My First Backpack – What To Consider When Making That First Buy

I remember the day I bought my first backpack like it was yesterday. I was young and although I did not have a lot of experience on backpacks as I do now, I think I made a pretty good choice.Picture showing two ladies with one of them wearing a backpack and the other a handbag both coming from just shopping

With the backpacks coming out of recent having way more functionality and better design, it has become imperative to get a better understanding before buying a backpack especially when making that first buy because after making that first buy, I can assure you that you would have gotten a better understanding which would make you know exactly what to look out for when buying your next backpack.

If you have made use of a backpack for quite some time or you have probably blown through several backpacks then you would understand exactly what I was supposed to look out for when I got my first backpack.

Whether you’re buying for school or for traveling or you are probably buying for work or hiking or whatever the reason may be, the basic principles still remain the same.

The most important that always trumps all is none other than comfort on your back. This can never be exaggerated because it is extremely important. No matter how expensive the backpack you buy, if you become uncomfortable when you put it on then you cannot consider that money well spent.

I never rushed the purchase of my first backpack even with the little experience that I had. After all, I was going to be making use of it on a regular basis and therefore needed to get one that was just right for me.

Back then, I wasn’t that internet savvy which means I had to do the leg work if I was going to get the right backpack.

In this post, you are going to learn exactly what I was supposed to look out for when I purchased my first backpack.

Does Size Actually Matter?

Most of us assume with a big backpack we can always fit in everything we intend on carrying. While this may be true, we actually forget that the bigger a backpack, the more things we can fit into it which inevitably means that the heavier it becomes.

We always forget this little detail and assume bigger is always better.

You might probably tell yourself that the extra space is ‘just for in case’, don’t worry I would never stock it to become that full, I don’t really think it is that big. No matter what you tell yourself, you would find yourself actually adding just a little more into your backpack and before you know it you are stuck with a heavy backpack.

So what should you do, you should not be looking out for a big backpack in the first place. This is one thing I did when I was to buy my first backpack. I was kinda young then and wasn’t as well-built as I currently am. This made me go for a backpack that was ideal for my size.

I would put an exception to this principle if you are a hiker as hikers carry a lot of items but still you must put a limit on how much items you carry and not having to purchase a big backpack in the first place would limit the number of items you carry because if you don’t have the space then you would carry items that are only actually very important.Picture of a hiker wearing a big and heavy backpack

What I also suggest is that you have an idea on your mind about the size that would be ideal for you and then go for one in which the size is just below the one you had in mind. A fully loaded backpack should be carried comfortably without a problem.

Gender Specific Backpacks

While this might not be much of a problem in recent times due to most backpacks been non-gender specific, I still think it can play a major role in how comfortable a bag can be.

The body structure of males and females are different and a lot of backpack brands are beginning to produce some backpacks that are gender specific so they can better suit a particular gender.

If you probably decided to shop online you can check the description of the backpack or read customer reviews to know if it is meant for a particular gender. For those shopping offline, you can inform the sales assistant to give you backpacks that are gender specific.

I did not go for a gender-specific backpack when I bought my first backpack because at that time I did not really give it much thought and besides most of the packs were gender neutral.

What Are You In The Market For?

What do you actually intend on using your backpack for? This should be another deciding factor to put into consideration when you plan on making that purchase. I bought my first backpack while in college.

It would have been pretty odd taking an Osprey Atmos 65 backpacks to class.

This also goes the other way round as it is going to be pretty difficult hiking with a Jansport Big Student backpack assuming the hiking journey plans on being a rather long journey.A man standing close to a mountain with a hiking backpack and rope around his body

There are several types of backpacks ranging from hiking backpacks, school backpacks, laptop backpacks, anti-theft backpacks just to name a few. Knowing what your backpack is going to be used for would make your decision in picking a backpack easier.

I am proud to say that this was one of the factors I put into consideration when I purchased my first backpack.

