What is the best Gap Year Travel Backpack? – Top 10 for Backpacking

by Gap Year Escape · 16 comments

Selecting the best backpack to travel around the world can be one of the most important decisions you make. You might be living out of the backpack for a year on your, you guessed it, gap year. It’s vital that you get it right and get a rucksack or backpack that is top rated.

Amar Backpacks

A lot of people ask “what’s the best rucksack for 3 or 6 months of travel?” or “what’s the best backpack for a trip to South East Asia or Australia?” Both of these questions are somewhat irrelevant. Going on a very short trip might mean you only need a small backpack such as 30/40lt IF you travel light but I take the same backpack on one month trips as I do 12 month trips. Just because you have 60 litres, doesn’t mean you have to fill it completely. Also, you might do a month trip now and then end up getting the bug and travelling for longer. Why not just buy one decent bag for life? The same goes for destinations. If you get a decent backpack, like the brands listed below, they will be suitable for all countries that you visit. The Berghaus Backpack I use has been to 6 continents. So let me help you choose the best backpack for you…

What size backpack do I need?

Yes boys and girls, it does matter. It all really does depend on you. Some people are flashpackers and must take 6 pairs of shoes in which case you might want a bigger backpack. Some people purposely take a smaller backpack to limit how much they are carrying around with them in case they get tempted to shop. General rule of thumb would be anything around the 60 litre mark. I know some guys who travel light with 50 and some girls who travel with 70. Anything more and you are in danger of falling over and any less and you won’t have room for anything.

What is the best day pack?

These days a lot of backpacks come with a 10-20 litre detachable day bag. Pretty good idea for when you need a small bag for treks or excursions. I’ve found it useful to have my own day pack in addition to the one that comes with my backpack. If you’re looking for the best day pack check out our top day pack list.

Do I need a backpack with wheels? Are wheeled backpacks necessary?

I am personally against wheels. I think it is part of the backpacking experience to lug around my 22kg backpack. (I have no idea how it got so heavy. When I left Heathrow it was 14kg). Let’s be serious though. Wheels are a good idea in principle. Sure they take a load off but they also can add an extra 2 or 3kg of weight to your backpack. If you are taking cheap internal flights, Air Asia for example, you will be eating into your weight limit and risk having to pay extra. However, if you are going somewhere ‘western’ where there will be nice pavements and flat roads a backpack with wheels might not be a bad idea.

What is the best backpack design?

The most important design feature of the backpack is how it opens. From my own research they are commonly called travel packs as opposed to rucksacks. These are backpacks that open like a suitcase. After backpacking for a long time I’ve found that ones that zip most of the way round are the easiest to travel with as you have faster access to all of your belongings. The alternative is to buy a backpack that’s a top loader but a lot of these will also have access from the bottom (such as the Berghaus Verden and Torridon). As they are both travel packs, I recommend either the Berghaus Jalan or the Osprey Farpoint (these take the number 1 and 2 spots on our list!)

Fitting your Backpack or Rucksack

I hate to get all Harry Potter on you but you don’t pick the backpack. The best backpack picks you. Make sure that you are getting the correct sexed bag. Female backpacks tend to suit, well females. We’ve compiled a list of best backpacks for women and best backpacks for men. If you are a tall female it might be worth looking at a male backpack as it might be a better fit. Go in to your local outdoor store and try the backpacks on. You’ll just feel which one is right for you. If in doubt just ask the sales assistant who looks like he doesn’t want to be there…

US/Canadian readers check out Best Backpacks in the US. If you’re British/European read on. Different backpack brands available on different continents, go figure.

The Top 10 Best Backpacks and Rucksacks

I am a strong believer in the Berghaus Jalan and I think it’s the best backpack for travelling. I’ve been using it for three years now and it is my home away from home… that I carry on my back like a snail. I digress. It’s a great backpack and I see a lot of people with it. It might not be for you so below is my Top 10 Backpacks. All of these backpacks are available on Amazon. As there are various stockists and prices, all of the links below link to all available options for the mentioned backpack so that you can search for the cheapest price.

1. Berghaus Jalan II – Our Recommended Backpack!

Berghaus Jalan

The Berghaus Jalan is our top pick backpack. The Berghaus Jalan comes in a 60lt version for guys and a 65lt version for girls. The reason we love this backpack so much is that it zips most of the way round so you can open it like a suitcase! It also has a detachable day sack (which is hydration pack compatible). Berghaus is also a reputable brand and I have no qualms about the quality.

Check out the Men’s Berghaus Jalan and the Women’s Berghaus Jalan on Amazon

2. Osprey Farpoint – Alternative Recommendation!

Osprey Farpoint

The Osprey Farpoint is a good alternative to the Berghaus Jalan as it also zips round and opens like a suitcase. Osprey is also a very reputable company producing a bunch of excellent products.

Check out the Osprey Farpoint on Amazon

3. Berghaus Verden

Berghaus Verden 65+10 Rucksack

Check out the Men’s Berghaus Verden and the Women’s Berghaus Verden on Amazon.

