Backpack vs Suitcase – Which one Should You Use?

Travel, Travel Wisdom

Backpacks vs suitcase - what to choose

Last Updated on: Nov 27, 2021 

Backpack vs Suitcase – which one should I take for my next trip? I am sure many of you have this question while packing for your trip. Infact, this has always been a hot topic of debate between travellers for a long time. So, which one is better?

To be honest, we have been using backpacks since we started travelling almost 15 years back. Infact, we named our blog after our favourite luggage.

However, not long ago, we got interested in suitcases. There were times when we had to travel for work and a backpack at that time was not really suitable. Now that we have used them both, we have realized that both backpacks and suitcases have advantages and disadvantages of their own. So here is our honest opinion on the never-ending debate between suitcases and backpacks.

Backpack vs Suitcase

What type of luggage you will choose depends on the type of traveller you are! It also depends very much on your destination. Obviously, you will not consider carrying your suitcase for a trekking trip! Neither would you want to take out a crumpled saree or suit out of a backpack before a wedding. So you know, that a wrong choice can ruin your vacation.

Before your trip, ask yourself a few questions –

  • How long is your trip?
  • What is it you are going to do?
  • What are the places you are travelling and what is the infrastructure of the place you are travelling to?
  • How much are you going to bring back?

These questions will definitely help you to decide whether to choose a backpack or suitcase. And for further help, read on to know about the pros and cons of a backpack and suitcase and settle this debate between backpack vs suitcase for one.

Pros and cons of a Backpack

Travel Backpacks

Backpacks come in various sizes. Here I am speaking about large backpacks of more than 40 litres. Large backpacks are best for travellers who do not want to carry a suitcase around, but still want sufficient storage space.

Pros

  1. Backpacks are easier to carry and give you limitless mobility. You can climb stairs, walk on uneven terrain, jump on trains and buses without thinking much. This is definitely one of the greatest advantages of backpacks.
  2. Both your hands remain free while using a backpack. This, I consider, is the best advantage of using a backpack. Hands remain free to use phone, camera and other gadgets.
  3. Backpacks are usually lighter than suitcases. So, it is easier to keep the weight of the luggage within the limit.
  4. Backpacks have more pockets and you can organize your stuff better.
  5. You can compress your backpack and make it smaller. This is quite impossible to do with a suitcase.
  6. You can walk further with a backpack. The weight of the backpack is not usually concentrated on your hands and shoulders. A good backpack distributes the weight down through your core and legs. You can carry a backpack further and walk with it for a larger distance.
  7. Backpacks are usually more secure as they stay on your body. So lesser chances of it getting stolen.
  8. If backpacking is your style of travel where you do not have a fixed itinerary and go with the flow, then a backpack is definitely the better choice for you.

Cons

  1. You have to carry all the weight on your back. No matter how strong you are, carrying a large backpack with all your stuff is never going to be comfortable. There are times when I want to carry a few books with me on my trips. But I usually do not take them because I do not want to increase the weight of my backpack.
  2. Backpacks are difficult to pack as compared to suitcases.
  3. There are chances of your clothes and belongings getting crumpled and squished inside a backpack. I do remember with horror the condition of my crumpled suit during one of our business trips. That was quite a long time back. Infact, we started carrying a suitcase after we got our drone. Carrying a drone in a suitcase is safer than in a backpack.
  4. If you have physical problems like knee, hip or back pain, then backpacks are not for you.
  5. Backpacks are often not waterproof. Although there is rain cover for the backpacks, the chances of the belongings getting wet remains.
  6. It is difficult to find a right backpack that is comfortable to carry. We had tried several backpacks before zeroing on our latest ones.

Pros and cons of a Suitcase

Travelling with Suitcase

Suitcases are better choices if you are heading towards one destination and you do not have to walk around much. And suitcases are definitely the best idea if you are going on for a business trip. We usually carry our suitcase if we go for a road trip because we have our car with us for all the time. Packing is a bit easier in suitcases than backpacks.

