No Minimum | Free Shipping over $300

(888)TOTE-BAG Call Now!

Quick ship from our CA & GA warehouses.

How to Choose a Backpack?

Priscilla Greene |

Whether you're going camping or trekking, bringing your books to class, or bringing your laptop and other work items on a business trip, a drawstring bag will be your trusty companion. Besides carrying climbing or skiing gear, backpacks may be reliable companions for a wide variety of other uses. In addition to potentially saving you time and money in the long run, arming yourself with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision on which rucksack is best for you may have a number of important benefits.

That's why it's so important to know the basics of what makes a bag great, so you can choose one that will turn out to be your trusty travel buddy. Finding the right backpack for you involves thinking about a number of aspects, all of which have an impact on how enjoyable your travels will be.

How to Choose a Backpack?

It's important to think about a number of variables when choosing a rucksack to make sure it meets all of your requirements. You should start by making sure the rucksack you choose is the right size for you, sitting comfortably on the border between being too big and too tiny. This is a crucial consideration when buying a backpack, since carrying a bag that doesn't fit properly may cause pain and even injury over time.

The backpack's ability to last is also crucial, so keep that in mind while shopping. A sturdy, well-made rucksack will serve you well whether you're going on a trekking trip, exploring a new country, or just carrying your books and laptop to class.

The importance of ease of movement cannot be overstated. When you have to carry your rucksack about for long periods of time, the straps and padding should be as comfortable as possible. Having an unsuitable rucksack may make even the most exciting excursion a chore.

One further important aspect is efficient compartmentalization. Having to dig around in a disorganised bag for your laptop, books, clothing and accessories is a nuisance that can be avoided with a well-organized backpack.

The ideal rucksack should be able to serve several purposes. It should be easy to switch from its primary use as a trip backpack to its secondary use as a daypack or cinch bag. This versatility allows you to consolidate your belongings and avoid carrying around extra bags.

When choosing a backpack, you should be keeping a close eye on three primary factors:

  • Durability
  • Comfort
  • Price.
Here are other things you should take into account when shopping around for the ideal backpack. 


Make sure that the backpack is big enough to fit all your gear and small enough for you to easily carry it around and for it to pass most airlines’ carry-on size requirements if you travel a lot by air. Keep in mind that budget airlines, especially in Europe, have stricter size requirements for carry-ons.

In general, 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 36 x 23 cm) is the standard of carry-on size requirements for international travel. What’s more, when loading your pack make sure that you don’t overpack. Airlines have weight limits for carry-ons, too, which may often go down to 15 lbs (7 kg).

Backpack size is usually measured by volume (i.e., liters), rather than the load they can hold. For a week-long trip, if you are a woman a 30 Liter or 35 Liter backpack is enough. If you’re a man, a 40 Liter or 45 Liter option is more than sufficient. Eighty Liter backpacks or larger are either for hikers that need to fit all their camping gear or for overpackers.

For weekend getaways or 1 to 2-day trips, a 20 Liter or 26 Liter travel backpack is all you need. For ultralight travelers with insane organization skills, a 20- or 26-Liter pack should do the trick for several weeks of travel.

For the rest of us mortals, a 40-50L pack offers ample room for all our stuff when leaving home for a couple of weeks, unless we need to take all our camping gear, food, and water with us on the road.

Padded pads and straps

Look for a backpack that is comfortable to wear even when you have to carry around heavy loads. A good travel backpack should come with padded shoulders, padded back, and an adjustable padded hip belt. A daypack or work backpack can go without the hip belt. The hip belt and adjustable straps for your chest ensure that the load is evenly distributed across your torso instead of pushing down on your shoulders and hips, fueling some nasty back problems. This is one major drawback of backpacks: people with weak joints or back issues should steer clear of them when hauling large loads and should opt for a wheeled duffel bag instead or a rolling suitcase. A nice bonus would be some compression straps, a feature that allows you to turn your loosely packed travel pack into a compact carry-on. 

