Selecting your Travel Bag
Bags / Rucksacks / Backpacks – The very important but not best understood and easily ignored. My house is full of examples of mediocre / value for money (read low cost) bags which we don’t use any more as they give up from one corner or other when packed full in middle of journey.
However, my two bags, semi backpack and carry-on / laptop bag, which I am using since 2008 have not. Why? I think below the reasons why they have lasted so long.
Light Weight and Sturdy:
First and foremost – how heavy your bag is and how strong and sturdy it is? Bags and rucksacks over the years have become lighter yet stronger. An empty bag practically does not weight anything and is a common aspect across all good brands. However, what you need to pay attention to is the sturdiness of the bag. How durable it is? Is the stitching of your backpack good for 40 – 60L+ of weight? And what if it rained while you were walking towards your hostel? Will one scratch slowly disintegrate your bag? What if your suitcase fell down from your hand? There is no way to know unless you check them thoroughly and properly. Shaken them, put pressure on them while testing and see how they feel. Some bags are not meant for heavy / rough use. They will tend to disappoint you after two or three trips. You don’t want to be making trips to luggage store every few months. Notice the price difference between bags and probe why to know the strengths or positives of higher prices bags.
Size and Comfort of Carrying: Once you have identified few strong bags, now pay attention to the shape and size of them. Are they comfortable to carry? Can you walk without any discomfort or special attention to anything? To know, carry the bag the way you want to and take few steps. As a tall guy, I am okay with longish bags. But if I was shorter, I may prefer broader dimension. Also explore the options of having wheels. If you are not looking for very big size (60L+), and not going on proper high altitude treks, then wheels are a bliss in a backpack. You can put on the shoulders and wheels won’t dig you’re your back. Or simply tow them whereveryou wish keeping shoulders free for backpack.
Backpack / Laptop Bags: I always have a backpack / carry-on bag with me because of my camera and laptop. Mine is multi-functional shoulder bag which accommodates laptop and camera with three lens and little more. It has few pockets with zip outside for my documents and small things such as headphones, pen, paper etc. Plus light rain is not a problem. Because of its special cushion compartment, I know my laptop is safe or maybe a big photograph from bending too! To top it all, it has an open section behind, perfect for books and last minute stuffing! When looking for carry-on bag, look for one which can be put to several uses. If I am not carrying any electronics with me then this bag is good for 5 – 6 days of clothes! By having a decent size bag, you can put in one or two days of clothes in it too just in case your checked-in bag gets lost!
Looks of the Bag: Not a major factor but can prove to be important at times. Go for what you like, but try to make it less common in style and color. If different, it will be easier to spot and identify on the conveyor belt and less chances of mix-up with someone else’s bag. It will be easier to describe too if you do not see it on conveyor belt! And different things look good 😉
Finding the right bag may take time. Give it time. I took little time to find mine. It is an important item in travelling comfortably. Search and search. Hop from one shop to another in search of your ideal travel companion. Investing in good quality bags / backpack is one of the best things which you will realize overtime when you will notice you how long it has lasted without giving any trouble. My both bags cost-ed me around $100 – $120 each then, in 2008 in India. And I have not regretted buying them even once. As said earlier, I used to compromise of quality and go for value, but I have always struggled with reliability. But not since 2008.