Group of men backpacking through the forest


Choosing the right backpack is an important and often confusing decision. It's a piece of luggage that you will likely have with you at all times, and it's what will hold all your necessities. Like many things travel related, picking the right backpack requires balance between two extremes: Cheap vs. expensive, solid frame vs. fabric, big vs. small.

To make the decisions a little easier, here is a checklist of essential characteristics the "best" backpack will have. (For an even more comprehensive list, see travel blogger Nomadic Matt's post on choosing the right travel backpack).

Choose a combination of the qualities that are most important to you (or choose all of them!) and use this information to narrow down the choices and find your perfect pack.

Water Resistant Material

Weather is an important consideration for any travel purchase, but when it comes to your backpack, it is especially important. While the backpack doesn't need to be 100% waterproof, the best backpacks are made of semi-waterproof material so your belongings don't get drenched every time it starts to drizzle. Equally important is to know how the material will dry. The ideal material won't stay wet long, and therefore won't get musty.

Lockable Zippers

For every zipper compartment, check that there are two zippers to open and close. This way, you can lock the two zippers together, making it difficult for anyone besides yourself to access your things. While your dirty clothes may not appeal to many, your technology and other personal items may.

Internal Frame

Historically, travel backpacks have had a clunky, exposed metal frame helping it keep its shape and offer support. Thankfully, a wide majority of backpacks now come with an internal frame with support rods that are covered in fabric and stay out of sight. When they are covered and out of sight, they can't catch on random things and the internal frame also slims down your bag significantly. Even better, many of the internal frames are made from carbon fiber or tough plastic, which make them easier on your back and sturdier.

Padded Shoulder Straps

Since a majority of the weight you will be carrying will bear down on your shoulders, having adequate support and comfort will put less pressure on your shoulders and help alleviate some of the pain from your lower back as well. Added bonus if the material is very thick and made up of a single piece instead of many stitched together—this will prevent it from splitting apart and wearing thin.

Contoured/Padded Back

While we are talking about the weight you will be carrying, your back is as important as your shoulders in terms of what needs relief and comfort. Lumbar-shaped packs are more comfortable and helps distribute the weight evenly. It imitates your backs natural arch while simultaneously creating a small space between the bag and your back that allows for air circulation and a cooling effect when it gets hot.

Just like your new favorite travel backpack, travel insurance plans are the smartest way to protect your luggage and your trip. Cover-More's budget travel insurance plans offer the essentials you need, like medical cover, emergency transport and even accommodation cover.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Matt Matches.