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Proper Backpack for SE Asia

Posted by johancp on 10/3/2013 at 06:55

I'm currently looking for a suitable backpack for my 2 month trip to SE Asia. I live in Denmark where the backpacks are extremely expensive, so i've been browsing the UK sites for a backpack i could get shipped over here. I don't think i will be doing too much hiking, so i have been looking at the Osprey Farpoint 70, which i can get for 100 pounds plus 20 for shipping. Would this be a suitable backpack or should i try to find something more expensive like the deuter aircontact?? I would rather not spend too much on a backpack, but I don't won't a backpack that I will get tired of during my trip.
Thanks in advance

#1 johancp has been a member since 26/2/2013. Posts: 11

Posted by RooX on 10/3/2013 at 15:15

I have been using a North Face Base Camp Duffel in size medium. Its 72 liters.. which seems HUGE, until you realize it weighs 1/3 of a backpack, and its carry on acceptable once you adjust the bellows on it. Its also bombproof (I had 10 years of ice/rock climbing and mountaineering on one) and its very hard to steal from the bag.

its cheap, I picked my last one up for about $120.00 cad.

I see so many travelers using a top loading massive backpack that weights a tonne, and they always struggle getting things out of it, as whatever they need always seems to be in the bottom. With a back-packable duffel like this one, everything is accessible as the whole thing opens wide.

I have done everything from weekend trips, to 1.5 years with just this pack and a small satchel for day trips and for keeping at my feet on planes.

http://www.thenorthface.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?partNumber=ASTD&storeId=208&langId=-12&catalogId=10201

#2 RooX has been a member since 3/3/2012. Posts: 9


Posted by magalaya on 10/3/2013 at 18:53

Honestly in my opinion the most important factor in choosing a backpack is comfort and whether the pack fits your back properly or not. I'd say that if you are planning to buy your pack online try to visit a shop that carries the prospective packs and try them on, preferably with weight in them. This is particularly important if you think you might be using the pack for other traveling and hiking excursions. Front loading packs are definitely more convenient than top loading, but it's a fairly minor consideration - I have a top loading and it just means I have to pack more carefully and remember to keep important items easily accessible.

#3 magalaya has been a member since 20/2/2013. Posts: 11

Posted by goonistik on 10/3/2013 at 20:22

Do you really need 70 liters? That's huge. If you can travel light, the Osprey 40 would be more the size I recommend. Though that North Face duffel that RooX recommends looks like an excellent alternative.

I have to agree with magalaya that front loading is a huge plus, though with careful packing, a top loader isn't too bad.

#4 goonistik has been a member since 7/1/2010. Location: Philippines. Posts: 562
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Posted by Geer1 on 11/3/2013 at 02:19

Cost means nothing, I was very happy with my used $60 backpack for many reasons.

1) Straps fold away and a zipper guard covers them from getting caught in airports etc.
2) Front opening, opens wide open so was like a suitcase in that regard.
3) Zippers easily locked to keep people from peeking in your bag(most top loaded bags can't be locked easily).

Mine was a 85L pack but I made sure not to pack it right full. Can easily get by with less but I think it would be tough under 60L. They usually call these travel packs and unfortunately they aren't that easy to find. They are definitely worth it though imo.

#5 Geer1 has been a member since 14/9/2012. Posts: 540
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Posted by MADMAC on 11/3/2013 at 02:29

Go to an old surplus store and buy a US Army duffel bag. You can carry a ton of crap in them and they're cheap and rugged. If you are not going to do any cross country hiking, or long range broken terrain trekking, then carrying a duffel from your bus station to the hotel is easy.

#6 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by Sampan on 11/3/2013 at 02:40

hiya johancp,

If you're not looking for a wheeled backpack, that Osprey-pack looks pretty much like a winner to me. A lot of adjustability and flexible features that you can use however you like. I didn't get if the carry-system was adjustable for long or shorts backs, but if it isn't, maybe find one and try it on. It also seemed to lack a raincover (can come in very handy), but if so, they can be bought separately.

When it comes to capacity, it doesn't really matter if you have enormous pack when you leave, just don't fill up with a bunch of crap you won't be needing. However, some extra space will come in real handy on the way back when you will have somewhere to put all those absolute bargains you gonna find!

Hope you have good trip!!

//

#7 Sampan has been a member since 3/9/2009. Posts: 110

Posted by johancp on 11/3/2013 at 11:01

Thanks for the response everyone!
I went ahead and bought the Osprey Farpoint 70 in a store for around 35 dollars more than it would have cost me on the Internet. It might be a bit big, but i don't need to fill it up. The 70 litres is also including the space in the daypack. I also went ahead and bought a lock and a raincover.
Cheers

#8 johancp has been a member since 26/2/2013. Posts: 11

Posted by MADMAC on 11/3/2013 at 23:11

Have a great trip.

