- 1 Best Travel Backpacks
- 2 How to Choose a Travel Backpack?
- 3 Important design features of the backpack
- 4 TOP 10 Travel Backpacks
- 5 Best Anatomical Travel Backpacks
- 6 Best External Frame Backpacks
- 7 Best Multisport Backpacks
- 8 Best Cycling Backpacks
- 9 Best Backcountry Skiing and Touring Backpacks
- 10 How Do I Pick a Good Travel Backpack?
Best Travel Backpacks
Even a simple weekend hike will require more than stuffed pockets and a plastic bag. What can we say about multi-day trips out of the city and categorical hikes? A backpack is not just a “container of necessary things”, but also one of the most important elements of equipment. Just as uncomfortable shoes can put a cross on the way out, so the “wrong” hiking backpack is more likely to make you want to take it off and throw it away, rather than enjoy the trip. Correct weight distribution, ease of access, waterproofness, durability – you can’t do without it. If you are going to travel by bicycle, the requirements for the design of the backpack become even more specific, since both the back tilt and movements during the trip will not be at all the same for which the ergonomics of conventional backpacks are designed. No, of course, you can use an old tarpaulin cider for anything – but let’s still leave it for nostalgic memories, and take something more practical and comfortable on a hike. In our ranking – only the best backpacks for tourists.
How to Choose a Travel Backpack?
A spacious backpack is a real symbol of tourism. This is perhaps the most important part of your trekking equipment, which, along with your shoes, determines how comfortable the transitions will be on your route. A backpack, as a rule, is purchased seriously and for a long time, so its choice is a responsible matter. In our material, we tried to summarize the very basics that will help you navigate the huge range of backpacks for tourism and choose the optimal model for your needs.
Note: Valveglide.com also recommends reading about dog carrier backpacks on Rotorm.com.
Determine the required volume of the backpack
The volume of a backpack determines the amount of space inside it, which means how much equipment, clothing and food you can fit into it. It is expressed in liters, the amount of which is often indicated directly in the model name. Often it is the volume that determines which class the backpack belongs to and determines its purpose.
What size backpack is right for me?
The choice here depends on two fundamental factors:
- The duration and nature of the proposed hikes and travels. Are you looking for a backpack for short day trips or hiking for several days, a week or more? Are you going to use it all year round on trails of varying difficulty, or just for summer hikes on well-beaten paths?
- The volume and weight of the equipment wearable. What kind of equipment do you have – reliable, warm, but weighty, or as lightweight and compact as possible in the package?
Based on them, we can distinguish two approaches to completing the necessary equipment and product layout, on which the volume of the intended backpack will depend – let’s call them conditionally “Traditional” and “Easy-going”. The first option involves the use of a full-fledged set of non-ultralight-class equipment, which will provide the necessary comfort and safety during the hike, including the vagaries of the weather and possible changes in the travel schedule. The second one employs the techniques of supporters of the “Fast & Light” style, which diligently reduce the volume and weight of the equipment, even in the case when this requires sacrificing one’s own comfort. This approach requires a lot of self-discipline and meticulous route planning. But if you can handle it, the reward will be a lot of fun from fast movement with a light backpack!
Backpacks with a volume of 60 to 80 liters are great for almost any hike lasting from two days. Hence the breadth of their assortment from any manufacturer that specializes in the production of camping equipment. But the reason for their popularity lies not only in the optimal volume. Such backpacks are actively used not only within the framework of classic hiking routes, but also in short ski trips and even in mountaineering – when climbing to the top, requiring an overnight stay on the way.
Backpacks with a volume of 80 liters or more will be required on multi-day hiking routes, which are often associated with a long autonomous part, when tourists need to carry an additional supply of food and equipment. But do not think that large backpacks are suitable exclusively for expedition tourism. In fact, they will come in handy if:
- You are going on a winter route with several nights. In this case, you will have to carry much heavier and voluminous clothes and equipment than in the warm season. A winter sleeping bag (you can read about best sleeping bags here) alone can take up a third of the volume of a large backpack, and you also need a thick rug and a warm down jacket!
- Children are coming with you. After all, most of the children’s equipment is carried by parents to make the trip pleasant and interesting for the little ones.
