If you’re planning on doing any hiking or other outdoors adventure in Africa, it pays to have a good travel backpack.
And although you could just pick up the cheapest one off a rack, you’ll probably be hating it after a few hours.
Bags vary in price considerably, so it’s important to go in with a budget in mind so you don’t overspend.
But it’s even more important to get something that is actually useful and fits you — a great travel bag can last you a decade or more.
The most important things to consider are volume (depending on how much you need to pack), price (depending on what you can afford) and features (depending on what you need).
As for size, truth be told, there is no perfect size as some people like to pack light while others like to plan for any situation.
Barring that, standard guides are 35-50 liters for 1-3 days, 50-80 liters for 3-7 days, and 80 liters are larger for a week or more.
Other things to consider are lockable zippers if you are staying in a hostel or camping out somewhere — the last thing you need is for somebody to steal the little clothing you are probably traveling with.
Most people these days prefer to get an internal frame backpack, they tend to be lighter, plus they won’t get stuck on a train or in a luggage carousel.
Being comfortable is also important, it’s good to choose a bag that has both a padded hip belt and shoulder straps, especially if you are going to be carrying anything heavy for a substantial amount of time.
The shape and size of the bag are vital, you should definitely try on a few first before purchasing.
If you want to save some money buying through Amazon or Ebay, make sure you try out a similar model first before purchasing — you don’t want an expensive bag that leaves you sore.
As for cost, most bags you would want that have features made for heavy loads or prolonged walking cost between $US100-300.
As for brand, we recommend sticking with known brands like North Face, Gregory, Osprey, Kelty, Jansport and REI.
Last but not least, while it isn’t incredibly important that your bag be waterproof, it is important to get some kind of cover for it, especially if you are traveling in Africa.
These run pretty cheap, and most of the good brands already come with one — discovering your entire bag is full of wet clothes is no fun at all.