Once you’ve chosen the travel backpack you want to take with you on your gap year, you may want to consider buying some accessories to accompany it. From security products such as locks to keep it safe and secure through to covers to keep your backpack dry in the outdoors and damage-free during flights, backpack accessories can prove invaluable when it comes to keeping your travel bag safe and in top condition throughout your trip. You’ll be carrying it for long enough, so it’s definitely worth considering some of these useful bits of kit!
Now this one isn’t essential for all travellers, as you may not be travelling to a country with high rainfall. However, for those of you who are travelling to destinations during their rainy or monsoon season, a rain cover is a good way to keep your backpack dry in a downpour. There are some backpacks on the market, which may claim to be made from water-resistant fabric…but in our experience, no bag is 100% waterproof! Rain covers are also great if you’re embarking on a multi-day trek during your trip, as you bag will be put through a number of different weather conditions on the trail.
Most travel backpacks come with a handy zip cover to protect their back system shoulder straps, but unfortunately this cover doesn’t encase the entire bag, which can leave your backpack vulnerable to damage during flights and overland bus journeys. Backpack transit covers enable you to put your entire backpack inside and zip it up, protecting it from getting caught on airport conveyor belts and it will also help to keep it clean.
As with the rain cover, no backpack is 100% waterproof, so placing a rucksack liner inside is another measure that can be taken to help keep your bag’s contents dry. Rucksack liners are made from tough material, usually something like polythene and create a protective waterproof layer between your backpack’s contents and the elements. They’re also relatively cheap, so are well worth the investment.
Slashproof Bag Protector
Pacsafe are renowned for their slash-proof travel gear, and their Slash-proof backpack protector is a popular accessory with travellers around the world. The protector is essentially a mesh that covers your backpack, but this mesh is made from slash-proof high-tensile stainless steel, so thieves can’t cut it to get into your bag. Simply pull the mesh over your backpack and lock it to a fixed object, such as a post or set of railings. They are also available in a range of sizes, so will fit most travel backpacks.
You’d be surprised at just how useful packing cubes can be. Packing cubes are designed to help organise your clothing and luggage into separate compartments, so you can have one for t-shirts, one for underwear and one for small accessories, or any other combination you fancy. When you pack using packing cubes, you will find that locating your favourite shirt will become a lot easier, and they also help to keep your luggage as compact as possible.
Not all backpacks are hydration compatible, but if yours has a hydration port and pouch for storing a hydration bladder, it may be worth considering the investment. Hydration bladders can be filled with water and placed inside your backpack or daypack. They feature a drinking tube, which can be fed through the top of your bag, allowing you to drink without having to use your hands or carry a bottle around. Hydration bladders are particularly useful for travellers taking part in treks and more active outdoor activities.
If you’re travelling to the USA on your gap year, or simply passing through, it would be wise to lock your bag using a TSA approved lock. Locking your backpack zips with a good quality lock is good sense, as it keeps people out of your bag and also helps to prevent accidental opening in transit. The reason you should consider buying a TSA lock for you bag rather than a standard lock is that it enables American airport security to easily open your bag should they need to inspect it. If your bag is secured with a normal lock, chances are they may have to force their way into your bag, resulting in a damaged lock at best or a damaged backpack at worst!
Compression bags are designed to minimise the size of your clothing, which helps to save space inside your backpack. The vacuum compression style bags are often made from a clear plastic material, so you can easily see what you’ve packed in each one, making it easy to locate your stuff. The plastic material will also help to protect your clothes should there be a toiletry leakage in your bag! All you have to do is place your clothes inside, then roll the bag, forcing as much air out as possible, this makes your clothes flatter and more compact.
Not exactly essential, but worth considering for added peace of mind and easier identification of your backpack at baggage claim. Luggage tags can be attached to your backpack to make it easier to spot, especially if you choose a bright coloured tag, and they also increase your chances of getting your bag back if it goes astray, so you do not just have to rely on the paper labels applied by the airline.
Cable locks have a variety of uses to keep your bag and other travel gear safe during your trip. Just like a normal luggage lock, they come with a combination code, but the shackle is extendable and made from a flexible coated wire. The shackle can be passed through pretty much any luggage lock to secure your bag’s zips, used to lock your bag to a fixed object (railings, bed posts, lamp posts etc.) or you can use it to lock your backpack to your friends, making them heavier and more difficult for thieves to steal.
So there you have it, our top 10 (in no particular order) backpack accessories to help you protect and make the most out of your backpack during your gap year. If any of these gadgets and accessories have caught your eye, check out our backpack accessories range in our online store!
Rachel has worked for the company for 9 years and as one of our buying team, has a wide knowledge of travel gear. She has travelled in Europe and Southeast Asia, but her dream destination would be South America to experience Carnival in Rio, unleash her inner Attenborough in the Galapagos and sip on Colombian coffee in colonial Cartagena.