You guys, I am a little obsessed with backpacks. Blame it on Kay. I had one when I met him and now I own three. He has like ten.
Thanks to Kay, I am always thinking about getting more bags that fulfill needs that mine don’t quite meet. For the most part, I use my trusty Mystery Ranch bag for backpacking and overnight hikes or my handy Osprey for day hikes and weekend city trips, but there is always a reason to “window shop”.
Mystery Ranch Glacial: $349 69L
The Glacial bag is my first backpacking backpack. I bought it for $435 (ouch!) back in 2010 and it’s been going strong for five years already. It’s not perfect for me, but the carrying system of Mystery Ranch bags is phenomenal and you probably won’t find a more comfortable pack for long hikes anywhere else.
Mystery Ranch makes pretty industrial, military and firefighting oriented bags, so they are usually fairly basic and rough for a woman’s bag, but you really can’t beat the durability or comfort with a heavy load. I’ve used mine to backpack in Hawaii, Bali, Thailand, Oman, Australia, and soon Peru.
Osprey Sirrus 24: $120 24L I LOVE this bag. It is the perfect day pack size for a hike with camera, water bladder including ports for camelbak hoses, clips for stowing hiking sticks, an ice pick, integrated rain cover and more. It’s also wonderful for city trips because I pack light enough for 2-3 days that I can still fit my clothes, toiletries, camera, and jacket in here.
The mesh suspension system keeps me and my water cool, everything about the bag is really comfortable and built for female bodies, and I like the handy hip belt pockets and shoulder strap pocket for tissues and goodies to eat while carrying. The original bag was $99 on Amazon, but it looks like they have upped their prices recently with the more recent version. I got mine a little on sale for $79 in 2012.
My only qualms are that at 24L it’s perfect for a day pack, but I need [want] something a bit bigger for carry on for longer trips.
These are a few backpacks on my list that I would not mind having:
Mystery Ranch Big Sky: $279 49L
This pack says it would be just within the carry on requirements of Delta (22″ x 14″ x 9″) which makes it really ideal for maxing out your carry on, but Kay has their Sweet Pea, the smallest pack in this series, and it is definitely taller than their listed 45cm, leading me to believe that they are not taking into account everything here. It would be quite an expensive mistake to buy a pack hoping it will fit as carry on, only to have to check it, because then I might as well use my current 69L pack.
Mystery Ranch Snapdragon: $197 38LLike Big Sky, the Snapdragon pack is also bigger than Kay’s Sweet Pea, but again, I can’t be sure if this or the Big Sky pack are actually within carry on limits for most American airlines. There is very little information about owners using these packs as a carry-on in planes because they most often use them for hunting or local outdoor activities .
Mystery Ranch also mainly operates remotely, so it’s not like you would ever find these in stores in the States, let alone Switzerland. Although they are used in the Swiss military because they make fantastic packs!
Osprey Farpoint 55: 179CHF 55L (40L + 15L)In theory, this pack looks really cool and has tons of wonderful reviews all over the interwebs about using it for backpacking all over Brazil and Peru, which is exactly where we are headed later this year. The main bag acts a bit like a suitcase, opening up on the side, while the day pack clips off so you don’t need to carry everything with you when you are out and about. Sounds perfect!The reality is that even with tons of reviews discussing using this as a carry on and how it just slides by, the consensus is that this is NOT a hiking backpack and would be very uncomfortable to wear for several hours. That takes it out for Peru where we plan to hike for several days in a row and camp, so I don’t think it’s worth it to get this pack, even if all the other ideas it includes are great. A good harness for hiking is indispensable, and something I need.
Lo & Sons OG: $295 This is not a backpack. I know…. but so many friends have recommended Lo & Sons bags for carry-on and they are even reviewed across several sites as sliding by as your personal item, even as a large purse. The OG is the larger of the two I looked at and people even claimed they could use this for a personal item under their seat.
Expensive? Yes. Luxury? Yes. The bags look beautiful and chic, which are not usually words attributed to me during travel. I would use a bag like this on travel to see family or “hotel” travel. Weekend trips when I want to ditch my Lulu bag from Epiphaniebags that is falling apart at the seams.
Lo & Sons OG: $275 The OMG is the slightly (slightly!) smaller version of the OG. But that just might make it a little more plausible as a personal item on planes. Spoiler alert: I ordered it. 🙂
Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack: 37.50CHF 18LAfter I decided the Farpoint 55 was probably a bad idea for me personally, I wondered if I should just go with a packable day pack to stick in a larger, easy to carry bag like my Mystery Ranch. This looks so small and handy to have with you on trips. I often want a smaller bag for day trips while traveling, but would like something larger as my carry on.
Exped Typhoon 25: 85CHF 25LFor the more adventurous, there is the Typhoon series by Exped. Kay has a dry bag backpack like this from Exped, but his is an older model with some holes by now… so it wouldn’t be much help in a river these days. Something like this also looks packable, although a little less than the Osprey.
What you give up in flexibility, you gain in protection against the elements. The bag looks a little more durable than the Osprey, is obviously completely waterproof and submergeable, and unlike Kay’s pack, it even has water bottle pockets, which was something we missed on our trip to Brazil when it was pouring at Iguazu Falls.
Outlander Packable Lightweight Pack: $21.99 30LI had never heard of Outlander before, but this pack has wonderful reviews and is so darn cheap. It also has so many more pockets than other brands, but it’s not necessarily water resistant.
Sigh. There are always so many good choices. I splurged on the OMG bag, but after that I decided to be a little more budget conscientious, so I decided to just stick with my Mystery Ranch for Peru and go with the OMG and my Osprey as carry-on for Brazil.
What’s your dream travel bag?