Water Resistance (Optional) 

When travelling to an area with regular rainfall, it is helpful if your gear can withstand the wet conditions you may encounter. Finding a rucksack that claims to be 100% waterproof is appealing, but in many cases it's more practical to adopt a different approach. Rather of depending on the backpack alone to keep you dry, a good rainfly is a worthwhile investment. Backpacks designed for trekking often have a tarp, making them ideal for use in damp environments.

Making sure your valuables don't get wet and develop a musty odour is the first priority when it comes to water resistance. To do this, it is recommended that you use a rucksack made from treated nylon fibre. This specifically treated fabric increases the backpack's water resistance, making it an excellent defence mechanism against rain or other wet conditions.

The choice of this water-resistant style eliminates the need for the bulky and heavy 100% waterproof drawstring bags, so you can travel light while still protecting your belongings from the elements. It's a good option for travellers who expect to experience a wide range of climates during their trips, since it provides a middle ground between the two competing needs of utility and flexibility.

Multiple Compartments

A great backpack is a pack that has tons of compartments to keep your gear organized. When compared to daypacks and travel backpacks, hiking backpacks lag behind in the organization department. They are usually designed as top-loading black holes in which you have to dig around for every single item you may need. 

A good backpack has extra compartments to keep shoes, toiletries, dirty clothes and clean laundry separate. It should also come with front compartments to have easy access to your essentials while on the go. Alongside a roomy main compartment, a good backpack should also have an organization panel in the front, which should include a key clip and plenty of slots for your phone, cards, pens, meds, and whatnots. 

ToteBagFactory Drawstring Bags

Panel Access (Optional) 

A well-designed backpack should come with panel access. This means that instead of being top-loading, like most hiking packs are, it should open like a suitcase for easy access. This feature is nice to have since it adds many bonus points to packing convenience as you will not have to dig everything out to grab that one tiny item at the bottom of the pack. If your backpack is top-loading, you can make your life (a lot) easier with some strategically placed packing cubes. 

Internal Frame (Optional) 

Frames are optional but they can add much-needed structure especially to bulky backpacks. School backpacks and daypacks lack an internal frame. Travel packs and hiking packs usually come with an internal or external frame. Backpacks with external frames are great for long hiking trips as they offer more ventilation and stability than their internal counterparts. Internal frames make versatile backpacks as they are invisible and usually lighter than external frames. 

We recommend getting a backpack with an internal frame for the said reasons, and if the frame is detachable, all the better! An internal frame that cannot be removed can become an inconvenience if you need to squeeze your backpack into the overhead compartment of a plane. 

Lockable Zippers (Optional)

Zippered Drawstring Bags Tote Bag Factory


These are a must for serious travelers as a secured backpack can discourage thieves. Ensure that every compartment (or at least the main compartment) is equipped with zippers that can be locked together with a pad lock. A secure system can deter any potentially curious cleaning lady at a hostel to inspect the contents of your pack or a weak-willed baggage handler to make your beloved possessions theirs. Make sure that the pad lock is TSA-approved to prevent the TSA from breaking into your bag if they find something that looks suspicious inside. You can buy TSA-friendly locks on Amazon or your local big-box retailer. Top-loading backpacks do not come with lockable zippers as they usually use drawstrings to secure the opening. This one is another downside of using hiking packs when traveling.

Laptop Compartment

A work backpack or a school backpack needs a nicely padded laptop compartment. Even a carry-on travel backpack needs one if you plan on going on a business trip or just can’t live without your beloved MacBook. As an added bonus, the laptop compartment should be designed in a way that the laptop stays suspended to prevent it from accidentally meeting the asphalt when the owner is not paying attention.

The laptop compartment can double as a hydration sleeve if you plan on using the pack on the trail. Also, the compartment is handy when going through airport security as laptops in padded sleeves are not required to be removed from the pack. For a work backpack or casual day pack, our Cool Sling Pack Backpack with 15" Laptop Sleeve and our Cool Cyber Backpack fit the bill perfectly.

