Choosing your backpack

Having the right backpack can really make a big difference to your travelling experience - as can having the wrong backpack! That's why choosing your backpack is an important decision, and one that you should put a bit of thought into. Here we look at some of the features and qualities to look for when shopping for you backpack.

Some of the most important things to consider when buying a backpack include...


What backpack capacity do you need? We recommend that you choose as small as a backpack as possible - if you buy a large pack, you'll want to bring more with you. A pack of 50-65 litres is ideal for most backpacking trips. If you are bringing camping gear, consider an 80 litre pack.


A well fitting bag will make it easier to carry the weight. Some manufacturers have gender specific backpacks, with women’s bags having narrow shoulder strap spacing, shorter torso length and reduced pack width and profile.


Backpacks come in two different types of frames: internal and external. Internal frame backpacks fit the body snugly and are better for hiking or walking long distances. External frames provide more ventilation between the backpack and your back. Backpacks with very high capacity have external frames.

Compression straps

These help you to pack the load closer to the main frame of the pack, giving you better balance and a more evenly loaded weight. Look for backpacks with quick release buckles and ones that don't block the side pockets. The straps than span the pack's side are more effective for squeezing a big pack.


Packs themselves may be waterproofed or they may come with a rain cover. Covers should be easy to store away in side pockets when not in use.

Other technical features worth considering are:

  • hydration compatibility
  • detachable day pack
  • ski carry system
  • ice axe pockets

When choosing your backpack, keep in mind that ideally, you want your pack to be as light as you can manage without sacrificing safety and comfort. It's therefore a good idea to take a look at your packing list before you purchase a bag. Make sure you try on a backpack before your purchase - and if you order online, check the returns policy in case it isn't a good fit.

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