4. Berghaus Torridon

Berghaus Torridon 65 Men's Backpack

Check out the Men’s Berghaus Torridon and the Women’s Berghaus Torridon on Amazon.

5. Berghaus C7

Berghaus C7 1 Series 65+10 Mens Rucksack

Check out the Men’s Berghaus C7 and the Women’s Berghaus C7 on Amazon.

6. North Face Terra

Check out the North Face Terra on Amazon.

7. Karrimor Global Venture

Karrimor Global Venture 55+15 Travel Bag

Check out the Karrimor Global Venture on Amazon.

8. Karrimor Global Tropic

Karrimor Global Tropic 65 Plus 15 Backpack

Check out the Karrimor Global Tropic on Amazon.

9. Vango Pumori

Vango Pumori 60 + 10 Litre Rucksack - Black

Check out the Vango Pumori on Amazon.

10. Vango Sherpa

Vango Sherpa 65 Litre Rucksack Backpack, Duke of Edinburgh Recommended

Check out the Vango Sherpa on Amazon.


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

chuck March 30, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Thanks for the tips!

I’m trying to figure out which one of these would be for me..
Which Jalan do you have? Do you have the 60+15? Is it big enough? I think I would prefer a bit bigger, but then it’s the 70+15 with weels, or the Luxe 70+20, plus they are both a bit more expensive..

Gap Year Escape March 30, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Hi Chuck,

I have:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/BERGHAUS-Jalan-Black-Thunder-Litres/dp/B002NQA4RS?&camp=2486&linkCode=wey&tag=gapyeaesc-21&creative=20370

It currently holds 22kg. Most carriers only allow 23kg so the size is just perfect.

I would recommend it. Has served me well the last 6 months!

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Peter July 24, 2010 at 2:42 PM

Cheers for the tips.

Do you know if the Gelert Discovery Rucksack has a padded lumbar support & waist belt? The above link only has one photo of the bag from the front and I can’t make out if it does or not?

Cheers

DavidM October 11, 2010 at 6:20 AM

A good list of things to look out for. my only other advice is that once you’ve found what you think will be the best bag for you, use it for long walks or a weekend away, fully loaded. It’s better to find out you’ve made a mistake before you leave so you can flog it on ebay and try again than spend a year with something that just doesn’t work for you.

ponchai sinnawon May 20, 2011 at 3:02 AM

attempting to pack enough things into a hiking backpack to last me for a month in Africa?

Adventurous Andrea February 4, 2013 at 8:46 PM

What an awesome resource! I need to purchase a quality backpack soon and will definitely be referencing back to this.

Adam - Tropical Nomad May 24, 2013 at 5:42 AM

I use a Osprey 25 litre for day use and it is a WEAPON of a backpack that comes with a lifetime guarantee for $120…

As far as big backpacks go, I think North-face and Katmandu have some really good ones.

Dazza June 12, 2013 at 9:57 PM

I have the berghaus jalan luxe 70 + 20, I love all the pockets, compartments, straps, both in main bag and day sack… I used it for a couple of one month trips and storage was great… only thing that bugs me is that I don’t find the straps to be thick enough, when the main bag is fully loaded I find it a bit uncomfortable :/ Don’t know if it’s the bag or maybe I am not packing my things in the right way.

I am now going on a 6 months or more trip and seriously considering buying another one…

Any advice?

Gap Year Escape June 12, 2013 at 10:47 PM

I guess my question is, are you sure you’re wearing your backpack right?

When you do up the waist strap properly, the weight of the backpack is mostly on your hips rather than your shoulders and upper back. This spreads the weight evenly and is much more comfortable on your shoulders.

Amar

Dazza June 18, 2013 at 10:48 PM

Hi

Thanks for your reply!

Yes, in fact as soon as I put it on, it is comfortable, but after I wear it for a while, there is a lock on either side of the back straps that kind of loosens with the weight of the bag and the weight of the bag goes back to my shoulders :/

To be honest, I read so many good reviews about it + it is not that I spend most of the time with the bag on my back, so probably I think I will go with this one, and not buy another, I just really like all the pockets, compartments, etc… I hope it will be the right decision… It feels lie the toughest decision for me :) having the perfect travel bag!

Tom October 21, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Hello,

I bought the jalan II 60+10 for a good price of 97 euros.
Now the mistake i made.. i did not noticed this backpack is designed for womans.
They simply did not wrote it down in the discription.
Do you know if there are any big differences in the womans and the mans jalan II ?
I am 180cm long and 80kg.

Hope to hear from you!

Tom

Rachel February 3, 2014 at 3:17 PM

Hi Tom,

The main difference you’ll find between backpacks with standard back systems and female specific backpacks is that ones designed for women have a shorter back length and often extra padding on the hip belt for comfort. They may also come with shaped shoulder straps, so they curve around the chest, again another comfort feature. Did you return the pack or keep it in the end? I’d be interested to know how you got on :)

Rachel

Nomadic Boys February 12, 2014 at 4:27 PM

Very useful post. I recently found the Osprey Aether 70l which I really liked, but they don’t do it in Small (my size); only M or L, so having to look elsewhere. Thanks for the recommendations.

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