Salkan Backpacker – Backpack Review

Couple wearing Salkan's The Backpacker

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Finding the best backpack for travel is not an easy task, especially if you are looking for a backpack/daypack combo! 

Enter Salkan’s Backpacker.

Blending an old school aesthetic with modern functionality, Salkan’s first backpack appears to be the ideal bag for long term travellers and weekend trippers alike. 

Salkan The Backpacker
The Backpacker by Salkan is the perfect blend of function and form!

In this dedicated review, we put the Backpacker through its paces to find out just how good it really is!

Salkan Backpacker ProsSalkan Backpacker Cons
Visually stunningWeight
Very comfortableIt’s expensive
Perfect size for long term travelG Hooks are quite fiddly

Salkan’s The Backpacker: At A Glance

Salkan are a new kid on the block but rather than follow in the footsteps of giants, they’ve chosen to beat their own path. The Backpacker isn’t about being the lightest, most cost-effective backpack on the market. Instead, it’s designed with looks and efficiency in mind.  

The Backpacker is actually the combination of Salkan’s first two bags; The Mainpack and The Daypack. As stand-alone packs, each one is great. However, the Mainpack and the Daypack also work flawlessly together to meet all your travel needs. The 20-litre Daypack easily attaches to the Mainpack, giving you extra storage for long term travel but is easily removable for when you want a smaller standalone bag for day trips.

Both bags are made of an unusual material that feels much more like canvas than the usual ripstop nylon that modern packs are made from. This is what gives the bags their classic style!

Disclaimer: Salkan sent us their Backpacker combo free of charge for this review. Included was the Mainpack, Daypack and a set of packing cubes that are usually purchased separately. We wrote this review after months spent testing and evaluating The Backpacker. The review was not sent to Salkan prior to being published. None of our reviews are ever edited to keep a brand happy!

Mainpack

  • Dimensions (CM): 66x32x22
  • Capacity: 45-litres (+10-litres)
  • Weight: 2.55kg
  • Straps: Padded shoulder straps and removable hip belt. The sternum strap is webbing.
  • Guarantee: Normal use guarantee (discussed below).
  • Pockets: Large main pocket with a few internal pockets, small pocket underneath for rain cover, pocket in the lid, two hip belt pockets, security pocket,  two water bottle pockets.
Salkan's Mainpack
Alone Salkan’s Mainpack is great but combining it with The Daypack takes it to the next level!

Daypack

  • Dimensions (CM): 48x29x18
  • Capacity: 20-litres
  • Weight: 0.85kg
  • Straps:  Padded shoulder straps. The sternum strap is webbing.
  • Guarantee: Normal use guarantee.
  • Pockets: Main pocket, internal waterproof pocket, security pocket, sunglasses pocket in the top, two water bottle pockets.
Salkan's Daypack
The Daypack is perfect for days out or to use as carry on!

Total size when packs are combined:

  • Dimensions (CM): 66x32x40
  • Capacity: 65-litres (+10-litres)
  • Weight: 3.4 kg
Hostel garden with Salkan's The Backpacker
Combined, The Daypack and The Mainpack make The Backpacker!

Salkan’s The Backpacker: A Deep Dive

If you’re city-hopping through Europe, visiting the vast mountain ranges of South America or beach bumming around Southeast Asia, The Backpacker is designed to be the only bag setup you’ll ever need.

The Backpacker by Salkan Size and Weight 

Weight

At 3.4 kg for the entire Backpacker set up, this is not a light piece of kit, especially when compared to other bags on the market. With The Daypack only weighing 850 grams, the bulk of The Backpacker combo is made up of The Mainpack. 

If weight is an important consideration, a 3.4 kg bag may well not be for you but the trade-off is the amazing durability of The Backpacker. The material used to build this bag is thick and sturdy, allowing it to take the rigours of long term travel in its stride.

Capacity 

With a standard capacity of 45-litres and expandable up to 55, The Mainpack has plenty of room for your average traveller! Combine the overall capacity with the great suitcase-style opening and you’ll find that you can easily store everything you need for short weekend getaways or a long multi-country trip! 

I really like the expandability of The Mainpack. It stops you suffering from saggy bag syndrome when it’s not completely full and allows more flexibility when it comes to packing!

