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What bag to buy?

Hey anyone know what make of backpack is best? I am going travelling for 5months and want a durable one!

Thanks, Chloe

Posted by
1449 posts

There is going to be no "best" travel pack; people vary with preferences for the pack's appearance, weight, capacity, etc. Of course if you just want a true backpack of the kind used for outdoors camping then any sporting goods store should be able to give you good advice. If you're looking for a travel-style bag then you can find many earlier discussions using the search box at the top right of the page.

Posted by
430 posts

I have had the best success with Rick Steves' bags and Eagle Creek bags.

Posted by
21251 posts

Most of the major brands are fine. I am not sure there is a "best" bag. The most important thing is fit. Even after you buy it, loaded it with 12K of flour or sugar and go hiking with it.

Posted by
18022 posts

Let's see, 5 months is about 21 weeks, right. I have traveled in Europe with a RS convertible backpack for 10 weeks, half that, and it show no wear at all. I'm sure it would work for your needs.

But it weights 2½#. I got tired of carrying all the weight of "well made" around, so I got an Outdoor Products Essential Carryon bag. It weights ¾# less and has held up fine for 6 weeks of travel.

As I "honed" my packing technique, even the OPEC bag became too large, so I just got a 1400 cu. in. Appenzell Day Bag. It only weighs 20 oz. Not everyone can get their stuff into 1400 cu. in., but if you can, it only weighs 10# (4½ kg), packed.

Posted by
430 posts

Lee -- Holy smokes... I realize I'd read it before, but it just clicked that the Apenzel bag is your primary (and I assume except for possibly a ditty bag), and only bag. Wow -- the Apenzel is what I've been eyeing as my second bag, and the bag for my kids when we go next year.

With regard to durability -- the RS bags are hard to beat -- they're a skosh heavier, but consider that my wife and I each have the original converting bag, bought in 1998. Mine has seen 59 days of European vacation, 90 days of latin American business travel, and over 1,000,000 miles of domestic flights -- and is still going strong.

I'm a big dude, so the extra 6 or 7 pounds really doesn't effect me -- I can alter my overall traveling weight by that much based on what I eat for lunch.

Posted by
951 posts

I like Osprey Backpacks. I had gone with the Ariel 55 for 4 years but then the carry-on restrictions started and my bag really did not fit the restrictions of 9X14X22 packed. So this year I went with the Osprey Porter 65 which is durable with a waist belt and is carry-on compliant. It is not as ergonomic as the Ariel and my bad back let me know that.

I could just check the pack. I just get paranoid checking my internal frame bags because I see how they just toss the bags around. If the frame gets bent, then the design is flawed. I may try the Osprey Waypoint this year, as it does seem more ergonomic and it may just get within the carry-on restrictions, if it is not stuffed.

Good luck.

Posted by
10051 posts

Best is very subjective. Durability is important.

Many people here, as you've read have the RS Convertible. It's an excellent bag and will hold up. The Outdoor Products Essential Carry-on was also mentioned. It too is a good bag. (I own both).

There is a 40 year old woman who has chucked everything and is spending the next year "backpacking" around the world. She is blogging about it. Her bag of choice is a Tom Bihn Aeronaut.

Here's the blog: Go See Run Eat Drink

Now, here's a list of convertible style bags in order of weight from lightest to heaviest:

Outdoor Products Essential Carry-On
Golite Convertible
LL Bean Quickload
Rick Steves Basic
Rick Steves Convertible
Tom Bihn Aeronaut
Patagoinia MLC
Osprey Porter 46
Tom Bihn Tri-Star
MEI Voyageur (internal frame)
Ebags Weekender
REdoxx SkyTrain
MEI Executive Overnighter

These are all frameless bags except where noted. If you wanted a backpack and frame, then it is essential to get fitted properly.

BTW--some people drink, others do drugs or gamble. I'm addicted to carry-on bags, travel accessories and travel gadgets. I use two older bags just to store my travel "stuff."

Posted by
18022 posts


I have yet to try the Appenzell bag "in the heat of battle," so to speak. I just got it. With one exception, everything I took with me to Germany in Aug 2009 fits in it, so I think it will work.

As I said, I've been honing my packing list over 8 trips in the last 9 years. I noticed the last time over that my bag was not completely filled and sagged badly. So, when I came back, I started looking for a smaller bag. I could have added cinch straps to my existing bag, but I really wanted something shorter, so it would look less than regulation. I thought something around 1800-2000 cu. in. would do.

I looked extensively (ask Frank II), but couldn't find anything. Finally I put everything into a box of known length and width and measured the height, and discovered I had less than 1400 cu. in. When the Appenzell bag arrived, I put everthing in it and it fit. I was really surprized, it fit. I went back and checked my packing list, just to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything.

OK, I'm only 5'6½", so my clothes are smaller, but I could leave out an extra shirt and a pr of pants. I really think anyone can do this.

And, yes, I do also have my "purse", a ~4#, 9 x 11½ case with my netbook and important travel information. I put that bag under my seat, so I can get to it during the flight and look at my itinerary.

I was afraid after the Christmas incident that they would keep the restriction at one carryon, and I would have to go back to the old bag and put the laptop bag inside.

Posted by
144 posts

i have the overhaul 40 from the northface. perfect for packing light and holds a good amount. is comfy to wear and meets all carry-on regulations. i find it more durable and better contured for traveling especailly if you have to walk a decent amount.

Posted by
430 posts

Lee and Frank II made me think of something else I wanted to point out.

The kind of things you enjoy may dictate what you need to bring, as could your travel companions. Most of the time 2,000 to 2,500 cubic inches is plenty, and you would get limited on weight going very much bigger than that.

One of my tusted bags is a North Face Prophet 90 -- 7,800 Cubic Inches.

7,800? Yep, 7,800 cubic inches. The last trip we took was for 17 days -- me, my pregnant wife (lifting restriction, no bag), my 2-year old (teensy bag), my mother-in-law (carry 1/2 her stuff in her bag), and my father-in-law (bad back, no bag).... so I was the clydesdale for 3 1/2 adult's bags plus a toddler. Loaded out, counting the weight of the bag, my rig was 84 pounds.

There are cases in which bigger / heavier is necessary -- -- and when that happens, durabiltiy becomes critical.

Posted by
307 posts

I really like my RS Convertible Carry-On...spent 6 weeks in Europe on my last trip( 7 countries primarily train travel ) and all I had was that bag....carried everything I needed and had space to spare. Recently I purchased the Appenzell bag, and intend to take it as my main bag on a week long trip to Vegas next month. I've already done a trial pack, and like Lee above, everything I need easily fits in the Appenzell, although there really wouldn't be room for any gifts or other purchases, which would be at a minimum for me anyway... completely packed, the bag weighs in at 13.5 # FYI...some people wonder how a person can pack so light...practice!..and like Rick says, don't pack for the worst scenario, pack for the best and buy your way out of any "jams"...
In terms of clothing, in addition to what I'm wearing, I pack two t shirts, two long sleeve shirts, two short sleeve, three pairs socks/underwear, light sweater , one pair pants. All shirts are lightweight cotton/poly blend( dries quicker, sheds wrinkles better) socks are wool, underwear synthetic, moisture wicking, and quick drying....I also pack a Civita day pack as my day bag....

Posted by
31303 posts

Chloe, Which brand of Backpack is "best" is largely a matter of opinion and experience with a particular brand. My suggestion would be to have a look at a panel-loading Backpack (ie: with zippers), rather than a top-loading "mountaineering" style. Some desirable features are a detachable Daypack and a "stowable harness system" (straps stored behind a zippered panel during air travel). DON'T buy one with Wheels! Two brands to consider are Eagle Creek or Osprey. I didn't suggest Rick Steves Packs as I realize these may be difficult to obtain in your area. In buying a Backpack the most important criteria is to be properly fitted according to your torso length. Most of the weight should rest on the hip belt, and NOT on your shoulders. While it's highly likely that you'll only be carrying it for short distances (station to Hostel), there could be occasions when you need to carry it for longer times and that's when you'll appreciate proper fitting! With respect to size, try not to overpack. A medium size Pack is probably best. Everyone's "must have" packing list is different, so I can't offer much advice to others on that point. Once you've purchased the Pack, load it up to full capacity and try a short hike in your area for an hour or two. It will soon become apparent whether you're packing too much. I believe both brands suggested above have Stockists in the U.K. Check their respective websites for further details. Happy travels!

Posted by
10051 posts

This is a year old post. I'm guessing by now, Chloe has not only purchased a bag but may have even finished her travels.