When going on a long trip like this, your backpack will arguably be the most important piece of equipment you buy. With this in mind, its extremely important that you don’t cut any corners, and that you pick suits you 100%.
I am by know means an expert in this area, after all I have only just bought my first backpack, but even still there are some I have learned in the process that may be useful to you.
Number one on the list is definitely comfort. What could be worse than having to lug around a heavy and uncomfortable backpack throughout your entire trip?
Everybody is slightly different, and just like a shoe, not all backpacks will fit you back. Before buying a backpack always try it on first, and if possible with some weight in it. For this reason I don’t think it is a very good idea to buy online, unless you have already been into a shop and tried it on.
Obviously, comfort can be improved by a number of features:
The more padding the better really. You pack is going to be fairly heavy so anything that can cushion the weight has to be an advantage. Check that all of the straps that will come in contact with your body have adequate padding, and like I said above, try trying it on with some weight in it to see how it feels.
Make sure that the straps can be adjusted to fit your frame adequately. You want to make sure the backpack sits nicely on your back and isn’t too high or too low.
Most backpacks designed for this sort of travel come with a waist strap now. This will just hold the backpack close to you back and should also take some of the weight so make sure it fits nicely and is well padded.
If possible look for a backpack with a chest strap as well. This will help position the main shoulder straps correctly over your upper body, and will help to distribute the weight.
This is a bit hard to explain, I am not talking about those old fashioned external frame backpacks but now instead of having all of the frame on the inside, some backpacks, like mine, have a frame on the back that the straps are attached to. This holds the bag slightly away from your back allowing more ventilation, and meaning less sweat! Not an essential feature by any means, but it could be useful in those hot climates.
Well the size backpack you buy will depend on a lot of things. How long you are going for, how much you plan to take, but by far the most important thing should be that you buy a pack that is a sensible size for you. Although a huge backpack may seem attractive in the shop, remember that once it is packed it will be very heavy.
If you pick one that is overly large, you may find carrying it a struggle. Personally, I have gone for a 60+10 litre pack.
Check that the materials seems good quality. You want this thing to last so it is worth not going for the cheapest option and buying a slightly higher quality one. That said, there are a number of companies that seem to making great value backpacks at the moment, so don’t always disregard one just because its the cheapest.
The more waterproof your pack is the better. Its not essential the it is all waterproof but it is definitely a good idea for the main compartment to be waterproof.
Some of these backpacks come with a lot of other useful features now. Look out for the ones that come with a pull out cover that will completely waterproof your bag. Very useful if you’re caught in a monsoon.
Another cool feature some have is a space for a camel pack. Mine has a slot for a camel pack in the back with a little opening for the tube to come out. A great feature to keep you hydrated if you plan on going on any long walks or hikes.
Finally, a lot now have compression straps. These are straps that go around the front of the bag and pull it in making it smaller. Again not essential but useful during transportation especially.