*Images courtesy of Katmandu*
Mark my words, your backpack will be your best friend or your worst enemy while you are away. It is vital you take careful consideration when purchasing! For me the below 5 key components came to mind before I purchased my Katmandu 70L backpack.
I opted to purchase one of the larger 70L backpacks available. Soley because I didn’t know how I could possibly fit everything into something smaller. The news is I could have easily fit everything into a 60L backpack but if I had to do it all over again? I’d still purchase the 70L. One of the reasons is because it comes with a free daypack which conveniently clips onto the front of your larger pack. This makes it easier to carry everything while travelling onwards to your next destination. The second reason is space. I found it much easier to organise my belongings with 4 medium sized Katmandu Dividers - winter clothing, summer clothing, toiletries and miscellaneous items such as chargers, first aid kid and medication.
WHEELS VS. NO WHEELS
When it comes to backpacking there were several times when I envied fellow travellers with suitcases. Instead of easily walking with a suitcase in tow I had the dreaded task of lugging my 17 - 20 kg backpack around whenever I needed to change hostels or destinations. However when it came to stairs, storage space and general convenience a backpack wins every time. There are several backpacks on the market that offer built in wheels so you have the option of both. The only disadvantage of these is that you loose both storage room and back support with poorer quality straps. The decision is ultimately yours however for an extended trip I would highly recommend leaving the wheels at home and embracing the standard design backpack.
When it comes to backpacks, the design you choose is vital. One of the main reasons I invested in my Katmandu 70L backpack was for the simple reason that is opens via the front as well as the top. There is nothing more annoying then having to dig through your backpack from the top several times a day when you are in search of one item! Another important point to consider when choosing a backpack is compartment space. My Katmandu backpack is broken up into 3 separate compartments. The bottom is used for storing shoes. This is a clever design as the mud and smell stays trapped down one end. The main section is for all of your personal items and clothing. The last is the lid which has a small compartment on top which I use to store regularly accessed items such as adapters, chargers, medication and pyjamas.
This has to be your main point of focus when choosing which backpack is right for you. When lugging anywhere between 10 - 20 kgs on your back it is vital you have a backpack that supports your back instead of damaging it. Thick straps and waist support were the two main features I looked for when choosing mine. The waist support makes a significant difference when distributing the weight of your backpack when walking. The straps should be preferably thick for added back and shoulder support and I would recommend getting them adjusted to your body when purchasing your new backpack.
Whether you are hiking or using your daypack to explore a new city by day it is important you choose one to suit your own preference. Thankfully my backpack came with a 15L daypack which was basic in design with one main zipper. It was great for not only day use but for extra packing space when necessary. The basic design meant everything was insight when needed and can be packed in a hurry. It also conveniently connected to my backpack. I wouldn’t recommend anything larger as I easily fit my 13 inch Mac, Passport, Travel documents, Wallet and Camera in this pack.
Now you've chosen your backpack it is time to pack your bags and get exploring!