Hardshell Backpacks: What to Look For

Traveling is all fun and games until you reach the airport for a security check, and your backpack with “FRAGILE” pasted across it in bold is tossed casually onto the conveyor belt. Seeing the thousands of dollars’ worth hard-earned equipment broken because of a single instance of recklessness has your heart in your mouth and spoils the mood for the rest of the trip.

This is an all-too-vivid and traumatic scenario for many enthusiastic travelers. But it doesn’t always have to be so. One doesn’t need to travel sans devices to find them intact upon reaching home. The best way around this problem is not to pack light but pack properly.

Hardshell backpacks are making a strong comeback these days. They’re also known as military backpacks because they were first used by the military in the 1990s and early 2000s when the term “hardshell” became the norm in everyday language. Superseding the limited purpose, they filtered in the market as fashion products, courtesy of cinematic outlook. But now, hardshell backpacks have become popular because they offer much more storage and protection than their counterparts, impressing the masses. Their straightforward style and plain lacquered colors are worth rummaging through, and this article, with its in-depth expedition, is bound to affect decisions.

The hardshell backpack is the modern invention to the desperate imploring cries of the contemporary tech-savvy populace. Its tortoise-like shell cushions the cruel blows to the contents and ensures they reach their destination in pristine condition. It is also beloved among motorcyclists for its aerodynamic design that reduces drag.

However, before getting too tempted to buy the first hardshell backpack you lay your hands on, here are a few qualities to look for to ensure that only the best one finds its way to you.

Room in the Backpack

The preferred size of the hardshell backpack can vary according to the laptop size and other gadgets, including a professional camera and its accoutrements, for the individual. The roomier backpacks will have space for up to a 15-inch laptop, while the smaller ones can accommodate 14-inch and below.

Hardshell backpacks are flexible in that their shell allows for compact packing and inflates a good few inches more if more needs to be stuffed into the bag. The struggle of cramming things into limited space is an issue of the past.

For this reason, hardshell backpacks are game changers. One doesn’t have to buy and lug around the largest size. Even the smaller ones are flexible and spacious enough to accommodate the needs of the average travel aficionado.

The Size that Fits

Hardshell backpacks range from 15L to 120L in size. The choice should be made based on the frequency and duration of travel. For the occasional traveler or trekker, a backpack between 15-30L should suffice. The items would be well-packed and cushioned with little room to spare.

The medium range between 35 and 45L would be perfect for those struck by wanderlust or those with hectic travel schedules. It is just the right size to pass for hand luggage on flights, thus, saving trouble and money.

The 50 to 65L range is meant for hardcore travel, especially in unpredictable weather areas requiring more supplies. It would, however, be overkill for the average traveler.

Avid trekkers and mountaineers carrying somewhere between 70 and 120L could easily sustain themselves for months off the supplies in these colossal cases.

These distinctions are important when selecting the perfect hardshell backpack because the largest is only the best for some purposes and occasions.

The Material of the Hardshell

The hard shell of the backpack should remain true to its name. It can be made of materials such as EVA foam, 1680 D ballistic nylon, or PC and ABS plastic. These ensure that the backpack can withstand much and adequately protect fragile things.

They also ensure any precipitation is virtually water off a duck’s back. That is the benefit of such materials. They absorb none of the water and let it run off, thus, protecting the things inside.

Hardshell backpacks promise insulation, sturdy carriage of equipment, and a strong barrier against elements. The materials used make their purpose painfully obvious. But a penchant for recognizing the latent use for less known features never goes to waste, starting with fabrics and ending with quirky add-ons.

Mesh fabrics are the underbelly of extravagant claims the manufacturers of hardshell backpacks can make. The backside exterior, which molds and is comparatively soft to the touch, is a mesh nylon blend—famously known for its breathability, relegating the backpack’s capacity to transpire. Because overheating is a clambering concern with respect to the bag’s design, this exact reason has built on the compulsion to incorporate fabric blends, like Mesh, instead of homogeneous plastics. Because Mesh is hydrophilic, lightweight, acid and alkali-resistant, its thickness, various strand sizes, and manufactured webbing depends entirely on the make and the model.