Test It Out

This is out of the equation if you plan on making your purchase online and is actually a disadvantage of buying a backpack online but if you plan on making your purchase offline then you have to make sure you test out the backpack by putting it on to know if it is a perfect fit for you.

When I bought my first backpack, I made sure I tested out several packs.

Before making that purchase, make sure you tell the sales assistant to put some heavy items into the backpack. Put it on and walk around a bit and also make sure you adjust the suspension system to make sure it properly fits and is comfortable.

Backpacks that contain items inside sit on your back differently from backpacks that are empty. Do not consider this as an unimportant process as it can save you a lot of pain in the near future.

If there is any sign of been heavy or your back starts hurting then that bag is probably not your fit. You should try another one until you get one that is just right.


For those that decide to buy online, make sure you read the reviews left by other buyers as you should find someone with a similar body built like you and that have given the bag a test with similar items you might also put into the bag.

Pricing Over Quality

I recently wrote a post on expensive backpacks and if you read it you would see several points on if we should spend a little more in order to get a quality backpack.Image of a person holding an expensive backpack walking on the road

Most pricey backpacks are of high quality but sometimes you might just be unlucky to get a backpack that is pricey but lacks that quality that should go with such a pricey backpack.

When I bought my first backpack, I did get one with a fairly reasonable price which means I got a backpack with fairly reasonable quality.

With the experience I have now, If I was to make that purchase I would have gone for one that was a bit more pricey than what I got back then and I would definitely know what to look out for based on the quality of the backpack.

So my advice to you, try to compare the expensive backpacks to the one that is not expensive and figure out if there are differences between the backpacks.

What makes one more pricey than the other. Is it because of materials used or is it because of the brand name?

Some popular materials used in producing backpacks are nylon and polyester. Some heavier fabrics like canvas also make durable bags that would last for years. Backpacks made with Cuben fiber are expensive but are lighter.

Check out the quality of the locks and the zips and make sure they are robust. Pull them up and down and make sure they don’t jam or just pop open. Check out the stitching of the backpack.

Most of the time when stitching is reinforced, it is normally an indication that there was an attention to detail while the backpack was been sewn. Loose threads are usually a giveaway of bad quality. Some of these stitching is done by hand while some others are done by machines.

Does the backpack come with a lifetime warranty? I would advise that you buy from a reputable or authorized retailer because some brands honor their warranties only if you make your purchase from an authorized retailer.

Also, if a brand is already established there is a good chance that their products would be of high quality.An image showing a man pointing a finger at you signifying that you as a customer are important

That is one way you can use to make your backpack last longer. If you come across any that has noticeable signs of inferiority, I would advise you put it down and go on to the next pack.

Most of the time, the sales rep would say only good things about the product you are about to buy and would most of the time leave out the cons of the product.

Your only way out of this is to make sure you go online and read about the review of the products from other people that have made use of that particular product. My favorite place I do this is Amazon as there are tons of reviews from buyers that already purchased products and are making use of them.

If you feel the product is to your taste then you can negotiate the price to get the best possible deal. You can always check other places to try to get a better deal.

I can definitely tell you that while purchasing my first backpack, I most definitely did some thorough inspections of various backpacks to find one with really good quality at a reasonable price although I did not really make use of the internet back then. I probably would have if I was more internet savvy like I currently am.

Never Forget About Comfort

It is imperative that you always have comfort at the back of your mind. If you go for a backpack that is not suited to your height it can be uncomfortable because it would go below your waist.

For the weight of your backpacks to be easily distributed you would need a backpack with straps that are easily and fully adjustable. Don’t forget to check if it also has a waist strap and also chest strap as these helps to better distribute the weight of the backpack.

When the straps are padded, it can offer some level of comfort. Also, would you be able to easily access the pockets of the backpack? Depending on your needs you might be in situations whereby you need to access the pockets of your backpack easily.

What Style Are You In the Market For?

