Backpack Europe eiffel tower

Buying a Pack

Your backpack is your friend and constant companion. You want to make sure you get a pack that is high-quality and fits your proportions. You can buy them online after you try on at an adventure store. When you're at the store, ask the sales clerk to put weights in the pack to make sure you're comfortable carrying it with a lot of stuff in it. The stores often have incremental weights or sandbags to help you decide.

When buying a backpack you should ask these questions: (Special thanks to Canuckabroad.com and backpackeurope.com)

1. Is your backpack comfortable?

You are going to be carrying this thing up hills, up stairs, on trains, planes, ferries and god knows where else. It better be comfortable.

2. Is there a waist belt and chest buckle

The waist belt shifts most of your pack's weight to your hips as opposed to your shoulders, and the chest buckle helps to bring the load forward by connecting the shoulder straps at your sternum. These make carrying your pack so much more comfortable. Buying one with great padding on the shoulder straps and back is a good idea too.

3. Is there a warranty?

Even if you buy the nicest backpack in the store, make sure it has a comprehensive warranty.

4. Is it waterproof?

Having a waterproof pack can be really helpful in the rain, but if you're trying to save some cash, you can always cover it with a garbage bag or poncho.

5. Is there a daypack?

This is optional. Some packs have removable day packs that can prove useful, but stuffing a smaller backpack into your big pack will work too.

Things to bring

Here is a printable version of all you'll need to bring.

Some tips

1. Get together everything you'll need, and then cut that in half. You MUST pack light.

2. Be prepared for both warm and cool weather. Layers are key, so are things you can wear over and over again.

3. Packing cubes, folders and organizers are very helpful.

4. Bring only clothes in darker or neutral colors so that stains are less visible and everything can mix and match. This way, you can also do one load of laundry and not worry about sorting.

5. Put an odor absorber, such as a few dry sheets, in your luggage to keep everything smelling fresh.

6. If you bring anything that needs to be plugged in, say your laptop, you'll need an adaptor. If you bring a hairdryer or anything that heats up you'll need a converter.