For those of you who can’t quite get by with just 55-litres of storage, don’t forget that the attachable Daypack gives you an extra 20-litres! And if you can’t get all your stuff into a 75-litre setup, you need to check out these helpful packing tips!

Dimensions

With the entire setup being only 66cm x 32cm x 40cm, I was initially a little concerned about fitting all my gear into such a slim package. As it turns out, I need not have worried. The 45-litre Mainpack is more than capable of storing everything I needed and even when completely full, it’s sleek and unobtrusive. You can even spin round in a dorm room while wearing the bag without knocking anyone out. Trust me I’ve tried!

Entering hostel wearing Salkan's The Backpacker
The Backpacker is sleek enough to manoeuvre into a hostel with ease!

Being as tall as it is, you won’t be getting The Backpacker on to a plane as hand luggage. At least, you won’t be getting it on while still following the rules! I’ve seen travellers take much larger bags as carry on, so as long as you don’t have The Daypack attached, you may well be able to sneak The Backpacker into the cabin with you. It’s only a touch too large anyway so try not to draw attention to yourself if you are considering trying your luck!

A Detailed Look At Salkan’s The Backpacker

Pockets

The Mainpack uses a great suitcase-style opening on the front. It’s simple to pack and gives you easy access to all your gear. The Salkan Packing Cubes are designed to fit into The Mainpack perfectly and make cramming your stuff in a doddle!

The Daypack is your classic top loader which works well but due to its small size, it can be a bit frustrating to try and dig something out from the bottom of the bag when it’s full.

As well as having the suitcase style opening, The Mainpack can also be used as a classic top loader. The drawstring opening gives quick access to items while you’re on the move, assuming you’ve packed what you need near the top! It’s this top-loading element that allows The Mainpack to expand up to its full 55-litre capacity. All you need to do is loosen the straps around the lid of the pack and keep throwing your stuff in!

Both The Mainpack and Daypack have built-in padded laptop sleeves, capable of carrying up to a 15” machine. I love this addition as it means I get to choose where I want to store my laptop, without worrying that it won’t be protected!

Salkan Daypack laptop storage
Both The Daypack and Mainpack have dedicated laptop pockets!

Both packs have a soft, scratch-resistant pocket in the lid and at least one internal pocket. In fact, The Mainpack has three; one large pocket running down one side and two smaller pockets on the other side. The interior pocket in The Daypack is water-resistant, big enough for your wallet and phone and even includes a key hook. 

The Mainpack and The Daypack have security pockets built in the back padding of the bags. These are easily big enough to store passports, money, wallets and phones and would be really hard for pickpockets to get into, if they could even spot them in the first place!

Salkan's Daypack security pocket
Hidden pockets help keep your stuff safe!

The Mainpack also comes with decent sized hip belt pockets but these are too small to fit a smartphone in. This is a downer but not the end of the world. They’re good enough for your wallet, keys, snacks or other small items like headphones and lip balm. 

Finally, both packs come with good-quality, deep water bottle pockets that can comfortably hold a litre bottle of water. When not in use, these sit completely flat against the bags!

Straps

Thick, padded shoulder straps and a well-padded, form-fitting hip belt make carrying The Backpacker a breeze. The sternum strap helps to keep everything aligned so even when fully loaded, the pack sits where it should and will easily handle the trek from the bus station to your hostel! 

If you want to save a bit of weight, or just aren’t a fan of the big hip straps, then they can be removed quickly and easily. 

The Daypack has thinner but still padded shoulder straps which are more than enough considering the lighter loads it can deal with!

Grab Handles 

No travel pack is complete without a couple of extra grab handles. On the Salkan Backpacker, these are well placed and allow you to swing the bag onto a top bunk, into a locker or under a bus with ease!

Compression Straps

Both The Mainpack and Daypack come with customisable straps, the colour of which can be chosen when you purchase your bag through the Salkan website.

On The Mainpack, the straps are not only for aesthetics but also stop the pack bulging when full. They work perfectly, keeping your gear in place and making sure the sleek design stays looking spot on!

The straps on The Mainpack need to be attached using the aluminium G hooks before being tightened and these same G hooks are what you use to attach the Daypack when you’re carrying them as one piece. 

On The Daypack, the strap is used to secure the lid in place, also using aluminium G hooks. 

Salkan Compression Straps
Compression straps are available from Salkan in a range of colours!

