I never thought I’d be someone who could backpack. I would see friends or family wave goodbye to me at the airport, with all their treasured items – and by that I mean three of the same T-shirt – shoved into one huge bag on their back, and I couldn’t understand how it was possible to live out of one. If someone told me “hey Em, you’ll be travelling the world solo, and all you’ll have is a backpack” I would have laughed and been like “LOL the last time I travelled long term I visited Ghana at 19 and I struggled to fit in 10 boxes of tampons into a borrowed backpack I barely knew how to put on”. Well, one spontaneous decision, and 18 months of backpacking around the world later, I can safely say, it’s possible, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done – and for any of you wondering about my tampons, I carried ONE BOX ONLY. We move on. This post will showcase the very best BACKPACKING backpacks for first time buyers, first time travellers or for the more experienced backpacker, looking to plan for a trip in the future.
Why is backpacking the best?
Put simply – it’s so SIMPLE. Backpacking forces you to focus on the essential items you need, and not materialistic ones that take up a lot of space. When you’re jumping on and off sleeping buses, hiking up steep roads to arrive at accommodation or just need to be quick in a short turnaround of time, you’ve got your hands free, you need only to worry about one item of baggage and it’s a LOT easier to walk on unstable terrains – think sandy beaches in Thailand, or cobbled streets of Cusco – without having to lug something behind you. It’s on your back, safely out of the way and means you can concentrate on more important things like finding your hostel! It might feel strange at first if you’re new to this, but backpacks give you so much flexibility – you’re ready to throw it on your shoulders and start your adventure!
Which backpacks are best for a world trip?
This is a good question. With the surge in gap year trips and the popularity of travelling growing, now more than ever you have an INFINITE choice. There’s a huge variety of companies advertising backpacks that differ in size, style and litre – so how do you know which one to choose? Well my friends, it’s dependent on you I’m afraid. There is no right or wrong answer as every backpack suits different individuals. It’s hard to choose – but choose you must! Whether you’re planning for your eventual 2021 post-corona adventure or simply want to know for interest, have a look below at some of my favourite backpacks, perfect for every type of travel trip possible! Please be aware all backpack prices are correct at time of publishing.
SHORT TERM TRAVEL
The beauty of backpacks as you can see, is how easy travelling becomes with them. What’s great is that there are many backpacks that are made in a size that fits easily as carry-on luggage so you don’t need to wait around at baggage claim when you land – and the flight ticket is so much cheaper when it’s hand-luggage only! Perhaps you’re looking for the best backpack to travel Europe for 6 weeksor so? These backpacks would be perfect.
Mountain Warehouse, £39.99
When I decided to backpack the USA, I chose Mountain Warehouse’s Venture 40L backpack – and it was a great choice! The price was reasonable, the backpack itself was extremely spacious for 40L and the compression straps reduced the bulk of the backpack considerably, making it easier to shove into the plane’s overhead compartment. The hip strap made the bag really comfortable on my back and I found it very easy to travel with.
Another firm favourite of mine is Osprey. The brand is renowned in the travel industry for good reason – their backpacks are honestly some of the best on the market. They’re slightly more expensive, but you’re paying for durability, comfort and maximum space, compressed into something that’s easy to put on your back. The Fairview 40L offers backpack options for both men and women and features supportive and adjustable straps for your shoulders that can be easily zipped up and hidden neatly if you’re taking it on a plane. The Fairview is worn like a backpack, but the main compartment is opened like a suitcase, and it also features a shoulder strap in case you want to give your back a breather. The other compartments are big enough to separate a laptop from your essential items and there is space at the top of the backpack to fit other items eg. your liquids or a medical kit. The compression straps on the outside of the backpack allow you to carry separate gear you can’t fit inside, and there’s mesh pouches to hold your water bottle securely too. One more thing – the zippers have attached locking sliders which you can attach a padlock to – something which has been key (mind the pun) to have on my backpacking adventures.
MEDIUM TERM TRAVEL
I find the perfect size for a backpack, if you’re travelling between 3-6 months is between 60L and 70L. Perhaps you’re looking for the best backpack to travel Asia or Australia? I think the bewlow backpacks are a great choice. Don’t forget, you’ll need space for gifts too!
HYBRID TROLLEY 70L
As great as it is carrying all your luggage on you, sometimes it can be frustrating and tiring. If you’re on good terrain, you might want to give your body a break and pull your baggage along behind you – because in case you didn’t know, backpacking can get REALLY tiring. Maybe you’ve become fed up of carrying everything on your back OR perhaps you want to check into a nice hotel and you don’t want to look like you’ve just been trekking in the highlands, with a dirty backpack on you. Either way, Kathmandu’s Hybrid 70L gives you the best of both worlds – a classic backpack with versatile straps and a comfortable hip belt which can be swapped and tucked away for wheels and an extendable handle. This combined with the many compartments make this a fabulous choice for your trip. The only fault I can find is that unfortunately there is no chest strap which is vital if you’re travelling for a very long time. Therefore, I feel this is a great backpack for a month’s trip, but not one you should choose for a year of travel if you’re planning on carrying a lot of items.
Berghaus is well known for its focus on comfort and this backpack is no different. Featuring a BIOFIT back system and women’s specific harness which can be adjusted for comfort, classic loops to hold walking poles and compression straps to squeeze your items in further, the Trailhead 60L is great for longer trips and is reasonable in price. You can choose whether between one large compartment or to separate it into two – for clean and dirty clothes – with the help of the fabric provided with the bag. There’s 5 compartments on the outside for various items, with also handy space to attach any extras and it is also hydration system compatible if you fancy doing some trekking on your journey and want to buy a hydration pack for it.
LONG TERM TRAVEL
As someone who’s been backpacking for nearly two years, I believe the below backpacks are the BEST backpacks for long term travel around the world. Whether you’re looking for a sturdy backpack for 6 months travelling, or you’re planning a year or more on the road, these are perfect choices. Don’t forget to buy packing cubes to create more space! Check out my TOP travel essentials packing list here.
I couldn’t write this article without including the very backpack that took me to South America, India, South East Asia, Indonesia and Australia – and yes, it still functions excellently would you believe! It’s (clearly) extremely durable, insanely comfortable and I used the straps on the front to hold items like flip flops when I needed to change quickly out of my hiking boots. It also comes with a handy detachable day bag so you can clip it onto the backpack without needing to hold another day pack in front of you like a turtle! 70L was enough space for me to travel comfortably (including packing souvenirs) but Osprey also provides backpacks for those that require more space including 80L ones that may be more suitable, depending on your needs and the type of traveller you are!
AIRCONTACT 75L + 10L
I’ve always said it’s worth spending extra on a backpack that is going to see you through to the end of your trip and beyond – there is nothing worse than spending less on a backpack where you end up injured, OR it breaks in the middle of a country where you can’t get it fixed – or even find one to replace it! Deuter’s Aircontact backpack is perfect for trekking, extended backpacking and hardcore adventuring. Featuring the traditional top-loading style pack on top, which, when unfastened, offers you an extra 10L of space, there is also a zipper on the front of the backpack which opens like a suitcase, giving you access to items in the middle without needing to unpack the whole thing. Not many backpacks give you the option of both top-loading style packs and a zip to access the rest of your items – so this is already brilliant. There is a sleeping bag compartment at the bottom of this backpack which is perfect if you’re going to be sleeping outdoors and require space to carry your items, as well as a raincover provided and heavy mesh padding on the adjustable straps so you can carry a heavy load with ease.
Which backpacks do you recommend to travel the world with? Don’t forget to check out my TOP travel essentials packing list here!