When it comes to travel, the most important piece of gear in the 21st century is the undisputed backpack. After years of evolution in carrying solutions, mankind has gone back to its roots and improvised an ancient system of carrying loads first used by our ancestors while collecting fruits and leaves. It comprised of reeds that mad up the straps to go along on the shoulders and conical woven basket with an open top. From then onward, sprung the roots of the humble backpack.
In the modern world, we are inundated with a plethora of packs and at times it becomes a daunting task to choose the right kind based on one’s specific requirements. Herein, we’ll chart out a comprehensive guide to make the process of choosing a backpack a rather simple affair.
Now, everyone has unique needs, travel routines, personal habits and aesthetic taste. We have boiled down the decision-making process to six concise points, so you wouldn’t have to:
- Frequency/Type of Travel:
The primal focus in the quest for a backpack would be to identify your travel profile:
Are you a Long Hauler?
A Corporate commuter?
A Pro Hiker?
What would be your primary mode of transport?
How often do you travel?
After you reflect on these questions, you can get an indication of the category of packs to be explored and start sorting through the vast collections offered by various backpack manufacturers. Always consider the fact that longer journeys may not necessarily mean oversized packs; it depends whether you’re a frugal traveller who prefers to stay light or someone who carries their whole world with them.
- Load capacity:
Next step along the way would be to identify the amount of load you carry on average based on your type of travel. What items constitute the must-haves in your pack? If you are a tech geek, a fully padded sleeve with a Velcro fastener is critical for gear protection along with organisers for power banks, cables, pens and notebooks, especially if you work on-the-go.
A 50-60L rucksack may not bode well with every type of traveller, especially if you’re going through an airport for short trips and don’t expect to scale any mountains on your journey.
A minimalist route can also be approached, if you prefer to stick to essentials and travel light with compact looking 35-40L hybrid backpacks that blend the best aspects of a suitcase with the sense of freedom associated with backpacks. Our Newly introduced Travel backpack is a step in that very direction, a pack variant desperately needed in our region where we lug around cumbersome hard luggage and wheeled trolley bags.
- Comfort (Long hours)
A vital aspect of long hours on foot is the comfort level of your Backpacks. Coupled with extreme weather we most likely face in New Delhi’s dry heat or Mumbai’s high humidity and other parts of the land, loaded backpacks tend to become uncomfortable over time. It is most prudent to look for Air-mesh foam or ventilated padding on the back of the packs which allow heat vapor from sweat to evaporate, keeping you dry for the most part of the journey. New features prevalent these days include load adjusters on the tops of the straps and sternum straps for the chest area that reduce the load off the shoulders and evenly spreads it across your upper body. Lastly, if your pack size is above 35L, an enhanced padding on the lower back (Lumbar) region is critical along with a hip belt that directs the load on to your waist which is much more adept at handling heavier loads.
- Durability/ Weather resistance- (Zips & fabrics)
Now everyone has budgets in mind for the price one is willing to pay for a backpack. And let’s be honest here, we are frugal by nature and think twice even if we are buying an inexpensive piece of travel gear. Having said that, we strongly recommend the price vs. benefits in terms of product life/durability. If you are a student who carries a minimal load for commutes and between classes, a basic polyester backpack would do the job with standard zips and some amount of water repellent coating in the fabric. If you are more into technical packs and premium quality durable products, look for YKK zippers(usually engraved on the Zip heads or pullers), 400-600D dual water resistant coated polyester, TPU coated polyester, 420D Nylon or rip-stop variants of the mentioned fabrics. On the plastic hardware aspect, the best quality found on most premium packs are ITW- Nx lite, Duraflex and YKK. One can typically find their respective logos embossed on the surface for identification. If Weather protection and durability are the top of your priority and if you happen to be from one of the outdoor technical fields, the material of choice by popularity is Cordura Nylon(ballistic weave Nylon fabric) packs with waterproof zippers from YKK that allow nearly negligible penetration of elements from the environment.
Now when it comes to enthusiast level hikers, ‘Dyneema’ fabric-based packs are the leanest and meanest of them all. This fabric claims up to 15 times more tensile strength than steel and comes under highly specialized gear specifically designed for scaling summits like Everest. Backpack manufacturers in India using Dyneema are pretty much non-existent and what you find on global markets are steeply priced.
But then if its ultimate performance you’re after; why not go the distance? Some brands that use Dyneema fabric or “cuben fabric” as it’s commonly known as:
Now this Is a rather subjective aspect of choosing a pack. We could give you an enormous list of products and brand names, but its prudent to arrive at your choice organically.
Firstly, identify the material you most relate to. Weigh in more on the functional and practical aspects of the material in accordance with your lifestyle.
Secondly, the critical element is to always choose a backpack suited to one’s torso length. Not only will this ensure good proportions to match your body type but is also a vital ergonomic aspect for long-term spinal comfort in hauling your stuff around.
Finally, we come to the form, colour and finish, which let’s be honest, is the primal focus for any prospective buyer. We recommend that your process should move along only after taking care of the previously mentioned aspects, lest one falls for a regretful purchase. Are you a fashionista or one of the hipster squad looking for trendy colours with elegant touch & feel? DURAPACK’s Classic & Vintage series backpacks are made just for you. If you’re leaning towards chic premium goods, you’ll surely turn to genuine leather packs and slings but then be mindful of the care and attention needed for their upkeep over a longer period.
‘Worry’ is a load less to carry, therefore one can choose polyester fabrics and imitation leathers that are quite frankly, hard to tell apart from the original, with today’s textile technology.
What about typical tech geeks, office goers and ever-moving entrepreneurs who carry an arsenal of gadgets and gizmos? Always look for fully foam padded packs with plenty of organizer spaces for all that hardware. An internal padded sleeve with Velcro and elastic band to secure your laptop is crucial for impact resistance on-the-go. They usually come in stealthy Greys and blacks to blend with corporate settings or the high-octane E-sports environment. A further level up would be geeky stealth packs with hard shell front faces to give that extra level of protection while oozing style.
Hiker packs are fairly easy to choose from. Bright single shades or two-tone colors adorn most modern rucksacks which more or less have similar structure and design. Visibility is primary for a hiker, unless you belong to the special forces or in nature photography. In that case, muted sandy tones and camouflage themed packs are the one to look out for. If you’re not into the outright hiker vibe yet love the versatility and volume of rucksacks, go for hybrid designs. They blend the best of rucksacks with a front-loading option and plenty of external pockets and organizers for quick access of travel essentials.
In conclusion to our guide, think of backpacks as an investment and a reliable companion in your travels. Whatever budget, category or style you may have in mind, be sure to consider these steps and you will undoubtedly arrive at the right choice, tailor made for your lifestyle.
Seek the most value, comfort, durability above all and the rest will follow.
Until next time, Cheers to all!