Adjustable Back System

Saving you the hassle of having to measure your torso length before ordering your new bag, Salkan have made sure their Backpacker is a one size fits all setup. The straps and back system can be adjusted with ease, involving nothing more than a couple of straps and a chunk of velcro.

Simply undo the velcro hidden inside the external back panel, loosen the webbing and manoeuvre the shoulder straps to their desired position. Once in place, tighten the straps, reattach the velcro and you’re set!

The Daypack has no such adjustable back system and to be honest, isn’t as well suited to taller users. Sure, you can adjust the shoulder straps and sternum strap but I found it got quite uncomfortable after a long day. My girlfriend, on the other hand, is significantly shorter than me and said it was really nice to carry all day!

Padded Back Panels

Both The Daypack and The Mainpack have nicely padded external back panels which help protect your back from the rubbing and strain of heavy loads. However, they’re not as breathable as some other backpacks I’ve tested which would be a downer in hotter regions where you’ll end up caked in sweat!

Salkan Backpacker padded adjustable back system
The padded back panel and adjustable back system go a long way in ensuring your comfort!

Internal Frame

The Salkan holds its shape very well thanks to the removable internal frame which also helps to spread the weight of your belongings across the bag. The Backpacker is already a heavy setup, so having this sturdy frame is super important if you plan on carrying your bag further than the taxi to the hotel!

If you feel the urge to remove the frame and save a few grams of weight, you can do so but I wouldn’t advise it. This is not designed to be a super light pack anyway so the weight savings would not be worth the loss in comfort!

Laundry Sling

Included with Salkan’s Mainpack, is the 20-litre laundry sling. Initially, I wasn’t keen on this roll-top storage bag but came to realise that it is a work of genius. It’s a great way to store dirty laundry without it contaminating the rest of your stuff and prevents travellers from tearing through single-use plastic bags! If you want to become a more responsible traveller, read more about reducing your plastic footprint!

The laundry sling can be attached via toggles inside the top of The Mainpack but I didn’t actually like using it this way. I found that it got in the way when I was trying to use the top entry point to the bag and was an unnecessary hassle to attach/remove. Instead, I just crammed it into my bag like any other stuff sack! 

Salkan Laundry Sling
Salkan’s laundry sling proved to be much more useful than I first expected!

Rain Cover

It is wonderful to have a rain cover included with a backpack and even better to have one that really fits with the overall design of the bag. As an avid hiker, I’m used to using obnoxiously coloured pack covers that never fit properly and look ridiculous. The Backpacker’s rain cover fits beautifully, looks great and doesn’t make you look like you’ve fallen out of a bad fancy dress party.

The rain cover for Salkan’s The Backpacker doubles up as a protective shell when The Mainpack is in transit too. Simply pull the cover over the bag, zip it up and violà! You have an extra layer to keep your backpack protected from baggage crews and dirty floors!

When not in use, the rain cover stows away in a small velcro pocket at the bottom of the bag. This is quick and easy to access, so if you get caught out in a freak shower, you can grab it quickly. 

One great final addition that I didn’t notice for a while, is the Velcro opening on the rain cover that allows you quick access to the security pocket in the back panel of the main pack! Once again, Salkan have thought of the little things which make a big difference when you’re living out of a bag!

Salkan raincover on
The rare occasion where a rain cover actually looks good!

Material 

The 900D Cotna Polyester used in the construction of this pack is, as far as I’m aware, unique in the world of backpacks. It closely resembles canvas, albeit a softer to the touch and is a large reason why this bag looks so damn cool. 

It’s significantly more durable than canvas and thanks to the wax finish, is also very water-resistant. I got caught out in a couple of heavy showers while travelling recently and was concerned the water would soak through to my laptop before I had time to throw the rain cover on. Thankfully, the bag held up in the downpour and didn’t let in a drop of water! That said, it wouldn’t last forever in a proper storm so don’t rely on it indefinitely, that’s what the rain cover is for!

Guarantee

Salkan offers a Normal Use Guarantee with their bags. Instead of trying to explain to you what that means, I thought I’d let Salkan do it!

Salkan Guarantee

Salkan The Backpacker FAQs

Can I Use The Salkan Backpacker For Hiking?

The Salkan backpacks are heavy. While nothing is stopping you from taking them out on a hiking trip, I would certainly not be wanting to carry The Backpacker for days on end over rough terrain! 

