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Traditional backpack -vs- hybrid pack

Posted by busylizzy on 6/6/2009 at 14:58

Hi guys,

Just wanted some opinions on the virtues of using a traditional style backpack -vs- the newer travelpacks with wheels and harness?

I used a standard backpack last year on my 6 week trip, but I think it's 85l, and it was too big. And being an out-of-practise traveller, I took the ridiculous view of 'since I have the space, I might as well fill it'. BIG mistake! :-/

I also found that in many of the places that we went (Thailand and Cambodia), having a set of wheels would have been really convenient.

I am now debating whether to use the same pack (but obviously pack less and just scrunch it down more ), or to look at buying a smaller, hybrid type for my 6 months travels through Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and other parts of Thailand.

From what I can tell so far, they don't have quite as many compartments to hid stuff in, and the harness isn't great for any long-term walking (ie less padding, etc). I do not plan to do any mountain/jungle hiking trips.

I'm interested in the your views - especially of those people that have actually used the hybrid packs.


#1 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152

Posted by NeverStandStill on 16/6/2009 at 12:50

Hello Lisa,

I was in Vietnam for nearly 6 weeks between February and March 2009. First is to travel lite(3 underwear, 2 pr of socks, 2 merino t-shirt, 1 long sleeve merino and 1 lite jacket). So no need for 85 ltr pack or one with wheels (which is heavier and cannot be transported as easily as a backpack). I had a 45 liter as a main pack which had hidden straps but also had a carry handle like a normal bag. I also had a 15 ltr day pack. The main bag follows airline regulations for carry-on which means no lost baggage as it is always with you on the plane. At some point during the trip, and for almost 3 weeks, me and my friend (a Vietnamese girl from Saigon) were traveling on her scooter (both on the same scooter) and managed to use only my main pack for both of us plus the day pack. I will carry even less stuff for my next trip to SE Asia next February. Going for six weeks or six months should not make any difference on your gear (except medical stuff of course). Here is a link to a bag (same bag but smaller version) very similar to what I got (funny as it is made in Vietnam and bought it here in Canada). This is a very sturdy bag.

Good luck!



#2 NeverStandStill has been a member since 16/6/2009. Posts: 1

Posted by Nokka on 16/6/2009 at 20:27

My wife & I bought Eagle Creek Crossroads 25 hybrid bags for our trip later this year. Its a superbly designed and well built bag. Good size, but not too big, with expandable main compartment. Can be wheeled, or used like a grip bag. Also has backpack handles, which are stowed at the back of the bag when not in use. Comfortable on the back as has straps across the chest and the waist as well as the shoulders. We gave them a trial run in Sicily last month and they worked a treat.

Not too heavy either, considering it has wheels. In practice we don't find we carry it on the back too much, but when its needed its fine.

It was comparatively expensive, though. We decided that they are likely to last for years, so felt they were worth the money.

#3 Nokka has been a member since 6/4/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 259

Posted by BruceMoon on 17/6/2009 at 09:59


On an earlier thread elsewhere, I posted...

- - - -

I ALWAYS travel light.

I mean, that I have a carry on backpack ONLY.

I rarely go away for LESS than 4 weeks (often more) and I cope with that.

The backpack I use is termed 40 litres. Go look at it at:


In that I take all the necessary clothes and my personal needs - toiletries/ emergency kit + some drugs/ travel light/ clothes line/ playing cards/ Lonely Planets/ passport + other necessary papers/ mobile phone/ waterbottle/ umbrella/ and plastic poncho (for really rainy days).

I also take a very light weight fold away 'day pack' (see reference to it further below). That way I can leave my 40 litre pack at the GH and have something to take my gear when walking / motorbike riding / etc.

I have never had a problem at airports re: size, nor weight.

I nearly always beat every other traveller to the customs gate (from the plane I'm on).

When I arrive at a place, I'm never burdened by having too much luggage to prevent me looking around for good/better accommodation.

Just to put my view into perspective, I'm over 60, have had a broken back, and so am limited in what I carry? But, I still ever only take a back pack when travelling.

And, in the odd occasions when I need something extra, yes I buy it there.

- - - -

I then also added...

- - - -

In my 40 litre (solid) day pack, I needed a largish section for my clothes, and a smaller section for my paperwork, first-aid pack, and for the ALL IMPORTANT 1 litre plastic bag to hold all the 'would be' terrorist gear: the lotions, potions, and toothpaste.

Mine has a mesh pocket each side (one for a fold up umbrella, the other for a 600ml water bottle), and several other little pockets inside. It also has a rain cover built into the base. And, has a strap that can go around one's waist (helpful when its full and I am in a difficult walking situation).

As you know, one has to put the 1 litre bag of 'would be' terrorist stuff through the airport scanner separately.

As a note on airport scanning, I also found that my metal gear eg. rounded nose scissors, tweezers, nail clippers, torch, etc. was often 'picked up' by the scanners: and I was asked to take these out of my bag to show them for their 'approval'! I chose to put the 'metals' in a small plastic bag and I also placed the bag beside the 1 litre 'would be' terrorist bag in the separate scanning tray. It saved a lot of hassles at the airport.

