Choosing a Travel Backpack

Grey Osprey Farpoint
My 50L Osprey Farpoint with the removable day pack. (Photo by Lauren Klamm)


While traveling through Europe for two weeks I chose to take a backpack. Choosing an appropriate, well-fitting backpack allows you to move around easily with relative comfort.



There are three styles of backpacks:


1. Top-Loading Backpacks– This option has a single opening at the top which closes with a drawstring and covered with a flap. This bag is most typical for back country hikers. It can be filled with a lot of stuff and it is more waterproof than other options. Top-loading packs also tend to be lighter, fit better and provide better support. However, they can be a hassle to pack because everything falls to the bottom.  They also have a lot of straps, which can be torn off on conveyor belts at the airport. Lastly, the top loading backpack is less secure than other options because of the un-lockable drawstring.


2. Front-Loading/ Panel Loading Backpacks– This type of pack opens like a traditional suitcase. It allows easy access to all of your things by simply unzipping your bag. There are also lots of pockets in this option which allows for more organization. However, having many zippers can allow water to seep into your belongings. This option also does not typically fit well and has less support.


3. Convertible Backpacks– This pack is a suitcase with backpack straps that can be zipped away. It is handy because it has is easy to pack and organize. However this option is not designed for comfort or support.


Other features to look for:



When looking for a backpack it is important to consider the size. Whether you are traveling for two weeks or six months you can still pack everything you need in a 50 Liter backpack. This size of pack will allow you to skip baggage claim fees and bring your bag with you on the plane.


I recommend looking into a pack with and internal frame, comfortable shoulder straps, padded hip belt and a good fit. A quality bag will also be light weight, have strong zippers and have plenty of pockets for organization.


Color is also something you should think about when shopping around for luggage. I recommend finding a backpack that is a neutral color like grey or black. Although a bright colored pack could help search and rescue find you on a desolate mountain top, you don’t want all of your belongings to attract the attention of a thief on a crowded train or on the airport convert belt.


I decided to buy the Osprey Farpoint which features: 


  • Top and side carry handles
  • Comfortable shoulder straps and padded hip belt
  • Lightweight internal frame
  • Straight jacket compression inside and outside
  • Panel zip main compartment for organization
  • Lockable zipper pulls
  • A removable day pack
  • Backpack straps and hip belt that can be zipped away