Modern equipment, as well as the practices that came to tourism thanks to the adherents of the “Fast & Light” -style, make it possible to get by with backpacks of much smaller volume and weight. For example, a backpack of 20-30 liters will be enough for a weekend hike. And the equipment required for a multi-day hike can easily fit into a backpack with a volume of 50-60 liters. But you need to understand that easy-going tourism requires experience – both in equipment configuration and in competent route planning. In addition, the methods and equipment of ultralight tourists are far from always applicable – they must be very carefully applied in winter tourism, during hikes with children, as well as in the framework of multi-day autonomous expeditions.
What if I go on both long and short hikes?
You can consider purchasing two backpacks – a small and light one for short walks and a large one for long or winter hikes. Alternatively, you can pick up one backpack that is roomy enough for your longest route. Large backpacks (from 60 liters) are fine for shorter distances too – just make sure that the empty volume generated at minimum load can be reduced by using compression straps.
What time of the year do I plan to go hiking?
If in a warm season – be guided by the above tables.
If you plan to walk routes in early spring or late autumn, at high altitudes (over 2500 meters) or go on winter hikes, then add another 10-20 liters to the recommended volume from the table. This is a necessary supply that will allow you to pack your winter sleeping bag with additional warm things and an all-season tent.
Choosing a backpack in accordance with the structure of your body
The backpack is designed to provide the most comfortable transportation of cargo, therefore it is important that it exactly matches the features of your complexion and anatomy. Regardless of how much gear you take with you, your future backpack should fit perfectly on you.
Correct fit assumes:
- A properly sized backpack that matches the length of your torso.
- Comfortable and snug fit of the shoulder straps and waist belt.
Measure the length of your torso before going to the store. How? Just take a centimeter and enlist the support of a friend.
The length of the torso is measured from the 7th cervical vertebra to the ilium.
Then check the characteristics of the backpack model you are interested in. Check if it comes in multiple sizes or if it has an adjustable suspension system to fit your body exactly. In the latter case, manufacturers usually indicate the recommended user’s height or torso length over a wide range. Most often, backpacks with several sizes within the same model are produced by North American brands – for example, Osprey, Gregory and Black Diamond.
The design and coverage of the hip belt is also important. After all, if the backpack is selected correctly, most of the wearable weight – up to 80%, should not fall on the shoulders, but on the legs! The hip belt must provide a tight and even coverage of the pelvic bones, do not press or rub. In the design of many high-end backpack models, dense thermoformed foam is used in the waist belt and shoulder straps, which gradually “sits down” on the user’s figure during use.
Keep in mind that many backpacks are designed with female body anatomy in mind. The length of the back and the circumference of the waist belt are shorter than in the “unisex” models. At the same time, the straps and the belt have a special profile and are located at a different angle, as if hugging the hips, without interfering with the female breast and without rubbing the shoulders that are smaller in width. Pay attention to the “female” version is for those tourists who cannot pick up a sufficiently comfortable backpack from among the “standard” models.
Children’s models, as a rule, have a smaller volume and are equipped with an adjustable suspension system designed to change the height of the child. Also, for young tourists of any gender, female models of backpacks are often great, due to their reduced size, or “male” versions of a small volume.
Important design features of the backpack
Materials and strength characteristics
Modern backpacks are sewn mainly from synthetic fabrics – polyester or nylon, the durability of which varies widely. Generally, the stronger the fabric, the higher its weight. Which of these parameters is more important depends on your hiking practice.
Often, a layer of water-repellent polymer is applied to the wrong side of the fabric, which increases its moisture resistance – such material is less wetted with water and dries faster. Thanks to this, the backpack does not become heavier from the absorbed moisture and keeps its contents dry longer.
A very important parameter is the strength and durability of the accessories used in the backpack – buckles, fastexes, zippers. For responsible manufacturers, these elements are able to work accurately in any weather for a very long time.
Padding, shoulder straps and waist belt
Carrying comfort is largely dependent on how the waist belt and shoulder straps distribute the pressure to the hiker’s shoulders, waist and back. For this, manufacturers use foam filler in them, the quality of which can vary greatly. High-end backpacks often use thermoformed foam – similar to that used in ski boots. Over time, it exactly “sits down” on the figure of the user and does not lose its properties for a very long time. In the cheapest backpacks on the market, soft foam is often used, which loses its properties rather quickly. It sags under load, ceases to distribute pressure, which leads to muscle leakage when wearing a backpack, premature fatigue and constant discomfort.
In recent years, manufacturers increasingly make the belt of the backpack moveable, allowing it to rotate limitedly along the axis, which provides maximum freedom of movement for the tourist.
In pursuit of low weight, the comfort of the waist belt and shoulder straps often suffers, as the amount of filler decreases. If the weight of your backpack is light, this is not inconvenient. However, if you overload an ultra-light backpack with a minimalist waistband, you will almost certainly get bruises on your hips. Therefore, if you are going to travel with a serious weight, pay attention to models with a more comfortable waist belt and shoulder straps.
This is the weak point of backpacks with an inner frame, which are the majority on the modern market. There is not enough space between the backpack and the back for air circulation, which leads to increased sweating. The developers deal with this problem in different ways, for example, by integrating ventilation ducts into the back of the backpack, supplementing them with moisture-wicking materials. Some backpacks use a ventilation system, which is a stretched mesh, with which the back is in direct contact. The air circulation between the net and the backpack is unlimited. The frame, over which the net is stretched, provides sufficient distance between the back and the backpack.
Access to equipment
Pay attention – is it easy to find and get what you need from your backpack? It depends on its configuration – on the location of the offices and the places of access to them. It can be additional frontal or U-shaped zippers, which will allow you not to shake up the entire backpack in order to get to the desired item, but to gain access immediately to the desired part of its main compartment. Many modern models have a special “compartment” for a sleeping bag – it is located at the bottom of the backpack and has a separate zipper for quick access.
Auxiliary elements in the design of the backpack
Top valve. Many backpacks have a flap that, like a hood, covers the main compartment and has pockets for things that should always be at hand. Usually it is sun cream, repellent, camera, snack, map, wind jacket, etc. Sometimes the design allows you to unfasten the flap from the backpack and use it as a belt bag or mini-backpack for short radial excursions.
Attachment points for additional equipment. If you often take an ice ax or trekking poles with you, you should pay attention to the suitable loops for hanging this equipment on your backpack. Although it is already quite difficult to find a model that does not have at least a pair of such loops. Climbing backpacks have several attachment points for crampons, ropes, ice axes or ice tools and carabiners.
Daisy Chain is a sling sewn in the form of loops on the outer part of the backpack for attaching a helmet or other equipment. Used primarily in rock climbing and mountaineering backpacks.
Rain cover. As a rule, the inner surface of backpacks is covered with a waterproof layer. However, water can still seep through zippers and seams, and in heavy rain, the outer fabric absorbs some water. Therefore, if you risk getting caught in the rain on your hikes, it is better to purchase a waterproof cape if it is not included in the initial set of the backpack. To protect things inside, you can do with a garbage bag – cheap, but undignified and short-lived. Alternatively, you can pack your gear in waterproof bags. This solution is especially optimal for windy weather – strong wind can rip the waterproof cape off the backpack.
Pockets on the waist belt. Accommodates small items such as a snack or compact camera. They are very convenient to use, as they allow you not to take off your backpack in order to get small essentials.
Elasticated side pockets. Stretches enough to accommodate a bottle of water or an arc from the tent, but when empty, they adhere to the backpack. Some side pockets are designed to allow you to access the water tank on the go!
TOP 10 Travel Backpacks
Best Anatomical Travel Backpacks
#1 Deuter Aircontact 75+10
The German brand can boast of a history: the company was founded at the end of the 19th century and managed to be a supplier of bags for the Kaiser’s postmen. Well, history and a famous name traditionally require a lot of money … but do not forget that Deuter’s Aircontact series of travel backpacks is traditionally considered the best.
Even if this is not a full-fledged “machine”, but the internal frame still works perfectly with a decent load. Add to this comfortable shoulder straps and a belt, which has always been the trump card of Aircontact backpacks – yes, for a multi-day hike with a decent amount of luggage, the backpack is just right. A properly fitted backpack sits very well – it is difficult to understand when trying on in a store, when many models seem to be “nothing like that”, but on a hike, as they say, you will feel it on yourself, having walked several kilometers under load.
Taking into account the presence of the frame, the backpack still came out weighty – 3 kilograms, but on the other hand, you need to try very hard to “kill” it. However, in the last series, the backpack was lightened by almost half a kilogram. The difference – both in materials (in the “old” Duratex / 330D Micro Rip Pro 6, in the “new” – 1000D PA / 330D PA 6.6 RIPSTOP), and in the structure of the frame – elastic steel is now used instead of aluminum, which, paradoxically, made it possible to lighten it too: spring inserts effectively stretch the back, allowing the embossed cushions to work normally for ventilation, while the aluminum frame worked only “for rigidity”, and therefore had to be more massive. In stores now you can still find “old” models – the easiest way to check the “behavior” of the back.
The top flap with its own pocket can be transformed into a separate bag – a useful option, which is now already found in many manufacturers. Provides quick access from several sides, the allocation of a compartment for wet things with a diaphragm, a variety of mounts – everything, “as it should be.” But nevertheless, we note: almost the same with comparable quality competitors can offer and cheaper.
#2 PINGUIN Explorer 75
“One hundred and twenty” is not always needed – in this case, the smaller Czech “Penguin-discoverer” will be of interest. It is made of nylon fabric using Nifco and YKK fittings and is designed, as you might guess, to use a usable volume of up to 75 liters.
Height adjustment is very simple – with Velcro Velcro, but at the same time it works flawlessly. Side braces – with slings, back – with a cord. Mounts for sticks, ice ax are provided.
The valve has three pockets at once – one of them is the main one, with access from the outside, the second is smaller and located on the back side, and the third one is hidden by a waterproof cape, which immediately comes in the kit. The main compartment can be reached not only from above, which is not always convenient, but also from the side and below: for the thoughtfulness of the design, we will definitely add rating points to the backpack. A removable partition is provided to separate the volume for wet things.
The belt is harsh, but not enough to be attributed to disadvantages – rather, it just takes some getting used to. There are no pockets for small items on it. But there is a proprietary chip – you can remove the flap and belt and turn them into a completely functional belt bag.
#3 BASK Python V3 120
The “kayak-building cooperative” (where, in fact, the current name of the brand came from) began to work in the late eighties, and from the simple products of those times the company has already managed to move to work with modern materials – “softshell”, branded PolarTec fabrics, “membrane »GoreTex. Working with a wide range of travel equipment, the company, of course, has not forgotten about backpacks.
Camping backpack “Python”, now released in the third version, is generally good (although you can blame the manufacturer that the back and bottom should be made harder). The back, however, can be removed – you can use it as a rug, or you can “conjure”, if necessary, replace it with a more rigid one. The main material is a light “two hundred and tenth” rip-stop, reinforced in the right places without compromise – “thousandth” Cordura. The fittings are from Duraflex and YKK and are quite reliable. The backpack weighs just under 2.7 kg – a compromise between strength and weight, in principle.
There are not many pockets on the backpack – in fact, only the main one is in the flap, those that are sewn on the sides are mesh, with obvious limited use. The inner compartment, on the other hand, is able to accommodate whatever comes to mind – and the inner partition can be removed if necessary. A waterproof cape is not included in the kit and is sold separately by the manufacturer – keep this in mind when choosing.
Best External Frame Backpacks
#5 TATONKA Lastenkraxe
For trips in which you have to carry a decent weight and “oversized”, a strong “frame” is definitely needed: otherwise the back will quickly say “you know, let’s go home.” In addition, such a backpack is not limited by its design – the trunks can be mounted on it according to your taste and need (however, they will have to be bought in addition), so in terms of versatility, easel backpacks are again ahead of the rest of the planet.
And there is no need to complain about the insufficient rigidity of the bottom, as is often the case with ordinary backpacks: an aluminum frame with a depth of 25 cm in terms of rigidity will certainly not upset. The use of “winged metal”, well-welded with argon, made it possible to make the backpack light by the standards of its class (2.7 kg) and at the same time guarantee the ability to carry loads up to 50 kg – here the owner himself would rather say “enough” rather than the backpack. However, on Youtube you can easily find a video of how more than a centner was short-circuited to this “machine” – and after all, he survived! (Backpack, not the owner).
The V2 system was used for the transfer: a wide and soft waist belt with a pillow on the back side, soft shoulder straps with a mesh, precise adjustment to suit your anthropometry. Stop, stop! – can say a person familiar with the Tatonka nomenclature. Indeed, “V-2” is designed for a weight of up to 20 kg, but, nevertheless, in the composition of Lastenkraxe, the manufacturer really guarantees that it will withstand a “fifty kopecks”. Another thing is that the distribution of weight with such a load will already be suboptimal.
Best Multisport Backpacks
#6 Deuter Futura 24
“Multisport” backpacks are usually understood as models of small capacity, designed for quick movement and easy access to the “insides” – in the Deuter line, these goals are met, for example, by the Futura backpacks presented a couple of years ago.
What are we being offered for this money? First of all, excellent ergonomics: ease of settings, good “breathing” of the back due to the fact that elastic steel inserts stretch the mesh base of Aircomfort Sensic, allowing it to work as intended, despite the weight of the load. On the narrow waist belts, they did not forget about two pockets with zippers; on the sides of the backpack itself, they did not forget the pockets and mounts for trekking poles. There is a compartment for wet clothes – and this is a very nice bonus for the compact 24-liter model. And, of course, a raincoat is provided. At the same time, the backpack weighs a little: 1.2 kg – in the loaded parts, “six hundredth” polyester is used, in the rest – “two hundredtieth” nylon.
#7 THULE AllTrail 15
Although the Swedish brand is associated primarily with car roof racks, it does not only produce them. The AllTrail 15 model is a comfortable “one-day trip”, and in many respects similar to bicycle backpacks (but, nevertheless, it is not positioned by the manufacturer as a specialized bicycle model). This is not surprising – earlier in the AllTrail line there were only “more serious” models of 35 and 45 liters, and the “tag” and “twenty-five” were presented only in the 2019 collection.
In the first speech, there is a similarity to cycling backpacks here in terms of weight – a backpack on the scales pulls out only 540 grams. It is made of lightweight polyester (420D and 330D rip-stop), so do not forget to save a cape just in case (its manufacturer, alas, sells separately), this fabric’s own moisture protection is rather weak. Secondly, the shape of the backpack itself evokes associations. But in fact, it is conceived as a “station wagon”, and when riding a bicycle it will not be the most convenient.
One of the straps has a specially designed pocket for a mobile phone – it is convenient that it will always be at hand, and in order to get it, you do not have to climb into the jacket pockets under interfering straps. Here the author could not help but pay respect: at one time he himself had to “collective farm” for this pouch, which, however, was helped by the presence of cells for Molle slings. You won’t have to “conjure” right there. There is also a compartment for a hydrator.
#8 WENGER 30582215 28
Wenger? Wait, they make Swiss knives, right? Not only, in fact: under this brand is also sold equipment produced by SwissGear, which, in turn, belongs to Wenger (and those, in fact, were bought by their former only competitor in the “direct profile” – Victorinox a few years ago).
The volume of the backpack is not bad “by the standards of the genre” 28 liters, the material, however, is inexpensive – ordinary polyester 600D. A chest crosspiece and a belt are provided, however, narrow – but for a lot of weight, when you really need to effectively distribute the mass to the lower back, the backpack is not designed. A separate pocket is discreetly highlighted for a rain cape. There is no hydration compartment, but the headphone output is in store: walking to the music is more fun, and a bottle for drinking can be placed in a side pocket.
To summarize briefly, although it seems that we give part of the money only for the Swiss brand, the backpack is still good – so when you see it in the store, it’s worth trying it on.
Best Cycling Backpacks
#9 Deuter Trans Alpine 30
Easily adjustable waist straps and side ties provide maximum comfort. Additionally, depending on the load, you can adjust the volume with two rear ties. The standard rain cover is bright yellow, clearly visible from afar. The main compartment is designed with an organizer for easy stowage. Outside of the backpack there are helmet holder slings, two front pockets and one top pocket with a zipper. A dedicated back pocket for cards, while being easy to access, remains watertight. Back ventilation is provided by a comfortable self-stretching mesh. The backpack is compatible with the drinking system.
Models in the line:
- Deuter Trans Alpine 24 – new design model, 24 l capacity, bottom opening, side pockets
- Deuter Trans Alpine 28 SL – a model in a new design, designed for women, volume 28 l, bottom opening, side pockets
#10 TATONKA Baix 15
Yes, you can’t put an extra one into 15 liters, but a backpack – tadam – weighs only 400 grams! The recipe was simple in the first generation of the backpack: we take nylon T-Rip Light and 450 polyoxford for the cut, and we use mesh to the maximum in the straps. As a result, we get a backpack that minimally affects the overall load, is comfortable and compact – and in fact they even managed to fit into it a compartment for a three-liter hydrator.
It is worth noting that in the new generation the backpack has become even more interesting: a drawstring appeared at the back, a bicycle helmet mount was provided, the materials have also changed – now the backpack uses polyamide T-Snow Crust fabric (note its abrasion resistance – pah-pah, but for a cyclist it may turn out to be more useful than a pedestrian) and polyester Retex 6.6 with a waterproof coating (note that the previous version of the backpack had no problems with water resistance). At the same time, the weight of the backpack has not changed by a single gram.
The design of the straps and transverse belts has been revised: some claims for their convenience were previously expressed by the owners, and the manufacturer did not forget to take this into account. So for this attention, we will also add a “plus in karma”.
Best Backcountry Skiing and Touring Backpacks
#11 Deuter Freerider 26
What is a ski backpack for Deuter? First of all, this is an abundance of specialized mounts and compartments: reinforced ties designed for mounting a snowboard or skis, loops for an ice ax and poles (moreover, retractable in a special compartment), compartments for a shovel and an avalanche probe, loops for fixing a helmet cover (purchased separately) … With a useful volume of 26 liters, the backpack weighs 1.2 kilograms, is conveniently and securely fixed on the back, and the wide belt perfectly distributes the load along the lower back. Materials – branded “six hundredth” polyester Deuter Super Polytex BS, polyamide fabric 420D and 210D.
Backrest rigidity for these types of backpacks is not only a matter of comfort. In fact, the backrest works here as a kind of addition to the protective “tortoise” – but at the same time, of course, if necessary, it is able to bend, and not “stand with a stake.” The inner compartment with reinforced water protection is useful for a three-liter hydrator or wet things. And finally, a removable “seat” for resting is built into the backpack.
So Deuter once again shows how to correctly make backpacks, and of the shortcomings, we can only point out a weak outdoor water protection in the absence of a standard cape: on the one hand, of course, it does not rain in winter (at least when skiing and snowboarding ) … but on the other hand, this backpack can be used perfectly all year round.
You can see more travel backpacks on Gearming.com.
How Do I Pick a Good Travel Backpack?
Let’s start with the most important thing – with the purpose of the backpack. After all, it is equally stupid to take a voluminous “expeditionary” (and even more so an easel backpack) for short trips, when it will have to be pulled in half (and still the load will not normally be pulled), that to weigh a compact backpack with pouches and a hitch, trying to fit everything that it is necessary (no, of course, the ability to attach the pouches is useful, but without fanaticism – do not forget that the design is calculated on the distribution of “plus or minus the standard” load, and not additional weight comparable to what fits into the backpack itself). For short hikes, it is wiser to take light trekking or “multisport” backpacks (here the division of classes was spoiled by marketers: the trendy word “trekking backpack” is often called even unambiguously expedition mon odels under a hundred liters, and after all, trekking implies light hikes with a small load and without special requirements for preparation!). If you need to leave “seriously and for a long time”, then yes – you will definitely need a roomy backpack with the ability to attach “oversized” and preferably with access to the main compartment from several sides – otherwise, when loading only from above, you will have to dig long and hard in the backpack at a halt. getting to the right one.
Durability is everything: the more weight you carry, the higher the requirements for it. You yourself understand what a torn strap will mean in a few days’ journey home. Accordingly, we need both high-quality tailoring and strong materials – yes, even if the same Cordura is heavy, but it is “indestructible”, but light nylon and polyester (“oxford” and “under-oxford”, as you should call a cheap polyester fabric with matting weaving) should be left for light models – “one-day” … or for trunks installed on the frame of an easel backpack: there the load will be taken by a strong system and a metal frame, the main thing is to properly attach the trunk to the frame with slings.
Trekking weather can change unexpectedly, so don’t forget the water resistance of your backpack. If the manufacturer immediately offers a waterproof cape, this is another reason to look closely at such a backpack, if not, you will have to choose the one that is suitable in size.
Successful shopping and unforgettable impressions!