#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by dwmok01 on 30/5/2013 at 21:41

I will go ahead and let you know that going to asia with a duffel bag is the WORST idea ever. I know I'm new to the forums but seeing people suggest that you bring a duffel bag makes me cringe. Yes it is excellent in packing a large amount of items and unpacking, however, think if you are in south east asia though you are not hiking or walking a significant amount, you will be walking a lot to your hostels when you get off the subway. I have ran to catch a train that leaves every week and let me tell you running with a duffel bag over your shoulder is not easy. I'm going on another trip this august and i'm looking for an actual back pack. I will admit duffel bags (i purchased an army one) are durable and easy to stow away when you get on a train or a hostel, but moving your duffel bag anywhere will be your worst nightmare and I would rather have more difficulties finding a spot to put my bag then carrying it everywhere. just my two cent

#10 dwmok01 has been a member since 30/5/2013. Posts: 1

Posted by MADMAC on 2/6/2013 at 09:30

"I will go ahead and let you know that going to asia with a duffel bag is the WORST idea ever."

I would say trying to transport drugs into Thailand would be a worse idea...

"...you will be walking a lot to your hostels when you get off the subway."

Let's start with I wouldn't stay in a hostel. So I wouldn't be walking to it from the subway. But assuming I was in a city with a subway (which in Thailand means Bangkok) I would be walking from my taxi to the front door of my hotel. That's probably a two meter walk.

"I have ran to catch a train that leaves every week and let me tell you running with a duffel bag over your shoulder is not easy. "

It wouldn't be easy with a 70 liter backpack that was full either.

Assuming no outliers, and that you are just using it to tote your stuff around in, and not doing anything strenuous with it, Army duffels are great. I used one on my second trip here and didn't encounter any of the problems you did. Of course, I didn't try walking long distances with it (although I did when I was in the Army on deployment, had to hump one WITH MY RUCK from the tarmac to my quarters - over a mile - it wasn't so bad) or running with it.

So I will caveat with if you don't plan on walking long distances with it and you don't plan on running with it, a duffel is a cheap and efficient way to go.

#11 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by rledez1990 on 3/6/2013 at 06:00

Can I just offer an alternative point of view - myself and my boyfriend travelled SE Asia and Australia for 3 months with backpacks.

Advice no #1 - smaller is better. Lighter is best.

Advice no #2 - you don't have to take a back pack just because you're backpacking! Even when they were light, we hated lugging them around in the sweltering heat getting scratches and chafing on our shoulders... On our next trip we took small wheeled suitcases and enjoyed the travelling experience all the better for it!

#12 rledez1990 has been a member since 12/3/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 106
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Posted by MADMAC on 3/6/2013 at 08:15

"On our next trip we took small wheeled suitcases and enjoyed the travelling experience all the better for it!"

I personally don't like them. I have a lot of upper body strength and find throwing a pack on my back, even a heavy one, to be no big deal. In SEA the sidewalks are problematic - having been occupied by the vendor troops. So the wheeled suitcases are tough if you are doing anything more than the taxi to hotel hump. However, if you are not, then they're fine. It really depends on how you are moving once you are in country and whether you plan on walking anywhere with your stuff.

#13 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by rledez1990 on 3/6/2013 at 10:57

@Madmac I think you're right: it all depends on the individual traveller and their style. I think everyone assumes that the backpack is the only option though, and if (like me) you lack that all-important upper body strength then it's much easier to have something to drag along behind you. SEA sidewalks are a bit hit and miss but so is my mood when I'm tired haha - my boyfriend/travel buddy decided he'd rather take his chances with the sidewalks than a grumpy girlfriend moaning about how heavy her backpack is!

#14 rledez1990 has been a member since 12/3/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 106
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Posted by MADMAC on 3/6/2013 at 12:07

My wife solved that problem rledez by deciding that one of my functions in life is pack mule. So I carry her bags and mine. Perhaps this, along with my Army career, explain the upper body strength. Funny because this subject just came up when we were in Khon Kaen. I was carrying her pack, my pack, her purse and she stilled complained about having to walk about 500 meters! She's good looking, which helps compensate for the fact that physical toughness is not part of her makeup. Fortunately my daughter is more like me - she carries her own pack and she's only six.

#15 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by rledez1990 on 3/6/2013 at 12:18

Hahaha Madmac I don't envy you! Sounds like a game of Buckaroo! Still... you must save a ton on gym memberships when you're away, what with all that heavy lifting?

#16 rledez1990 has been a member since 12/3/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 106
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Posted by MADMAC on 3/6/2013 at 13:32

I'm in the gym every day. But I don't lift weights. Training to fight. TKD.

#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by stefanw on 4/6/2013 at 05:27

"I would say trying to transport drugs into Thailand would be a worse idea..."

I would have thought taking drugs out of Thailand would be a worse idea.

But anyway, as far a backpacks are concerned, I use a Quechua Forclaz 40L. Cost me around $30 US. In my opinion it has the best of both worlds in the fact that it fully unzips at the top and front (similar to a duffel in its ease of use and finding things) and it is also easy to carry. 60L bags are also available and maybe 50L. Only found at Decathlon stores which are a range of different countries. Beats the hell out of spending $300.[/fred]

#18 stefanw has been a member since 10/12/2010. Posts: 50


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