How to Pick the Right Backpack

How to pick the right backpack

Picking a backpack might seem like an easy task. But let’s face it: you’re not at school anymore. Choosing your backpack probably has, at this point, nothing to do with who your favorite comic book or cartoon character is! But what should you be looking out for? Below, PackTiny have listed a few things to consider when choosing a new pack. Hopefully these hints will help you to find a quality, long lasting backpack at a reasonable price.

Some things to consider in your backpack.

What will you be using your backpack for? One you take hiking will look (and feel) different than one you are using for college classes or the daily commute.

Overall value. Look for a great mid-range backpack that combines the function you need with the style you want.

Style. Listen, as we mentioned you’re not in school anymore, but you can still appreciate the aesthetics of the design of your backpack.

Comfort. Be sure that you have a backpack that can support your back, your shoulders, and the load you need to carry without becoming uncomfortable.

Functionality. Ease of access to vital areas, water bottle pockets, hydration systems, waterproofing, packing sleeves, there are a number of variables to take into account when choosing your pack, and their importance boils down to how you are planning to use it.


The capacity of a backpack is probably the biggest factor when deciding which to go for. Backpack size is measured in litres, and you will usually find it in the name, for example the Deuter Trans Alpine 30 is… you’ve guessed it 30 litres. Generally speaking if you are travelling for the weekend, or shorter trips you won’t need more than 40 litres, for longer excursions you might want a bigger pack to get all your gear in, but it’s worth bearing in mind you’ll be carrying it on your back so don’t go over-board packing clothes that you might not necessarily need. Pack Tiny Explore Big :)

You may also see packs with an additional plus 10 or 15 or so within their name, this is for when the backpack includes a detachable daypack. The ‘plus’ litre size is the capacity of the detachable bag. This can be very useful for longer excursions where it can become cumbersome to take everything with you.

Water-resistant material

Even though your pack doesn’t need to be 100% water-resistant, make sure your it is constructed from a semi-waterproof material so everything doesn’t get wet in a light drizzle (many packs have tarps you can easily put over them should you be out in a severe downpour). Additionally, make sure this material won’t keep wet long and get musty. Look for material that is as thick as possible whilst keeping a light weight. You probably won’t be traveling in torrential downpours or monsoons but when caught in a smaller rainstorm it is reassuring to know your backpack is constructed from good stuff, and you won’t be popping open your bag to discover wet clothes.

For modern synthetic backpacks the “heftiness” of the material is measured in deniers. ‘Denier’ is a measurement of the thickness used in nylon material. Daypacks are usually lighter with around 200 denier cloth, while backpacks use 400-600 denier cloth. The higher the denier level, the higher the strength and weight of the material.

Lockable Zippers

Ensure that each compartment provides two zippers with the ability to lock them together collectively. Whilst travelling you shouldn’t be  overly worried about thieves breaking into your bag, it is worth taking into consideration though. And small locks on the seals of your bag can provide peace of mind when you are storing more valuable items such as laptops and cameras.

Multiple Compartments

A modern bag will contain multiple compartments. With these areas, you can split up your belongings in smaller sections so it’s easier to access and get the stuff you need when you need it. For example, store your clothes in the primary compartment of your bag, light gear and often used items in the top, water bottles in side pockets. Planning out how you pack your bag will help to save time rummaging around, and will keep the clean from the dirty.

Internal Frame

Nearly all backpacks today include internal-frames, meaning the shape assistance rods ( that maintain the structure of the pack ) are built into the backpack and hidden from view. Even so, there still some external frame backpacks, where the rods are separate from the actual pack. Today it is probably best that you get a backpack with an internal frame. Besides looking better, the bag will be slimmer and easier to handle. Internal-framed packs are usually lighter as the frame consists of carbon fibre or toughened aluminium making them easier on the back as well as more durable.

Padded Hip Belt

After your shoulders, on larger packs, almost all of the weight you will be carrying around will be hugging your hips, so you’ll want a padded belt to make supporting the weight more comfortable. The belt will provide support and help to distribute the load more evenly on your back causing less strain and difficulties. The hip belt should also be adjustable to help you tighten it for extra support. There are hi-tech models of backpack where the hip belt and contoured back can be shaped to the individual, these provide the best shape possible to manage the weight on your back.

Padded Shoulder Straps

These make carrying your load more comfortable, the shoulder pads put less pressure on the shoulders and in addition help take demand off your lower back. Make sure the padding is reasonably thick and derived from a single section of material as it’s going to be less likely to be able to split or fray.

Contoured/Padded Back

A new lumbar-shaped pack can make carrying your backpack much more comfortable, as again it aids distribution of weight more evenly. The same principle applies to that of contoured ergonomic chairs. It allows for a more natural stance when carrying to ensure no back pain. Moreover, this type of pack creates a compact space between your back and the bag, and modern backpack designs include technologies to make the most of this and increase airflow between the carrier and the pack itself. Carrying a heavy load can be a sweaty business so these technologies are worth investigating.

Why Pricing Can Be Deceiving

Value is important. But it’s really important to note that the cheapest backpack might not be the best investment. Cheap backpacks tend to fall apart, quicker. They may also cause discomfort. Buying the cheapest backpack might seem the best deal at the time, but when your valuables start spilling out through the fraying material, or shoddy workmanship, having to spring for a second pack may leave a whole in your pocket.

What We Recommend

We recommend that you take your time selecting your backpack. Think about your personal style along with value, comfort, and function. If you keep all these things in mind you can easily find a great backpack here at PackTiny, it’s about balancing price and quality. The backpacks we’ve listed are from tried and trusted brands and wherever you happen to be going a pack from PackTiny will help you to get there.