With the popularity of backpacks increasing on a daily basis, just going for any style is not good enough. Do you need your backpack for office, for school, for hiking, for traveling, to the gym and so on… Depending on what you intend to do with your backpack would depend on the style you go for.A picture of a man holding a leather backpack

For office use, you can consider going for a leather backpack. If for everyday use outside the office, guys can try out sling backpacks while girls can go for mini backpacks although there are other several options to go for.

I do like the Oakley kitchen sink backpack because of its unique design which stands out from a regular backpack design. I like the trampoline styled backpacks as well as they keep the backpack off your back allowing for more airflow but I think these are more common with hiking bags.

Extra Features

Some backpacks come with extra features like a hidden compartment, padded sleeves for laptops and tablets and other features. Some can be converted from your typical backpacks to a rolling backpack or a handbag for the ladies. If you don’t need these extra compartments you can go for a basic backpack.

Having a perfect backpack is out of the question when purchasing a backpack but you can make an effort to get a backpack that is right for you and would last for a long time.

By following some things I looked out for and should have looked out for when I purchased my first backpack, hopefully, you should be able to make a much better decision than I did.

Do you own a backpack or plan to own a backpack? What are the things you look out for when you purchase your backpack? Have I missed anything in this post? Please feel free and leave a comment below.

23 comments on “My First Backpack – What To Consider When Making That First Buy

  1. I have many backpacks for different things. Long trips, short trips, sports, or these combinations. I am a Forex trader, so if I am going anywhere on business days, my tablet and my phone have to be with me. 

    My main priorities are comfortability and design. I never bought a backpack online. This is very important to test it, but nowadays you can return it easily and buy another one without any problem, so if you have time to wait for the delivery, you can buy-return-buy…. from home. 

    Very useful post. Thank you.  

  2. Hey there Manuel,

    Thanks for the great tips on what to consider when buying a backpack. I must admit that for me when it comes to buying bags in general, it’s just a matter of how it looks and how much it can carry.

    I rarely bother myself about comfort. Lately, I’ve been thinking of getting myself a nifty little backpack to carry my laptop and everything I normally carry in a handbag plus gym gear…sounds like a lot. I’m trying to avoid carrying 2 bags on a daily basis. So it means I must get a comfortable one. 

    I truly appreciate this post, thanks!

    1. Hello Jane, thanks for the comment. You are not alone in going for backpacks for just how it looks and how much it can carry but of recent, a lot of people are beginning to go into more details when purchasing a backpack as they consider it more than just an item to carry their belongings.

  3. I really enjoyed myself reading through your beautiful piece. Anytime I want to get a new backpack for myself, I usually go for the multipurpose type. That is, it must be gender specific and not gender neutral. This enables me to convert it into handbag at will. I also usually go for smaller backpack. With smaller backpack, it makes me conscious of the things I really need and not being tempted to stuff the backpack with unnecessary stuff.Most of the backpacks I purchase are usually for office and yes, the straps are usually padded for maximum comfort.

    1. The convertible backpacks are becoming more popular these days as they can be instantly converted from a backpack into a handbag. That can come in handy a lot of the time.

  4. This is a brilliant post! I remember having backpacks at school. Mine was always too heavy and always hurt my back because of the weight. In fact, if I dropped my bag on someone’s leg, it definitely would have broken their leg because that how heavy it was.

    Like you have said a smaller backpack may be better because it teaches you how to prioritize and pack the essentials as well as saves you a lot of back pain! I would definitely pay more for comfort even if there is less space. I had to learn these lessons the hard way but luckily for the other people reading this, they can learn from your great advice.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Thanks Renton for your comments. Smaller backpacks can keep us grounded on how much we can actually pack. It can be a pretty good choice on a lot of occasions. 

  5. well this very awesome information if i was to go get one i would have gone for the bigger one but you have the point the bigger it is the heavier it will be for i shall pack to the brim so i can concur with you on this the smaller backpacks are far much  better especially if  you can can get the antheft one you will always no you have secured your documents when you travel.

