Selecting a Travel Pack

A well-chosen pack can take much of the worry and hassle out of travelling. Experienced travellers know that a pack that combines packing convenience, carrying comfort, versatility and size, can make all the difference when you are on the road.
Your travel accessories should be chosen for their convenience and quality, so you can spend less time looking after your gear and more time exploring and experiencing new places.

How to choose a travel pack/bag/luggage

There is no piece of gear that is perfect for all kinds of adventure travel. That is why there are so many different types of packs, bags and luggage available. The difficulty is in knowing which one is right for you and that all depends on the type of travel you plan to do and your packing style. Consider the types of trips you will be taking, how long you will be travelling for, what kinds of activities you plan on doing and how much gear you want to bring.

Materials

  •  Synthetics:(mostly nylon) are the most common fabrics (e.g. Cordura®) and to a lesser extent canvas. The full synthetics are used because they are abrasion resistant, strong, and light.
  • Canvas:  Although slightly heavier, canvas is more water-resistant than nylon. Many will have nylon abrasion patches sewn over the wear areas as well.

Decide on a Size

Both the volume of the pack (in litres) and its size are important. Some people with a big pack are tempted to carry more than is needed, but this is really only a problem of self-control.

Remember these tips:
We travellers tend to fill up whatever bag we are packing no matter how big it is. You can always send souvenirs home. Find a pack that is big enough to hold your necessary gear, but small enough that you can carry it comfortably day after day.

  • 30 to 50 litres: For shorter trips, this range is ideal for many travellers, particularly in warmer climes. Most of these will be "carry on" size. A good pick for the smaller person who is travelling with a partner who could help share the load on a longer trip. (Most airlines allow carry-on baggage no larger than 20cm x 30cm x 50cm(approx). A few airlines do allow slightly larger baggage.)
  • 50 to 65 litres: A popular size range for ladies. These will suit most types of multi day travel in most climates where there isn't the need for a lot of bulky extra equipment . If you pack a lot of gear, go for a slightly larger travel backpack or duffel/tote bag.
  • 65 to 85 litres+: The larger end of the range. These sizes are better suited to extended trips or where extra equipment needs to be carried.

FITTING YOUR HARNESS.
Regardless which pack you end up with, if you intend carrying it for any length of time with a load in it, it is important to have it fitted correctly. See this back pack fitting blog for a more in depth look on how to correctly fit a backpack.

Types of Pack

TRAVEL PACKS
This style based on a typical back pack except that instead of having a top opening, there is a large zippered door on the front of the pack which opens wide to alloy tidy packing and access.(this would be a potential weak spot on remote bushwalking trips should a zip fail, but is much easier for travel as it essentially opens like a suitcase). When not required, the harness systems on these packs can be tucked away behind a zippered flap so that there are less "dangly" bits to catch in airport carousels etc. Most also feature a removable daypack which can be zippered onto the outside of the main bag, clipped onto your chest via shoulder strap clips on both bags (great for security in strange crowds as you can basically hug the day pack.) or just generally used as a day to day bag. These travel packs are best for travellers who will be moving around a lot and carrying all their gear, but not expecting multi day hikes as part of their travels. 

HYBRID PACKS

These are backpacks that are designed for extended wilderness trips and yet contain some of the features of a travelpack. They will be slightly taller and narrower than most travel packs. They usually have an end opening so gear can be stuffed down into them, but also have a larger zipped opening door on the front so ,when the pack is laid on its back, it can be opened and accessed like a suitcase. There will generally be some strapping on these packs so that should the zip fail whilst "out bush" the door can be strapped up so that the contents don't all fall out.

The harness system on these will usually be more comfortable than on a pure travel pack, but most will still tuck away for the airport if needed.

 

CONVERTIBLE WHEELED LUGGAGE
Some travel packs have wheels for convenience in airports, hotel lobbies and urban areas. Several come with a removable daypack for short trips. This luggage is best for travellers who occasionally venture out to remote areas but who usually stay in an urban environment and prefer to roll their bags rather than carry them. These packs have less sophisticated harness systems than travel backpacks or hybrid packs and therefore are not great to carry for longer periods of time.

The frame required for the trolley and retractable handle usually adds between 1 and 3 kgs to the weight of the pack.

DUFFEL BAGS
These bags come in a huge range of sizes and are typically less expensive than other types of luggage. Smaller duffels are convenient if you travel light and fast on shorter trips, and if you don't plan on moving around a lot once you get there. The larger ones can be awkward to carry when they are full so large-capacity wheeled duffels are best if you have to transport a lot of gear to your destination. Good at transporting gear from one place to another it is another thing if you are required to carry it very far.

Additional features to consider...

  • Removable daypack: These usually detach from the compartment of the pack or bag and are convenient for day use.
  • Split compartments and pockets: This is where the main pack is split into two compartments, allowing easier access to your gear. Combined with external and internal pockets they make it easy to organise, pack and unpack.
  • Compression straps: Are the straps located on the outside of the pack. You can use them to squeeze a bulky bag down to a smaller size or pack on load overflow.

Travel Accessories

Travel accessories can save you time and hassle when travelling. The addition of a few simple items, like a secure document holder to keep your passport and cash away from prying hands, can make all the difference when you are on the road. However, you don't want to bring so much that your luggage is heavy and awkward to carry. When packing, think about what you really need and what will just take up space.
Here are several options that will make packing and travelling easier and provide some security for your gear:

  • Daypacks: Include small backpacks, shoulder bags, bum bags or organizers. A daypack is a useful for any trip. It can be small enough to hold just your money, credit cards and passport, or large enough for a camera, water bottle, book and jacket.
  • Security pouches/wallets: Designed to be worn under your clothes and these are the safest way to carry your money and passport. These security pouches include neck wallets and waist pouches that will keep your money, documents and passport safely hidden.
  • Organisers: There are a large number  available for tasks from packing to storing. Pack-It-Folders let you experience the joy of finding your clothes organized and wrinkle free. Mesh bags are handy for organizing items like t-shirts, socks and small accessories. While a well-designed toiletry kits can be just right for the essentials. All of these come in a variety of sizes, colours and styles.
  • Security: Small padlocks or key locks are convenient for locking your pack or duffel zippers together.
  • Sleeping bag liners: Even if you are staying in a hostel and not carrying your own sleeping bag, they are convenient, since many charge extra for sheets. Having your own sheets can also make you feel more at home, especially if you are sleeping in a new place every night.
  • Travel Adaptors: Are necessary if you plan on taking items like hair dryers, electric shavers and travel irons overseas. They convert foreign voltages to the Australian standard with plug adaptors to fit most of the world's outlets.
  • Other Travel Accessories: If you can't leave home without it, likely there is a travel-size version available that will take up less space in your luggage. Other travel accessories range from pegless clotheslines and torches to games and hair dryers. Whether or not you need these accessories is dependent on the trip you have got planned.

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