J and I bought our packs this weekend. A ‘100 Day Present’ of sorts.
We’ve discovered, as we plan on carrying everything we own on our backs for the next year, that there is much to think about when considering the pack to carry it all in.
Size is one consideration. At first I wanted the biggest bag I could carry (80L) as I worried about not having everything I might need with me. When I realized how heavy this might be I quickly switched to wanting the smallest bag (45L) possible. In the end, not wanting anything too heavy or too restrictive, I chose a bag in the mid sized range (60L).
The next biggest consideration is whether to get a top-loader or a front-loader.
- Top-loaders are typically thought to be for hiking and trekking. They load, just as the name suggests, from the top only – a big tube of a bag. Advantages are security (only one entry point), load stability (as it is packed tightly) and narrow profile. The disadvantage is having only one entry point – having to unload the whole bag to get to that gadget at the bottom.
- Front-loaders are also known as ‘Traveller Packs’. They load, wait for it, from the front – a zipper on the front panel allows the bag to be opened kind of like a suitcase. Advantages are accessibility, interior strapping and the ability to tuck the backpack straps away for airline use. Disadvantages are security (although the new bags have much better locking options) and they generally have a wider/thicker profile.
I’m a huge fan of pockets so that is something that I was definitely looking for (and it guided my final choice). I like to have somewhere to put all the little sh*t that doesn’t have a place to go. We’re planning on using some form of packing cube to help with organization but there is always stuff that needs a place – both inside the pack and outside.
Strapping is also important – this includes the harness straps used the carry the pack and the straps used to load more gear on the pack. The harness must distribute the load comfortably and be easy to adjust. I also like the pack to have other exterior strapping to attach items such as sleeping bag or sleeping mat.
In the end, we both decided on front-loading packs and we both agreed that we should not have the same bag (a little too cutesy for us – just one small step to that cute old couple in town here that dresses identically and parades around town!).
Jason opted for the Osprey WayPoint 60 as his main pack but will ditch the attached day pack in favour of his current MEC Spirit Velo 25 Daypack. The MEC daypack is a little large but will easily fit the laptop plus all required daily items. He has used this pack for quite some time and loves it so it has to come.
And I chose the MEC Pangea 60. I will use the attached daypack too – it’s big enough to carry stuff and snacks yet small enough that I will actually want to carry it.
We put a lot of thought into which packs to choose but, in the end, only time will tell. Thanks to those of you that offered advise and answered our questions – I’m a huge fan of learning from other people’s research!!