The sleek, smooth texture is a class apart and authentic. But despite uniform fashion, some backpacks come with a bumped surface on the hardshell. It is, instead, a deft pre-emptive strike, nipping the problem in the bud. As backpacks can slip and slide against a smooth surface without notice, the bumped texture takes preventive measures in times like these. This information might seem trivial, but airport security checks or any travel journey brings a chance of losing possessions in the clutter precisely because backpacks slip away. Literally.

Hardshell backpacks have the advantage that they can be used in all weather conditions because their inner lining is sewn with leather to help keep the gear and equipment dry. Which is why another material, easy to clean, used is Nubuck. Nubuck is a combination of smooth leather and suede. It is available in a variety of colors and patterns that include black, brown, tan, and many more.

On the exterior shell, a reinforced base plate and safety buckles for added stability are provided in case of unevenly loaded content.  For a change, the unsightly bulk is cut down with the proper weight distribution. Hardshells feature padded shoulder straps or hip belts for added comfort when carrying heavy loads. While others have built-in frame suspension systems to reduce weight on the shoulders.

In the interior of a backpack, compartmentalized dividers store material separately; the partitions come up with fixed plates or nets. This way, large spaces are divided among the central line of the backpack. Manually adding or changing them damages the curvature and spine work of the backpack. Organized planners and small pouches to fit in smaller supplies.

Hard Coated aluminum beats any other long-lasting alternative. It uses composite polymers or other metal fibers to reinforce strength and stability. It is shockproof, which means it can absorb and distribute the weight of the impact through the pack without doubling down n one surface. Contents, in this manner, are found without a scratch on them, even if the backpack topples from a significant height.

Anti-theft chains are another perk usually ignored. Backpacks these days come with it and a padded lock for extra security. However, any detachable parts are still insecure. That’s why using quirky external pouches might not always be the safest bet, and to compromise safety or convenience over glossy surface features is a bit uncalled for.

Pockets for Knick-Knacks

Another major non-negotiable in these carapaced carriers is the number of pockets to house small items- your phone, wallet, medicines, and the like. Cracked phone screens are a major complaint with bags that have a lot of uninterrupted space minus partitions. Pockets are also a major plus when the traveler has gadgets that require multiple wires and cords.

Some bags even come with additional toiletry pouches that can be attached via the fidlock mechanism while traveling and detached when no longer needed. These add a lot of room for constant travelers.

Shoulder Strap Comfort

These bags are meant to carry heavy items for professionals and can easily be worn on the shoulders for long hours. The secret is padded shoulder straps which are ubiquitous among modern hardshell backpacks.

However, an additional feature to look for among these backpacks is the offload mechanism. This allows the individual to transfer their weight so that the backpack sits comfortably on their shoulders.

Some backpacks even come with hidden hip belts and adjustable sternum straps to distribute the weight evenly on the back, chest, and shoulders. These are included with a strap holder to tie them in neatly when not used.

Anti-theft Pocket

No matter how safe a new area seems, it is always best to be cautious. This is especially important when traveling through crowded areas. For this reason, with their external protection, hardshell backpacks supplement the security with a hidden pocket.

This little pocket is submerged in the straps and zippers of the backpack and can guarantee an inconspicuous refuge for the wallet, passport, and other documents of import. It is a must-have for any avid traveler.

USB Port for Charging

The worst scenario for any traveler in a strange land is their phone battery dead at the worst possible moment. It is better to be prepared, and the USB port in a hardshell backpack gives much cause for joy.

Clamshell Backpack for Ease

The exceedingly punctilious travelers can find an even better deal regarding hardshell backpacks. These are clamshell backpacks. As the name suggests, the shell is similar to a clam and opens at the top. It is more protective than but complemented with the ease of a suitcase. This is so that anyone pushing clothes down a bag can avoid pulling out every piece of clothing to find those at the bottom, ending up with the room of a disorganized teenager.

