The first thing people think of before travelling is packing. So you’re going to want to have a bag which offers nothing short of smooth packing experience. Its important for you to choose the right travel bag for yourself.
Before anything, it will be a time-consuming process. So, I’ve prepared a list to help you choose the perfect travel bag for you. Below are pointers which layout the most important qualities such as material, price and things to consider. So, without further ado, let’s get into the list of How to Choose The Right Travel Bag For You!
1. Things to look for
What is your definition of the best bag? Is it a bag with ample space? An aesthetically pleasing design? Or maybe the versatility and unmatched durability? These in combination with each other are all qualities which makes the ideal bag. The last thing you want is a bag that isn’t able to hold its own in harsh travelling conditions. So here are some key qualities you should be looking out for while choosing the right travel bag for you.
Make sure the compartments have zippers with space between them for a small padlock. This isn’t the biggest factor when choosing the right bag, but if you’re like me, who has a fear of having their things rummaged through or stolen, then this is a good option for you. It’s always beneficial to be extra careful with your belongings because you never know what things people may try to take from your bag (or in some rare case, slip into your bag!). So, if you’re anything like me, I would absolutely recommend looking out for travel bags with this feature.
The last thing you want is shoving all your travelling items into a single compartment. Some of the things you’ll be carrying will be delicate, such as a camera, which needs to be stored away safely. You’ll also be inevitably carrying dirty, stinky clothes and the last thing you’ll want is your entire luggage smelling like death.
One universal need a traveller needs is a bag with multiple compartments for sectioning your stuff which allows easier access for times when you need to quickly grab them. Not only does this saves times, but promotes better packing habits. You can either get bags which have built-in dividers in its compartment or get some yourself. My go-to bag has built-in separators for my shoes, clothing and smaller carriables.
You can’t haul a bag for kilometres without proper padding and expect not to be miserable. Your comfort is important and dictates whether it was a successful trip or not. When you’re searching for a travel bag, it’s important to look for bags which have padding for your hips, shoulders and back.
With all the weight pushing down on your hips, you’re gonna need a bag with a padded hip belt to make moving around easier. Padded belts give the support you need and evenly distributes the weight of the load you’re carrying. Make sure the belt is adjustable to provide extra support and give relief to your back.
Make sure the shoulder pads of your bag are made out of a thick, singe material to avoid splitting or damages. They’re important for easing the weight that is pushing down on your shoulders and relieving your lower back from pressure
Lastly, padded back and support. When it comes to padded backs of a bag, it’s important to consider a few things. For backpacks, you’re gonna want to look for a contoured shape bag for even distribution of weight and to support a more natural back arch. In addition to this, it creates a small space between your back and bag to create some airflow.
Water-resistance is important
Imagine this: you’re on a multiday hike, clear skies throughout allowing you to absorb the scenic views. That is until during a later day, you find yourself caught in a torrential downpour, with no way to take immediate shelter. Your bag and gear are soaked and will remain soaked for the remaining duration of the hike.
Needless to say, waterproof luggage is a bare necessity for travels no matter where they go. Even semi water-resistant materials are acceptable. The importance is keeping your bag from getting wet due to a little drizzle. Most travel bags come with rain covers, or they can be bought separately at affordable prices here.
2. Internal Frame or External Frame?
Mobility is a key factor in determining how successful any trip will be. Different travellers opt for bags based on preference. These are internal frame and external frame backpacks. There isn’t a dominating type of backpack due to the versatility each type brings to the table. So which one is right for you?
Internal frame bags are more suited for compact travelling in cities, modes of transport and venturing on trails. The structure of an internal bag is designed in a way to not shift easily from side to side when you’re on a hike which requires more stability and movement. The form factor makes sure that there is a reduced chance of getting caught on a rock. Many of the internal frame bags have one gigantic compartment with a few access zippers, so they aren’t particularly focused on organization.
If your style of packing for a trip includes strapping external items onto your bag, an external frame is a go-to for you. External frames are the preferred pack for those travelling on more prepped trails and carrying heavier loads. In terms of compartments, external packs have smaller pockets distributed around the bag, allowing for more organized packing.
Getting into more direct comparisons on which bag is best for you, external frame packs are much more economical than internal frame packs. Other than that, it’s entirely up to the type of trip you’re taking, the budget on hand and your packing habits.
If you’re still split on deciding between the two, I highly recommend checking out this in-depth article about internal and external frame packs here.
