There seem to be two types of people in this world, the ones who despise packing and will do anything to put off doing it, and the other half who binge-watch packing videos on YouTube for hours on end and are overly organized when it comes to there travel packs.
I, myself, am the second one, I love everything that comes with the most commonly hated luggage journey. But it has been a journey, to say the least!
It all started with an oversized, two-wheel, softcover suitcase brought at my local Warehouse (an all too common New Zealand store selling cheap and not so great goods). But for 10 year old me the black and white pattern was what sold me and whatever came with that I didn’t care.
Well, what did come with that’s was A LOT of hassle, but for the beginning, small trips just over the way to Australia having my dad lug it around for me was not a problem. It wasn’t until I stepped off into good ol’ London city all on my lonesome, lugging around this giant suitcase bigger than myself.
After battling with steep hills and locals Londoner’s helping flushed faced, sweaty me heave my case up multiple stairs time and time again, it was time to say goodbye and move on so I dropped the case off at the nearest charity shop with not another look back and moved onto bigger and better things (or should I say smaller).
So this time around I decided to downsize, having such a big case in the beginning was always a concern when coming in to weigh at airports because as soon as the case became relatively full it would almost undoubtedly go over the 20-30kg weight limits so downsizing eliminated that worry completely and the highest weight was now around 15kgs and the risk of overpacking useless items was minimized, I also learnt how to pack more wisely which helped me big time, you can read and gain some of these tips through my post Packing tips to enhance your travels.
So along with the downsize, I also opted for a hard case and four wheels, four wheels… what a game changer!!! I could never go back to the god-awful two-wheeler again!
But alas, I was confronted with my first curveball… Europe! As I landed down onto cobblestone wonderlands, dragging this case from A to B was a big struggle, to say the least! This case had done me wonders for small trips and those wonderful soft terrains but day by day I was playing a game of which terrain will I battle next, so again it was time for a change…
So I dove head first into the magical world of travel backpacks and what a world it is! In the early stages of my trip, along with my case I always had a smaller backpack with me to take as my carry-on which I 100% recommend but for this cheap pack I scored at a home-ware store with little to no research into the matter, I wasn’t brought as much joy as I’d hope a new bag would, in fact, what I did bring was a lot of back pain and hassle as It was just not the right one for me and more suited to a middle-aged man packing for a small day trek or something along those lines (boy was I naive).
So the second time around I made sure to do as much research as I possibly could, reading through countless blogs, watching many bag reviews on YouTube and a lot of checking out all the stores around my area speaking with the workers about what would work for me while trying multiple bags on before finally coming to a decision and I recommend you do the same. Bags aren’t necessarily cheap and if you’re someone like me who is going to be carrying it around most days you need to be sure on a few things.
1. Make sure it has plenty of support for your back as opposed to causing it damage, you also want it to be practical for you, how much are you wanting to lug around, are you a light packer, then I suggest going for a bag below 45L which means you can take it as a carry on and avoid paying for checked baggage, plus it’ll be much easier to carry around with you. Want to pack a bit more, go up to to a 55L/65L have that as your checked luggage and then bring just a small pack on board with all your most important belongings. And if you really think you need more than 70L than be absolutely sure about that, 70L+ is hugeeeee! So be sure you are able to carry more than you’re weight around otherwise do the downsize it’ll save you so much hassle!
2. What sort of main compartment opening do you want to have, I along with probably a lot of other people would recommend going for a suitcase style opening where the pack opens up more like a suitcase as opposed to just a small opening up the top. This makes it super easy for the organization and the ability to find things quicker. But of course, it is all up to you so go play around with some packs in store and see what you prefer!
3. Brands, what brand are you wanting to go for, its best to opt for a well known and trusted brand so you know what you are getting yourself into. One brand I saw floating around everywhere during my research was the Osprey backpacks and there is no doubt they are a great choice, not necessarily cheap but when it comes to packs you generally get what you pay for so bear that in mind but also its good to note that a lot of packs tend to go on sale, slashing prices in half lots of the time so keep an eye out for good deals you don’t always have to pay full price!
Near the end of it all, I was tossing up between two bags, the ever so popular Osprey Farpoint 55 and the Kathmandu Overland woman’s 55L pack. I opted for the Kathmandu pack but am not riding off the Osprey pack as a potential bag in the future, both companies are amazing when it comes to backpacks so I definitely recommend both! My new pack fit me perfectly and helped ease the strain on my back, the 55L is the perfect size for me, not too big, not too small, and the suitcase like opening has made it super easy for use!
As a whole, it really does come down to you at the end of the day but you must take a lot into consideration. Each bag I have owned over the years has each served its own purpose but in the end, my 55L travel backpack came out on top as the overall best and easiest option. All I can say now is that you take what you can from my story and do what you can with it and I wish you all the best on your luggage journey.
-Tayla Harter, Wandering Harter.