Choosing the right backpack was a part of the RTW pre-trip planning we REALLY didn’t want to mess up. This IS going to be housing all our possessions for the foreseeable future! We spent a lot of time researching and deciding what best fit our needs. We researched a lot of packs and read through reviews from other bloggers who have taken similar trips. As you can probably guess, opinions vary greatly. Anyone who has bought a pack can tell you, there are a TON of options and styles to choose from. A few of our top considerations when choosing a pack are noted below, to go along with cost and fit, which weighed heavily.
- Combo roller/backpack versus traditional backpack
- Carry-on size for planes
- Locking zippers
- Front-loading versus top loading (Easy-Access to stuff)
Armed with our research, we headed to the local REI store to start trying on packs. Going into the process we were both set on getting a combo roller/backpack, but things got real once we started loading packs with 20 to 30 pounds of weight. It soon became evident that fit was most important to Matt (long-term back issues) and the combo roller didn’t give enough support once loaded. Alana was torn as some regular packs fit better, but were larger than she wanted and were top loading compared to the combo rollers.
WHAT REALLY MATTERED IN THE END
Matt – I valued fit and comfort above all else, so it became a pretty easy decision for me. While a roller bag would have been nice, it really came down to one bag. My pack felt so good, I ended up carrying it around on my back for about 45 minutes while Alana was looking at other packs.
Alana – It was a difficult decision for me and I didn’t make up my mind that day at REI. Matt was certain, but I simply couldn’t decide. Rather than make a hasty decision, I wanted to wait and do more research on our potential route to see if that would help sway me. After communicating with a few bloggers currently on the road, I made the decision that a combo roller/backpack was going to be my best option. It would be carry-on size, front-loading and have locking zippers. I’ll be sacrificing a little comfort, but I think it will totally be worth it in the long run.
Matt – REI Crestrail 70L
Regular Price: $239
REI 20% Discount: $47.80 off
Final Cost: $191.20 + tax (I joined REI as member for $20, which allowed me to use a 20% discount on my bag at the time of purchase. The membership paid for itself immediately!)
Alana – Osprey Meridian 22” 60L (Bonus: Includes small day pack, which Matt will use on the road)
Regular Price: $330 but found on sale for $246.99 on Ebags.com
Ebates 15% Cash Back: $37.05
Ebags 5% Rewards: $12.35
Final Cost: $197.59 with no tax (This bag had a higher price tag than we wanted to spend, so I went to work trying to find a deal. Using EBates and a coupon from the online store EBags, I was able to knock the price down and get some cash back. Every little bit helps.)
NOW, we just have to figure out what to put in them!Disclaimer: If you sign up for an Ebates account through the link above and make a purchase, we will receive a small commission. Thanks for your support.
Finding the right backpack can be quite a struggle, but your post is very helpful, Matt!