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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 10-10-2005, 07:27 PM   #1
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I know the commom answer to this is backpack, but I got into this debate with my brother recently. He has travelled more than anyone I know all over the globe. He still travels more than anyone I know actually. He's done the backpacking thing and travelled from hostel to hostel not knowing where he will be staying on any given night. He's done this in Europe, Asia, Central and South America all extensively. He originally used a pack, but now swears by luggage with a wheel. He says there is no logical reason to use a pack and the only reason backpackers do it is for the symbol/style of it. He believes that wheeled luggage is infinitely more practical in every imaginable situation with the one exception of strenuous outdoor mountain style hiking. Now, obviously if that is the main point of your trip than this argument has no bearing, but what about for the rest of us? I know what I think, but he is quite a bit more experienced at this than me. Anyone have any input?
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Old 10-10-2005, 07:40 PM   #2
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logically eh?

All I know is when my stuff is on my back, I don't lose it.

I left a wheeled bag in the miami airport on my way to costa rica back in 97. Never traveled with wheels again.
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Old 10-10-2005, 08:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
He says there is no logical reason to use a pack and the only reason backpackers do it is for the symbol/style of it.
I don't know about that. As Jake said, there is always the case of the air headed person, such as myself. All I have to keep track of is a purse and I cannot count the times I've had to go back to places because I've left it.

I see benefits to both. Backpacks are good because you're not dragging something behind you with an arm. You have everything on your back and your pretty much hands free. If you pack right/have a good pack/good back, you may never even feel it. You don't have to worry about carrying something clunky up and down stairs while running to catch a train, you can stop and grab something to eat/drink and not worry about what hand to carry it in, etc.

On the other hand, sometimes backpacks can be inconvient. You have this large clunky thing that is semi difficult to carry without having it on your back. So, jumping off a train or bus, you're in a hurry after pulling it off the luggage racks, you're trying to manage it through people, possibly without having enough time to put it on your back. So, you're lugging it with one or two hands hitting innocent bystanders, getting it caught on seats, whereas if you had a rolling luggage bag, you'd just pull out the handle and pull behind you.

Backpacks are also designed to hold various things. You can tuck a jacket into a strap, attach your sleeping pad to the bottom, sleeping bag to the top and tuck a bottle of water into a side carrier. Usually luggage bags are meant to hold stuff internally and not for attaching stuff to the outside, which can save you tons of space.

If you're going to doing a lot of walking, involving hills/stairs, having 30#s on your back can start to wear on your legs. It can really hit you if you have to walk several miles to get to a destination, especially involving inclines.

For me personally, on extended trips where I'll need a lot of stuff, I'd take a backpack. On vacation where I won't be roughing it, I'd take a luggage bag. But, it obviously comes down to personal preference.
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Old 10-10-2005, 08:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by jamiepeaski@Oct 11 2005, 03:01 AM
If you're going to doing a lot of walking, involving hills/stairs, having 30#s on your back can start to wear on your legs. It can really hit you if you have to walk several miles to get to a destination, especially involving inclines.
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For me, this is exactly why I use a backpack instead of a piece of luggage. I've done both and criminy, dragging a suitcase behind you while trying to make it up stairs is NOT FUN. And I'd rather have the weight evenly distributed on my back when walking up steep inclines (or any inclines for that matter) or when walking long distances. I found that when pulling a suitcase I kept switching hands all the time because one arm would get tired and I always felt as if I was twisting my back one way or the other while dragging it behind me. Plus it's much easier to navigate in crowds with a backpack, but maybe that's personal preference. *shrug*

Suitcases are also a supreme BITCH on dirt roads or cobblestone. Actually the exact phrase I used in that situation was "Motherfucking piece of goddamn useless shit. On a stick."

I think that for trips *not* involving a lot of moving around from place to place or if you're staying in hotels instead of hostels, suitcases may be the way to go. But even with that kind of trip I'll almost always take a backpack, it's just more comfortable for me.
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Old 10-11-2005, 01:00 AM   #5
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If someone is just going to go from hostel to train station to hostel then a roller isnt a bad option but there were dozens of times on my trip that a)i wasnt in a hostel B) long walk from hostel to destiantion aka 30 to an hour walk which would have been extremly difficlut to do with two bags dragging behind me and c) when i would be just wondering around the city before or after my hostel check in.

Plus if you dont sleep in a hostel, say a park bench or ground, which i know ever backapcker has done before then having luggage can cause some problems.

Having rolleing luggage isnt a bad idea for bouncing bewteen sleeping hostel/hotels but backpacking isnt simple traveling, its caring everything you have on your back. If you dont get a bed a night, no problem you have your house on your back. Unlike if you had luggage you might be in an ordeal if you find yourself stranded somewhere.
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Old 10-11-2005, 01:20 AM   #6
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Eagle Creek and others do some wheeled backpacks out there.


I looked at a few of them, specifically the Eagle Creek Switchback when I was shopping for my pack. I settled on the Transcontinental Journey because I didn't think the Switchback was as comfortable in backpack mode. Plus the added weight of rolling gear and the propensity of rolling gear to break while on trips (my big rolling suitcase snapped a wheel while running to catch my plane in Vegas. I was not happy.) turned me off.

