So I got my hands on a 250GB 2.5" portable HDD, which led to me to go do proper backups again. I decided to go back to the familiar rdiff-backup and I became exceedingly impressed by its thorough documentation (manpage, FAQ, and the one place beginners should start, examples), a myriad capabilities (over 60 command line options), and an elegant design (the target directory looks exactly like the original except for an extra directory named rdiff-backup-data, which contains all that's needed to roll-back, restore, check stats, ...).
$ rdiff-backup --include-globbing-filelist rdiff-backup ~/ /media/backup
There, ~/conf/rdiff-backup is a file that has a list of directories I want to exclude in the backup, and /media/backup is the backup destination.
There is a credible competitor in a form of duplicity, which is probably superior since it's got encryption. This duplicity also got a bonus of being used by some hot new GUI backup utility now endorsed by Fedora and may in future be an official part of GNOME, Déjà Dup.