Choosing the Right Travel Bag

Choosing the Right Travel Bag
So you’ve decided it’s time to go travelling and now your suddenly confronted with the daunting task of choosing the ideal bag to take with you. It’s a pretty big decision right? Travel bags can cost a lot of money and there are so many different varieties that it can be hard to tell what is the right one for you.

Suitcase or Hiking Backpack? Why Not Both!?

A question that a lot of travellers ask is whether they should be buying a suitcase or a more traditional hiking backpack. Luckily for you, companies have started to develop a sort of hybrid travel bags. These types of bags are ideal for travelling and backpacking around through any environment. The advantages of these bags include:

  • A zippered front panel that allows the bag to open more like a suitcase than a traditional hiking backpack. This gives you easy access to all of your belongings and avoids all of the top loading issues that hiking backpacks suffer from.
  • Comfortable shoulder and hip straps that allows you to comfortably carry your bag for long periods of time if and when required.
  • Ability to hide the shoulder/hip straps behind a zippered panel to convert the bag from a backpack to a suitcase/duffel bag. This makes it much easier to when travelling by plane, bus or boat.
  • Some travel bags also come with wheels and handles like a suitcase. This makes for easy manoeuvring through more built up and modern places and cities.

What to Look For:

When looking for a bag that’s right for you, it’s important to consider the following factors:

Cost. My first recommendation is don’t be afraid to spend a bit of money. I know most travellers will be trying to save like crazy and the idea of spending so much money before your travel has even begun can be hard to swallow. However, buying a good quality bag that is right for you can save you SO much hassle down the road.

Size. It’s important to consider what size bag is right for you. Only you can really answer this question as it depends on how long you’re travelling for and how light you are prepared to travel. Firstly, I suggest that you shouldn’t buy anything larger than 60L. 60L is ample space to pack everything you need. If you buy a bigger bag you will likely end up filling the space with unnecessary stuff that makes your bag heavier. If you are wanting to be able to take your bag as carry-on and avoid luggage fees, you should be looking more at the 40L size range.

Water Resistance. Travel bags don’t have to be completely water proof, but it is definitely an advantage to have a bag that can withstand a bit of rain. Check that your travel bag is made out of something at least semi-waterproof and check to see if zips are able to be covered.

Lockable Zips. It’s always handy to be able to lock the zips of your bag with a padlock, especially when staying in hostels and dorm rooms. Check to see if your bag has the ability to lock zips together.

Comfortable Hip and Shoulder Straps. If you plan on carrying your travel bag on your back for long periods of time, pay close attention to the shoulder and hip straps. Make sure that the bag is the right size for your height and the hip belt sits snug around your waist. Remember, you want the majority of the weight to be resting on your hips and not your shoulders!

With all these factors in mind, below are a few bags and brands that I would recommend.

Osprey Sojourn 60L

The Osprey Sojourn is a great travel bag that’s been designed with long term travellers in mind. The wheels and high clearance chassis allow that bag to be wheeled over all sorts of terrain. However, when needed to, the backpack suspension system also allows the bag to be carried comfortably on your bag for long periods of time.

Reasons to consider purchasing the Osprey Sojourn include:

  • Day packs can be easily attached to the front of the Osprey Sojourn. While the attachment is designed specifically for Osprey daypacks, it can also be used relatively easily to attach your own daypack if you are using a different brand.
  • Adjustable and removable harness. The hip belt, shoulder straps and torso length are all adjustable to ensure you get a perfect fit. Also, the harness can be removed entirely for extra packing space for trips where it will not be required.
  • Padded handles on the top and sides provide comfortable way to carry and lift the bag
  • A hideaway quick release attachment strap simplifies carrying an extra bag.
  • The Osprey compression system allows the size of the bag to be minimised easily.

The Osprey Sojourn is a high quality bag that will last your forever. And I mean forever! A big bonus of the Osprey bags is that they offer a lifetime guarantee to repair any damage or defects free of charge for all of their bags!

If you’re are looking for something bigger, the Osprey Sojourn is also available in 80L and has a big brother, the Osprey Waypoint.

Deuter Helion 60L

Another wheeled bag option from a well trusted brand is the Deuter Helion 60L (also available in 80L if required). Wherever you’re travelling, the Deuter Helion can be easily manoeuvred as a wheeled bag and when required, a zippered back panel reveals the comfortable padded carrying system.

Reasons to consider purchasing the Deuter Helion include:

  • Easy switching from rolling to carrying. The shoulder straps can be left out while the handle is extended.
  • The wheels are easily replaceable, large enough to be wheeled through rough terrain and are able to be hidden by the hip belt when carrying the bag on your back.
  • Padded handles on the top and sides provide comfortable way to carry and lift the bag
  • The main compartment is easily lockable with a padlock.
  • The compression and luggage straps keep your belongings stable and in place while also minimising the size of your bag.
  • The well-constructed base plate allows the bag to stand upright with no risk of falling over.


Osprey Farpoint 40L

Another Osprey option is the Osprey Farpoint 40L. Again, this is a high quality travel bag that is also covered by Osprey’s amazing lifetime warranty. The Osprey Farpoint is more similar to a traditional hiking backpack. It does not have a wheeled system like the Osprey Sojourn but it does have the majority of features you would expect to find on a high quality hiking pack. The Farpoint is available in different sizes (40L, 55L and 70L) however the 40L or 55L size is what I would recommend. The 40L size is large enough to take all your essential items and small enough to still be classed as carry-on.

Reasons to consider purchasing the Osprey CarPoint include:

  • High quality suspension system with padded hip/shoulder straps. The suspension system you’ll find on the Farpoint is similar to what you would expect from a high quality hiking backpack.
  • Each of the different sizes (40L, 55L and 70L) are available in a small/medium size or a medium/large. This allows you to choose the bag size that is correct for your height.
  • Carry-on size! The 40L and 55L versions of the Osprey Farpoint are small enough to be taken on-board with you.
  • Reasonable light weight. The 40L size weighs under 3 pounds! Compared to many other travel packs, this is lightweight.
  • All straps (shoulder and hip) can be zipped away when travelling on planes, busses and boats.

Kelty Flyway 43L and Redwing 50L

Another great brand to consider is Kelty. Kelty offers two great travel bags. The Redwing and the Flyway. These two models are very similar bags. Essentially, the Flyway is nearly the same as the Redwing however it has a few modifications to make it more user friendly for travellers. The Flyway is only available in a 43L version whereas the Redwing is available in 44L and 50L versions. The Redwing model is also available in a female version which helps to ensure a comfortable fit.

The Kelty Flyway and Redwing are similar to the Osprey Farpoint in that neither of these bags have the option to be wheeled. However, one advantage of the Kelty models is that their price point means you are getting an excellent travel bag for a great price!


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