3. Suitcases vs Backpacks
I’ll just get straight to the point here. Suitcases are for shorter getaways or family vacations while backpacks are for longer, more mobile trips. You want to avoid hauling a suitcase up a hill and everywhere you go. Sure you get to take more along with you, but sometimes less is more.
Let’s take a look at scenarios which fits each option.
If the trip you’re looking to take is more focused on visiting a more relaxed destination and less on-foot travelling around, suitcases are ideal for you. Suitcases allows you to pack more and more precisely, including non-necessities and one-off use items. Speaking of items, delicate things can’t really be packed in suitcase due to how roughly they get handled.
Since you won’t be carrying your suitcase wherever you go, you can leave it behind at the hotel and carry a smaller pouch for an emergency. Suitcases are also a better idea if you’re going to have longer stays.
Suitcases aren’t the most friendly when it comes to immediate unpacking. If by an off chance you need to urgently grab something from your suitcase, it won’t be as simple as opening the zip and quickly grabbing the desired item.
Backpacks are for more mobile, shorter trips. If you’re bringing a smaller load along with you and minimal baggage, backpacks are the ideal choice. The downside of packs is that weight will constantly be pushing down on you, leading to back pain if you overpack or carry a backpack too big for your size.
Compared to suitcases, backpacks are simply more versatile. You may not be able to pack as much, but you can pack more precisely and more importantly, exactly what you need. In my experience, backpacks are most packing friendly because it forces me to think about items I absolutely need and can easily be compartmentalized.
When wearing a backpack, I feel a sense of freedom from my upright body posture and not having to worry about hauling a suitcase around which may inevitably run over some toes if the area gets crowded enough.
Unpacking on the spot is a breeze too. Simply opening the zip and grabbing what you need at that moment has never been easier than backpacks.
Lastly, in terms of mobility, again, it depends on a myriad of factors. To better understand this, here is my personal experience. I will always choose a backpack over a suitcase for the sole reason that I always pack light and whatever I pack usually fits within a backpack. With backpacks, I feel more free and am able to move around, travel up and down hills without slowing down significantly. Again, it depends on your preferences, needs, type of trip and the conditions, so consider these things when choosing the right type for yourself.
4. Does size matter?
A bag is kind of like a show, one size does not fit all. Depending on the person, they’re going to need a certain bag, proportional to their size. Think to yourself, how long will the trip last? A couple of months or a few weeks? Accordingly, you’re going to find a selection of bags.
However, if you are going on a longer trip, you don’t want to get the biggest possible backpack available. Firstly, transportation will become a headache due to the small luggage compartments. Secondly, you won’t be able to even pick the bag up, let alone start trekking.
The recommended bags are between 40 – 60- litre capacity. Keep in mind that if you get a bag that is too big, there will be an imbalance in weight distribution which will lead to back pain or even more embarrassing, falling over. You should also be looking for a bag to be able to continuously carry a heavy load, usually, around 15 kilos, without and wear and tear. One last point to keep in mind is that the bigger your bag is, the less likely you are to be able to carry it on an aeroplane.
Personally, I choose a bag proportionate to my body, while rarely grabbing a bigger one for 2 reasons: it promotes smarter packing and I do not enjoy drawing the entire town’s attention to myself as I roll up to a town carrying a backpack 3 times my size.
5. Ideal pricing
Similar to all the other types of products on the market, the price of bags are dependant on their size, the material they’re made out of and brand name. Paying a premium doesn’t always mean you’re getting the absolute best. There are plenty of bags and suitcases out there at economical prices which offer unmatched durability and ease of use.
Some notable brands are VIP, Skybags, American Tourister, Wildcraft and even AmazonBasics. Bags are usually priced between ₹3,000 – ₹8,000, but I recommend not spending more than ₹6,000 because, after that, there isn’t any justification for why brands charge so much.
At similar price points, bags begin to offer the same features and accessories. The material begins to be identical, more steps and belts are added for a complex look. Basically, anything and everything to added to get the costs up and raise the price.
Bags are an investment as they’re going to last you years to come. If you don’t mind investing more heavily in a bag that will last you, by all means, go for it. If you’re looking for more budget-friendly options, there are plenty on sale currently. I’ve gone out and found some lists ranking the bags while listing the pros and cons here and here.No matter how you look at it, researching and choosing a bag will take a large chunk of your time, so my suggestion is to not be impulsive. Take your time, find a bag which feels right to you and fits perfectly. I hope these tips have given you insights for a rough idea of the bag you are looking to get. If you find yourself looking for outdoor bags, look no further than Urban Tribe! They offer a wide selection of outdoor as well as travel bags. Check them out on their website.