Is Your Travel Backpack Flimsy?
You Are Not Alone
If this is your backpack, you are not alone; however, don’t settle for a flimsy pack. A backpack is supposed to protect your internal belongings from the external unknowns. You deserve a One Bag Travel pack that fits your lifestyle and travel needs, not the other way around.
There is a Better Way
Hi, my name is Luigi Rausch and I have been One Bag Traveling with the same bag for years now. It’s practical for every trip I take it on and adequately protects my gear from the unknown. I want you too to have a backpack to use for One Bag Travel that looks great, packs easy, and is built for any trip.
The Better Bag Plan
Learn how to choose a backpack that looks great, packs easy, and is practical for any trip
Use it on your next trip to better protect your internal gear from the external unknowns
Share this idea with a friend you think would also benefit from using a better bag
What to look for in a One Bag Travel bag
Whether you’re traveling for days, weeks, or months at a time, your backpack is basically your home. Like your home, you don’t want it to fall apart or your belongings inside to get damaged. You want to make sure you choose a good pack that will last you for years to come. Think of it as an insurance policy and investment in your travels, now and in the future. Plus, when you divide the cost of the backpack by the number of foreseeable years you’ll be using it, paying for quality is a small price to pay.
When looking at backpack construction fabrics, you’ll frequently see a number followed by the letter D, such as 70D, 500D, 1000D, etc. This D stands for denier (a unit of weight used to measure fabrics like silk, rayon, or nylon). The lighter the fabric, the lower the #D. For instance a strand of silk would be 2-3D, while heavier thicker fabrics have a higher #D. Applying this now to backpacks, generally speaking a higher denier or #D will be more durable, but also heavier.
Let’s look at some of the positives and negatives of the most common outer materials used in One Bag Travel packs.
CORDURA® / Kodra Nylon
Style and Color
Based on my experience and personal aesthetic choice, I would select a backpack that is very minimalistic — Meaning little to no exterior branding, a timeless appearance, and colors that won’t go out of style. There are a few reasons for this. Buying a good traveling backpack is usually no small investment and will hopefully last you years to come. So while that bright orange bag may look good now, you want to buy a travel bag that you won’t get tired of down the road. Another reason why color and style are important is considering how others will perceive you. For instance, when traveling in crowded areas, doing touristy things, nothing says “I’m a tourist” more than a gaudy colorful backpack. Though there is nothing wrong with coming off as or being a tourist, this makes you stand out and become more of a target for thieves, vendors, and wrongdoers looking to take advantage of foreigners. For these reasons, I highly recommend a minimal One Bag Travel backpack. Plus, having a subdued minimalist travel pack will allow you to more easily blend in with the local culture and experience cities like a native. Good color options include black (my personal favorite), gray, and brown. Think earthier tones.
Also known as clamshell style bags, these backpacks open like a suitcase. This is fantastic because you have more space to work with. Having this perspective also gives you an overview of everything inside making it a lot easier to pack and organize all of your travel gear.
To maximize carrying capacity to size/weight ratio, choose a rectilinear backpack (a simple box shape with flat sides and 90° corners) over a curved one. Curved bags of the same external dimensions have around 29% less storage capacity compared to a rectilinear bag (Dyment, 2019). Remember, curves cut capacity.
Backpack sizes are referred to in “Liters” meaning the internal storage volume that is available to you. But remember when choosing a size of backpack: Parkinson’s Law. His famous law suggests that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” meaning that if your boss gives you the whole day to complete a task, it will take you the whole day to complete it. However, if she says you can leave early if you finish it in 4 hours, then you’ll find a way to get it done in 4 hours. The same is true for luggage, “luggage expands so as to fill it available to its storage size” (Elya, 2018). So, if you choose a 40L bag, you are going to fill it to 40L. But if you choose a 26L bag, then you will find a way to make 26L work for you. Personally, I recommend and use the GORUCK GR1 (26L). This minimalist travel backpack has plenty of room for all my One Bag Travel needs.
Multiple Storage Compartments
Bags with great internal storage compartments are always a major plus. Specifically, look for travel packs with secure easy access compartments to put small important items like your passport, wallet, sunglasses, etc. Good locations are hidden pockets facing your back or a top pocket on the inside of your bag.
With more and more digital nomads out there working while traveling, a good laptop compartment in a travel backpack is becoming more and more critical. The best “work” One Bag Travel backpacks are those with a dedicated padded laptop compartment. This makes it a breeze to take out your laptop when going through airport security, rather than unburying it from all the stuff that’s covering it up. It’s an added bonus if the bag has a false bottom in the laptop compartment too. This protects it from hitting the ground every time you set your bag down.
YKK zippers or bust. There’s a reason that YKK zippers account for about half of all zippers in the world. They are all about quality control and manufacture everything in-house. From smelting the metal, to forging the zipper teeth, to creating the machines that make the zippers themselves, with YKK, you’ll never have to fear ending up with broken zippers on your trips.
This feature is highly recommended. There is nothing worse while traveling than opening up your backpack to wet gear. Look for packs that are “rainproof” rather than “waterproof” to protect your internal belongings and expensive tech. “Waterproof” bags would just be overkill unless you plan on traveling in downpouring rain or going swimming with it. Also, avoid bags with “waterproofing” coatings. From my experiences, these coatings work great at first, but they never last. Instead choose a fabric that is rainproof in itself.
Look for high quality bags with a warranty that backs it up. Companies like GORUCK sell their packs with a lifetime guarantee. If your bag fails you, they will fix it for you or send you a new one. Brands like this are proud of their product and will stand by it. As a consumer, you know you are buying a quality product. Yes, these bags will probably be more expensive, but you know what they say, “When you buy quality, you only cry once.”
How do you pack the thing?
Easy. Read my “How to travel with less clothes while looking and smelling fresh” blog to learn how to pack your new One Bag Travel backpack minimally and efficiently.
Do you need a backpack upgrade?
So what’s next? Well you are probably wondering, where are the best places to get a hold of a good minimal One Bag Travel backpack.
I’ve combed through the internet to bring you what I believe are the best One Bag Travel backpacks that I can find. I am extremely picky when it comes to selecting pieces that are as minimal as possible — Meaning little to no exterior branding, elegant timeless pieces / colors that won’t go out of style, high quality items made to last, and a fit that just looks good. I’ve done all the hard work so you don’t have to, because I am simply here to help you succeed. Below you will find links to my top recommendations. Please note that some links are affiliate marketing links and some are not. If the brand had an affiliate marketing program I used it to pay for my time, but if they didn’t then I didn’t worry about it. I just want to bring you great content that helps you succeed in traveling with one bag or less.
Just one more thing ☝️.
If at all possible, I recommend buying things used. Buying used is not wasteful, you’re purchasing something that already exists that someone doesn’t want anymore. This has the added benefit of saving you money, money that can be used to finance your trip, rather than your stuff. Plus, when you buy new it just becomes used as soon as you use it anyway.
One Bag Travel Backpacks
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Dyment, D. (2019, August 14). What to Pack it in Choosing A Bag [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.onebag.com/bags.html
Elya, R. (2018, December 1). Minimalist Travel Gear Packing List: Luggage & Bags Not Needed [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://regevelya.com/travel-gear/
Gearmoose. (Photographer). (n.d.). GoRuck GR1 [digital image]. Retrieved from https://gearmoose.com/best-tactical-backpacks/
Parkinson’s law. (2019, April 30). In Wikipedia. Retrieved August 27, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson%27s_law
Wahlin, T. (2019, August 23). How to Select The Best Backpack for One Bag Travel [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://packhacker.com/guide/best-travel-backpack/