Backpacking packs are not the right way to travel.

Back when I bought my first backpacking pack I used it exclusively for camping and true backpacking, because that was really all the travel I was doing at the time. The first time I took a trip and packed my backpacking pack I was so excited to BE backpacking through a country! It felt so… authentic to haul my backpack out of the rented car and into the hostel. Once I was in the hostel, the luggage that had defined me as the free-spirited person I’d wanted to be, was less than desirable.

Digging through the thing for my swimsuit and sandals essentially meant unpacking the whole mess and repacking everything. And later when I wanted my dress for a night out on the town, I had to do repeat the process again. Wheels, handles, plastic parts and the weight of regular luggage made that option a non-starter for me.

So I stuck with my backpack for years, traveling throughout the states and internationally. But when I started coming to Colombia regularly and traveling with my new beau, I became very aware of how much extra frustration I had just getting ready in the morning. I spent a significant amount of time and money hunting down a pack with zippers down the sides to make access and visibility easier, and my favorite brand-Osprey-came through. Their packs FIT me, and making carrying 50lbs totally doable. But in the context of traditional travel, the design I had hoped would change my situation just didn’t help enough.

I also realized that my backpack was on my back for just a few minutes every week or so. The rest of the time I was cursing the thing. I’d shove my hand in and feel around for the article of clothing I wanted, only to pull something that FELT like what I was looking for but wasn’t, or wasn’t the right pair of yoga pants, or something I’d completely forgotten I’d brought along. Eventually I’d get frustrated and revert to my un-pack / repack process. It wasn’t fun.

Then I had the brilliant idea to change out my backpacking pack for the convertible duffel I’d purchased for our adventure gear. GAME CHANGER. The backpack straps attach and detach in seconds, and once I’m in whatever hotel / house / hostel / airBnB I’m going to be staying in, I can zip the thing open and see everything inside at a glance.

I bought mine at REI, and I love it. It’s water resistant, has a daisy chain on the side to carry additional gear, and there’s a pocket for the shoulder straps when you aren’t using them. The 60L has even more space than my backpacking pack so I can carry along BOTH my favorite sundresses. I pack mine standing on it’s end so when I lay it flat later, I can easily scan for those pants I *think* I brought.

I don’t get paid by either of these companies to tell you what I think of their products, I just wanted to tell you because I think so highly of their products. So there you go. Caveats and all.

Travel is wonderful. And it can be stressful. Luggage shouldn’t be adding to the problem.

Leave a Reply