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Picking the Right Bag for Backpacking through Europe

Backpacking through Europe is something most people only dream of, but I lived that dream.  Laying out on the beaches of Spain, hitting up Germany for Oktoberfest, and hiking around the ancient Greek ruins were just a few of the extraordinary experiences I had.  Right from the start of my trip it became obvious that carrying the right backpack was an absolute necessity to make certain everything went smoothly.

PictureNamePriceOur Rating
PictureNamePriceOur Rating
Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack$$$$4.7
Osprey Mens Aether 70 Backpack$$$$$4.8
Osprey Packs Kestrel 48 Backpack$$$$4.8
Kelty Red Cloud 90 Internal Frame Backpack$$$$$4.6
High Sierra Hawk 40 Frame Pack Pacific/Altitude$$4.5
Black Giant Top Load Canvas Duffle Bag$4.4
High Sierra Hawk 45 Frame Pack Pacific/Nebula$$4.4
Mozone 40L Lightweight Travel Backpack$4.3
Osprey Porter Travel Backpack Bag$$$4.9
Osprey Women's Ariel 65 Backpack$$$$$4.6

To make it easy for you to find the best backpack for your trip, I have assembled the chart above. It is a simple way to find the best backpack without having to spend hours jumping from site to site, so that you can spend more of your time planning for your backpacking adventure. Things have certainly moved on a lot from the days where people travelling on the cheap would be carrying a stick and bindle. We’ve even prepared a backpacking gear check list for you, to make those last few hours before you leave a lot less stressful. I have provided the name and manufacturer, as well as the average customer review score and price.

Advantages Of A Good Backpack

​There are numerous benefits of opting for a high-quality backpack before beginning your travels, including:

  • Stay Organized. A good backpack with plenty of compartments can prevent the unnecessary stress and aggravation that will occur if you have to dig through your bag looking for a certain item.  Having dedicated spots for your phone, passport, money, and everything else you will be carrying will make things so much easier.
  • Easier To Get Around. Using a travel backpack makes moving around much more simple.  You can maneuver through crowds, climb stairs, and more without dragging a rolling suitcase around with you.
  • Less Stress. Carrying a backpack that is well made from top-of-the-line materials will prevent the unnecessary stress you will experience if a zipper were to break, a hole were to form, and more.
  • Keep Your Gear Safe. Additionally, carrying a well-made backpack may cost you more money initially, but it will save you from the stress of having to constantly replace it.  This can save money, too.  After all, paying for several cheap backpacks can end up costing more than one good bag.

My Story

Source: Flickr.

Source: Flickr.

I have to admit that I have made the mistake of thinking a less expensive backpack would be fine while traveling.  After all, a backpack is a backpack, right?  Wrong!  I made the decision to purchase my Osprey after losing my camera and SD card somewhere while hiking at Blue Mountains National Park in Jamaica. Thankfully, I had downloaded all of my pictures to my laptop the night before, but I was only able to capture a few so-so shots on my phone while hiking.  To this day, it still bothers me that I lost my camera.  Not only did I waste a ton of money on the camera I lost, but I had to spend even more to find a replacement that wasn’t half as good as the first one I had.

​So, how did I lose my camera?  Well, apparently the zipper on the pocket of my backpack that I had carefully placed my camera in came apart and gave it just enough room to fall out.  I was hiking with a couple of friends, who were slightly ahead of me, and I did not realize that I had dropped it.  I must add that Jamaica has nowhere near the camera selection that the United States does and so I ended up spending more on my replacement camera than I did my first one.  Don’t make the same mistake I did.  If you find a deal on a backpack that seems to be good to be true, then just assume it is.  Steer your search toward the ones listed in the chart above.

What To Look For When Choosing A Backpack For Travel

Picking the right backpack can have a significant impact on your travel.  Here are some tips to help you choose the one that is best for you.

