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How to Choose the Best Travel Backpack for Europe

Backpacking Europe can be rough. No doubt, it's an amazing experience. But you're always on the move, dealing with budget airlines, staying in cramped accommodations, and occasionally being targeted by pickpockets. You need a bag that's as tough and flexible as you are.

Unfortunately, most backpackers buy hiking backpacks, not travel backpacks, because they don't know the difference. Don't let ignorance ruin your trip. Learn what to look for in a backpack and which one to buy.

What Size Travel Backpack for Europe Should You Buy?

When you're on the road, don’t lug around a comically-oversized hiking backpack. You'll never get anywhere.

You need a bag that works in every travel scenario. A travel backpack for Europe should be carry-on-sized, even if you'll be riding on trains, not flying on planes. Carry on bags should measure no more than 22" x 14" x 9" to fit within airlines' carry on luggage regulations.

The Outbreaker travel backpack is exactly the dimensions listed above. This size of bag is small enough to still be comfortable on your back and can be easily maneuvered around trains and hostels. You should be able to fit one to two weeks of clothing, which you can re-wear and wash for multi-week or longer trips.

When you do take your bag on a flight, you'll be able to save money and time by not checking it. Since you'll have it with you, your airline can't lose or damage your bag. I can't emphasize enough how important that is when you're on a budget and on the move.

Keep Everything You Need Within Arm’s Reach

Most backpacks load from the top. To get something out of the middle or bottom of your bag, you'll have to unpack everything above it. You'll be staying in plenty of hostels and budget hotels without much personal space, so unpacking everything every time you need anything won't work.

Instead, use a front-loading bag like the Outbreaker. Front-loading (aka panel-loading) backpacks open like a suitcase, where the entire front can be opened. You can easily reach anything in your bag without unpacking.

Best travel backpack for Europe

Now you can have convenient access for yourself and won't annoy anyone because your clothes are strewn around the room. Win, win.

Prevent Theft

Petty theft is common in hostels and on trains and buses. Crowded tourist areas are prime targets for pickpockets.

Prevent having your passport, valuables, or clothes stolen by using a theft-proof backpack. Hiking bags close with a simple drawstring. Those bags are magnets for thieves.

Deter theft with a lockable backpack. You'll never be 100% theft-proof. Your goal should be to look as secure as possible so that you're not the easiest mark. Thieves will skip your locked bag for someone else's unlocked one.

All of the zippers on the Outbreaker’s main compartment are lockable. Use a simple TSA-approved padlock to prepare your backpack for Europe. When a potential thief sees that little lock, he'll move on to another, easier target.

When you're shopping for a travel backpack for Europe, remember to choose one that's carry-on-sized, easy to access, and lockable. The right bag will never slow you down but will help prevent petty theft. The Outbreaker travel backpack fits all of these requirements.

We created Tortuga after realizing the shortcomings of existing bags during a backpacking trip to Eastern Europe in 2009. If you're heading to Europe, you need a backpack designed for travelers. You've found it: the Outbreaker.