Never have I ever gone backpacking, and so when I stumbled into a store I wasn’t able to decipher what I needed or how to get fitted. It was just an impressive abyss of backpacks on backpacks, some used for mountain climbing, some for the casual gym…others looked like someone’s temporary housing. I sauntered into Mountain Equipment Co-op, the most top-of-mind destination for all my South East Asia travelling needs. And thank goodness I had the help of some of the company’s finest when it came to picking the right bag.
South East Asia and other more mobile-centric regions aren’t a place for a rolling luggage. I learned that quickly when seeking the advice of well-travelled friends, who cringed at the thought of bringing my usual checked baggage. It was clear that I was going to live three weeks off my back, so it was important to find one that was a) supportive b) felt good c) I knew how to use.
Getting fitted is important. Reach out to your local bag store, and make sure that you know how to properly strap on your bag, and take it off (there’s a technique). Learning these few simple steps will prevent you from injuring yourself, and taking on too much (there’s a life metaphor in there somewhere).
Find your Function
Do you care about having a tarp to cover your backpack when in transit? Are you concerned about accessibility to your stuff while you’re traveling? Are you hiking? All important questions to ask yourself about what type of travel experience you’re about to have. For myself, I wanted something that could act like typical luggage (it would zip out like a luggage when laid flat). This would allow me to get tons of use out of the bag, and have lots of reasons to keep bringing it on trips. That and it was nice looking, that doesn’t hurt ever, right?
Make sure that you under pack for your trip ahead. While this might be difficult if you’re heading into a specific type of climate, under packing ensures you don’t have those moments of cursing before you have to come home, with many indispensable souvenirs in tow. Make way for those knick knacks, or those items that you’re sure to accumulate over your travels. No regrets.
Pack your backpack in the sequence of light at the bottom, heavy in the middle, and light at the top. This ensures that the weight is distributed in the right place on your back. You’ll need your back for a long time! Take care of it.