As for first aid, I have a small bag with the following:

small bottle of Ti-Tree oil (an amazing antiseptic),
small bottle of Betadine (an Iodine treatment when skin cut)
small tube of 30+ sun screen
small rollon of Lemon Eucalyptus oil (for mozzies, etc)
a small tube of lip balm
Lomotil tabs (by 2 cards)***
Stematil tabs (by 1 card)
Immodium ( x 1 card)
Malarone tabs (x 12)
paracetamol (x 1 card)
Gastrogel (x 1 tube of tabs)

The paracetamol (eg Panadol) I use for headaches [and it also slows the mind when I can't get to sleep and so is far better than a sleeping tablet)

The Lomotil is used to 'stop' diarrhea, the Stematil is used to stop vomiting. The Immodium is used when there is both diarrhea and vomiting. Many take Immodium for only diarrhea, but it shouldn't be, as it really dehydrates the body.

The Gastrogel is used for prolonged diarrhea to address the body's fluid balance.

The Malarone is used for Malaria. I've spent much time in some pretty remote and extreme parts of SE Asia: both during & after the wet season. And, the issue of Malaria is always present.

I will NOT take a prophelactic (eg. Doxycycline). If you read the medical literature on this drug, you'll see that only ill-informed people would ever take.

That said, if I do contract Malaria - it is characterised by fever & "flu-like" symptoms that may come & go, including chills, headache, muscle ache, and/or a vague feeling of illness - then I know to do 2 things:

1/ start taking the Malarone, and
2/ get myself to a good(ish) hospital promptly.

I trust this helps.

- - - -

I note travellers are suggesting to buy another pack for purchases. As earlier indicated, I have a very lightweight pack that folds up to next to nothing. I use that when I can leave my 'solid' pack at my accommodation, and take the basics. And, I use it for sunscreen, hat, Mossie spray, waterbottle, etc.

I often have that 'packed' with purchases on my trip home.

The brand is Tatonka superlight daypack, and weighs 0.19kg. Go look at:


(scroll down to you get to the superlight weight 18l pack).

By taking this, it means I'm self sufficient. Sometimes, I am travelling with my 40litre (solid) pack on my back, and the superlight pack over my shoulder (as I've bought 'stuff'). But, if I'm at my accommodation, I can leave the 'stuff' behind, and just use the light pack.

- - - -

Hope this helps.


#4 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by BruceMoon on 17/6/2009 at 10:04

Oh, sorry...

Regarding roller wheels...

I had a carry on one, and earlier a stow one. The stow one was ditched early for the carry on (see above). The carry on one I also ditched. The plastics aren't that good (and the wheels do break), but the main factor is that it adds unnecessary weight, and the plastic isn't too comfortable when backpacking it.

Hope this (also) helps.


#5 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by busylizzy on 17/6/2009 at 14:31

Hi guys - thanks for your comments - much appreciated. Trust me, I hear you about your comments about travelling light. As mentioned, I learned that lesson the hard way last year! I will still struggle to decide what to leave - but that's better than the ongoing struggle of a pack that is too heavy to hoist!

My real question was about the wheels - and I do appreciate the feedback. That's a good point about the wheels breaking - I had some break on my 'business travel' case, and had forgotten what a nuisance that was.

All good food for thought, thanks.

#6 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152

Posted by MADMAC on 22/6/2009 at 03:02

"3 underwear, 2 pr of socks, 2 merino t-shirt, 1 long sleeve merino and 1 lite jacket"

Unless you are doing laundry every other day this is funky light... Three pair of underwear? In the tropics? You've got to be kidding me. I go through two pairs a day. Pierre, work with me here dude.

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

Posted by Rufus on 30/6/2009 at 13:44

You haven't got daihrhoea, have you Mac? :-)

Seriously though:
Agree with mac. I wouldn't want to sit next to you on a bus or in a restaurant if you don't change your smalls at least a couple of times a day. We shower at least 2x, usually 3x in this weather. The Laos, who are as a rule particularly clean, think many westerners smell anyway, particularly backpackers.

#8 Rufus has been a member since 22/4/2007. Location: Laos. Posts: 978

Posted by BruceMoon on 30/6/2009 at 18:49

John (MADMAC) & rufus

I've yet to stay at a place that doesn't have a washbasin. The smalls are always washed, every night before bed.

The bigger problem is how to maintain the fresh starched look for the pith helment.


#9 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by MADMAC on 30/6/2009 at 23:23

If that works for you, that's great. I follow that routine when I am on deployment too - but ON VACATION I don't plan on doing my own laundry. Call me weird!!! In fact, I don't even do my own laundry now, and I live here. We pay a cleaning lady to do that. Since turn around time is going to be about 24 hours, and you probably can't have it done daily, what with traveling and all, a minimum of six pair would seem more appropriate.

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

Posted by textibule on 20/11/2010 at 23:32

As I prepare for my first trip to SEA in January, solo, I thought I would research the best bag for me as a onebag carryon. I didn't feel comfortable having a simple backpack, even a light one, because it requires a reliable back :-)

Like Bruce, I'm over 60 and have had back problems over the years. Unlike Bruce, I couldn't imagine doing away with the wheels, knowing full well that I'd be adding 1.5kg min to the overall weight. Final decision, after much research, I just bought an Eagle Creek SWITCHBACK MAX 22, which is a 45L roller/backpack with a zip-on daypack, that I'll probably stow inside the main bag. It should do OK as a carryon, it is lightweight for its class, and is really, really nicely made. More money than I ever thought I'd pay for luggage, but has a lifetime guarantee.

#11 textibule has been a member since 20/11/2010. Posts: 7

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