How to choose a backpack

A guide on how to choose the right backpack

Choosing a backpack can be a really daunting process. Especially when there are a plethora of brands out there. You could literally search for months looking into all the models and variations available in the market. Each comes with its own perks and use cases.

What’s the perfect backpack for you boils down to what you want? Whether it’s going hiking, camping, cross-country tours, or just traveling to school; you will find options for everything. In this article, we will be going over the essential things to consider when looking for a backpack.

But before getting started, let me recommend you one of our top picks for the best backpack selection, which is the Osprey Farpoint 40 Men’s Travel Backpack. This is one of the best compact travel backpacks on the market and offers a lifetime product warranty. We have written a full review on this product, so consider reading it if you find it interesting. Anyways, let’s get started with our article on how to choose a backpack.

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Consideration

Before deciding on a backpack first think about the intention of use. Is it for school? Or is it for hiking? Or is there any other use case for it? For shorter travels buying a compact backpack might work. But for longer journeys, bigger and more spacious bags will be more appropriate. So always think about why you are buying the product.

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Types of backpacks

In this section, we will be going over the common types of backpacks that are currently on demand. Each type is designed for specific use cases and knowing them can come in handy.

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Trekking Backpack

Trekking backpacks are high performing bags used mostly for hiking, outdoor camping, and mountaineering. To accommodate days’ worth of supplies, these bags are usually made to be quite large in size. A good trekking bag will be lightweight, durable, and should be well-ventilated for proper airflow.

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Daypack

Daypacks are typically smaller bags with enough room for taking items for shorter journeys. Maybe you are going on a day hike, or forest venturing, and don’t have any intention of staying overnight. In those cases, daypacks will be a suitable option.

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Expedition backpack

Expedition backpacks are what you would take on week-long journeys. These are a fair bit bigger than trekking backpacks and can accommodate things like sleeping bags and toolkits. These bags are designed to be used on rough terrains and are weather sealed. By no means will you take these on a normal journey, as the size of the bag is very unusual for normal expeditions.

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Alpine backpack

Alpine backpacks are designed to be used in various types of terrains ranging from rocks, snow, ice, desert, etc. These are ideally simpler in form and structure. Alpine bags are similar to daypacks except for being more streamlined. If you are going on a short rock climbing trip, then these bags will host all the necessary tools and items you will need. These are designed to be flexible, rough, will have finger grips, crampon pockets, and much more.

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Size and Capacity

When choosing a backpack, picking the right one can be confusing. As you can’t physically see each size, you can’t tell if it’s going to be too big or too small. So to help you visualize, we will be going over the capacity of each type of backpacks. Also, the measurement will be in liters as it is the most common unit used by most brands and shops.

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Small – Under 19 Liters

Typical sizes that fall under this measurement are 13 liters, 16 liters, and 19 liters. Please note, the smaller the capacity, the smaller the size will be. These bags are ideal for school and work. You can easily put a laptop, books, charger, and a few other accessories. Smaller ones will be very limited in laptop carrying capacity. A 13-inch Macbook will just fit fine, but a 16-inch may be a bit problematic to fit in. Plus, it holds a medium-sized water bottle at the side. These are an essentials-only backpack and shouldn’t be used for traveling long distances.

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Medium – 20 to 29 liters

Bags in the medium range can house larger and bulkier items than their smaller counterparts. You can easily fit in a 16-inch or even a 17-in laptop with ease. Not only that, but you can also put a full camera gear, books, a pair of hoodies, water bottles, headphones, etc. The 29-liter variants can have enough items for a short trip. These would have more compartments to put in different items.

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Large – 30 to 39 liters

Bags in this size are ideal for going on almost any urban trip. Whether you are staying for a few days or a few weeks, it should accommodate most of your essentials without issue. It is also common to see large bags with multiple main compartments rather than just one. These backpacks might be overkill for most people. But if you are one of those people traveling long distances, then these would be ideal.

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Extra-large – 50 to 80 liters

Extra-large backpacks are not appropriate for day-to-day activities. If you are going offroad for many days, then travel bags with extra-large space will become necessary. There are countless options you can choose depending on what type of adventure you are aiming at. In general, these bags should be sufficient to carry all of your necessities for traveling on rough terrains.

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What to look for in a good backpack?

You shouldn’t just go ahead and buy whichever design catches your attention. Other factors need to be considered. We will be discussing the important ones here

  • Backpack Frames Types: You will find bags with three types of frames. These are internal, external, and frameless. Backpacks with internal frames will be body-hugging. These are designed to keep you stable during constant movements. The external frame offers good ventilation. These are suitable for storing heavy objects. Frameless bags are usually ultralight. If speed is the concern, then these will be ideal. Also, frameless bags are cheaper due to not having any solid frame built inside.
  • Straps should be padded: If the straps aren’t padded if will cause irritation during long periods of use. Padded straps will also ensure that the weight is distributed properly.
  • Adjustable shoulder and chest strap: Not only the strap needs to be padded, but also these should be adjustable. There will be times you will need more flexibility. Maybe you are walking and want to let in more air, or want to tighten the straps more when doing hiking. Having adjustable and durable straps are necessary.
  • Back Panel: The back panel needs to be padded, contoured, and ventilated. Otherwise, you will face discomfort and have a sweaty back. The contouring should distribute the weight evenly. And a good suspended mesh system will ensure proper airflow
  • Sleeping bag compartment: If you are traveling offroad and intend to stay outdoors for a few days, then get a bag that offers a compartment for sleeping bags. It will be really useful as you don’t need to make extra space to put the sleeping bag.
  • Stretchable side pockets: Many manufacturers offers bags with fixed-length fabric. These limits the size of the water bottle you can fit into your bag. We recommend getting one made with elastic materials. This will ensure you can fit even the largest bottles available.
  • Weather-proof: There’s no point in buying a backpack with any sort of weather-proofing. For any offroad traveling, make sure your bag is water-proof and dust-proof. If possible, test it before buying.
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Final Thoughts

Buying a backpack can be very challenging. But if you know what you need and what you want to do with it, then the process becomes much easier. Once you are on the journey, there’s no chance of returning the product back. So test it before planning the trip. If it doesn’t fit your needs, then swap it with another one. We do recommend the Osprey Farpoint 40 if you are a light traveler. This product looks very modern and performs really well in rough conditions.

David Echols

David Echols is the associate writer at Doorbell Gears. He previously worked as a travel show host and traveled to many places around the world. From the experience of traveling to different unpaved areas as well as different cities, he has gained the knowledge of travel gears. He has a firm idea about the products people need in different situations when traveling a place. He also experienced in judging the quality of those products. So, at Doorbell Gears, his duty is to review different travel gears for the people who want to travel the world. He writes on backpacks, travel gears, bag organizers, and so many more.

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