I have just been down to my local Cotswold store and have ended up coming back with a Berghaus Womens Jalan 55 + 15: https://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/webpoint/webpoint.cfm?FUSEACTION=main&SHOWMESSAGE=0&GOTOLOCATION=0&MENUSTATE=N&CFID=7643140&CFTOKEN=24205520#app=7491&2919-counter=4&2919-selectedMenuLstIndex3=-1&2919-selectedMenuLstIndex=-1&2919-tag=&2919-selectedMenuLstIndex2=-1&2919-group1=Backpacks%20%26%20Rucksacks&2919-idGroup1=12&2919-idPromotion=-1&2919-selectedIndex=5&2919-selectedMenuVsIndex=0&2919-group2=Travel%20Packs&2919-selectedMenuAccIndex=0&2919-search=&2919-idBrand=-1&2919-idGroup2=232
This was after getting the hard sell from one of the assistant's on the benefits of having a pack that opens like a suitcase, with an attachable daypack and which is apparently far less hassle when flying because of being able to zip away the straps (I wasn't aware of this being a particular issue before).
Now I can see the benefits of a pack that opens like a suitcase and most importantly the fact that for once there are lockable zips and not a drawstring in sight. The assistant also highlighted how it was perfect for backpacking and hostel hopping as opposed to long camping/hiking expeditions.
My hesitations with this pack is that I can't help but feel that the weight distribution and back system is inferior to normal rucksacks - is this fear unfounded? I did try on an Osprey Ariel 65 and it admittedly felt far more comfy on the back. Whilst I will be hostel hopping around SE Asia and NZ for the best part of 8 months, I am hoping to go on some treks that last at least a few days and I worry that if taking along my whole pack then this Jalan pack will take its toll on my back as opposed to a proper rucksack.
I know many people hate top loaders but I'm not planning on cramming my bag full and don't feel it's too much of an issue rummaging through the bag for things - I've done it plenty of times at Glasto and feel its a minor inconvenience, especially if you pack carefully and put things you want quick access to in the bottom compartment. But maybe I'm missing something here.
As for the lockable zips. It would appear most rucksacks have drawstrings and even their zips just have nylon pulls on them but at the end of the day I'm not actually going to be putting or leaving any valuables in the main pack so is it so important having them lockable? I intend having most of my money/passport/cards in a money belt and ipod, camera, meds etc in my daypack (which i will ensure is lockable) and everything valuable in a pacsafe travelsafe overnight. So maybe this is not such a crucial factor for the main pack?
The final thing is the daypack. Quite frankly the daypack on this particular travel pack does not impress me much (apologies, did not mean to sound like Shania Twain there). 15 ltrs isn't much and it is totally void of zip compartments or pouches etc. So surely I'm better off just buying a rucksack and then a daysack to roll up and put in the main sack?
I guess you can tell that I lean more towards the rucksack rather than the travel pack but want to clarify that my assumptions about how the travel pack compares to the rucksack are correct. I am also aware of a Lowe Alpine rucksack which has lockable zips for the bottom compartment and there are pacsafe buckle locks that can perhaps prevent the drawstring problem for the top of the rucksack? But is Lowe Alpine a good brand?
Sorry, I was hoping to be succinct with this message but my backpack woes are many!
I would have gone for the Osprey Ariel, especially if there is going to come a point where you might be trekking. We took the male version, the Aether, wild camping along a 5 days trek of Hadrian's Wall, which is somewhat undulating, and it carried superbly. It is an astonishingly light pack, which cannot be said of the one you have just bought. It also heat-moulds the hipbelt to your hips which is a great asset as rucksacks should carry on your hips and be stabilised by your shoulder straps. The question is, how much actual carrying are you going to be doing for long periods of time?
If you need a daysack that is bigger than 15 litres, you need to ask yourself what you're going to put in it and whether a 20 litre daysack will actually roll up! If it is a walking daysack, you should really be able to manage with 15 litres. If it's not for walking, I would get a messenger bag as you can swing it round your front in nefarious areas and it'll roll up better as it has no back-system.
"It is an astonishingly light pack, which cannot be said of the one you have just bought."
This is what I suspected - cheers for confirming!
"The question is, how much actual carrying are you going to be doing for long periods of time?"
A good question and one I'm struggling to answer as, although I have an itinerary and rough idea of places I'll be going to, I don't know what opportunities will present themselves when there or how specific journeys between places will pan out. Generally I will be doing the usual hostel hopping from place to place which shouldn't entail much carrying other than to and from bus stations/stops. However, I do anticipate doing at least two treks (one from Chiang Mai and the other from Sangkhlaburi) and I'm guessing these will last between 3-5 days each. Not really sure how the treks work but after reading the Travelfish feature on this I get the impression that unless I do my treks with the guesthouse where I'm staying, I will have to take my main pack with me and there are generally no porters. I also anticipate stopping off at random places for day trips en route to main destinations, which would mean carrying about the main pack. It's not much but enough to make me think I should go for a lighter pack like the Osprey rather than the Jalan even though I'm not exactly trekking all the time! Would you agree with that?
Re: daysack, actually 15 ltrs is probably more than enough for going out during the day. I think it was the actual design of the daysack in question that left a lot to be desired. In fact, I think you may be right there with the messenger bag option as that seems far more secure other than wearing my daysack on my front which is really uncomfortable. I think I thought of getting a larger daysack in case it was possible to leave the mainpack behind when going on a trek and so I could store what I need for 3-5 days in the daysack (20 - 25 ltr) but not sure if that's even a viable option.
Ultimately, given the general trekking/day trip plans I have would you suggest sticking with something akin to the Jalan (would shop around for one with a better designed daysack) or getting the Osprey or something akin to it?
