Sunday, 3 November 2013

Euro Trip Packing Reflections - Backpack

During the planning stage of our Euro trip, I took note of the enormous amount of advice on the web. From packing, to flights, to trains, from what to wear and etiquette, there is so much to offer from travelers who have been there/done that and learned the hard way. I took note that finding a good back pack can really affect your travels and was amazed at the choices available. After many reviews and trying on a few packs, I decided on the Osprey Farpoint 55.

The 55 Litres is made up of two packs. A 40L main pack and a 15L day pack. Having the day pack was very convenient as I used it almost every day. I would only use my purse when we would be out for a short while and could get back to our room easily. Most days we would be out exploring from mid morning to dinner time, and the day pack was always filled with food, water and other essentials. 

There were a few cons with this back pack, but they are small and can be easily overlooked.
The Pros
  • Very good padding on the straps & waist belt
  • Balanced feel when wearing the day pack on the front and the main pack on the back
  • Sturdy all around including: tough fabric, strong hooks and clips, durable zippers (even when packed tight)
  • Contoured shape fit my back nicely, same with day pack
  • Can zip up straps easily and quickly when checking the main pack before a flight
  • Side handle is strong, sturdy and comfortable 
  • Can make a nice seat if needed ;)

The Cons
  • Day pack rubbed on my left arm when I was wearing short sleeves or a dress
  • The main pack shape is a little hard to pack (not much depth), but makes it easy to carry since it's close to your body and doesn't stick out too far
  • could use more pockets for organization, mostly in the day pack as I was constantly in and out trying to find small items

Overall I was, and still am, very happy I chose this back pack. Considering my husband bought the Osprey Porter 65 and found it quite uncomfortable, I am glad I spent the extra $$$. My husband didn't care for the straps on the Osprey Porter 65, they didn't have much padding and weren't contoured to his body very nicely. He and I both chose the Osprey packs due to the fact that they pack like a suitcase. No top loaders on this trip, we knew we were going to be packing and unpacking every 2-3 days and our patience would fall short. 

Packing Cubes, are they worth it?

When researching for our trip I noticed a lot of travelers recommended using packing cubes. Some highly recommended using them, while others used combinations of packing cubes, compression sacs and Ziploc bags. I decided to go with the Ziploc bags before we left, because I like a bargain. And that is the mistake I made, my dad has always said "quality or price, the choice is yours".

We packed up the day before our trip to walk in to town, as per Rick Steves advice, and were also trying to organize everything else before we left. One, we should have done this test at least a week or so in advance and two, I should have left more time to pack knowing not everything I intended to pack was going to fit. This would have given me time to realize that the Ziploc bags were not working, at all. I rolled my clothes, sucked out the air, slid the tab closed and stuffed all the little bags in to the main pack. As I was doing this, slowly the bags would expand with air and I would be opening them back up and sucking the air out. Since Ziplocs are so slippery, it didn't make it easy to fit everything in quickly and easily. I managed to frantically fit most of my stuff in and we walked in to town.

Up until the moment we left the next day, I was still trying to reorganize it all, leaving me with an unsettling feeling coupled with the anticipation of a 6 1/2 week journey. After dealing with the Ziplocs for a few days in London and realizing our next apartment in Amsterdam was near a travel store, I decided to spend the money on packing cubes. And I am SO glad I did!

I decided to go with Eagle Creek packing cubes. Two pack-it cubes, two half pack-it cubes and a toiletries bag. I cannot tell you how much easier this made the whole process. I could fit much more in the packing cubes than I could with the Ziplocs, the shape was better fit to my back pack (flatter) which made packing easier, the fabric wasn't slippery unlike the Ziploc bags so everything sat nicely together and I was able to toss everything in quickly and efficiently in a hurry.

The Osprey Farpoint 55 was made for packing cubes in my opinion, especially if you need every inch of space. If you don't, and aren't going for longer than a couple weeks, you could just fold your clothes as normal instead of rolling. My husband did this with his Osprey Porter 65 since he had room to spare, even though he was carrying a couple pairs of my shoes most of the trip...:)

I would recommend this back pack for travelling in summer months, and if you are travelling by trains and planes. If you are planning to camp, it may not be the best option as there are so many other packs suited to campers. We didn't do any camping, neither did we stay in hotels or hostels. We used an amazing service called Airbnb in which people rent out their apartments, condos, houses, rooms and I have also seen some boats and campers!

Hope this post helps anyone thinking of purchasing this backpack. All in all, it was a success!

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