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Budget Travel Gear Yo Nellie, which backpack should I git? Questions and answers on gear related topics (i.e. backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, hiking boots, stoves, etc.).

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Old 12-04-2008, 10:22 PM   #1
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Default Advice, anyone?

So, I've been searching the forums and can't quite find what I'm looking for.

I will studying abroad for six months in 2009, and 4 weeks of that will be traveling around Europe (2 weeks possibly on my own and then meeting up with some friends for the next 2) via trains. Also, I plan on taking weekend trips to places like Paris and maybe elsewhere depending on time/$.

Initially, I was planning on taking a nice sized duffel bag as a carry on and then to use for my month break/weekend trips. However, it was suggested by a friend to look at backpacks.

I guess what I'm asking is: would a duffel bag or a nice backpack be more convenient? I wouldn't mind investing in a bp that I could use again and again...But I don't want to have a huge bulky thing for four weeks (even if I could use it for longer periods in the future). What do ya'll think?

God, do I ramble on?
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Old 12-05-2008, 03:08 AM   #2
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Welcome to Travel Punk?

Have you considered just taking a backpack with a day bag?

Backpacks are a great way of getting your stuff from one point to another. Plus, have you ever heard of someone duffelbagging around Europe?

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Old 12-05-2008, 04:26 AM   #3
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Use whatever you're comfortable with. If you have a duffel bag that you like, think is of adequate size, etc, go with it.

On the other hand packpacks these days are pretty slick. They dont have to be huge bulky things. Easy to carry while keeping your hands free to read maps, hit vending machines, juggle, whatever. Maybe go to a store and check some out before you make a final decision.

so where you going on study abroad? Have you traveled before? Any other side trips you're dying to take?
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Old 12-05-2008, 05:56 AM   #4
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I'll add on/agree with what mbo108 said. Go with whatever is comfortable, but backpacks definitely do not have to be bulky and are probably better for your back if you're carrying it for long distances. Are you planning on bringing a large suitcase for while you're living over there? What do you plan on doing with it while you travel?
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Old 12-05-2008, 06:56 AM   #5
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Put all your stuff for four weeks in the duffel and go walk around town with it then see how you feel. If you've used the duffel before for this kind of trip and it was comfortable then go for it, but if you're just thinking theoretically you'll prob like the backpack more.

I would much rather have a backpack because its on my back and I don't have to deal with it while I'm trying to make my way around a new city. The best backpack is seen not felt.
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Old 12-05-2008, 07:15 AM   #6
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I'm more used to a back pack and find it tends to free up my hands for things like taking pictures and such.
But yeah, use what is confortable to you.
In terms of durability both options are pleanty durable and a good camping store will be able to point you in the right direction.
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Old 12-06-2008, 09:26 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the advice (and the welcome) I really appreciate it and hopefully sometime this week I'll get to a camping store. : )

I'm studying in Sussex, England (just outside of Brighton) and hopefully I'll get to Amsterdam, Prague, maybe Budapest or Costa del Sol, and Italy during my spring break. The destinations are still up in the air, but I'll probably end up on my own Prague--which is why I'm a little anxious, but I think it would be really cool to go through Europe on my own. See what I can do.

I've been looking at backpacks and I was wondering if anyone would highly recommend a certain brand to look at? For instance, I've heard some differing opinions on Northface packs and not many seem to use Jansport...I have a regular Jansport backpack I've used for +10 yrs and the only wear and tear is a little hole in the bottom.

Thanks, again, : )
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Old 12-07-2008, 08:18 AM   #8
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Backpack all the way!!! If you find yourself sprinting for a train/plane/metro etc... You will greatly appreciate not having anything in your hands.
Is there an REI in your area? They have a huge selection of packs, and lots of sizes to choose from.
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Old 12-10-2008, 08:25 AM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OnandOff View Post
So, I've been searching the forums and can't quite find what I'm looking for.

I will studying abroad for six months in 2009, and 4 weeks of that will be traveling around Europe (2 weeks possibly on my own and then meeting up with some friends for the next 2) via trains. Also, I plan on taking weekend trips to places like Paris and maybe elsewhere depending on time/$.

Initially, I was planning on taking a nice sized duffel bag as a carry on and then to use for my month break/weekend trips. However, it was suggested by a friend to look at backpacks.

I guess what I'm asking is: would a duffel bag or a nice backpack be more convenient? I wouldn't mind investing in a bp that I could use again and again...But I don't want to have a huge bulky thing for four weeks (even if I could use it for longer periods in the future). What do ya'll think?

God, do I ramble on?
OnandOff -

I can give you a little bit of advice as to what I would do in your situation. I have taken a few trips around Europe in the past years and the first thing that I always ask myself is "What am I going to be doing on this trip?" Your gear-list and ultimately your pack choice will depend on your plans while traveling. Are you trying to keep your load small and wash your socks and underwear every night in the shower / sink or do you plan to travel leisurely with nice clothes and shoes for nightclubs, bars, etc? On my last two week trip through Eastern Europe I used a 55L Arc'teryx pack and a day pack. It was kind of a pain in the ass trying to get on and off trains and busses with that much stuff. Since then, I have tried to slim my load down considerably taking with me only what I really need. However, on a one month trip you could probably get away with using a pack in the 55-65L range. One other point, many quality bags have a decent compression system built in. That being said, you can cinch down your straps if your load is light and in turn, reduce much of the actual space that the pack takes up. I personally like Osprey and Arc'teryx. I stay away from anything with a North Face label attached to it as their quality has dramatically decreased over the past few years. Even employees at certain outdoor stores that I have been to have told me that the only reason they still stock it is for the "yuppie crowd" as they put it and if it were up to them, it would all be off the shelf. So, aside from a large pack, I would recommend getting something like this:

http://www.rei.com/product/747522

It's dirt cheap (25$), weights next to nothing (9 oz), and it folds up into itself. You can ditch your main bag at your hostel / hotel and throw a camera, toilet paper, souvenirs, and other essentials in here and not have to worry about walking around with a giant pack on your back. One final point, try to avoid purchasing a pack without trying it on first. Feel free to ask if you have any more questions.

Chris
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Old 12-10-2008, 08:40 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OnandOff View Post

I guess what I'm asking is: would a duffel bag or a nice backpack be more convenient? I wouldn't mind investing in a bp that I could use again and again...But I don't want to have a huge bulky thing for four weeks (even if I could use it for longer periods in the future). What do ya'll think?

God, do I ramble on?
Welcome to tpunk, where rambling is what we do.

Duffel bag, backpack, rollies, bookbag - i've seen them all. As long as you're comfortable lugging it around for at least a good few hours, I say go with it.

Remember that you don't need to carry it all the time - only the days that you need to travel from city to city. The rest of the time, you'll probably leave it at the hostel.
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