On top of that, I can't see the viability of a wheeled pack if you decide to do some backcountry excursions where paved road/sidewalks may not be as prevalent. That and cobblestones and rolling gear don't mix!


To each Punk his/her own, though.
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Old 10-11-2005, 04:15 AM   #7
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a backpack to me makes traveling easier. Wheeled luggage gets in the way and becomes tiresome to pull around.
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Old 10-11-2005, 07:59 AM   #8
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It's interesting that everyone agrees. I agree with you guys too for all the reasons you have said. The only reason I had any doubt is because my bro has done so much travelling. And not the kind of travelling where you just go from train to hostel. He's done it all, and then some. Anyway, now I'm better prepared to argue my point.
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Old 10-11-2005, 12:26 PM   #9
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I own the Eagle Creek rolling backpack and have used that as well as a 'typical' backpackers backpack on my trips.

While I felt kind of stupid with the rolling one this past summer (though I only used it rolling maybe 3x), I realized I really liked it because it opens all the way down (like a normal suitcase or school bookbag would), not just at the top. So every stop I made, whereas with a normal backpacking backpack you have to be either VERY good at knowing exactly what clothes you want and leave them on top or take EVERYTHING out, I never had to do that. In fact, I got all kinds of comments from people like "wow, I wish I had a pack like that"

Honestly it is the best of both worlds. I would use it again.
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Old 10-11-2005, 05:56 PM   #10
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^ That's exactly why I love the side zipper on my backpack.

Mo, it doesn't matter how much traveling he does or doesn't do, it sounds like your brother is just one of those people that doesn't like carrying stuff around on his back. It's all personal opinion and entirely subjective anyway.
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Old 10-11-2005, 06:14 PM   #11
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Wow, I feel like a reject. I've never seen one like yours then Jeanie.

What kind is it?
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Old 10-11-2005, 07:00 PM   #12
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Aw, you're not a reject!!

It's a Marmot Femme Nikita. Dana Design and a few other brands make backpacks with side-loading panels too; I think there are a few REI-brand or Kelty packs with side zippers.
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Old 10-11-2005, 11:01 PM   #13
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Many of the Eagle Creeks also unzip all the way like a suitcase. There are straps to keep your stuff inside when you unzip it.
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Old 10-11-2005, 11:02 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by space virgin@Oct 11 2005, 04:56 PM
Mo, it doesn't matter how much traveling he does or doesn't do, it sounds like your brother is just one of those people that doesn't like carrying stuff around on his back.* It's all personal opinion and entirely subjective anyway.*
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Good point.
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Old 11-06-2005, 11:25 PM   #15
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i haven't actually traveled, so this is all conjecture...i ended up buying the Victorinox Trek Plus 22"

here's a picture of me doing a "test pack"

http://www.tinou.com/europe/europe.jsp

i figure at the airports the wheels will come in handy. why put ANY weight on your back/shoulders when you can just pull it. the 360 degree handle makes it very comfortable to pull around.

i have no experience in europe, and will trust those who say that you can't use the wheels there...but when i was in shanghai, e.g., you can definitely wheel stuff around there.

the Victorinox felt just as comfortable as the non-wheeled eagle creek, and i figure the little space you give up is offset by the flexibility you have.

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Old 11-11-2005, 06:53 AM   #16
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I definitely prefer a backpack, and here is why: When you're constantly walking around cities you don't know, you'll be reading a lot of maps, and looking in your travel guide a lot. Yeah, I know it sucks for your image, but it's true. You don't want to be juggling back and forth trying to pull your bag and hold the map/book open at the same time. I was traveling with a guy who had a roll back very briefly, and he hated it. Another reason is security. If you let go of your bag to read your map in a crowded area, it may not be there when you reach for it again. Of course, people have their backpacks sliced into, but that takes a little more daring on the part of the thief in my opinion. One word of advice I would give on the backpack though is to get one that is maybe a little taller and narrower. Wide packs get caught on doorways, knock things over, and are generally more of a pain in the ass. Don't get a skyscraper, but narrower is better. And get a waterproof cover. Mine saved my ass many times, though I WAS in europe in the winter. Good luck!
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Old 11-11-2005, 08:02 AM   #17
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and everyone forgot to mention the inevitable (or maybe it was just me whom this happened to?) when you need to get somewhere fast (aka a train/bus/etc) sometimes you REALLY need to just book it. I don't know how I would have gotten to my vienna train if I couldn't have ran my ass into the centre square of venice so I could catch a cab & please him to drive like a mofo.... the luggage would have really weighed down on me then...so many stairs to go up & down, etc
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Old 11-11-2005, 08:07 AM   #18
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Good point. Let the backpack become a part of you as you morph into Carl Lewis late for a track meet.
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Old 11-11-2005, 06:10 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by simply_angelic@Nov 11 2005, 04:02 PM
so I could catch a cab & please him to drive like a mofo....
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What exactly did you do to please him???

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Old 11-12-2005, 08:05 AM   #20
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haha wow.....maybe i should read through my posts a little more thoroughly next time......but lets just say I got to my train 5 minutes early



(actually it was really just me telling him to go fast fast FAST!) haha damn now that you've gotten me thinking dirty that doesn't really sound very good either.....
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