Choosing a Backpack

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Choosing a Backpack

A backpack is an essential part of your gap year kit and you might find yourself growing very attached to it and greeting it like a long-lost friend every time it appears on the conveyor belt at the airport.

Get a durable backpack

Your backpack is your most precious possession and will need to be durable enough to survive the rigours of travel as it will get tossed about on a variety of different modes of transport and may have to endure long bus journeys whilst tied to the roof. It protects your essential belongings from the rain, sun, mud, sand etc. You may spend a lot of time with it strapped to your back, so choosing the right one is an important decision.

How to choose a backpack

Things to consider when choosing a backpack are:

  • Your backpack should be comfortable when you carry it. Try a few on in the shops and fasten the straps. Just like trying on a pair of shoes you should have a walk around with it to see how it feels. Make sure you are comfortable as you are going to be spending a long time in each other’s company.
  • A comfortable padded hip belt and shoulder strap is a must.
  • Most backpacks are between 45-80 litres. Around 65 litres should be about right.
  • Some backpacks have extensions on the top so you can increase the capacity, which is a useful function.
  • Avoid buying a top-loading only backpack. These are not practical, as you end up taking everything out to find what you are looking for. It is best to either get one with an opening at the top and bottom, or better still, a panel loading one which opens around 2/3 of the pack.
  • It’s worth spending a bit of extra cash to get a good quality backpack. You really don’t want it ripping or breaking while you are on the move.
  • Some backpacks have extra straps to attach useful kit onto, such as a sleeping bag or hiking boots. Some also come with extra pockets for carrying things like water bottles. All these little functions can be very helpful.
  • Buying a waterproof cover is to be recommended. They cover the whole of your backpack and ensure your kit stays dry when it rains. You can also purchase a waterproof liner, but this is really only necessary if you know your pack is going to be exposed to the elements for a sustained period. The disadvantage of a waterproof liner is that it takes up a lot of room and you can’t pack your belongings as easily as you can without one. For simply travelling around, a waterproof cover should suffice.

A backpack is one of your essential items for your gap travel preparation and making sure you get the right one means you'll be well on your way to the ultimate gap year trip