Recently, a reader wrote to us with a question about backpacks, and packing:
“Great book – I bought the Kindle version over the weekend. Great tips, perfect length. I’m going to be using it a lot – quitting my job and will be traveling for a few months or years – Europe, Asia, maybe S. America/Australia, my question was about the backpack. Loved what you said about traveling light – and the more you travel the less you pack. Any advice for me on what backpack is best and a basic list of necessities for that type of trip. The less I need to carry, the happier I’ll be. Thanks again!”
Keith answered Steve below, with some personal insight into backpacks and packing. But we’d also like to know what YOUR best advice is? Weigh in at the bottom of this post and you could win a copy of The Packing Book!
Thanks for buying our book, and thanks for writing! Your upcoming trip sounds terrific. And that’s so great that you are keeping an open mind as to the places you want to travel to and the time you want to spend on the trip. Serendipity is a wonderful thing.
As far as advice on backpacks, I must admit that I am biased towards packs that you are able to unzip the top/back of, kind of like a suitcase. The much more popular style is that of a ‘top loader’ where everything gets loaded and unloaded from the top of the backpack. The benefits of a top loader is that they typically are a little lighter. One of the benefits of the zipper kind is that they are more secure (less likely to have a random thief steal something out of your bag). But perhaps the best benefit to me is that you don’t have to take so much stuff out of your bag just to get to items. With a top loader, if something is at the bottom of your bag you have to take everything out just to get to it. With a ‘zipper bag’ you can easily get to stuff just like you can in a suitcase.
As far as brands of bags, I have had and used an Osprey for several years now and love it. It is comfortable and very durable (has logged a ridiculous number of miles and time on the road), and it is still in great shape. And for what you get I think they are very reasonably priced.
When it comes to a packing list, definitely the less you pack the better. I also like to bring clothes that are typically easy to wash in the sink and dry overnight fairly easily when needed. For instance, as much as I like jeans, I don’t typically travel long term with them since they weigh so much and take so long to dry when I do wash them. And if I think I will be spending time in colder climates I will just wear more layers as opposed to bringing a heavy coat or bigger sweaters. Anyway, I cold go on and on, but here is a great link to help you out with the packing list in general. I tend to agree with that vast majority of what is said here:
To win your copy of The Packing Book, weigh in with your best packing advice in the comments below. Then tweet this post and tag @travelfreebook in your tweet. The advice we feel is best or most creative will win!
Thanks, and travel well!
Hey, Great article, just finished my Southeast Asia Backpacking trip and im missing it already!
Check out my blog
For more tips and guides on backpacking in Southeast Asia.
We try to use 1/4 size packing cubes so our backpacks are organized and we keep all of our travel size toiletries in the outer pockets. This helps us move through customs
quicker; everything is accessible within reach.