304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Planning an exciting trip soon? As an experienced backpacker and traveler, I know one of the most important gear purchases you’ll make is choosing the perfect travel backpack to hold all your essentials on the journey ahead.
Having the right backpack for your travels can literally make or break your entire trip experience. An uncomfortable, poorly fitted pack can leave you sore and frustrated on the road. But the right backpack will become your most trusted travel companion, keeping you organized and comfortable mile after mile.
In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about finding the ideal travel backpack for your body type, trip plans and packing needs. By the end, you’ll know exactly what to look for and which top-rated backpacks best fit your travel style and adventures.
Let’s dive in!
With so many backpack options out there, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. Here are the most important factors to keep in mind:
One of the first decisions – how big of a backpack do you need? The capacity, measure in liters (L), determines how much gear the pack can hold.
As a general guideline:
Make sure to choose a pack that fits everything you need without being too big and bulky. Overpacking a backpack can throw off the center of gravity and make it uncomfortable to lug around.
Travel backpacks come in three main frame types:
Consider your carrying needs, balance, and typical pack weight to choose the frame type that’s right for you.
Well-padded, breathable shoulder straps, back panel and hip belt will make your pack much more comfortable, especially for long days of wear. Look for adjustable, well-shaped shoulder straps that contour to your body. Sternum and stabilizer straps also help distribute weight.
A sturdy hip belt is key for transferring pack weight onto the hips and legs. Make sure the hip belt sits snugly around your hip bones.
Backpacks with ventilation channels, mesh padding and internal frame space help air flow to your back. This keeps you cooler and drier as you work up a sweat on the trail. Proper ventilation can make a big difference in comfort level.
The more compartments and pockets your backpack has, the easier it will be to stay organized and find what you need on the go. Look for separate sleeves for a hydration bladder, laptop, clothing layers, toiletries, etc. Quick-access pockets on the hip belt and top lid also come in handy.
Make sure the fabrics and zippers used in the pack construction are durable and abrasion-resistant. Waterproofing is also helpful in case you get caught in the rain. Look for quality craftsmanship for a long-lasting backpack.
One of the most important factors is how the backpack fits your body. Be sure to try on packs in person with weight inside to test the fit. Here’s what to look for:
Take the time to get professionally fitted by an expert at the store. An adjustable pack tailored to your body is essential for all-day carrying comfort.
Some other nice extras that come in handy on certain trips:
Think about which features would be useful for the adventures you have planned.
One key decision is choosing the appropriate backpack capacity and size based on your torso length and typical packing needs. Here are some general size guidelines:
Torso Length Backpack Size
Measure your torso by having someone measure from the C7 vertebrae to your iliac crest while standing. Refer to the chart above to find your recommended backpack capacity range.
When trying on packs, the hip belt should wrap snugly around your hip bones, and the shoulder straps should contour comfortably without gaping or pinching. Take the time to load up the backpack with weight and walk around the store. The pack should feel balanced and stable on your frame.
Don’t hesitate to test out multiple sizes. An adjustable pack with removable pads and straps allows you to really customize the fit. Finding your perfect size match is worth the effort for maximum comfort.
After researching dozens of travel packs and testing many out personally on the trail over the years, these are my current top-rated backpack picks:
My top overall choice, the Osprey Farpoint 55L is versatile, lightweight and durable. The adjustable harness and suspension system provide excellent support for comfort. The stowaway back panel adds rear access to the main compartment. Perfect for trips up to 2 weeks.
Featuring Deuter’s innovative aircontact back system, this ventilated 65L pack has a detachable daypack. Outstanding for organization with the extra pockets. Very lightweight yet comfortable carry even at higher weights.
This women’s-specific 60L backpack has a well-designed harness system with adjustable torso length, shoulder width, and hip belt size for a customized fit. The ventilated back panel and lumbar pad make it great for hot conditions.
A streamlined, affordable option, the REI Trail 40 pack is a simple yet functional top-loading backpack for shorter trips up to 5 days. Has basic tie-down straps and pockets without going overboard. Can’t beat the price point.
Known for its affordable, reliable packs, the Kelty Redwing 50 hits a nice balance of size, features and durability. A sleek summit-bag design with pockets for organization and hydration compatibility. Great for new backpackers.
On the larger end of the spectrum, this high-capacity 70L Osprey pack offers incredible support and stabilization courtesy of an anti-gravity suspension system. Highly adjustable for dialing in the perfect fit. Built to handle heavy loads.
A lightweight yet feature-packed 60L backpack, the Versant offers easy access via the side zippered panel and hideaway hip belt and harness. Made from waterproof tarpaulin fabric to protect your gear. Removable lid converts the bag from 60L to 50L.
Weighing under 3 lbs, the ultralight Crown2 60L is a great pack for ounce-counting trekkers and thru-hikers. The redesigned RE-FIT hip belt allows easy adjustment and custom fit. Overall a streamlined, minimal yet rugged pack built for big miles.
Since comfort is key, taking the time to get fitted properly for your travel backpack is worth the effort. Here are some tips to dial in the ideal fit:
An expert at a reputable gear shop can help get you set up with the right adjustments. A dialed-in fit makes all the difference for comfort on the trail.
With so many excellent travel backpack options out there today, it can be a bit overwhelming to pick out the perfect one your needs. By taking into account your intended destinations, length of trip, packing requirements, body type and preferences, you can narrow down your choices considerably.
Think through where you’ll be traveling, how much you need to carry, and what features will make your time on the road most enjoyable. Test out several top contenders loaded up to make sure the fit and carrying comfort is just right.
Investing in a thoughtfully designed, customizable backpack that’s sized right and fits your body will help ensure that your bag feels more like a trusted companion than a cumbersome burden on your adventures. I hope these tips have helped shed some light on what to look for in your ideal travel backpack. Let me know if any other questions come up as you start your search! Happy travels!