Suitcase VS Rucksack – which one should you take?

Taking that dream trip of a lifetime to explore the beautiful Islands in Southeast Asia? Here’s a go to guide to help you decide the best way to carry your belongings away from home.

There is no right or wrong way to carry your luggage, in fact it’s all down to your preferred style of travel. The way we see it, you have three options for your main carrier.

  1. Large rucksack (50+ litres)
  2. Medium rucksack (35 – 45 litres)
  3. Large suitcase for couple travellers (28-30 inches) / medium suitcase for a solo traveller (25 inches)

Depending on your style of travel, backpacks can be fantastic, They’re incredibly easy to organise due to the masses of internal compartments available, and if packed right you will be highly mobile, especially if you will be living up the typical traveller lifestyle of bouncing from hostel to hostel each day.

Large Rucksack (50+ litres)

Taking a large backpack across Southeast Asia is a very popular option, they allow you to pack everything you need as well as keeping everything organised. However there are many negatives to lugging a 50 litre rucksack around Southeast Asia.

First of all you will accumulate a lot of weight into your backpack when packing, potentially up to 40 kilos! And unless you can pack like a pro, that will feel like a whole lot more, especially while trudging through such a humid climate. Carrying all this weight on you is physically demanding, especially for prolonged periods of time. It can be super exhausting, and 10 minutes of walking will leave you feeling like you’ve just partaken in a full body work out. If you’re planning on taking a lot as well as staying in staying in the same location for one week or more at a time, save your back the agony and put your load on wheels.

If like Alisha, you’re ridiculously clumsy in normal circumstances (she can barely stand on her own two feet without toppling over) then having a heavy rucksack may not be the best option. Not only will you be left feeling like a turtle thats not quite grown into its’ shell, but navigating through busy streets, public transport and small stores without knocking into someone or something will be a challenging task. Not to mention the single challenge of getting it on.

However, if you’re going to be living up the typical traveller lifestyle, you know… Frequent changes of location and going wherever the journey dictates, then take something smaller.

Medium Rucksack (35 – 45 litres)

A medium sized rucksack is perfect for a solo traveler or someone who prefers to travel light, compact and mobile. You can fit everything you while keeping it organised without bearing the strain of a larger carrier. You will be able to hike, get on public transport and ride on mopeds with no strain at all. Of course nothing is perfect and it goes without saying that backpack of this size will not hold as much as a large rucksack but with that being said, if you’re ready to immerse yourself in the true backpacking lifestyle while keeping your knees intact then a product of this capacity is perfect for you!


If you consider yourself a more lucrative traveller, mostly staying in hotels or properties for a week or more at a time a suitcase is right for you. You will be able to fit everything you need and much more, while having the luxury of simply wheeling it behind you. With organisational departments or packing cubes, we have to say that they are by far the best option for keeping all your belongings organised. Suitcases can be extremely durable, keeping all of your clothing and equipment completely unscathed throughout your travels. Most suitcases also have the added benefit of being fully waterproof. Many suitcases also come in with TSA locks securing your property from theft. Sounds great doesn’t it? Of course nothing is perfect and sidewalk/pavements in Southeast Asia are far from that, therefore wheeling a suitcase around can be harder than it may seem at first.

Overall verdict

We personally prefer to take a suitcase as our main carrier  we only take it out when we’re moving on to our next destination, which is every week or so, so it really isn’t a big deal having to take it around cities and public transport, and it makes travelling through the airports a breeze. It also saves us from the unbearable heat and discomfort from having to carry all that weight on our shoulders, especially if they get sunburnt!

Regardless of which option you opt in for, here are some of our best finds below:

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