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 not only a great design but a good fit for you. If you’re in a rush you can scroll half way down to see the top 10 list but there’s some valuable info below.
Here’s me and my trusty backpack at a border crossing in El Salvador. Have been using it for years!
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.
You might want to consider that you will 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? I’ve been using the same backpack for years. Sometimes it weighs 8kg, sometimes 22kg. Having a bigger backpack that’s slightly empty just means you’ll have more room to find things.
The same advice 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 7 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 Packs list for recommendations. I personally use a Berghaus Freeflow as it has a fixed curve back that allows air flow. Great for hot climates!
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. The Berghaus Jalan does largest capacity bags that come with wheels (65+15 for women and 70+15 for men).
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…
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.
For our North American readers, Berghaus products can be harder to find over on that side of the pond so I would strongly recommend the Osprey Farpoint (below).
1. Berghaus Jalan II – Our Recommended Backpack!
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!
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
Check out the Men’s Berghaus Verden and the Women’s Berghaus Verden on Amazon.
4. Berghaus Torridon
Check out the Men’s Berghaus Torridon and the Women’s Berghaus Torridon on Amazon.
5. Berghaus Motive
A newer backpack to the Berghaus Jalan, the Berghaus Motive is also a travel pack that opens like a suitcase.
Check out the Berghaus Motive on Amazon
6. Berghaus C7
Check out the Men’s Berghaus C7 and the Women’s Berghaus C7 on Amazon.
7. North Face Terra
Check out the North Face Terra on Amazon.
8. Karrimor Global Venture
Check out the Karrimor Global Venture on Amazon.
9. Karrimor Global Tropic
Check out the Karrimor Global Tropic on Amazon.