The market is absolutely inundated with luggage options. The way I travel, unless I’m (a) moving, (b) have free checked baggage, or (c) am physically unable to carry weight on my back… I’m going to be travelling with a backpack. Conceptually, I see nothing wrong with rolling cases – they’re just really impractical for my needs.
Presently, in my collection I have no fewer than S I X different backpacks (plus 2 duffels and 2 totes). I feel like it would be wrong to call this site “The Budget Backpack” if I didn’t have – at least – a low-grade obsession with backpacks (but fyi- no so low-grade… more like “unapologetic bag harder”). So let’s talk selection!
My everyday backpack:
Christmas 2014, cousin Yankee Swap… I opened a backpack. Being the oldest grandchild, I used my authority to assert my dominance and disallowed all cousins and siblings from trying to trade for my bag. Needless to say, my assertion was successful and it has been a beautiful two years with this bag- that I have abused wildly. I use this bag every day; going to work, toting groceries, as a front-pack carry-on, hiking, quick weekend trips home – the bag is used all the time. It’s so basic but works wonderfully as a day pack: spacious well-shaped main pocket, small front pocket has sections so I can organize all the million chapstick tubes I throw in there, side pockets for more stuff, two top handles = perfection. [Image is the newer version of the bag]. Considering how often I’ve used the bag, it’s held up pretty well over the past two years, but I’ll be replacing it within the next few months… probably with the exact same bag.
Best place we’ve been: Other than home (awwww), probably Nicaragua. It’s been on a small island, up a volcano, and tanned itself on a secluded beach. This bag is spoiled, for sure.
My “it’s only a short trip, but I want something hearty” backpack
A friend had to talk me into this bag – and BOY am I glad she did! This bag is so well-made it has lasted me for almost 7 years and shows z e r o sign of wear. It has lots of pockets, including a place to slip my laptop. The straps on the front are great for stowing wet towels or sneakers- and the design of the shoulder straps is some kind of witchcraft that makes it unnaturally comfortable to wear no matter how full. The only thing about this bag (that I wouldn’t change) that I need to note is that you can’t really wear it on the front- the strap design that makes it so comfy also makes it so that you would be choked out if you tried to wear it on the front (and I’d assume that’s not a desired outcome).
Best place we’ve been: A wintery 8-day trip (from Korea) to Japan – sneakers, 1 pair of pants, 2 long-sleeved t-shirts, 2 tanks, 2 pairs of socks, 4 pairs of undies, a belt, a sweater, laptop, and toiletries.
My “I know I’m hiking today, but want to look cute anyway” backpack
My sister got me this bag for my birthday a few years ago and I love how distinct the Vera Bradley prints are (mine is a little different than the image – the pattern has been retired I think). It’s super soft and lightweight – and MEGA easy to find when I forget which overhead bin I’ve thrown it into. The only hitch here is that the bag is -not- subtle; if I was looking to blend in with the crowd, I would pull from elsewhere in my collection. I have a few Vera Bradley products that I love – I got an insulated cosmetics case as a gift – and it makes a wonderful lunchbox (I barely have enough cosmetics to full sandwich-size ziploc)!
Best place we’ve been: Angkor Wat! I also wore it hiking when I lived in Yeosu.
My “I need something that can contain stuff and I can treat it like crap” backpack
Not in love, but this bag serves an important function: it was cheap and I can be reckless with it. I’ll roll it up and shove it in a duffel or one of my larger bags. I’ll let it get sandy. I’ll use it in the rain because I can leave it out to dry in a hostel and not care if it gets stolen. I opted for one of these over the cheaper drawstring bags because it has a tad more structure and style.
Best place we’ve been: Thai beaches and Vietnamese local markets.
My “I use this backpack for every trip I’ve been on over the past 3 years” backpack
I bought this bag at an E-Mart in Korea mere days before taking off for Myanmar. I can’t find any similar products in the US, which is a shame- because if given the chance, I would purchase this exact same bag again. It has a 45L capacity, and while not as structurally well-made as an Osprey or Gregory, for the price (like $50usd) it has really held up well for all I’ve put it through. Now that I’m a little older and understand that sometimes paying a little more for quality is part of budgeting-well (and because I can’t just replace 1-for-1 my beloved blue E-Mart bag), I’ve got a special bag in my sights….
Best place we’ve been: Probably Myanmar or Nicaragua.
My “don’t have it yet, but its my dream bag and will be my next major purchase” backpack
I kid you not – I spent just under an hour trying on backpacks at REI Boston (after having spent nearly as long over in the shoe section- where I found the boots of my dreams). They have a bin with pillowy-things with differnt weights, and the Kyte consistently was the most comfortable with the 10-30lbs stuffed in. Some bags are only comfortable when full, some when empty- and this bag felt great under both circumstances. It has a rain guard and the belt has pockets…. it’s a really great bag and that c a n n o t wait to love and hug and use and hug more. (#hyperbolequeen)
- How about you? What bags have topped your list of favorites?
- How do you prefer to travel – backpack, duffel, rolly, only the clothes on your back?
- Have you tried any of the bags above? What did you think?
Just a heads up that this post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links are great in that you can grab the product at no extra cost to you, but I get a teeny-tiny percentage of that sale (its like getting recognition for advertising products I already love!)