Cheap Backpacks for
Shoestring Budgets

Cheap cheap backpacks aren't hard to come by. Drop into any discount department store and you'll see heaps of them in every colour.

Probably on sale.winking smiley

Remember that your backpack is the single most important piece of gear you'll buy for your around the world trip. Make sure it's a good one.

My first discount backpack was actually quite nice looking. Padded hip belt, double chain zippers, compression straps — the works. The tag even said it was waterproof.

Total bargain! Or so I thought . . .

Then I was racing like mad to catch a ferry one day when I heard a worrying 'Rrrrrrip!' and felt my pack suddenly lighten. Before I could even stop to see what had happened, most of my laundry was scattered across the dock!

Lesson learned.

cheap backpacks dollar

When the Price is Right

Both top-loading backpacks and travel packs range hugely in price, depending on:

You can very easily pay anywhere from about
$100 upwards (far upwards!) for a decent
quality pack from a reputable outdoor gear

But with thousands of backpacks to choose
from and enticing new models coming out each
season, it can be tough to decide which one
will offer you the best value for money.

So what do you do?

Start by asking yourself these
two questions:

What kinds of activities will you be using the backpack for?

If you only ever plan to go backpacking around the world this one time in your life and you don't expect to be doing any serious mountaineering, wilderness camping or long-distance trekking en route, it would hardly be worth blowing your budget on any top-end backpacking gear.

So don't let the fancy bells and whistles tempt you.

How long or how often are you going to use the backpack?

If you suspect this trip might just be your first of many (you might not think so now but believe me . . . backpacking around the world is addictive), it would be well worth digging a bit deeper into your pockets to get the best backpack you can comfortably afford.

A good quality backpack can be a lifetime investment.

cheap backpacks piggy bank

Tips for Buying Cheap Backpacks

Yes, there really are superior quality cheap backpacks out there at bargain-basement prices.

On Sale

Some people just get lucky.

They can breeze into their local backpacking gear shop and pick up exactly what they want at an end-of-season, end-of-line, promo or clearance sale.

I can only dream!


Chances are, at some point you'll end up (as most of us do) searching for cheap backpacks on the Internet.

You can bid for, buy, sell and even trade all sorts of backpacking gear online. But backpacks are a lot like clothes — they need to be comfortable, fit well and last. So online shopping can sometimes be a bit hit-and-miss.

The key to finding the perfect pack for you and your around the world trip is to know what you need to look for in a backpack before you hit that 'Buy Now' button.

Here's a quick rundown:

  1. Measure your torso.
  2. Find out which backpack size will fit you best.

  3. Draft a basic packing list.
  4. Decide how much space you're likely to need for all your stuff.

  5. Visit an outdoor gear outfitter.
  6. Put some backpacks through the test and compare them against this handy 7 Key Features Checklist.

  7. Buy your backpack early.
  8. Do a short trial run so that you can return or exchange the pack if it doesn't feel right.


You might never have considered buying a second-hand backpack but it's definitely worth checking a few out. Sometimes even top-of-the-line backpacks are only used once or twice and then sold on at massively reduced prices.

Before you purchase any used equipment though, check it over carefully. If you're buying online, read the description and the fine print thoroughly. Don't be afraid to contact the seller to ask for more info.

Besides proper size and fit, what should you be looking for? Basically, that the backpack isn't:

  • worn out from heavy or long-term use
  • damaged from misuse or careless handling
  • missing any zippers, straps, buckles, hooks, clasps or other little bits

new blue

Any thoughts? Leave a comment!