I can not remember the first time I prepared a travel backpack. I guess I would be around 9 years old when I went to summer camps with the Scouts in search of adventure. Yes, I’ve been a backpacker all my life. In fact since then I had been using the same backpack traveling Europe, Asia and America until last year; after 18 years I had to change it. I have traveled with it for months on all kind of trips. I have used the backpack to do an Interrail and I have even taken it on business trips. So I think you can trust me to help you pack the perfect travel backpack, whether it is a long-term, short-term or nature and adventure trip.
We have created a first section to choose the best backpack for longterm trips but if you already have your own backpack and you want to go directly to how to pack it, go to the next section.
CHOOSING THE BEST BACKPACK
Before starting to fill it with things, we will choose the best backpack. Choosing a good backpack is a crucial decision. Whether you are planning a route through Southeast Asia, a Camino de Santiago in Spain or a road trip through the Canadian Rockies, you will spend many hours with your backpack.
Buying a good backpack is a long-term investment. If you buy a quality one and take care of it properly, it can last you a lifetime. And this is an important decision, since once you start traveling as backpackers you will not be able to travel in any other way.
You have to take into account the next four essential points:
One question that most people ask is how much capacity the backpack should have. My experience is that the bigger very often is the better. My backpack has a capacity of 65 liters. I almost never fill it, except when I make longterm trips to cold areas.
In addition I have always managed to pass it in the cabin of the plane without any charge.
I take this opportunity to tell you that I use a backpack for men, because as a woman I did not find any that I would like for that capacity. Surprisingly, as with other items, such as razor blades, two products that are exactly the same , after changing the colour to pink and marking the label as a product for women they always charge a plus.
The most important thing while choosing a good backpack is the fastening system. The weight of the load should not charge on your shoulders, but on your hip, so that the back is free of weight.
For this there must be a Side Release Buckles on the hip that you must adjust according to your contour and a Side Release Buckles on the chest, which will avoid the feeling that the backpack pulls you back.
Once you have these two positions adjusted to your body you must release the weight of your shoulders by adjusting the strap adjuster that are on the sides. When you feel that the weight is comfortably resting on your hips you will know that it is well adjusted. In the image below you can find marked the position of the different buckles.
The best thing is buying a backpack that you can return if you don’t feel like it is the right one. Then you can go hiking with the backpack full with weight one day to be sure that this is the best backpack for you.
Then, you can check if the padding of the Shoulder Straps is good or if you are chafing.
The next thing to analyze is the position of the different pockets. These are the pockets that I find indispensable in a backpack for a longterm travel:
- Inside the main compartment there must be two independent compartments but with the option to communicate them.
- Pockets on the sides of the hip fasteners, to have certain things on hand without removing the backpack, for example the phone or a lip balm.
- Upper pocket which has a security pocket inside. Perfect for keep the passport.
- Rear side pocket. For easy access of things of low volume and that you want to have located easily.
- Bottle holder. To have water available at all times.
The next thing to consider is the type and quality of the fabric. Look especially waterproof fabrics but with ventilation and if possible brands with a lifetime guarantee of flaws in the product.
There are other extras to consider when choosing the perfect backpack for your trip.
COUPLINGS FOR MAT
In the previous image you can see other side hooks that are very useful like for example for fastening insulating mats for the tent. It is a mandatory accessory when choosing a backpack if you plan to camp. Other models have the buckles at the top.
AIR CHANNEL SYSTEM
To keep yourself free from sweat and at a good temperature it is better if the backpack has aired channels between your back and the load. In the previous image these channels are also shown.
OPENING FOR HYDRATION
Some models have a small opening in the backpack through which you can pass a hydration hose. With this you can drink water with no need to stop and take the backpack off.
Some brands also offer a height adjustment so that the backpack adapts even better to your anatomy.
As I mentioned in the introduction, I used the same backpack for 18 consecutive years. After breaking I wanted to buy the same model. However, after 18 years, the company that made it had shut down so I launched myself to the market until I found the one I hope will accompany me on all my trips. After analyzing different options I opted for this model since it fulfilled everything described above:
Backpack – 65L
HOW TO PACK A BACKPACK FOR LONGTERM TRAVEL
Now we enter into matter. Each trip is a world and each backpack too so we are going to ask you a series of questions and we will redirect you through this post according to your answers.
But first let’s review our basics for all types of travel. This is how we start preparing all the backpacks. Whether it’s a trip to the city, countryside, Interrail, camp, adventure trip or Camino de Santiago.
