Backpack vs Suitcase – which is better for your next travel adventure?

I travel regularly and I sometimes pack my suitcase and sometimes my backpack. Both have their own advantages and there are pros and cons with both options.

Photo: Sofia Nature Travels

I generally choose to travel with a backpack in the following situations:

– I’m going to be sleeping outdoors/in tents
– I have longish distances when I’m going to have to carry my luggage.

When I pack for travelling with a backpack, I pack everything in smaller pack bags to have inside the backpack. So I have one bag for socks, one for sleeping clothes, one for underwear, one for charging cables etc. You get the idea.

Photo: Sofia Nature Travels

Then, if I need something at the bottom of the pack, I only need to take out the bags, not each individual item. It also makes it simpler to find things within the bag if you have different coloured bags. You’ll soon learn that the black bag has socks, the blue bag has sleeping clothes etc.

I choose the suitcase in the following situations:

– I don’t need to carry my luggage any distance.
– I’m staying indoors on all nights.
– I need to bring things like computers, nicer clothes etc.

Photo: Jayne Nature Travels

The good thing with a suitcase is that you can pack things flat – so you can bring clothes that are ironed and they still look OK when you get there. In a suitcase you can also have the clothes folded in nice piles and keep them in there for the whole journey. You can use the suitcase as a “clothes drawer” with your clothes neatly folded inside.

You also have a better overview of everything inside your bag once opened. You can easily access everything within the suitcase without having to taking everything else out.

However, it is bulky and hard to carry for any longer distances, even if you have rolling luggage

As I said, there are pros and cons with both options.

I do sometimes combine both types of luggage. For example, I’ll bring a backpack as my main luggage and a smaller rolling suitcase as my hand luggage. This is useful if I’m travelling on a business trip and I’m going to be outdoors a lot, but I’ll also need my computer and some nice clothes for dinner occasions. However, this requires me to be able to store my rolling bag somewhere if I go for a longer hike or dogsled tour, etc.

Photo: Niki Nature Travels

If on the other hand I’m mostly staying indoors, I choose a rolling suitcase as my main luggage and a smaller backpack as hand luggage. I can then leave the main luggage in my room and use the smaller backpack for day activities in the outdoors.

Photo: Stephen LeBeau

There’s also a third choice! I admit at the moment I often travel with a rolling duffel bag that also has backpack straps on and can be can be carried as a backpack. It gives me some of the benefits from both options! (I use a Berghaus Mule – you can see our review article here).

But when it comes to spending time in the outdoors, nothing beats the old backpack!

Kind regards

Sofia from the Nature Travels team