Backpack Buying Guide

**Please note that this guide is intended for Sri Lankans**

Trekking or Hiking a long trail without a proper backpack can be a stressful experience. I know this because I've had many backpacks of mine worn and torn during journeys. So it’s quite important to have a suitable backpack to carry all you stuff comfortably. Through this article I’m going to guide you on How to Buy a Reliable Backpack (in Sri Lanka). In Sri Lanka Backpacking isn’t quite popular. Whenever you go to a store and ask for a backpack they show those small school bags and single day backpacks. Most stores don’t have proper backpacks and even the stores which sell good quality hiking backpacks don’t offer much of a range to choose from. But if you are willing to sweat a little you might be able to find a good one that suits your preferences.

Before jumping in to buying a backpack you should get to know about the qualities that we should look for. If it’s a single day pack then most commonly available backpack will do but if you want an expedition pack or a multi-day pack then these are the crucial things to look for

1.      Should have an Internal or External frame.
2.      Should be accessible from top and bottom.
3.      Should have padded shoulder straps with load lifters
4.      Wider Hip Belt with load stabilizers.
5.      Proper Lumbar Pad and Sternum Strap.

I prefer internal frame rather than external frame since internal frame backpacks are much more comfortable to carry in wilderness. They don’t shift like external frames tend to do. Most expedition/multi-day backpacks tend to be tall rather than wide.

So it’s much better if it could be accessible from both top and bottom. Most expedition/multi-day backpacks come with this option and some comes with waterproof sleeping bag compartment which allows access from bottom.

Now let’s talk about suspension system. This is the most important part of a hiking bag since this system enables you to carry weight much more efficiently and distribute weight in a manner that most of the weight (70%) goes through hip belt and to your hips.Below video will explain how you could adjust a backpack suspension system properly.

Now you know the basics of a backpack and now you are ready to buy one. But from where should you buy? Below is a list of places where you could find proper backpacks in Sri Lanka.

  1. Odel
  2. CoolPlanet
  3. House of Fashion
  4. Pettah (Malwaththa Road)
  5. Samsonite
  6. PJ Martin
  7. EDGE (Kirulapone)
  8. Adventure Seals
  9. Coleman Sri Lanka (FB page)
list updated (2014.03.22)

If you plan on buying from Pettah don’t hesitate to bargain. Don’t go for the price they quote. If they quote 10000 LKR you can buy it for 6000 LKR. It all depends on you bargaining skill. But beware to check the item thoroughly before you buy it. Jewels can be found in this place as well as rotten garbage. While you are at shopping for backpacks don’t hesitate to put them on and check whether they match your torso length. Use below chart to determine which backpack suits your torso length.

Torso Length (inches)
Backpack Size
up to 15 ½
Extra Small
16" to 17 ½
18" to 19 ½
20" and up

If you don’t mind spending a little more money you can buy from Ebay rather than going on backpack hunting by yourself. But be sure to buy it from a reputed seller otherwise you will end up dissatisfied.

Here are the backpacks I bought during last two years.

My day-hike backpack. (40L with rain cover and hydration bladder)

My expedition backpack (75L Chinese one)


  1. Thank you very much for all these information. :)

    1. Thank you very much for reading and commenting. I've bought 2 back packs on different occasions. One is a 75L (6500LKR) expedition pack which is more suitable for long journeys. The other one is a small 45L(4500LKR) backpack(daypack), my favorite. You could get these from front street, pettah. Don't just check one or two shops visit them all. And don't hesitate to bargain.

  2. If you are going out for an overnight or for a week, it is important to have a sturdy, dependable backpack. While going for an outing it is essential to choose the right backpack according to the requirement. Most the backpacks also have lock systems for security purposes so that you can easily carry expensive and precious thing in it. The bag Shop provides a huge range of backpacks for long travels. You can choose the right bag for your travel.

  3. Very useful post. Thank you very much!

    1. Glad you found it useful. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Amazing blog about travel and backpacks. I really feel awesome when I get this kind of informative writing.