Picking the right backpack is an important part of any trip. Too big, and you’ll have too much extra weight. Too small, and you’ll never fit anything in. Pick the wrong material, and your stuff will be soaked in the rain. There are so many options out there that it can be very confusing.
Suitcase or backpack?
Suitcases are great for weekends away or if you’ll be staying in one place for a long time. But if you are moving around a lot, it is far better to have a backpack. Backpacks are simply more versatile. They’re easy to carry upstairs and pack into tight places, and overall, they just make life simpler. There’s no need to pick them up when getting on the escalator. And you can just walk on. Simple. Easy.
Even if you are only going on a two-week trip, we still suggest ditching that oversized, heavy suitcase. Backpacks just make more sense, which is why this page is devoted to them and not suitcases.
Note: If you have back problems and can’t use a backpack, a smaller suitcase with wheels and a long handle can be a good substitute. It will still be difficult carrying it up and down stairs, and annoying as you roll it across uneven sidewalks, but there are many companies (those listed at the end of this section) that make fairly good and lightweight travel cases.
The best backpacks — the ones that last the longest — have all the following characteristics that make them durable, protective, and long-lasting:
- Water-resistant material – While your pack does not need to be 100% waterproof, make sure your bag is made out of a semi-waterproof material so everything doesn’t get wet in a drizzle (many packs come with tarps you can put over them in case of a severe downpour). Moreover, make sure the material won’t stay wet long and thereby get musty. we look for material that is thick but lightweight. We should be able to pour a cup of water over it without the insides getting wet.
- Lockable zippers – Make sure each compartment has two zippers so you can lock them together. While we’re not usually worried about people breaking into our bag and stealing our dirty clothes in a hostel, we like locking up our bag when traveling. When purchasing locks, make sure the package says they are TSA-friendly locks — these locks have a special release valve that allows the TSA to open the lock without breaking it so they can check your bag.
- Multiple compartments – A good bag must to have multiple compartments. This way, you can break up your belongings into smaller sections so it’s easier to access and find the stuff you need. For example, our clothes are in the main compartment of our bag, our umbrella and flip-flops in the top, and our shoes in the separated side compartment (that way they don’t get everything dirty). It saves having to dig around your bag.
- Padded hip belt – Most of the weight you will be carrying around will be pushing down on your hips, so you’ll want a padded belt to make supporting the weight more comfortable. The belt will help provide support and distribute the load more evenly on your back, causing less strain. The hip belt should also be adjustable so you can tighten it for extra support.
- Padded shoulder straps – These make carrying your load more comfortable, as the weight of your pack will also be pushing down on your shoulders. The pads will put less pressure on your shoulders and also help take pressure off your lower back. Make sure the padding is very thick and made up of a single piece of material as it will be less likely to split and thin out.
- Contoured/padded back – A lumbar-shaped pack makes carrying it more comfortable, as it helps distributes weight more evenly — the same principle applies as is used in contoured chairs. It allows for a more natural arch ensure no back pain. Moreover, this type of pack creates a small space between your back and the bag, allowing air to move through and help keep you slightly cool (lugging your bag around can build up a sweat!).
At Mustache Trading, we sell the highest quality backpacks, that are suitable for traveling. Shop today!