External Pockets (Optional)

Any extra feature is a big plus for a backpack as long as it stays useful. For really small stuff like coins, pens, and snacks, added easy-to-access compartments can be very handy. Also, side mesh pockets for water bottles are a nice feature to have as long as the pocket is not too loose or too tight and the compression straps do not block access to the water bottle while on the road.


The materials used in a backpack can greatly improve its durability and desirability. A tough material like canvas makes a pack heavier, which is less than ideal for long trips or hiking expeditions. Lighter materials will not weigh you down, but the backpack might lack structure or durability.

Look for a good backpack that will not let you down while in a foreign municipality or country. Test drive the pack days if not months before your next trip. A quality backpack should last at least a couple of years before you replace it.

ToteBagFactory Blog Post Image

One popular nylon material that is widely used in premium backpacks is Cordura. The high-tech performance fabric is sturdier and more durable than regular nylon and packs plenty of water resistance. If you are looking for a puncture-resistant material that feels like cotton but offers plenty of ventilation and minimal water absorption, then Cordura is for you. The only major downside of this fabric is that it is a great lint and dust attractor.

Canvas is the traditional material backpacks and duffel bags used to be made of. Cotton canvas is a sturdy and durable material that can offer superior water resistance if coated with waterproof wax. The major downsides of cotton canvas are the weight and low abrasion resistance. In humid environments, cotton canvas bags may rot or develop mold. Canvas is still a pretty popular material in kids backpacks, handbags, tote bags, and as canvas cinch bags.

Blog Image ToteBagFactory

Nylon backpacks are the most popular and budget friendly packs. Nylon is usually treated with silicone or PVC for water resistance. Treated nylon is relatively abrasion resistant but offers little to no breathability, which might cause the backpack to become a breeding ground for mildew especially if water seeps inside through the zippers. A variety of nylon is rip-stop nylon. This type of fabric comes with tightly sewn threads that prevent tears from becoming a disaster. The material is lighter than Cordura and canvas, which makes it very popular among backpackers.

Image Tote Bag Factory

Some backpacks are made of polyester, a material that is less rugged than nylon or canvas but it is very resilient when it comes to sun damage. UV radiation does not only cause colors to fade but it may also destroy a fabric during prolonged sun exposure. UV resistance is a great bonus of polyester backpacks. Another factor that may influence fabrics' level of UV resistance is color. Darker tones tend to absorb more UV light, leading to quicker deterioration of the fiber, while lighter tones tend to repel UV light. Our goal was to offer you with as much information as possible so that you could make an informed decision when purchasing a rucksack. Recognise that there is no one 'perfect' rucksack that can meet everyone's needs. The characteristics that make a rucksack ideal for one person but unsuitable for another depend on their specific tastes, lifestyle, and needs. What seems like the best option for your daring hiker pal or the IT guru at the office may not be the best travel or daypack solution for your specific requirements.

Indeed, selecting a rucksack is a very individual process that requires much thought and preparation. It's like choosing a travel partner, and just like in any other relationship, it's important to make sure you're compatible. To do so, you must first evaluate your own requirements, the kind of the activities you'll be doing, and the terrains you'll be crossing.

Finding the best multipurpose backpack may need some experimenting and some trial and error. Finding the perfect fit for your body, tastes, and preferences might take some experimentation with different sizes, designs, and manufacturers. This search for the perfect rucksack may seem like a huge undertaking at first, but it's definitely worth it.

When you locate the multifunctional, adjustable rucksack that meets your needs, your life will take on a new trajectory. This rucksack will become an everyday need because of the exceptional comfort, use, and security it provides. You'll grow to rely on it as a constant companion on your travels, a safe place to store your necessities, and a visible sign that you're prepared to take on the world.

Finding a rucksack that not only serves your functional demands but also reflects your unique style and sense of adventure is a worthwhile endeavour. So, go off on your adventure with zeal, knowing that once you find that exceptional drawstring backpack, you'll never look back, and it'll be at your side on numerous more spectacular travels.