Choosing the right luggage is a very important decision, but its not difficult. Lets start with the size issue. To minimize weight and hassle, bring the smallest bag possible to meet your needs with a little extra room to make packing and unpacking easier (especially with backpacks). This will also leave room for items, gifts or souvenirs you pick up along the way.
The kind of bag you bring depends entirely on your travel plans. Pack a small to medium sized roller luggage if you’ll be traveling mainly in developed cities and won’t be moving around too much. Rollers are easier to pack and unpack than a backpack and effortlessly glide on smooth paved surfaces. If your want more flexibility in your plans, intend on visiting developing countries or plan to explore rural countryside, definitely bring a backpack. Roller bags are a pain on unpaved surfaces and a burden to drag up and down narrow staircases. Backpacks offer unparalleled mobility, so long as you don’t go overboard – avoid backpacks larger than 75 litres; they are unnecessarily large and lead to over-packing.
A good daypack is an essential item for any traveller. Travel backpacks with removable daypacks built-in are available on the market, but can be expensive and generally add unnecessary weight to your pack. I suggest a lightweight nylon daypack or canvas messenger bag. These pack down to almost nothing. I’ve had great luck with REI Flash 18 Pack. You can easily stuff the Flash into your luggage; it takes up almost no space and only weighs 11oz. At 18 litres its large enough to accommodate a DSLR camera, passport, wallet, maps, water, food etc. – everything you need for the day. For $35 it’s a cheap and durable solution. Mine’s over a year old still in great condition.
Maximizing Space: The Essential Compression Sack
Compression sacks are an absolute must for any traveller trying to make the most out of the space in their luggage. Stuff cloths or a sleeping bag into a compression sack, and they’ll take up less than ¼ the volume they would if folded or rolled. Using compression sacks doubles or triples the amount of stuff you can fit into your bag, which allows you to bring smaller and lighter luggage.
The best compression sacks are made by Sea to Summit. The Vent Compression Dry Sacks are waterproof, which is crucial if you’re planning on any trekking, and have an air permeable membrane that makes stuffing them particularly easy. Most importantly, they are super durable. By the nature of their task, compression sacks take a lot of stress and abuse. If you cheap out you’ll just end up rebuying within a year when the sacks start tearing. I suggest 10 or 15 litre sacks if you’re bringing a backpack; they fit more easily into a backpack than the larger sacks.