes, wet clothes, sleeping bag, etc. inside your bag. 

Airspace Ventilation

This prevents you from getting sweaty when wearing your bag by providing proper ventilation.

It works by keeping the bag away from coming into direct contact with your skin. This is especially important in warm climates.


As I mentioned above, lockable zippers ensure the safety of your possessions in the bag. Secret compartments are another great idea to keep your belongings safe.  Another thing to consider are anti-theft backpacks that can provide the maximum security for important items you own.


How To Choose Best Travel Backpack

Traveling backpacks are relatively expensive, but there's a reason for that.

Your backpack will act as a home for all your belongings while traveling, and it needs to be able to withstand the test of time and rough usage.

Think carefully about your budget and spend as much as you can afford to on your pack. You won't regret it. Ideally, look for something with a warranty.

A good quality backpack will last you for trip after trip and so, although it'll be more expensive to begin with, will save you money in the long run. 


When you're travelling, your life is in your backpack. Hence, choosing the right one is important, but not always straightforward. In my time I've seen and tried a wide variety. 

If you follow the guidelines laid out above, you should find the right backpack for you in no time at all. 

  • Updated October 30, 2021