You shouldn’t let your bag dictate how you travel around Europe. No matter if you are “backpacking Europe.” Your bag should make your trip more convenient, not cause more stress.
It would be impossible to haul a suitcase across all of Europe, let alone up a flight of stairs. Despite being comfortable, hiking backpacks are disorganized.
The backpack you need for traveling is one that has been designed specifically for that purpose. An ideal backpack should combine the convenience and organization of a carry-on with the ergonomics and efficiency of a hiking backpack.
Despite knowing the differences between travel backpacks, many travelers don’t buy them. Here are some tips on how to choose a backpack for Europe that’s specifically designed for travel.
What Size Backpack Should You Buy for Europe?
Keep your hiking backpack at home when you’re on the road. No matter what you do, you’ll never succeed.
Travel bags need to be versatile so they can be used in any situation. Even if you’ll be riding more trains than planes, your backpack for Europe should fit in a carry-on.
You’ll need to know the exact size before you fly depending on the airline (or airlines). America and Europe have different carry-on rules. Don’t forget to check all airlines, especially if you’ll be flying a US carrier to Europe and European carriers within the continent.
Generally, the maximum size of a carry-on allowed in the US is 22 x 14 x 9 inches, or 45 liters. Europeans tend to have more variance. Airline restrictions there will limit bags to 21.5 inches (55 cm) in height and 8 inches (20 cm) in depth.
Check your airline’s baggage size restrictions, especially if you are traveling on a budget. The size and weight of your bag are usually more restricted on budget airlines.
Before you leave, make sure your bag is weighed. The cost of a checked bag could be saved by buying a cheap luggage scale for $10-20.
Not checking your bag will save you both time and money when you take your bag on a flight. Your airline can’t lose or damage your bag since you’ll have it with you.
For maximum flexibility across airlines and regions, we recommend a mid-sized carry-on backpack under 40L. Despite its size, this bag fits comfortably on your back and is easy to maneuver around trains and hostels. If you are going on a longer Eurotrip, you can fit one to two weeks of clothing that can be worn and washed multiple times.
Most backpacks are designed to be loaded from the top. You’ll have to unpack everything above your bag in order to get something out of the middle or bottom.
In hostels and budget hotels with little personal space, you’ll need a better solution than that.
Make sure that you use a front-loading bag that you can pack like a suitcase. The front-loading backpack opens like a book, making it easy for you to reach everything in your bag without having to unpack everything.
Having your clothes strewn around the room will no longer annoy anyone else because they are easily accessible to you.
There are unfortunately a lot of cases of petty theft that happen in hostels, on trains and buses. Pickpockets target tourist areas because they know you’re likely to have money and possibly even important documents with you. Moreover, you’re distracted by the sights you’re going to see.
An easy way to close hiking bags is by using a drawstring or a buckle. There is no doubt that those bags are magnets for thieves. You can easily get into them and you will stand out as an obvious tourist when you do so.
The smarter option would be to invest in a backpack that is theft-proof. It’s not possible to be 100% theft proof, but locking zippers can be a good way for you to slow down a thief.
Furthermore, by locking your bag, you’re sending a message to burglars that you’re not an easy mark, so they are more likely to skip your locked bag in favor of one that’s not locked.
For preparing your backpack for a trip to Europe, you will need a simple TSA-approved padlock. This little lock will serve as a huge deterrent to a potential thief who will move on to an easier target as soon as he sees it.
Europe has buses and trains that will take you between accommodations and cities. Your backpack needs to be ergonomic since you’ll be walking a lot.
The best backpack for hiking is one that has a suspension system that mimics hiking. Hiking backpacks use padded hip belts, which transfer most of the weight to your leg muscles, which are stronger than shoulders.
You can prevent back, neck, and shoulder strain by wearing a hip belt. Your life will never be the same again once you switch to a hip belt.
The Best Travel Backpack for Europe
A backpack with ergonomics and portability combined with a suitcase’s organisation and ease of packing make up the Outbreaker Backpack. All the items on your packing list can be stored in the Outbreaker’s compartments or pockets.
You can store your clothes in the large main compartment, which has zippered pockets for cords, toiletries, and other small items.
TSA-friendly lay-flat laptop compartment lets you pack your laptop, tablet, or Kindle. There is a compartment on the front where you can store all the small items you need to access easily, like your notebook or sunglasses.
You can adjust the height of the Outbreaker Backpack to fit you perfectly. You can keep your stuff safe on rainy European days with the waterproof sailcloth bag.
In terms of ergonomics, organization, and adjustability, the Outbreaker Backpack is the best. Most European airlines accept 35L bags as carry-ons, so you will never have to check a bag.
After backpacking through Eastern Europe in 2009, we realized the shortcomings of existing bags. My bag was cumbersome, large, and disorganized. A cheap shoulder strap caused Jeremy’s bag to break after the first day of use.
Having been unable to find the perfect travel backpack, we decided to make our own. An ideal backpack for travelers is necessary if you’re heading to Europe.
A backpack with a capacity of 40L-50L is recommended. As a rule of thumb, I don’t recommend bags larger than 65L, but some people prefer larger bags. It’s OK to go smaller – unless you have a minimalist travel style – but I wouldn’t recommend anything smaller than 35L.
You are generally safe when backpacking in Europe. As long as you do your due diligence and follow safe travel tips, there are very few places that put you at serious risk.
If you keep your wits about you while walking around, you won’t be recognized as a non-local anymore. Despite my love of yoga pants, I like to at least look like a local so I usually wear jeans and flats.