What Makes A Good Backpack? Part 1

When it comes to backpacks, there’s a billion and one choices to pick from. Over this week, we’re sharing a 3 part guide to the basics behind good bags to help you find the one for you.


Part 1: Shape & Size

Shopping for new backpacks can be both satisfying and a challenge. Find the right one, and you’ve got a sturdy sidekick for years. In our eyes, the perfect daybag is a midsized 20L with the sweet combo of comfort, ease of use, and durability. But there’s something for everyone, so here’s 4 tips on picking your next daily companion.

Which is the right one for you?

Tip 1: Cut The Crap!

Step one starts with you. Empty your current bag and lay out your carry (also makes a great #flatlay photo 👌). Chances are, if you haven’t touched it until now, you can leave it behind. Strip the excess––By carrying only the essentials, you lessen the load on your shoulders, and gives you the room to add more later.

Not shown: coins, receipts from 2015…

Tip 2: How Much to Carry?

How much to carry? The capacity usually shown by its volume in Liters. Each brand measures their “L”s differently (we use rice to do it, but that’s another story), so it’s more guideline than exact science. A general rule of thumb:

16L — Small, minimal carry, 13” devices, small groceries.
20L — Midsize, should hold a days worth of gear; 15” devices, change of clothes.
32L — Bulky, for bulker things: a weekender’s worth of clothes, thick winter jacket, lots of groceries etc.

Source: Patagonia

We’d recommend picking a size based on your carry needs. For those occassional extras, consider a bag with expandable options like military-inspired MOLLE attachments.

Tip 3: Roll Top or Zip Up?

There’s a whole load of closure options, and here are the two opposite ends: Roll tops generally more secure and Top Zips are more accessible. If you’re a bike courier carrying precious cargo in wild weather, roll tops may provide an extra level of security and slightly more space. If you value easy accessibility and less bulk, zip ups are a great no-fuss solution to find things on the go.

Roll Tops vs Zip Top

Tip 4: Leave The Gimmicks At The Store

Solar panels, weight scales, jetpacks…these all sound catchy, but unless you absolutely need a backpack with specific functions, you’ll be paying extra for a ‘feature’ that adds weight without much benefit. Our suggestion? Leave the gimmicks out and focus on the basics: Comfort, Durability, and of course, style.


That’s part 1 of our starter tips to choosing the perfect bag, stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 later this week. Or save the hassle and pick up one of our 20L daybags launching this January. Sign up for our pre-launch here for first access to early bird pricing at launch.

Instagram 👉 www.instagram.com/ablecarryco
Facebook 👉 www.facebook.com/ablecarry
Newsletter/Website 👉 www.ablecarry.com