This is a modern innovation for the attaché-loving generation, providing them with the best of both worlds.

Integrated Wardrobe for the Neat freaks

Suppose the primary purpose of buying a hardshell backpack is to carry gadgets securely and, only occasionally, clothes. In that case, the integrated wardrobe will be a blessing in those rare instances. The wardrobe organizer comes with divisions to allow for neat and meticulous packing. The organizer is placed vertically in the bag and remains with the clothes folded immaculately throughout the trip.

Special Utilities for Bikers

For long journeys on motorbikes, riders should look for aerodynamically-shaped bags. These long, round-edged hardshell backpacks give a bang for the buck due to their unique features. Quite a few of these targeted towards bikers come with lockable zippers to prevent accidental opening when the bike picks up speed.

The water bladder pocket is another innovation designed to improve the experience of a two-wheeler journey. The thin bladder attached to this pocket can quench the rider’s thirst when the rider is occupied traversing hard roads.

Backpack Sizes, Dimensions, and Volumes

These three are the final aspects to establish what backpack meets the need. Picking a hard shell backpack meant for digital gear like a camera or laptop but failing to ensure that the said pack can be carried the distance on a motorcycle bike is a farrago of pet peeves. Put it like this; some backpacks are destined to sit in cargos and hop the escalator rails, while some are factory born to sustain winds.

Motorcycle hardshell backpacks have inner linings injected with foam instead of suede or semi-leather. Impact resulting from speedy accidents requires a fail-safe that not only absorbs but distributes the shock waves uniformly without cracking the foam.

Besides, the relentless weather is testament enough to choose a backpack that can withstand wind. Aerodynamic backpacks are always a go-to choice. This is as opposed to hardshell backpacks customized for DJ, which encases technology expediently designed for shallow impacts, wherein the weight of DJ gear settles in the foam wrapping it, and the push-back from the effect is minimal. Thus, resulting in smaller shock waves.

Expandable backpacks don’t lose their shape or form once out of use. Their elasticity forces them not to cripple inwards. The shear flow will depend on the stiffness of the elastic used, but all the backpacks use nearly the same amount of elastic.

Lastly, the backpack’s weight has nothing to do with the volume it is designed to carry. It’s pretty simple since volume is the aggregate content it can hold, and weight is the net mass of the backpack itself. They come in an array of ranges and sizes, and the most befitting is the one designed for that particular purpose. They can weigh between two to eight pounds and have a compact range from a volume of six seven to fifteen-eighteen liters, all at the brand’s discretion.

Another reason for a neat, clean design among backpacks is the 360° retro-reflective safety linchpin. Retro-reflective garments or fibers are often witnessed in traffic police vests for a good reason. The reflections are a blaring alert in the dark or the backdrop of the night against heavy lighting. The reflectors boomerang light back to the source, allowing viewers a straight line of sight when they keep looking at the start of sunlight. This conspicuity recognizes backpacks from far distances. It is also slightly moisture-wicking to not lose its properties of reflection.

Suffice it to say; Hardshell Backpacks tote the trendy, nipping sleek expectations from the backpacks while staying true to their nature. Modest designs in the compact spacious vanguard, despite internal padding, speak for themselves. Their color choices might be boxed in primary or gray monochromatic, but manufacturers have logistical affluence to back their decisions across the market. There is no point in striving for signature styles or flagship purchases when simplicity is the native tongue. Hardshell Backpacks are meant to prioritize function over vogue, and so should the buyers.

It is hard not to underscore the worth of hardshell backpacks in an era where our gadgets are almost our livelihood, and these backpacks are constantly being updated to protect them. The traveler can discern their needs and choose a backpack that provides a buffer for shocks. But they must remember the additional features that make the least comfortable of travel experiences seem less daunting, even exciting for the possibility of testing new features of these sleek repositories.