Is your backpack fuss-proof? Look for these eight game-changing features.

Photo by Sassu anas from Pexels

I love backpacks. They are my go-to way of carrying stuff around. But many backpacks cause fuss that we’ve resigned to deal with. Look for these top eight features that will make your backpack work for you instead of against you.

8. Loops for Carabiners

Having these on the outside of your pack can be tremendously useful. They allow for quick, easy-access “storage” of miscellaneous things like a water bottle or handbag. More useful than you might think!

7. Size

I like to err on the side of too big, because cramming stuff isn’t fun. Plus, you can get some large packs that are also lightweight.

6. Rain Protector

A rain protector not only helps by keeping your stuff dry inside the backpack (like your laptop), but the bag gets heavier as it gets saturated with water.

Think an umbrella will do the trick? Just feel the top of your bag after using an umbrella on a rainy day.

5. Wide and Thin Straps

It’s not the padding that makes a pack sit softly on your shoulders, it’s the width. In fact, I look for thinner padding to prevent stench and bacteria buildup. After all, the straps go under the armpits!

4. Top-loading

I prefer top-loading packs. It’s just easier to load and access your stuff than front-loading packs are.

I only see front-loading packs to be useful if you intend to access your stuff like you would a suitcase – by putting the back down on a flat surface, and opening the entire front. I almost never do this – I almost always access the pack in an up-right position.

3. No zippers

Zippers are trouble. They almost always fail. Any of these scenarios sound familiar?

  • Your zipper loses connection with other side.
  • The bindings come apart.
  • Zipper bites on fabric.

Instead, I look for a drawstring. Or just recently, I’ve taken to the style present on dry bags that involve folding over the top, and buckling the ends together.

2. Simplicity

Where did I put that thingamajig? Perhaps this pocket here… no, maybe it’s in the zippered pocket inside this other pocket.

Simplify your life, and stick to one or two compartments. If you do encounter the need for further organization (such as separating little things from big), consider using smaller packs instead of compartments. I like dry bags) for this purpose, because you can also compress them.

1. Airflow

The flow of air between your back and the pack is a feature that I think is far too overlooked. If the pack sits flat up against your back, you can expect to sweat, especially if you’re a fast walker like I am. I even look for this feature in my everyday backpack.

Do your back a favour and allow it to breathe!

Do you share these sentiments? Or perhaps disagree? Have something to add? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

(Photo by Sassu anas from Pexels)

Vincenzo Coia
he/him/his 🌈 👨

I’m a data scientist at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

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