Student travelers need a good backpack. Whether you're hiking and camping close to home or traveling internationally, it will be your faithful companion. Which means you don't want to lose it. More on that in this article.
After inspecting and playing with many backpacks, I decided to show you a few real world reviews from backpackers and some professional and vendor reviews.
Before you start reading expert opinions or hitting the stores, aquaint yourself with some basic FAQ's on purchasing a backpack (for instance, what is the difference between an internal or external frame and a frameless backpack?) and before you start hiking and camping with it, get some FAQ's on loading your backpack.
Most manufacturer's sites have fitting charts. As always, the best way to find a piece of travel gear that will be on your body is to visit a store. Try it on. Put some weight inside it. Walk around. If you feel any spots that rub, even slightly, be advised that that little spot will be killing you after hauling that back pack for a day. Get some tips on measuring yourself for a good fit before you head for the store.
And now, on to the experts.
Backpack Reviews by Backpackers
BackpackGearTest.org - internal and external backpacks from Kelty, Marmot, Mountainsmith, Granite Gear, JanSport, REI, Northface
BackpackGearTest.org - frameless backpacks from Black Diamond, Blackhawk, Burton's Women's, Dana Designs, Granite Gear, Mountainsmith, Moonbow
Internal and external frame backpack reviews with shopping links from OutdoorReview.com - shopping links and several Arc Teryx (the hot name in backpacks) reviews
Leisurely Backpacker - just a few new reviews, but the older ones will be helpful in buying a used backpack
Professional and Vendor Back Pack Reviews
Backpacker Magazine - The magazine's top choices with backpack reviews and online shopping
Consumer Guide Reviews - lots of backpacks and ability to compare by price and type
BackpackReviews.com - Backpacks and more (hydration packs, kid packs, etc.)
Womens' Backpack Reviews from Backpacker magazine:
- Eastern Mountain Sports Ascent 4200
- JanSport Juno
- Osprey Luna 75
- Marmot Femme Nikita
Vendor and Manufacturer Links
REI's Featured Women's Backpacks
Arc tyrex or Arc'teryx
MounatinSmith - more than over the shoulder backpacks
Real Life Miscellaneous Backpack Tips
I've got one major tip for you from my personal experience: using a backpack that loads from the top may mean strewing your belongings all over while you look for something that is (naturally) at the bottom of the pack.
Ensure your backpack has a place to stash a water bottle that's easy to reach.
Many backpackers recommend buying a backpack with a detachable daypack. The daypack can be used as a carry-on while checking a large backpack or for excursions while the big pack is left at the hostel or camping site. Some backpackers stuff their own empty daypacks into the big backpack and fill the small one daily with essentials; others wear the big pack on their backs while hiking and the daypack over their torsos to make getting at crucial stuff (maps, bug spray) easy.
Speaking of leaving the big backpack at the hostel, most travelers say it will be safe. Theft proof it with a backpack lock; if you're still worried about it, stash it in a train or bus station locker while you're away from the hostel. And a Student Travel forum member says she carries a clean pillowcase so that she can stuff the backpack in it and take it to bed with her (no telling where that pack has been, thus the pillowcase) when staying in a hostel which she feels may not be safe.
Back at the campsite, hang your backpack at least ten feet from the ground and four feet from any side supports to keep it safe from bears; many campers use a pulley to get the backpack into and out of trees - so will a thief. If bears aren't a concern, stash it in bushes.
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