Salkan sell extra straps, that you can use to attach sleeping mats and other bulky items to the outside of your bag if you do intend on taking it on overnight trips to the great outdoors!

Overall though, The Backpacker is much better suited to general travel as opposed to long hikes. If you’re looking for a hybrid travel and hiking pack, you’d be much better served by the Osprey Trek which we recently reviewed.

Salkan additional straps for roll mat
Additional straps for securing a sleeping mat are available from Salkan!

Is The Salkan Backpacker Waterproof?

Without the rain cover, The Backpacker is very water-resistant but not waterproof. It will easily get through a short sharp downpour without becoming saturated but you wouldn’t want to expose it to water for long periods!

Putting Rain Cover On Salkan Backpacker
Quickly put the Salkan rain cover on and your gear will be well protected!

The rain cover fits very well, looks amazing and will prevent water in all but the worst storms, getting to your gear!

Will The Salkan Backpacker Fit As Hand Luggage?

Technically no. However, The Mainpack is streamlined enough that you can probably sneak it on to most airlines without them noticing – not that I’m suggesting trying to flout the rules…

The Daypack is easily within carry on specifications and is large enough to fit your essentials, so if you do have to check The Mainpack, there’s no need to panic. Remember to attach the rain cover to keep the bag protected while in transit!

What Is The Salkan Backpacker Made From?

The Backpacker is made from 900D Cotna Polyester which is wax treated to help weatherproof it!

Is The Salkan Backpacker Unisex?

Yes, The Backpacker is designed to be used by men and women and the adjustable back system means it’s easy to get the right fit!

Girl carrying Salkan Daypack
Male or female, The Daypack and Mainpack will suit any style!

How Much Does The Salkan Backpacker Cost?

As an entire set up (without packing cubes), The Backpacker clocks in at £250GBP.

You can purchase The Mainpack and Daypack as separate items, in which case they cost: £180GBP for The Mainpack and £90GBP for The Daypack. If you are planning on getting the entire set up, it is certainly worth getting them as The Backpacker combo, instead of buying them separately. 

Finally, if you wanted to add Salkan’s packing cubes into the mix, you’ll be looking at spending another £25GBP. 

Final Thoughts On Salkan’s The Backpacker

I can honestly say, using The Backpacker is a real pleasure. Sure, it’s heavier than the packs I normally use but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this wasn’t to its detriment. The only time it might become an issue is if you’re travelling with a low-cost airline like AirAsia or Ryanair, who have very strict limits on baggage allowances.

Having two ways into the main compartment is great and it’s clear the setup has been designed with travellers in mind. With its padded back panel, well-cushioned straps and adjustable back system, both my girlfriend (5’5”) and I (6’1”) found the whole setup super comfy.

The rain cover is great and I’m still amazed that it actually adds to the overall look of the pack! However, the aluminium G hooks look superb but can be a bit fiddly. Don’t even try to use them in a dark dorm room without waking everyone up with your frustrated swearing! Over time, they become easier as the loops stretch slightly but they’re never going to be as easy as good quality plastic buckles. 

Salkan Mainpack Top Loading
The dual entry points make getting to your gear a doddle!

The only real downside I can find with The Backpacker is its price tag. Clocking in at a whopping £250GBP, The Backpacker will take a large chunk of your travel savings before you’ve even left the house. I also can’t help but feel a little dejected that the packing cubes are not included as standard but The Backpacker still performs well without them, so it’s not the end of the world.

What I’ve come to realise over the last few years of travelling, is you really do get what you pay for. If you want a beautiful looking bag that performs as well, if not better, than any of its competitors and will easily last years on the road, then The Backpacker by Salkan is worth the money. However, if you are bootstrapping your way around the world or having to budget like crazy before you can even think about heading off on your travels, I would look for a cheaper alternative!

Gear Specialist at

After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since the incident, he has travelled in South East Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and is currently backpacking around South America. His first book 'From Paralysis to Santiago' chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident that changed his life and will be released later this year.

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Trust us, we can't wait either...

  • Updates on travel in Southeast Asia.
  • A mix of fun & thought-provoking articles.
  • Honest trip planning advice.

Trust us, we can't wait either...

  • Updates on travel in Southeast Asia.
  • A mix of fun & thought-provoking articles.
  • Honest trip planning advice.
A girl on a beach in Asia.