  • Compartments. Make certain there are multiple compartments.  This makes the process of organizing your things much more simple.  This makes it easy to separate and access your things without having to empty out your entire bag.
  • Locking. Choose a backpack that can be locked.  This will ensure your valuables (cellphone, camera, and tablet) are secure.
  • Water Resistant. Opt for a backpack that is made out of a thick, but lightweight material that is water resistant.  This will keep your things from getting wet.  Also, ensure the material you choose dries quickly to prevent everything inside from becoming musty.
  • Padding. Choose a backpack that has a padded hip belt, as well as padded shoulder pads and a padded back.  This makes carrying everything more comfortable and distributes the weight of your bag more evenly over your shoulders and back.  Look for padding that is a single thick piece because it is less likely to tear or wear away.
  • Internal Structure. Buy a backpack that has an internal frame.  They tend to be more durable, less likely to snag anything making it easier to move around, and lighter in weight.
  • Size. It is important to know that there is not one specific size of backpack that is better than the others.  This is dependent upon how much how will be carrying, as well as making sure it is proportional to your body weight.

How To Find The Best Backpack For Your Trip

  • Shop Online For Better Range & Better Prices. Unfortunately, many towns do not have stores that carry travel backpacks, leaving you to make your purchase online.  Amazon is an ideal place to look, not only because they tend to have the best prices, but they have user reviews you can read.  This is an important part of the process.  Make sure you read what other users have to say about a bag you are considering, whether you are purchasing it online or in a store.
  • Look At A Few Backpacks. Shop around!  There are plenty of backpacks that are ideal for backpacking through Europe, so do not feel that you must purchase the first one you find.  Look around at your other options.  You may very well find one that is a better match to your needs. Our chart and reviews will help you do this.
  • You Get What You Pay For. Keep in mind that higher cost usually equates to higher quality.  Simply put, you get what you pay for.  This does not mean that you have to spend hundreds of dollars on a backpack, but do not settle for the lowest priced one either.

Review Of Some Of The Best Backpacking Backpacks

Osprey Aether 70 Backpack

Osprey is well known for designing backpacks that look and fit great, while also offering comfort, even when carrying heavy loads.  Intended for men or larger women, the Aether has plenty of smaller pockets to divide up your things, features a hip belt that takes most of the weight off of your shoulders, includes a water storage reservoir that is easily accessible, and is extremely durable.  Just make certain to buy a rain cover because it does not include one.  Reviewers appear to truly appreciate this back with many leaving comments, such as “awesome, top-of-the-line backpack, well thought out and executed.  This will be the last backpack I ever buy because it is that great.”

Click here to look at prices on Amazon and find the best deal.

Black Top Load Giant Canvas Duffle Bag

This option is cheaper than most, but it is one worth considering, particularly if you are on a tight budget.  They are very large and can hold a ton of stuff, but they are surprisingly lightweight.  It has a reinforced top with side handles for easy carrying, as well as cotton shoulder straps.  We can compliment the amount of space this bag offers, as well as the high-quality materials it is made from that make it an extremely durable bag. However, it does not offer the many compartments that are commonly found with other bags designed for backpacking.  This could make it difficult to find what you are looking for, especially when you are in a hurry.  Maybe use smaller bags or zip lock bags to stay organized with this bag on a budget.

Click here to look at prices on Amazon and find the best deal.

Osprey Women’s Kyte 46 Backpack

This versatile pack offers a sleek look that is lacking in many women’s backpacks.  It features a LightWire™ frame that makes it easy to carry, as well as an AirScape™ back panel to decrease sweating.  In addition, it is equipped with a trekking pole attachment, external hydration sleeve, and rain cover. Users are quick to complement the Kyte for being large enough to hold everything they need, while being easy to carry.  For very skinny users, the waistband might not work as well. Potentially a clip can be used to tighten up the strap if necessary. Reviewers leave comments including, “very easy to keep organized, has plenty of room to tie sleeping bags or tents on the side, sturdy, and great quality.”

Click here to look at prices on Amazon and find the best deal.

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