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What Are the Different Types of Travel Backpacks?

A hiking backpack.
A day pack may be large enough for a day hike, or a quick overnight trip.
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  • Written By: Gregory Hanson
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2014
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Purpose-built travel backpacks are available for nearly every sort of travel activity. Some are optimized for business or professional international travel. Others are designed for certain sorts of outdoor activity, such as hiking or canoeing. Still others are intended for use by men and women traveling the globe as backpacking tourists.

Backpacks that are optimized for use by more professional travelers typically include some specialized features common to most travel luggage. This sort of travel backpack may have wheels and an extendible handle for ease of transport on smooth airport floors. Such wheeled backpacks are generally designed to fit in the standard allotted space for carry-on luggage, so that travelers in a hurry can pack carefully and not need to check any baggage, saving time and money in the process. In some cases, this type of travel backpack may include a chest strap and internal frame, as well, for better weight distribution.

Other travel backpacks are designed for specific types of leisure travel. The external frame backpack is not widely-used but is still available and offers a hiker the ability to mount gear directly to a frame in whatever configuration he desires. This, in turn, makes it easier to access specific items of gear. These packs usually include waist and chest straps to allow a load to be balanced and carried safely.

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Many hikers opt instead for internal frame travel backpacks. This type of travel backpack features several zippered compartments in which gear can be stored. Packs in this style usually include side pockets for water bottles as well and feature straps similar to those used by external frame packs, which allow a load to be correctly positioned for comfort and ease of movement.

Specialized packs are available for people traveling by boat or canoe, as well. This type of pack is designed to provide waterproof storage for goods during canoeing and also to enable the portaging of supplies. These packs are not ideally suited to long hikes, as they are usually designed to hold a larger volume of gear, as canoe campers can carry more equipment than backpackers.

An additional category of travel backpack is meant for use by urban backpackers. These packs, which are fairly similar to hiking packs, are designed to hold a good deal of gear and to be comfortable when worn and walked with for extended periods. This type of travel backpack also tends to include features such as expansion zippers to open up extra space, if needed, and small day packs, which can be detached to carry a few key items while the larger pack is left in a hotel or hostel.

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browncoat
Post 3

@croydon - You can get travelling backpacks with built in wheels. My mother has one she got on sale that she brings with her everywhere. It has hundreds of pockets and it can convert to either a wheeled suitcase or a backpack (although it's a bit heavier than a hiking pack of course).

croydon
Post 2

@Mor - In some situations I agree with you, but not if I'm traveling for business or anything that requires delicate packing. I think airlines tend to treat backpacks much more roughly than suitcases and they aren't built to protect anything inside.

Also, you have to be pretty fit to be able to carry one everywhere on your back. Most suitcases these days come with wheels so you don't actually have to carry any weight. They are a bit more awkward over long distances, but if you are just moving through an airport then it's not a big deal.

Mor
Post 1

I prefer to use my big backpack for every kind of travel to be honest. Even if I'm flying and not planning to hike anywhere, it's still so much easier to cart it around an airport than a suitcase and I can usually fit everything in.

Plus, it has places where I can attach a smaller backpack so I can keep my hands free completely when getting from the terminal to my cab or the hotel.

In some ways it's more awkward, but if there's any trouble I'd rather have my backpack than a suitcase.

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