Saying that there are a variety of bags to choose from for a travel bag is like saying World War II was a minor disagreement. It’s completely overwhelming how many options there are. When a single bag holds all of your earthly possessions, that bag suddenly becomes very important. How do you ever figure out which is the best bag to get? Let me guide you through with what I’ve learned over years on nonstop travel.
Suitcase, backpack, or wheelie bag?
In case you didn’t read the name of this website when you arrived, we are going to be focusing on having only one bag that fits everything. This means you are going to be carrying everything around with you in a way that makes sense for unexpected long walks over rugged terrain.
Rule #1: Always be prepared
A suitcase only makes sense if you enjoy throwing your shoulder out. People can’t even carry these things from their house to the car in one lug, much less around the world. Forget ‘em. Wheelie bags? You want to travel the world, not Los Angeles. The world isn’t paved, and the instant you see your first steep staircase or your 50th unpaved road covered in wheel-grinding gravel, you will regret that cursed wheelie bag.
Yes, it’s a cliché to see a backpacker traveling around, but that cliché exists for a reason. “But it looks so cheap!” I hear you cry out in annoyance. Ahh, be patient young grasshopper. All will become clear soon.
Rule #2: The backpack is an extension of your body
It needs to line up with your spine and rest on your hips, not your shoulders. That one sentence sums up all you need to know about fitting your backpack in a way that you will forget you are even wearing it. When it rests on your hips, your legs (which are used to it) do the work instead of your spine and back (which scream in agony). When it lines up with your spine, it moves and bends with you, instead of fighting you like you are wearing that cardboard box robot costume from Halloween in the 4th grade. That thing was sweet.
Rule #3: Don’t go overboard
I know you are already freaking out about the thought of leaving behind your favorite pillow and collector’s edition Star Wars DVDs, but this is the road. If you bring all of that stuff, you will be focusing on keeping it safe instead of actually enjoying your trip and experiencing the world. I guarantee you that on day 3 you will seriously regret bringing so much stuff and start looking for what you can ditch. Nobody ever ends their life wishing they’d spent more time at work, and nobody who is traveling wishes they’d packed more stuff. Relax. It will be there when you get back.
In addition, this keeps you from having to get one of those ridiculously huge military backpacks that identify you as one of those “being a backpacker is my identity!” wankers. Ugh.
Rule #4: Lots of compartments
There will be lots of times when you need to suddenly pull out one specific thing from your bag, (like your passport or toiletries) and if everything is shoved into one giant compartment, you will be the one everyone is glaring at while you hold up the line yet again. Make sure there are lots of compartments, mostly accessible from the outside. Having one or two on the inside for more personal items is also a good idea, as well as some open pockets on the sides to throw some snacks in.
In addition to having the additional compartments, it’s extremely handy and time-saving to have a couple packing cubes. Fold your shirts in one and your undies in another and you never have to deal with wrinkled clothes again. Once you arrive, just slide both of them out and you have a makeshift dresser, not a wad of clothes to fight through and figure out what’s still clean.
Rule #5: Don’t sweat it
You are going to have this backpack on for long periods of time. While walking. In very hot areas. If you have a normal backpack smashed against you, you are going to arrive overheating and dripping in sweat.
Then you start to move, and it gets cold and sticky… and.. bleargh. Forget all of that nastiness. This is a problem that has been solved. By Deuter.
Deuter isn’t just any backpack company. They have been making technical backpacks since around 120 years ago, when they invented a new backpack to help the postal service of Germany survive long days carrying lots of weight. And they kept innovating after that. Around 1985, they invented a system that keeps you clean and dry, while positioning the backpack in a much more comfortable place by arching the backpack away from you and placing only a thin mesh against your body.
Clean, cool, and collected.
Their Futura line of backpacks all contains this patented technology, called AirComfort, along with everything I’ve listed above. They make them in all sizes from tiny daypacks to massive ones you could probably carry a friend around in. I’ve used the 32 liter size for years on end, and it has survived luggage handlers, tiny airport lockers, and being dropped out of a car going 60 MPH. These things are tough.
Not only are they tough, but they are sleek looking. No army rucksacks here. These are classy enough to take on a business trip, though the design styling makes it look like you are just out for a hike.
Simple and sleek.
I heartily endorse doing your own research to find the best backpack for you. After spending way too much time and money on backpacks that were severely lacking or just fell apart, this one has stood the test of time. It gets the full CEO recommendation.
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