Backpacking, as per Wikipedia, is an inexpensive way of traveling and visiting different destinations using a backpack which is carried on long distances and periods of time. Imagine a traveler without a backpack. I can’t imagine. It is one of the most important things to consider in traveling, aside from the funds of course. It is where you will jam all the things you’ll be needing while you’re away from home. It’s been months since I started traveling and already did some solo backpacking, 4 days the longest. With these trips, I only used a Nike bag given by a cousin. The bag is not that big and is a day-pack that can accommodate only a couple of clothes. I have no idea how I survived those trips with that bag.
This time, since I want to pursue traveling as a hobby, I’m planning to purchase one for longer trips in the future. In line with it, I have no idea what brand to buy and the features to be considered. Join me as I ask some of our Pinoy Travel Bloggers about their backpack and their simple tips in buying one.
First on our list is Jed Rosell of www.biyaherongbarat.com. He is using a Conquer Traverse 40L backpack he bought way back in 2007 for only Php1,600. It can be expanded to 45L with the top load and having different pockets on sides and top. Jed has other bags but uses Conquer for longer trips with the fact that it is durable, having adjustable straps for perfect fit, comfortable back cushioning, and waist support. He also shared to us that the bag is really important to him and emotionally attached to it.
Nikka Corsino of Two 2 Travel on the other hand uses The North Face Alteo 35 because it is spacious and efficient in holding all her belongings, including a tripod and other camera accessories when she embarks on a trip. Features of the backpack which Nikka considered are the Windtunnel feature – the lower back portion arcs away from the body which provides better ventilation together with the hip belt pockets and two-way opening. You can check her full review of the product here. She’s been using the bag for about 7 months now and longest trip with it is about a month (she’s still on that trip as of posting). “Tip for those looking for backpacks: pick a bag for keeps—something sturdy, something spacious, and something you can carry on your back for extended periods.”
Next on our list is the chic blogger Chyng Reyes, with her High Sierra backpack. When asked about the reason of getting it, Chyng answered that she just likes the color and style. Kidding aside, she bought the sturdy bag way back in January of 2010 at an affordable price of Php2,000. Actually, some of her friends even tried to bid for that backpack which she self-assuredly said, “It’s not for sale!” This is the same backpack she used during the filming of PHL360 in Bicol.
Let us proceed to a wanderer who loves conquering the mountains in the country. Ivan Cultura of Ivan Lakwatsero, finds his High Sierra Avenger 55 helpful to his climbs. It is a 55 liter backpack having several compartments and pockets which he uses in organizing his things. Features of the bag include the straps which can be adjusted to whatever his most comfortable with, the waist belt for support and back panel with airflow channels. He got it in August 2012 as a gift from her Aunt. He used the bag during his 12-day birthday trip in Mindanao and conquering Mt. Apo as the highlight. “Get the bag that you think will help you the most and that it should also define you as a traveler.”
Freelance writer behind Budget Biyahera, Mai Flores uses The North Face Terra 55 having features such as Opti-Fit suspension that adapts to a wide range of torso sizes and having a deluxe vertical mesh channel which provides cooling comfort. The rucksack was a gift from her cousin. She loves it because it suits her frame perfectly and got to fill it with a lot of stuff from her trips. She recommends TNF since the brand sells quality and hard-wearing products. Her longest trip with it lasted for 5 days during her visit to Saigon. “Buy something that’s durable especially if it is for long term. The price tag may be heavy on the wallet, but the quality and brand will surely give you your money’s worth. Also, go on the lookout for hard-wearing bag materials (fabric used, zippers, locks, etc.)”
Ferdz Decena, an award-winning photographer and blogger behind Iron Wulf and www.ferdzdecena.com, owns a Deuter Trans Alpine 30 backpack that he got sometime in 2007 at Php4,500. He bought it because it is lighter than other backpacks, has organized compartments, comfortable back support, access to top and bottom compartments and has rain cover. The backpack already reached some Asian countries like China, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and recently to Indonesia. “A bag is an investment so make sure to buy quality ones even if it’s a bit expensive. Make sure it fits comfortably so try to wear it first at the shop. Most importantly buy only the right size, think twice, you may think buying a 50-60L bag give you more room but you’ll end up bringing more stuff. A smaller pack can help you strategize and bring only what’s important which also helps on mobility.”
Let us also check the backpack of the travel blogger/motorcycle enthusiast behind Traveling-Up. Kara Santos, is currently using a Targus 16 Sport 26L Backpack which is perfect for overnight or week-long trips. She got it from Targus PHL for a review early this year and already used for a week-long trip to Babuyan Group of Islands in Cagayan. Features of the bag include built-in storage compartments, made of durable and water-resistant rip stop material and have reflective trim, a small laptop/tablet compartment, and a built-in case for an MP3 player with a port for earphones in the backpack strap. “Look for a bag that fits your lifestyle. Since most people travel with gadgets these days, it helps to have a bag that has built in compartments that will protect your gadgets when you’re on the road. I like using items that are black or grey because they still look decent and clean no matter where they’ve been.”
Twenty-something yuppie Marj Garra of Layover to Life owns a Puma Women’s Fitness Backpack she bought because for her, it really looked pretty and suited her needs at that time. The capacity of the bag is 25.5L, and includes features such as drawstring opening into main compartment under flap with buckle closure, internal air mesh pocket and organizer, adjustable and padded shoulder strap and webbing detail on the side and top grid handle. The backpack looks deceptively small but since Marj is a light packer, she was able to squeeze clothes enough for week long trips. She’s using the bag for about 2 years now and most memorable trip with it was her first solo trip to Macau. “Get one with external pockets. Like a lot of them.”
On our list is Josiah Sicad, the blogger behind the successful Lakas PH who owns a Deuter Futura 28L AC with side pockets for water bottles and other accessible stuff and having a back with mesh that creates good air circulation. He got it in 2007 and still using it on his backpacking and hiking trips around the Philippines. “Avoid mesh back that promotes air circulation. When bags have mesh backing, the bag’s center of gravity is farther away from your body’s center of gravity, making the bag harder to carry. Don’t worry, the backpacks nowadays without mesh backs has a molding that helps with air circulation to the back.”
To close out list is the travel junkie behind the famous Pinay Travel Junkie. Gay Mitra Emami is currently using a Kathmandu Hybrid Trolley 70L that can be used as a stroller or a backpack. She likes it because it’s very convenient for a backpacker mum especially during long walks while carrying her toddler. Details of the backpack include fold out backpack harness, extendable handle, quiet in-line skate wheels, compression straps, lockable zips and organization pockets. Also, the contents are easy to access because it uses a zipper instead of drawstring. “When buying a backpack it’s best to read reviews and ask for recommendations first, but do keep in mind that you have to consider your personal needs. If you can’t carry 15kg on your back, get a stroller.”
The North Face, High Sierra and Deuter are the brands who topped our list based on the information provided by the bloggers I’ve asked. Durability is consistent among the features they consider on having a backpack. If you’re planning to get one, it is also best to read reviews and ask recommendations first, consider your needs and only get the one that perfectly suits you. Hope the compilation for this month will help us to search for that perfect backpack we need and will let us sing with Dora, “Backpack, Backpack, Yeah!”