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What To Look For When Choosing and Buying A Backpack For Travelling!

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I’m heading off on a big backpacking trip soon and I needed a new backpack. Unfortunately I broke a zip on my old, trusty backpack right at the end of my last trip whilst trying to pack in a very hungover state after a night out in Boracay! Oops!

I’ve travelled with a backpack over a number of different trips and within those years I’ve had 2 different backpacks. One I hated, and One I loved!

So when it came to picking a backpack for this trip I knew there were certain things I wanted that work well for me, and certain things that don’t.

After looking at a fair few backpacks, YouTube reviews and asking my lovely Twitter community what they thought, I decided on an Osprey Backpack and I went for the Farpoint 70L Travel Bag in Charcoal Grey which I got from Simply Hike and I love it! 

I’ll do a full review post for this backpack after I’ve used it for a few months so I can really tell you how it holds up after being thrown onto an array of floors, trains, buses and planes, but for now I thought I’d share the key things that I looked for when choosing a backpack to travel with and what I recommend you look for in a backpack so you can buy the best backpack for travel whether you’re travelling around Asia, South America, Africa, Europe or North America!

I guess you’re reading this because you’re going travelling soon! Be sure to read my checklist of things you need to do before you go travelling so you don’t miss anything important!

Front Loading

Choosing and Buying the best backpack front loader

My absolute non-negotiable is having another front loading backpack. This means that I can lie the backpack on the floor and there’s a zip all around the front which I can open and see everything in the bag. The reason I hated my first ever backpack was because it was a top loader and I spent a year with one arm in my bag trying to feel the material of my clothes to see if it was the top I wanted, only to pull it out and realise it was not the top I wanted!

Admittedly the popularity of packing cubes does make top loaders easier to travel with as you can pack everything into cubes, pull out the cubes and then search through them, rather than having loose clothes in the bag which are a nightmare to find. However front loading backpacks are so popular these days and I’ve never heard someone say they don’t like a front loader so I think the best backpack to travel with is a front loading backpack.

Zip Away Shoulder & Hip Straps

Choosing and Buying the best backpack straps

Choosing and Buying the best backpack strap cover

Hopefully the photos help you to understand what I mean about this point as another non-negotiable for me is being able to zip away and cover the shoulder and hip straps.

My old bag had this feature and I loved it, I usually only do the cover up on planes, as on buses and trains you have to quickly get your bag on and off and the bag doesn’t get moved much. However the reason I love this feature and the reason I know it’s so important, is because my first backpack didn’t have this, and I picked it up off a carousel at an airport one time only to realise that one of the hip clips had come off meaning I couldn’t use the hip strap properly.

Hip straps are so important and I always have them so tight so the weight of my bag is on my hips and not my shoulders. I managed to tie the straps but it wasn’t ideal.

I’ve heard of other people having their straps ruined after putting their backpack on a plane as checked luggage and if you think about it they do get thrown around so much, so being able to cover them and essentially turn the backpack into a soft suitcase is perfect!

A Detachable Day Pack

Choosing and Buying the best backpack day pack

Choosing and Buying the best backpack day pack

Choosing and Buying the best backpack day pack

A lot of backpacks these days have a detachable day pack which are so brilliant. The normal ‘backpacker look’ is to have the day back on your front and the backpack on your back when travelling between places but if you’re the type of person who doesn’t need to carry a lot its great to have the day pack attached to your big pack and when you do go on day trips you can use it. It’s a big space saver rather than trying to fit an extra day pack inside your big backpack!

Personally I think I’ll be using a different day / front pack as I’ll be carrying my laptop and cameras so I wanted a padded and more protected one, however I was still looking for a bag that had this feature and I’m glad that my Osprey Farpoint 70L Backpack does as I can keep my valuables and bits I travel with in my main day pack when I travel between places and use the Osprey day pack for actual day trips and days out.. if that makes sense? So many bags to think about!

A feature that I didn’t realise the Osprey Farpoint Backpack had until I got it and looked at it properly is that the front pack and backpack have clips which attach them together! I am really impressed by this! It’s exactly what backpackers need and this feature alone makes me think it’s one of the best backpacks for travellers out there right now!


Choosing and Buying the best backpack compartments

Having separate compartments is always a good idea. Admittedly the Osprey Farpoint 70L doesn’t have this, instead its one big space except for an extra zip pocket. However this is where packing cubes and many toiletry bags come in to keep clean clothes, dirty clothes, shoes and toiletries all separate.

If you think you will be travelling with things that may leak or spill, be sure to look out for a bag with compartments.

Water Resistance

Choosing and Buying the best backpack waterproof

I may be going to lots of sunny places on my travels but I know I’ll end up walking in the rain at some point so having a bag that is water resistance is a must. I wasn’t sure if the Osprey Farpoint Backpack would come with an additional waterproof cover. It didn’t but that’s fine as I still have the one I used on my old backpack.

If your bag doesn’t come with an additional cover I’d recommend getting a fairly cheap one like this to make it even more waterproof. To be honest I used to put this cover over my old bag when travelling on buses, trains and planes to protect it from getting scratched and having something split on it and it’s something I’ll continue to do, especially in Asia.

Talking of water proof, I also love the idea of an additional Pocket Waterproof backpack. I’ve used one in the past and they are great!

Remember that you also need to get travel insurance!

It’s something I know a lot of us forget or think isn’t important but it is! If you still need to purchase travel insurance I’d recommend World Nomads. Firstly you can get insurance even if you’re on your trip right now! Secondly they offer 24/7 emergency assistance, trip cancellation, protection of gear, and a lot more. Plus they’re flexible and simple! Just what we need! Get a quote here!

Straps on the Outside of the Bag

Choosing and Buying the best backpack straps

I have good intentions of having a regular yoga practise when I’m away so I wanted a bag with straps on the back to hold a yoga mat/towel. This is a personal choice but from experience I know that a lot of backpackers use outer straps to tie trainers to and other bits and bobs that don’t fit in the bag. You may not use them that much but they’re a nice option to have.


Extra things to look out for on a backpack that I wasn’t necessarily looking for as most come as standard, but are still important to check for, are:

  • Lockable Zips
  • Padded Shoulder and Hip Straps
  • Breathable, Mesh Straps
  • A Lightweight Frame
  • Top & Side Handle

Choosing and Buying the best backpack lockable zips

Choosing and Buying the best backpack padding

I hope this helps you decide on the best backpack for your travels.

If you have any extra questions. Let me know in the comments below or by tweeting me @wandering_quinn!

For more of my posts on Backpacking and Travelling in general see:

A Checklist Of Things You Need To Do Before You Go Backpacking!

All Backpacking Posts

All Packing Posts

All Travel Tip Posts


This post is in collaboration with Simply Hike who gifted me the backpack however all thoughts, opinions and tips are my own.

Which Backpack to choose for your travels? Pinterest pin

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    August 25, 2018 at 11:27 am

    That’s so good to hear! I’m really happy with the Osprey! 😀

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