Bangkok, Thailand — After using my little backpack traveling around Asia for 3+ months, my day bag started to fall apart. Fortunately I was in Bangkok, which can be an excellent spot to shop for discounts, since nearly everything is cheap. A few blocks from my hotel was a place advertising “authentic travel bags,” which pretty comically tells you that they’re not. Caveat emptor!
My friend and I were laughing about it, apparently loud enough that the salesperson overheard and challenged us. The guy selling these bags explained that you know it’s quality because it’s strong; he then pulled on the material to show that it’s strong, and because there’s a website. Apparently those are the 2 criteria he was told that makes an item legit. I found a Lowe Alpine bag that I liked, and to his credit, the material did appear strong, and did in fact have what looks like a website embroidered on the bag.
What to look for to make sure it doesn’t fall apart: If you’re shopping for a backpack in a country known for knockoff items like Thailand and you need it to hold together, focus your attention to details like connections and zippers. Many poorly made bags have zippers that will tear from the material or don’t move smoothly. The elastics that tighten around the beverage holders aren’t always as elastic as they should be. Also, the item’s weakest point is often where it connects to other material. Also the waist belt clips often aren’t very functional.
What to look for in a day pack: Make sure your day backpack is sturdy and has lots of pockets and compartments. Ideally it’s somewhat water-resistant. I’m always drawn to bags that can fit different size water bottles, has a waist belt for when you’re carrying lots of weight, and straps to make it smaller. You want lots of compartments in the bag to keep items separated – this will help you find things quickly (important for convenience and security), and to keep some hidden.
This shopping experience was interesting, but not nearly as entertaining as Vietnam. I’ll post that shortly. Stay tuned!