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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.