INDISPENSABLE THINGS IN ANY TYPE OF TRAVEL BACKPACK
These are our indispensable things that we take in 100% of our trips. It must be the first thing you have to take into account when preparing your travel backpack.
- Soap travel bottles
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Hair brush
- Repellent for mosquitoes
- Nail clipper
- Lip balm
- Menstrual cup
- Swimsuit – 1 or 2 (Depending on if it is a trip of more than two weeks)
- Quick drying towel
- Tracksuit Bottoms – 1 or 2 changes (Depending on if it is a trip of more than two weeks)
- Underwear – 5 changes (regardless of the duration of the trip)
- Socks – 5 changes (regardless of the duration of the trip)
- T-shirts – 5 changes (regardless of the duration of the trip)
♦ Travel to a warm place
- Shorts – 1 or 2 (Depending on if it is a trip of more than two weeks)
- Dresses or jumpsuits – 2 or 3 (Depending on if it is a trip of more than two weeks)
♦ Travel to a cold place
- Long pants – 1 or 2 (Depending on a trip of more than three weeks). Sport type if it is to an adventure trip and mountain or jeans if it is to the city.
- Long sleeves Top – 1 or 2 (Depending again on if it is a trip of more than three weeks). Sweatshirt if it is an adventure and mountain trip or jersey if it is to the city.
DO YOU PLAN TO CAMP DURING YOUR TRIP?
PACK A BACKPACK FOR A CAMPING TRIP
If it’s your first time camping I understand that you find it difficult. However, I assure you that once you try it there will be no hotels that make you feel so happy and free. If you have any questions do not hesitate to ask, we almost always travel camping.
Although it is a bit more expensive to choose an ultra light and compact tent, this is always the best solution if you travel backpacking. We all like “open-easy” tends but they bulge a lot and are uncomfortable to transport.
I recommend that you choose a four seasons, so you will not have to have two different tends depending on whether you travel to a cold or warm place.
We have used individual winter sleeping bags until recently when we bought a double sleeping bag without which we could not live now.
Choose a winter sleeping bag to be able to withstand all seasons with it. In summer we use it open as a sheet and it is comfortable too.
The simplest thing is always the simpler mat, although if you are going to do a road trip another option is to choose inflatable mats.
We always carry a rechargeable lamp via USB for the tent. It is a MUST in your travel backpack when we go camping.
DO YOU TRAVEL TO A COLD PLACE?
PACK A BACKPACK to travel to A COLD PLACE
Seeing the Aurora Borealis can become a cold nightmare if you forget one of the following items, when you are packing the backpack to travel to a cold place.
Choose a double layer coat. Despite how little they can weigh and bulge, they protect more from the cold than the padded ones. If you are going to travel to a cold place, trust on one from a sportswear brand.
Keeping your feet warm is the best way to not decrease your body temperature. That’s why you must choose thermal socks that keep your feet dry. Also if you are preparing a backpack to trek, choose seamless socks.
If you travel to a cold place forget about the typical wool gloves. It is better to opt for special gloves for winter sports. These, in addition to protect you better against the cold, are waterproof. Our favorites, especially for full mobility to use the camera or mobile are those of The Heat Company, which also have a reversible mitt, touchscreen fingers and a specific pocket heating.
In addition its system of removable mittens makes it ideal for photography. Here we tell you our experience using them and we leave you a discount coupon.
The offer and types of hats is very wide. For those of you who can not stand the cold very well like me, I advise you to try on a thermal trapper hat with synthetic polyester hair lining. They are the hottest since they also cover your ears.
While you prepare your backpacks do not forget to put a thermal neck gaiter.
Choose thermal pants of special material and lightweight. That you can use comfortably under the pants. Indispensable especially when you go hiking in cold places.
Remember to take a the thermal top when you travel to places with extreme conditions. It will be the best ally of your coat so you do not get cold.
This great invention I discovered when I came to live in the United States. The truth is that once you try them you can not imagine traveling to a cold place without them. You can find them for hands and for feet and they usually last from 8 to 12 hours. It’s amazing how well they work.
ARE YOU GOING TO DO EXCURSIONS OR TREKKING?
PACK A TREKKING OR HIKING BACKPACK
When we go walking for many hours, whether to visit cities or hiking, the fundamental thing is to choose the type of footwear.
When preparing the backpack for a trip, we have to be aware that the footwear usually occupies a lot. I usually choose to wear two of the following three types of footwear:
- Hiking boot: ideal for long trekking, on difficult terrain or in cold places.
- Lightweight sneakers with cushioning: perfect for when you have to walk many hours in the city or on easy trails. My running shoes works pretty well for me on these moments.
- Sport sandals: the best option for walking in hot and humid places. For example to make a backpacking trip to Cuba.
BACKPACK FOR TREKKING
If you are going to make short trekking routes or excursions around the city you must remember, when preparing your travel backpack to take a smaller one.
We always prefer to use thermal bottles than plastic bottles so that the water stays at a good temperature. We like more those that have a standard bottle shape because they are easier to attach to backpacks.
You can buy them directly at the destination, but I wanted to add it to the list so you do not forget. My favorites are those of the brand Clif, because they do not cloy like the vast majority.
ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE A ROAD TRIP?
PREPARE THE BACKPACK FOR A road trip
We love the road trip but there are two items that can never be missed when we are preparing the backpack. Here we reveal them to you.
CHARGER FOR THE CAR WITH 4 USB PORTS
Without a doubt the best discovery in the preparation of our trip to Sicily. No more having to decide which device to charge (camera, mobile, batteries ..).
Don’t you have Internet connection? No problem. Connect your Spotify list and ride.
ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE A TRIP INTO THE WILD?
PREPARE A BACKPACK FOR AN ADVENTURE AND NATURE TRIP
These trips are our favorites. Feeling free and attached to the Earth requires a good preparation of the backpack so we do not miss anything when we are miles away from civilization. This is all you need to pack a survival backpack.
CAMPINGAZ + JETBOIL
Your portable kitchen. Although you can buy the gas bottle once you reach your destination, you can reuse the Jetboil as many times as you want.
Emergency Food Supply
In Spain they are not very used but when we travel to countries where there is more adventurous culture, like Canada or the United States, they are very easy to find them in any sports store. It is the best option to feed yourself while taking trips to the unknown.
You can find them in plastic or stainless steel. We used plastic in recent trips. The important thing is that they bulge and weigh not too much.
It is easy for those who do not smoke to forget about it. However if you want to build a good campfire to warm up before entering the tent you cannot do it without a lighter, unless you are Bear Grylls.
From cutting bread, rope or defend yourself from any animal. The knife is essential in a trip of adventure and nature.
We do not just use it to hang clothes. Also when we take trips to adventure and nature to hang backpacks in the trees if they have food. For example in Canada it is very dangerous to leave backpacks with food at ground level due to the presence of bears.
If you want to reduce space in your backpack you can not take as many clothes changes as days you will be traveling, especially if the trip is long. A soap pill solves this problem. 5 changes are the maximum I need to be able to travel indefinitely. Every two or three days and in a moment, you can wash your clothes with the soap pill. Cheaper and faster than going to the laundry.
We love to pursue the Milky Way so we usually do night hiking routes where we always carry a flashlight. If the route is a bit more complicated or we are going to cook at night and need hands-free then we will use a headlamp. In our case we always carry both types and depending on what we are going to do we use one or the other.
THINGS YOU MUST INCLUDE IN YOUR BACKPACK DEPENDING ON THE DESTINATION
Essential if you visit National Parks of Canada and the United States where there are bears.
Check here if the same type of plug is used in your country of destination.
If you travel to a place where you can find icy hiking trails like Canada, Iceland or Norway.
HOW TO DISTRIBUTE THE WEIGHT WITHIN THE BACKPACK
Once we know everything we want to put inside the backpack we have to decide how to distribute the weight so that everything fits.
The theory says that the heavier things should be stuck to the back while the lighter in the outer pockets, those that are further away from the back.
My experience is that more than looking at the weight you have to pay attention to the use that you are going to give it.
For example the toilet bag, as I use it every day I always put the floor in the top pocket, along with the wallet, passport, etc. That way I will not have to rummage around in my backpack every time I want to brush my teeth or pay for something.
Underwear, I also want it to be very accessible. That’s why I keep it in the big compartment but in the bottom part, since it has a quick access.
However, articles that I use less, such as crampons in Canada, I leave them in the middle of the backpack so they are not in the way when I want to take something up or down.
AND YOU, HOW DO YOU Pack YOUR BACKPACKS FOR LONGterm TRAVEL?
Notice of affiliation links: if you buy through some of the links that you will find in this post, we may take a small commission without affecting at all the price paid by the reader. Buying through them helps us to continue with this project.