Pros

  1. The main reason to use a suitcase – wheeling a suitcase is much easier than carrying a backpack on our back. This is especially useful in airports, railway stations and any smooth surface.
  2. Hard shell suitcases can provide protection to your belongings and can handle all the roughness on the road.
  3. It is easier to organize your clothes and pack your belongings in a suitcase. You do not have to rummage at the bottom of a pack to find your stuff. Suitcases are easier to repack than a top-loading backpack.
  4. Clothes will tend to remain wrinkle free, especially the important ones.
  5. You can separate your dirty clothes from the clean ones in a better and organized way in a suitcase.
  6. Hard shell suitcases are waterproof.

Cons

  1. Wheeling the suitcase is great until you reach uneven terrains, cobbled paths and staircases. It is always more difficult to carry a suitcase on steps than a backpack.
  2. One of your hands will always be occupied while wheeling your suitcase. This is one of the major disadvantages of using a suitcase over a backpack.
  3. If you are travelling in a crowded place or you have to take public transport often during your trip, then a suitcase can be a problem. Crowds and suitcases hardly go together.
  4. A suitcase cannot be squashed in size unlike a backpack. So, even for a small trip you might have to carry a large suitcase.
  5. Some suitcases, especially the cheaper ones, are quite heavy on their own. This poses a problem, especially if you are on a weight limit.
Packing woes

Backpack vs Suitcase – Which one to Choose?

Are you travelling for a relaxing holiday and would be staying in a resort? Or are you planning to explore cities and countryside and would rely on public transport?

The luggage you choose depends on the type of travel. It also depends on the destination and the activities you do there. It also depends on your budget. For budget travellers relying mostly on public transport and hostels, backpacks are better options. And most importantly, it depends on you – what you are comfortable with.

Choose a Backpack if you are –

  • Moving around a lot on foot.
  • Backpacking across places and travelling for a longer period of time.
  • Strong and fit enough to carry the backpack
  • Going for trekking and hiking.

Choose a Suitcase if you are –

  • Travelling for a relaxing vacation, usually staying in resorts.
  • Driving or renting a car for travel.
  • You won’t be walking with your luggage much.
  • If you have back problems.
  • If you are travelling for formal affairs.

While choosing your backpack and suitcase, do remember the following.

Backpack and Suitcase – Size matters

Whether you choose a backpack or suitcase, choose the size that you will be able to carry. Do not buy bigger backpacks or suitcases, as you will tend to pack much more if you have extra space.

Backpack and Suitcase – Quality matters

Do not be stringent while buying your luggage. Spend the extra amount on the backpack or suitcase. A good quality suitcase or backpack is an investment. We had previously bought cheaper backpacks that were uncomfortable to carry. We learnt it the hard way.

While buying a suitcase we did not make the same mistake. We wanted a good quality suitcase that would last long. We got a decent suitcase from Nasher Miles.

Nasher Miles Luggage

Nasher Miles Suitcase - Istanbul Variant

Nasher Miles is a premium travel brand having an excellent range of products like suitcases, casual and corporate backpacks and more. Their suitcases are lightweight, something that was high on our criteria of choosing a luggage. The suitcases are of good quality and durability. However, the best part is their looks and color.

Nasher Miles Suitcases have a very contemporary look and are available in a wide range of colours. The name of their collections is also quite interesting – they are named after famous and iconic cities. We have got the Yellow and Grey Suitcase from the Istanbul collection. Further, their luggage collections are quite affordable as well. You can definitely check out their website for their suitcase collections.

Conclusion

So, that was our thoughts on the Backpack vs Suitcase debate. Choose the luggage that you are comfortable with. If you are comfortable with a suitcase, go with it. And if you always travel with your backpack, there is no reason to switch over. 

Agni Amrita Travel Blogger

Agni Amrita

We are Agni and Amrita, the 2 Backpackers embarked on the adventure of life together. In between, travel makes us happy as we explore offbeat places and Untold Stories.

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