I'm an older woman looking for a travel pack for a month-long solo trip to Thailand next February. I'll occasionally take trains, buses and longboats, and will be visiting a few fairly remote areas. I don't have a ton of upper body strength and don't plan to walk long distances with my pack, but will need to hoist it for public transportation etc. I'll have some bulky items like iPad and binoculars. Is a backpack with big skate-type wheels a good option, or too heavy and uncomfortable for someone like me to wear? Would a travel pack without wheels be too unwieldy given my limited strength/stamina? What should the weight capacity be? (I may not fill it completely and would like to have a bit of extra room.) Can anyone recommend specific models? Money is a factor, but so are comfort and convenience. I also plan to carry a daypack. I realize it may be impossible to find a travel pack that perfectly meets all my needs, but would appreciate any advice. Thanks!
I think the best advice is to keep your pack small. Can you be incredibly strict with yourself in packing, so you can get everything into a 45L or smaller without overfilling it? Take very little clothing, for example, as you can get laundry done cheaply in every guesthouse, or just wash yourself in the sink (with the heat, lightweight clothes will dry in a few hours). Use your ipad for most of your books, as that will save a lot of weight.
The problem (IMHO) with the fusion backpacks with wheels is that they're heavier and more rigid than traditional backpacks. Add in the fact that you can't always wheel your bag easily anyway (sidewalks filled with food stalls, shop overflow, and parked motorbikes), and I've never been convinced the convenience of wheels are worth the extra weight.
Finally, try on as many different backpacks as possible before you buy one - they all fit differently and that makes a big difference to the comfort factor. You'll want one where it doesn't pull you off balance (so you don't feel like the weight is pulling you backwards), especially for riding on the back of a motorbike while wearing one (I'm assuming you'll be taking tuktuks, taxis and motorbike taxis most of the time to get you to and from your accommodation with your luggage).
Hope that helps! Have an amazing time
Keep the pack small and without wheels (wheels are very heavy/bulky). You might want to balance that load with a messenger-type bag on the front for heavier items like those binoculars. Leave the heavy stuff at home, and be very careful what you do bring.
I use this travel pack: