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A comprehensive guide to choosing the best backpack

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I wasn’t always a backpacker. It was a big deal when I transitioned from luggage to a backpack. It meant that I was going to live a backpacker lifestyle and give up on the luxuries of travelling. If you ask any of my friends, they never thought I would trade in my Fendi purse for a backpack. Even though this happened more than 15 years ago, this is still an ongoing joke today! Ha!

However, I’m not exactly what you call a backpacker these days. I’m skipping the hostel option and staying at Airbnb the majority of the time. When I am not staying in a local apartment, I stay at my favourite hotel chain because I still get some perks as an elite member.

But I still choose to travel with my backpack wherever I go. I love how my hands are free to do other things and not worry about walking up the stairs with a suitcase. And ergonomically speaking, it is so much better for my back. I love my current Osprey Talon 33L backpack!

 

 

 

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Using a backpack has changed the way I travel. I tend to travel a lot less and be more conscious of what I bring with me. But I wasn't always a light traveller! Check out my post on choosing the best backpack! #backpack #solotravel #travel #travelsolo Using a backpack has changed the way I travel. I tend to travel a lot less and be more conscious of what I bring with me. But I wasn't always a light traveller! Check out my post on choosing the best backpack! #backpack #solotravel #travel #travelsolo

 

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The big transition: from luggage to a backpack

a comprehensive guide to choosing the best backpack - ms travel solo

a glimpse of my Asolo 75-litre backpack

I’ve come a long way since my first solo trip. I brought along my first backpack which was an Asolo 75L. If you are familiar with backpack sizes, you will understand that this is a pretty big pack! A 75-litre pack holds a lot of stuff! I travelled through Europe for four months and was able to wear a new outfit for weeks without doing laundry.

The pack came highly recommended, and I even convinced two friends to get a similar pack but in a smaller size.

 

What I like about this pack:

  • Zippered panel accessed compartment
  • Separate compartment accessible from the bottom (great for shoes)
  • Sturdy shoulder straps
  • A hip belt that sits comfortably on your waist
  • A detachable daypack
  • A detachable fanny pack that acts as a toiletry bag

 

 

 

 

 

Upgraded to a hiking backpack

a comprehensive guide to choosing the best backpack - ms travel solo

my osprey ariel 55-litre backpack – great for hiking!

After a few trips with the 75L pack, I realized I would rather have function over fashion. It is great to bring a lot of things with you (especially if you are the type who likes options), but the weight of the pack did not sit well with me (literally).

Through a friend’s recommendation, I chose an Osprey Ariel 55L pack. I love this pack! It is much smaller than the previous one, and it doesn’t feel heavy and sits comfortably on my waist. Why did I wait so long to get this?

 

 

 

Osprey: well-design backpack

Osprey puts a lot of effort into designing the perfect pack for a specific purpose. They understand all the requirements for a backpacker and uses high-quality fabric and hardware. The great thing about Osprey backpack is their All Mighty Guarantee. If you need to repair any damages to your backpack, just send it back to Osprey. It doesn’t matter if you bought it yesterday or in 1980! And it is entirely free of charge.

I used this for many years for short-term and long-term travel. I even took it for a hiking trip to Killarney, Ontario, Canada where you hike into a spot in the national park and set up camp for the night. Not only did I pack my backpack all the way to the rim, but I also strapped as many things as I can on the outside.

 

What I like about this pack:

  • A top-load compartment is secured by a drawstring
  • A structured external frame that has a mesh fabric to ventilate your back properly
  • Lightweight straps to distribute the weight evenly
  • A hip belt that sits comfortably on your waist
  • Separate top compartment for miscellaneous items
  • Compartment for a hydration pack
  • Lots of straps on the outside to attach hiking/other equipment

 

 

 

Current pack: small enough as carry-on luggage

a comprehensive guide to choosing the best backpack - ms travel solo

my go-to backpack: osprey talon 33-litre

I am minimalistic in the way I live and travel. A 55L pack was great, but I can use something even smaller. Through trial and error, I went from a 75L pack to a 55L, to my current Osprey Talon 33L backpack.

I’ve had this pack for six years, and it has been through many journeys with me. From cities all over the world to the jungles of South America, the pack has been through a lot! I love my previous pack so much so that I chose another pack from Osprey. Both packs have proven their reliability and durability.

 

What I like about this pack:

  • Similar characteristics as the Osprey 55L pack but smaller
  • Except it has a softer frame with a mesh fabric separating your back and the pack for proper ventilation

 

 

 

What to look for when you are buying a pack

Buying a backpack is a big deal! It is an expensive purchase! As a solo traveller, having a reliable and durable backpack can make or break your trip. Some backpacks can cost a small fortune so taking the time to research is essential as the right pack can last for many years. The quality of your trip is related to the quality of your backpack.

When you are in the market to buy a backpack, keep in mind of the following:

  • Size – It depends on the duration of your trip and how much you want to carry
  • Style – It depends on the type of trip you are going on. Is it a backpacking trip? Hiking? Mountaineering?
  • How to access the main compartment – This is a personal preference. Some people like to access the main compartment easily (i.e. my 75L pack); other’s don’t mind the top load (i.e. my 55L and 33L packs)
  • Type of shoulder straps – Each brand has their version of shoulder straps. Some packs have thicker foam straps while other packs have thinner straps. Just make sure that the straps are comfortable and it doesn’t feel like a lot of weight is digging into your shoulder. If you choose a large pack, make sure the hip belt is comfortable as well. The weight of the pack should be distributed to your waist, not your shoulder straps.
  • Type of frame – It depends on the kind of trip, you may want a more structured frame (which is suitable for hiking and walking a long distance with the pack).

 

 

 

 

RELATED POST – My favourite travel gears

 

 

 

 

Put on a backpack and try it out yourself

If your friends have backpacks, borrow the packs, stuff it with all your belongings, walk around and test it out for yourself. Otherwise, you can go to any of the sports equipment stores and try it out. Most of them have fillers where you can put in the backpack to test it out.

If you have any specific backpacks that you like, let me know! I’m always in the market for finding a great backpack!

And if you like this post, please share it and pin it!

 

 

Pin it on your Pinterest board!

Using a backpack has changed the way I travel. I tend to travel a lot less and be more conscious of what I bring with me. But I wasn't always a light traveller! Check out my post on choosing the best backpack! #backpack #solotravel #travel #travelsolo

About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

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