  6. Manuel,

    I enjoyed the article for several reasons.  First, I’m a “bag” guy myself – backpacks, briefcases, duffles, etc – they all have a purpose and a style.  Second, I appreciate quality and enjoyed reading how you broke down the various aspects of a backpack and the emphasis on comfort.

    Seems we both spend considerable time shopping for the perfect backpack – for me its about organization and durability, then about style and comfort as I am not using it for hiking, I have one for work and one for working out. It needs to be functional and easy to access what I need, when I need it.

    I would love to learn more about backpacks in general – perhaps by category.  That would be a great post, or even a menu item at the top:  “Backpack Categories” or “The Perfect Backpack For”.  Looking forward to reading more!

    1. Thanks Pete for your comments and suggestion. This blog was created to serve people like you better and make things easier when it comes to backpacks. I would definitely take your suggestions into consideration and make some necessary changes if I have to.

  7. It is always a really hard choice finding a perfect backpack! Do you go for light and compact? Or big and fit a lot of gear in so you are ready for all climates?  

    It really does depend on where you are going, what you are doing and how big and strong you are.  I find the really big backpacks are just too big and can hurt your back or shoulders getting them up into cars, buses etc.

    I usually go for a pack that is mid-range, 35 liters and of normal quality, you are most likely only going to use it once or twice anyway.  So don’t break the bank trying to buy one I think.

    All your tips are great things to consider when buying a new pack, you don’t want to end up with the wrong one and have to lug it around for your entire trip, that would be torture.  Thanks for the great tips and things to look into for my next pack.

    1. Thanks Kris for your comment. The type of backpack I purchase depends on what I plan on using it for. I try to avoid getting big backpacks because the larger a backpack, the more likely it is that I would a lot into it.

      But like I said, it depends on what I plan on using the backpack for. That is what determines the type of backpack I normally buy. 

      I think purchasing expensive backpacks can be really useful in the long run. You don’t always have to overspend but for a decent price, you can get a quality backpack.

  8. Reading this article i got to realize that getting a backpack first of all is determined by its purpose, I love portable backpack it is a lot easier than carrying them in other bags. No matter how far you’re going you can carry a backpack without becoming uncomfortable. You’re comfortable and have free hands and more ability to move around. At the same time, your things are kept safe.

    1. Right!! Backpacks are awesome as they can free up your hands and they make you carry your items with ease while commuting around town

  9. Can I remember my first backpack?  absolutely not, I was too little to take note of those details however I have moved on to making other purchases of nice backpacks. A lot of factors such as purpose, style, price,  and the little things like colour are usually considered when deciding which backpack to pick. sometimes making this decision can be confusing with somany options before us.

    Following the tips listed in this article can be very useful in helping people make that choice easily

  10. Great post, Thanks for sharing your back pack experience with us on here,you really explained everything in clear and simple terms. I always go for backpacks that are of the medium size because I don’t have a well built body so I will have problem carrying a big backpack,i don’t know that backpacks are available Gender wise All backpacks that I have seen are unisex . Those images you provided made me believe.

    1. Hey Clement, thanks for your comment. Please do make sure to buy a backpack that is the right size for you and yes some backpacks are gender specific.

  11. Nice article there about bag pack. There are so many things to look out for when buying a bag pack as you have mentioned and it is not a good idea to have just one back pack for all activities, for example, school backpacks are different from the ones you take on a holiday trip. I like a backpack that has a multipurpose fit with a little bit of style. That is what I look out for in bag but still, multipurpose bags have limitations of what you can put in them. So it is difficult to have just one bag like I said earlier 

  12. Thank you for coming up with this nice post, you must have out in a whole lot of energy into writing this and I really appreciate the effort, I always check your site for newest updates on backpacks and you always come up with the best informations.i will make use of the tips you have mentioned above. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *