Buying a Rucksack for travelling

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Eraserhead, Jun 28, 2008.

  1. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #1
    I'm heading off travelling around the world in August and need something to carry all my stuff in. I won't be walking much with it, but will be catching trains, aeroplanes and buses, a built in daysack would be good too.

    I know absolutely nothing about what to buy, but I want to carry somewhere between 15 and 20kg of stuff (with 15kg being the target).

    As I'm going travelling for a while it does want to be comfortable.

    Ideally I'd like to spend around $100/£50, but if its worthwhile I'm prepared to spend a bit more.
     
  2. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #2
    I know enough about backpacks. You don't generally buy a rucksack based on carrying weight, but on size. How big are you (height and weight), where are you travelling, how long is your trip, and what do you plan on packing?

    Generally, I'd aim for a 70 litre backpack. A built-in daypack isn't really necessary, IMO, but a way to get your stuff in and out of the backpack without having to go through the top opening is invaluable while travelling. So if you go to a website, and they offer you hiking backpacks, alpine packs, and travel packs, go for travel or hiking packs.

    Oh, and there's no way you're going to get away with spending 50 quid. :p
     
  3. Eraserhead thread starter macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #3
    I'm about 5 foot 6 high (1.68m) and weigh about 10 stone (64kg)

    Lots of places, America, Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Japan, India and China.

    7 and a half months

    Enough, but not too much that it weighs too much :p.

    Thanks

    Fair enough.
     
  4. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #4
    Ok, then regardless of your size, you'll have to buy at least a 70 litre backpack, excluding a daypack. A 75L backpack would be better. I don't find the included daypacks particularly wonderful to wear, so you may be better off buying a 70 liter backpack and wearing a normal backpack on your front. A normal bag will have better straps and offer more of everything.

    If the backpack is decent, they'll either offer each backpack in 3 different sizes (women and shorter people, average, tall people), where a 75 liter backpack may be 73 litres if you buy the shorter version, and 77 litres if you buy the larger version.


    Honestly, the worst thing you can do to yourself is buy a cheap ass backpack. If a strap breaks, you are f***ed (to put it bluntly). That backpack is your home for the next 7 1/2 months.

    I own the 70 litre version of THIS travel pack. I've only used it on one 3 week trip to Japan, so I can't tell you if it's durable, but the material is wonderful and obviously strong, and it comes with a built-in water-proof bag/pouch thing that you can pull out and cover your pack with. It's an incredible backpack and I don't regret buying it whatsoever. It's a travel pack, which are usually characterized by how they open, and by their daypack. You can get into your pack from the top, side, or however you want to open it. You can even get through via the bottom section, although I like keeping that section separate, since its handy for storing jackets and (dirty or wet) shoes.

    However, I'd prefer a great hiking pack over most travel packs.
    The pack I wanted is the the Macpac Torlesse 75, but the Caribee I bought was cheaper, and it matched up with all my criteria, although I'm not hardcore enough to have really high-level criteria. ;) The "hiking packs" I mentioned can generally only be accessed through the top opening, and via the bottom section. They're also slightly narrower (relevant for trips through wooded areas, not world travelling), slightly taller, and they don't go as far back so that your centre of gravity isn't far behind you. Travel packs stick out really far from your back, which is annoying if you walk through a market with your pack on. The best hiking packs for travelling have a vertical zipper down the body so that you can access the inside a bit easier. I suggest you don't buy an alpine pack because they're usually smaller, and because the only way to get into those packs is through the top.

    Kathmandu in the UK is a good brand, but it's expensive for what you get. They're like the North Face of the UK --- decent stuff, but you pay a lot for it. I don't know much about Karrimor, but I've seen them around. Lowe Alpine and Macpac are supposed to be wonderful, but they can be quite expensive. Berghaus is probably not great, but they exist. :p However, you're guaranteed a nice pack if you buy a middle-range pack in Kathmandu's lineup. Middle-range in the Kathmandu line-up may be more expensive than the middle range of another company. The Caribee backpack I linked to is the top of their range, and yet its price is around middle-range in the Kathmandu line-up.


    You're going to be travelling through different seasons, which makes packing more difficult. Firstly, if you want to be more hardcore, I'd bring mostly synthetic stuff. Buy synthetic running shirts for warm weather. Doesn't matter what brand. For every cotton t-shirt you pack, you could have packed 2 or 3 running shirts. They're also easier to wash because you can wash them in any sink, and they're quicker to dry. Quick-dry towel is also a necessity. Buy a pair of trousers where you can zip off the legs and convert them into shorts. They're rather gimmicky in most cases, but not if you travel through 2-3 seasons.

    Bring your own pillow-case. If you need a pillow, stuff your dirty clothes into it and make your own. If you find yourself with a pillow, but one that looks dirty, you can use your own.
     
  5. 2112 macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2002
    #5
    Depends on the seasons really and the exact places in those countries you want to visit.

    If you come to South America on summer you will need little more than a bathing suit and something light as an external layer (think something like a GoreTex Paclite jacket).This will allow you to carry everything you need in a 70lt. pack. Personally I find it a very good size for carrying because it needs you to be as careful as possible with what you take, as every Kg. counts.

    On the other hand, the mountains will require a lot more insulation (think Polartec, Windstopper, GoreTex XCR etc). For this you will need more space, I'd probably go for the 90lt.
    This will also become more necessary the further you go south. For instance if you get further south in Chile than Puerto Montt or than Bariloche in Argentina you will start to need heavier clothing and you will encounter more rain. (Again, nothing too bad if you come in summer).

    On a final note, if you plan to do the whole trip non-stop, you will probably need a lot of space anyway, I'd go for the 90lt. Just keep it as light as you can.

    For the day pack, I settled with Black Diamond's BBEE. It is very light and comfortable, plus there no practical way to steal anything from it unnoticed since the small pocket is in the inside (very useful when you visit markets and such). Plus you can stuff if anywhere and it's designed to carry a camel-back.

    As for brands, there are many from which to choose: Deuter, North Face, Nikko, Arc' Teryx, etc. Make sure you get a rain cover for it.
    Personal suggestions:
    I'd for for a "tube" bag, ie. one that doesn't have any outside compartments at all. Those are the first to get opened at airports, bus terminals, ferrys, etc ;) (think something like this)
    Also, Cordura is one hell of a tough fabric. My pack has very little damage and has been with me since 2001.
     
  6. Lau Guest

    #6
    I agree with Abstract that a cheap one isn't a good idea. You can always sell the one you get on eBay when you get back if it's still in good nick – big brand ones will still sell for a reasonable amount. And if it isn't in good nick, you'll be bloody glad you got a decent one. ;)

    I have something a bit like this – it was around £100. This isn't the exact one, but you get the idea.

    626021_SS2008_Black_Thunder_Black_Stand.jpg

    It's no less comfy than carrying a proper hiking one, although presumably it's not as good (or waterproof) for all day hiking.

    The thing I've found really useful for travelling is that the rucksack straps zip away which is much better for lugging round airports and onto trains (and stops the straps being damaged by baggage handlers) and looks a bit more respectable if you need it to. Mine's got this, and a side handle to carry it like a holdall, and has a long shoulder strap you can attach. The other thing that is insanely useful is that it's got a long zip that lets you access everything easily – much better for city travelling than a hiking style one you have to access from the top (and stand there red-faced at check-in while you unpack your whole bag trying to find something :eek:).

    A zip-on day pack is sort of useful but not essential – they're not as comfortable as a decent day pack and when you're carrying it all together round unfamiliar cities, the daypack is really far away from you on your back and can easily be opened (or zipped right off the bag!) without you knowing because it's so far away behind you.
     
  7. Eraserhead thread starter macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    Which is probably a concern in some places, OK, well I'll stick with the daysack I've got for that.

    EDIT: In terms of stuff for example I have a travel towel which is about as big as a novel, so I'm not going to need a ton of space, I'm also more than happy to use laundrettes regularly and intend to take 3 pairs of travel (thin) trousers and 2 pairs of jeans with me.
     
  8. Much Ado macrumors 68000

    Much Ado

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #8
    Your shoulders will thank you if you get one with waist-straps. Put the weight as low as you can.
     
  9. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Location:
    Communard de Londres
    #9
    I'm about the same height and weight as you and use a Lowe Alpine 70+20 which is probably a bit of overkill for what you want but packs like this have the big advantage of ajustable lumbar support (for instance I've short legs but a longish waist :) ) and for even walking short distances is a big plus.The heavier construction is good as being slung off and on planes takes it out of lightweight packs.Not so cheap but worth it,selection here:
    http://www.foxsoutdoor.co.uk/rucksacks/mountain-packs/
     
  10. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #10
    wont be walking much with it? taking trains, airplanes and bus?? I think you should consider a wheeled bag then......oh, I know, it's not going to give off the same "seeing the world with only a backpack" image, but there's a lot of convenience to having a wheeled bag. (In my opinion, backpacks are for people heading off to walk in the countryside)

    But if you insist on carrying your luggage everywhere, here's a website that you might find interesting. It's devoted to the idea of traveling lightly using only one bag. It has some recommendations for luggage that might be useful...and it's very anti-wheeled luggage! :D http://www.onebag.com/
     
  11. mashny macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2006
    #11
    I've done a lot of backpack traveling and agree with Abstract's post that you should not skimp on price or quality in making your selection. This backpack will be your home for the time you're away, and should be of the best quality and have all the features and comfort you could want.

    I don't remember the size of the backpack I used but I'm 5'9" and the pack--an internal frame pack--went from my butt to my shoulders, was about the width of my shoulders (I have broad shoulders), and had a nicely-padded waist strap. The daypack is crucial, so make sure you either get a daypack that will fit inside the pack when you don't need it or, better yet, a model, like the one Lau suggested, that has a daypack attached. My pack also had fairly large, long side pockets which were very helpful (especially for carrying a couple of bottles of wine...).

    The other thing to consider is whether to get a top-loading or a front-loading pack. With a top-loader, you have to dig through the pack to find whatever you're looking for. With a front-loader, you unzip the front and see a cross section of everything in your pack, making it much easier to get things and put things where you want them to be. The front-loader is wider, but, for me anyway, was a much better choice than the top loader would have been.

    Backpack aside, here is one thing I learned the hard way on my first three-month backpacking trip around Europe: There are three items that you MUST have at all times in your daypack (in addition to a basic first-aid kit, of course). The lack of any one of them could make for an extremely uncomfortable or even dangerous experience. They are as follows:

    1. A full water bottle. I'll spare you the details, but it was the middle of summer and I almost collapsed from dehydration in France: I stopped sweating, my lips started cracking, and my tongue started swelling. The only thing that saved me temporarily was an apple I rememberd I had in my daypack. I was finally able to get water, but things could have turned out quite bad.

    2. Liquid Pepto Bismal. Yeah, yeah, it sounds funny, but I once got horrible cramps, diarrhea, and nausea from food poisoning. I spent three striaght hours in the bathroom of a Kentucy Fried Chicken in Dublin (that's not where I got the food poisoning though: it hit me all of a sudden, and KFC was the closest bathroom I could find) and spent some of that time slugging Pepto straight from the bottle. Let's just say it was very painful and messy, and without the Pepto Bismal I had with me it would have been worse. Some Kaopectate [sp?] might also be a good idea.

    3. A roll of toilet paper (or a bunch of tissues for that purpose). Again, I know that might sound funny, but in several bathrooms I used there was either no toilet paper or what they considered toilet paper was more like very thin tracing paper (what Americans consider to be toilet paper and what other parts of the world consider to be toilet paper can vary considerably). Had I not had toilet paper on me at all times, well, just consider the possible mess, discomfort, and embarrassment.

    One helpful thing I read all those years ago was the advice given in "Lets Go: Europe." They said, "Take only the things you think you'll need; take more money than you think you'll need; then throw out half the things and take more money." I had an uncle who lived in London, and left about 1/3 of the things I had brought at his place because the pack was just too damn heavy.

    Oh, a rain pancho is also a good thing to have. Different size ziplock bags are also especially handy for all sorts of things.

    Regarding whether to get a backpack or a wheeled pack, when you're walking around, it's nice to have your hands free, and once you're in "traveling shape," you'll hardly feel the pack (again, make sure your pack has a solid, comfortable waist strap). With the wheeled pack, you'll always be pulling something, which might actually hinder your mobility. I've done a lot of backpack traveling and never felt envious of the people I saw using wheeled packs (just the opposite, actually). There will probably be times when you find yourself unexpectedly having to walk fairly long distances, sometimes over rugged terrain. In such cases, the backpack clearly wins. Also, if your'e going to cities that may be crowded, you don't want to be navigating through crowds pulling a wheeled pack. And, having to pull the wheeled bag around all the time is hard on the shoulders, waist, and back because of uneven muscle usage and human biomechanics. All things considered, get a backpack.

    The last thing I would say is to have either Visa or Mastercard as well as an American Express card. I know that for various reasons you might not be able to get one of them (especially Amex) but there were times when I was in a tight situation and the only thing that saved me was having an American Express card (things may have changed, but a lot of places about twenty years ago--espeically in Asia and parts of Europe--didn't take anything but Amex).

    Good luck and enjoy your trip. I think that if more people traveled--especially Americans (and I'm American)--there would be more tolerance, understanding, and compassion; and less prejudice, fear, and hatred in this world.
     
  12. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #12
    Well I doubt comfort will be an issue. Whether you get a travel pack, hiking, or alpine pack, they're all comfy. THe difference is in the proportions of the pack's dimensions. I also mentioned the centre of gravity of travel packs are a bit far behind you, which means you may have to hunch forward a bit more if you're carrying lots of stuff.

    Yep, another benefit of the travel pack. They have airports in mind. Also, it's possible to put 2 or 3 locks on each pair of zippers to keep the pack entirely closed. This isn't really possible with hiking packs. People can reach into your pack, or even put something into your pack. This a particular problem in parts of Asia such as Indonesia. :eek:

    You don't want to be the next Schappelle Corby, do you?

    Some hiking packs, such as my old, trusty Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) 60L hiking pack, has a vertical zipper so that you can easily get stuff from the middle of the pack. It was an awesome pack, but it didn't have enough space for winter clothes, which takes up far more space.

    With my old 60L rucksack, if you tilt the entire pack onto its side and open the zip, it's just as good as a suitcase. ;) The Macpac Torlesse 75 hiking pack that I mentioned before has this. It's an awesome pack, but wasn't worth the extra £60 over my Caribee Leopard 70 L travel pack.

    MEC sells awesome hiking packs at an awesome price. Too bad you're not in Canada. ;) My old hiking backpack was a MEC.

    Yeah, my new pack had this, and while I was in Japan, I never used it.

    Lowe Alpine stuff is awesome. Them and Macpac are probably upper tier, although the heavy construction generally means that you're always carrying an extra 0.5 - 1 kg. :eek:

    Five pairs of trousers? You're packing too much. ;)

    Jeans have an upside and downside. Jeans don't need to be washed. You can wear them 10-15 times and they're still OK. In fact, they become more comfy over time, and they're a tough material. However, they're not great in rain, they take forever to dry, they don't pack particularly small, and they're quite heavy. If you're going to bring jeans, just bring a pair you know you can wear out and look decent in. There may be an occasion where you may want to go out to a bar with new friends you meet, so they become handy in those situations.

    All good suggestions.


    I probably wouldn't suggest he go for a 90 L backpack. It's too big, and if he packed well, he shouldn't need one. You can tell who's comfortable with travelling and who isn't by the size of their pack. ;) You don't need to bring everything with you. If you pack well, and get the right gear, you'll save time, space, weight, and even money.

    If I were doing this trip through both summer and winter months, I'd bring:

    - my running t-shirts (as many as I want). I can wash them in any sink, they pack very small, and they weigh nothing.
    - wool jumper --- Wool can keep you warm even when its wet.
    - Long sleeve cotton t-shirt.

    - 1 x shorts.
    - travel pants with zip-off legs to convert into shorts. Synthetic or partly-synthetic is better.
    - regular trousers.
    - swimmers

    - 2 pairs of wool socks. They're naturally anti-microbial, keep your feet warm even when they're wet, don't stink when worn 2-3 times, etc.

    - Jacket with Gore-tex of some sort, either a 2-ply Gore-Tex jacket or a Gore Paclite jacket.

    - Some form of fancy fleece jacket that packs small. A softshell windproof jacket is even better. Normal fleece jumpers are the worst things to pack, but they're great because they're very breathable. They couple well to the running shirt you have underneath, and the Gore Tex shell you have on top of it. It's a perfect system. ;) A normal fleece jumper may take up >10% of your backpack.
     
  13. Eraserhead thread starter macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #13
    Meaning I'm not off walking into the mountains for several days ;).

    Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt, it doesn't work.

    If I'm off the beaten track I'll certainly take some, and keep some spare.

    They are both the same drug, but I'll take some.


    This is always good advice, I've had it recommended before.

    I'm in the UK, we don't use American Express much here so I already have a Visa or Mastercard ;).

    OK, I'll bear it in mind.
     
  14. Eraserhead thread starter macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #14
    The guy is completely obsessed with not putting luggage in the hold though.

    Obviously you keep valuables and some essentials in your hand luggage but still...
     
  15. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #15
    hey, it's only advice.....you can always disregard it if you don't like what you hear
     
  16. Eraserhead thread starter macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #16
    I went into Oxford yesterday and got a Osprey 70l rucksack which seems really good so far, and the size is pretty much perfect too.

    Thanks for the help :).
     

Share This Page