"I also anticipate stopping off at random places for day trips en route to main destinations, which would mean carrying about the main pack. It's not much but enough to make me think I should go for a lighter pack like the Osprey rather than the Jalan even though I'm not exactly trekking all the time! Would you agree with that?"
I would, yes. Sorry to have been blunt about the pack you've bought and I hope you can take it back! You should certainly try on the Osprey Ariel pack and make sure it is comfortable and that the hip-belt is heat-moulded to your hips if you buy it.
"daysack, actually 15 ltrs is probably more than enough for going out during the day."
I would agree with that - you certainly shouldn't need anything more than that during the day. I would take a look at the Vaude Mini Rock Comfort 16 which is light, comfortable and very packable. You'll find it on www.ultralightoutdoorgear.co.uk for £35.
"I think I thought of getting a larger daysack in case it was possible to leave the mainpack behind when going on a trek and so I could store what I need for 3-5 days in the daysack (20 - 25 ltr) but not sure if that's even a viable option."
It really depends on what you want to take with you on a 3-5 day trek and how supported it is. In fact, 3 days is probably ok with a 15 litre sack if you can travel light, but 5 days is starting to get different. The vast majority of weight on a trek is going to be food and water, followed by sleeping gear, followed by clothes and will depend on how experienced you are at trekking generally as to how much in the way of clothes you can take before you get uncomfortable. Most operators suggest smallish packs as I suspect they provide the food and water, but you'll have to carry this for hours at a time for days. It would need to be comfortable. I have to confess we weren't able to do any treks but ask yourself whether you would be happy going off for 3-5 days and leaving your main pack behind in a hostel - most hostels are very safe and secure but I'd check with others here whether your pack would be secure for that time. We did not leave our packs anywhere like that.
Thanks for all the advice! Luckily I was able to return the Jalan travel pack so did that today and tried on the Osprey Ariel with quite a bit of weight in it and really find it comfortable so most probably going to get it. The only thing I did notice is that it's the only bag without all the massive black padding for the back system and hip pads - is there a disadvantage to this? Personally I think it's more comfortable without all that padding but seems odd that none of the other rucksacks had a similar lack of it.
Compared the Osprey with a Lowe Alpine bag which was nowhere near as good a fit and felt quite unsteady when moving about, which is a shame as it was the only lockable one in the shop but have found a solution - the Osprey Airporter (http://www.snowandrock.com/osprey-airporter-lz/duffle-bags/ski-snowboard-outdoor-sports/fcp-product/4355) which can be locked so just need to whack my rucksack in there and lock it up (not that it stops anyone slashing it but then again the same applies to the rucksack) - not that I'm planning on leaving anything valuable in there anyhow.
As for treks, think I'll have to pester a friend of mine about one she went on and find out exactly how it works which will hopefully help me decide whether to buy a daypack or just get a messenger bag.
Anyway, thanks again for all the help - it really is appreciated!!
Padding on a backsystem is not necessarily the best way to achieve a comfortable fit - you don't need it if the pack's frame is properly moulded & supportive. Locking your bag is about making your bag as hard as possible to get into - push determined thieves onto someone else's bag!
Good luck with your trip! If you want to have a look at the article I wrote on my blog (link to that below or on my profile) entitled "Independent Travel" at the top. Just my experiences so make of it what you will. There's a post on rucksacks too..,
Whatever you get don't get something too big. On our trip i had a 45L Eagle Creek travel pack (no wheels!), my wife had a 35L travel pack (which she thought in no way would be big enough for 5-6months.) and we had a 20L day pack which truthfully we didn't carry "daily" but instead used it to keep the netbook, camera, things of value in the guesthouse/hotel when we weren't using them.
Best purchase was a Targus Defcon ultra lock which we'd wrap through all the luggage while we were out of the room. If somebody tried to open the bag the alarm would go off and trust me it was loud enough that any thief would go running!
We saw so many people at bus/train stations or walking around towns looking at hotels with MASSIVE packs, young women with packs a foot and a half over their heads and they did not look comfortable.
Its a common cliche but get the smallest pack you can find. You won't regret it.
Hey smkuchta, was just looking at the Eagle creek bag you mentioned and it looks great (I did gulp a little when I saw the price mind you!). Just wondered if you could let me know if the bag opens out like a case or if it is top loading as I can't really tell?
It opens like a suitcase, no its not top loading. The "eagle creek voyage" is the exact one i have, i am not sure they make that anymore I think maybe the Thrive has replaced it.
Not sure where you are located at but I got mine at REI in the US, they carry a lot of eagle creek stuff. I don't remember the exact price but I am thinking it was around $150-180USD including the day pack. Probably not the cheapest but you get what you pay for and the bag is still in great shape even after schlepping around SE Asia for 5+ months
One more thing....The one thing it didn't have which i believe the Thrive does is a rain cover. I ended up buying a rain cover which was very handy. Obviously keeps the rain off but also good for dust when your bag is in the luggage hold of a cambodian/lao bus and for keeping the straps and such all together. Also gives a little bit of security protection as prying hands might be slightly dissuaded from trying to get it out of the rain cover.
I agree with smkutcha to this extent - do not buy one too big! Everything thinks they need 70 litres or more, but you are more than likely to be lugging round an extra kg of dead weight because your pack is too big - whether it's a travel pack or not, they are not good to carry half-full. I don't sit well with the "pack and then re-pack half of what you packed originally" rubbish but you should be strict with yourself about what you pack.
"The vast majority of weight on a trek is going to be food and water, followed by sleeping gear,"
I think Ammo is number one - that can be serious weight. On the other hand, that's probably a different kind of trekking.