Planning to strap on a backpack and go gallivanting across Europe? Great! Nothing makes us happier than having travel buffs entertain us with stories about their glorious trips.
Whether you’re heading off to bustling Paris, the charming medieval town of Cesky Krumlov or the alpine escape of Chamonix, one thing is undeniable. The wrong backpack will ruin your trip!
You don’t want to haul an uncomfortable or heavy backpack all over Europe, do you? At Standard Luggage, we have put together a list of things to consider while shopping for the best backpack to take on your European adventure.
Ditch Bulky Backpacks on Your Euro Trip
Being a good backpacker often means being a minimalist. Convenience is the biggest appeal of a lightweight backpack. In addition, you shouldn’t overload your backpack.
Big, bulky backpacks will most certainly dampen your travel experience. Europe has a wide array of travel options for backpackers. You can choose to explore the continent by air, trains, buses, ferries or even bikes.
Imagine cycling or even walking for hours on end with a huge, burly backpack! We’re sure even the very thought of this can make you want to cancel your trip. Big, overloaded backpacks are not only unpleasant, but they can also cause long-term damage to your spine.
In addition, you'll find that many older buildings in Europe don't have lifts. For example, lifts are not a common amenity in many older apartments in Paris. This means you may end up having to cart your heavy backpack all the way to the top of a 5-storey building.
Front-loading backpacks are a life-saver
Most backpacks are available in the market load from the top. To get anything from the middle or bottom, you have no choice but to unpack everything. If you’re backpacking and staying in hostels where you share your room with 10 other people, you may not want to keep doing that.
Front-loading backpacks are travel backpacks that open like a suitcase while maintaining the aesthetics of a backpack. This means you can reach for your things without being forced to unpack everything else.
These travel backpacks are super useful whether you’re a messy slob or a hyper-organized clean freak. Once you use a front loader, you will probably never want to go back to top-loading backpacks with limited access to items below the top layer.
Your Backpack Should Conform to Airline Regulations
Europe has several popular budget airlines that allow you to discover the continent without breaking the bank.
The most common carry-on bag dimension in Europe is 55cm x 40cm x 20cm which is equal to 22 in x 16 in x 8 in. European airlines also have a weight restriction for cabin bags which can usually go up to 10 kgs or 22lbs.
If you want to be able to comply with this weight restriction, you must buy a backpack that is 4.5 lbs or lighter. If you get a heavier bag, you will probably not be able to take everything you need.
Moreover, one of the main perks of traveling with a backpack is the ability to leave the airport without waiting for the luggage carousel to bring your bag. For this reason, you must make sure your backpack conforms to airline regulations.
Buy a water-resistant backpack with lightweight material
Many parts of Europe are known to have unpredictable weather. If you’re off to London or any other part of the UK, you are more than likely to face a few unexpected showers. Do we need to tell you what will happen if your backpack and you are caught in the rain especially if you’re carrying your laptop or passport?
When you’re shopping for a backpack, think of the material. It should be water-resistant and lightweight. Some bag makers also provide extra rain covers to protect your belongings from the elements and keep them dry.
Favor internal frame backpacks over external frame backpacks
If you’re new to the backpacking world, you probably don’t know the difference between the two yet.
Internal frame backpacks are travel bags with one big internal compartment and one or two external compartments or pouches. In contrast, external frame backpacks have one internal compartment and many small external pouches or compartments that often protrude outside.
Although external frame backpacks can carry more in theory and is a better option for efficient packing, internal frame backpacks are far better for your back and neck. External frames are a great option for people who like to organize and have a specific spot for each of their things, but they are also heavier. You shouldn’t opt for an external frame if you are on a long trip or travel frequently.
It is not worth throwing your back out just to take an extra item or two.
Get a backpack with an added laptop sleeve
“I have a good laptop bag. Why on earth would I need a laptop sleeve?” You’re probably wondering this.
When you’re on a trip, any extra baggage item can be an unnecessary nuisance. If you have a laptop sleeve, you can just carry your laptop in your travel backpack instead of taking an extra laptop bag. Laptop sleeves are pouches that shield your backpack from dust, dirt, and bumps.
This is especially important for digital nomads, bloggers and others who depend on their laptops to make a living.
Make Sure Your Backpack Has an External Water Bottle Compartment
You can easily buy inexpensive wine all over Europe, but water is another matter altogether! Bottled water can often be pricey especially if you’re on a low budget trip. Carry your own refillable water bottle or flask wherever you go and make sure your backpack comes with an external pouch to hold your bottle.
This will not only save you a lot of money, but it is also a greener alternative to single-use plastic bottles.
Backpack Straps Should Be Sturdy and Comfy
Imagine this scenario. After a week of backpacking through the Julian Alps of Slovenia, you arrive at Ljubljana with broken sore skin from the uncomfortable backpack straps that kept rubbing against your skin.
To make matters worse, your backpack straps decide to break and give up on you. You will wish you were walking off a cliff! Anything to get out of that misery!
Get yourself a backpack with well-padded straps on your Euro Trip especially if you intend to hike on mountainous terrain.
A good backpack should also have a hip strap or belt with padding. Securing the hip belt will help transfer some of the weight from your shoulders to your hip
You can even consider getting a backpack with hideaway backpack straps that can be hidden to make your bag look like a suitcase.
Finding the right backpack does not have to be difficult or challenging once you know what you’re looking for. Most people are simply satisfied with an aesthetically pleasing backpack and fail to consider design, utility, portability, and effect on health. Hopefully, the tips above will make shopping for the perfect backpack easier.