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24 replies
Need some help deciding between two packs
BlairLeake
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Alright, this is my first post on eurotrip, which might I add, seems like a great support community for people like me on the cusp of finalizing their trip to Europe.

I’ve talked to a few different “experts” on the subject, and I’ve narrowed my pack choice down to two. Both are vastly different, so some advice on the pros and cons on each type would be vastly appreciated.

First off, we have the Osprey Meridan ().

I’ve never traveled like this before, and this is actually the pack that was referred to me as what I should definitely get. It’s a rolling suitcase that has back pack straps on the back. The rolling feature does sound attractive for when I am in bus stations, airports, et cetera, that still has the option of strapping to my back when need be.

I also really like the structured case that would allow more protection and more organized packing. The day pack also seems like a handy addition.

The other is the Gregory Baltoro 70 ()

This is the kind of pack I’ve always envisioned taking on a month long trip to Europe. Comfort and versatility (I can also use it on camping and hiking trips, although, I’ll admit I haven’t had the chance to do any trips like that which would necessitate a pack like this in my relatively short time on earth).

My head says go for the Osprey, because it just seems so practical in an urban setting, which is where I will be mainly traveling about in Europe.

My heart, however, wants me to go for the Gregory. I’ve always romanticized the idea of backpacking across Europe with a pack on my back, so part of me feels like I’m cheating that dream if I get a rolling suitcase/pack. Plus, I fashion myself an outdoorsman, and love the thought of using my pack afterwards to go on hiking trips.

So, opinions and advice would be appreciated, both in terms of what pack would be better in Europe, as well as whether or not I am cheating myself out of my romanticized vision of my epic (read: hopefully) trip across Europe.

oldlady
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This is a matter of personal preference and opinion. You need to try on each pack, load it up with the appropriate weight, carry it around for 1/2 hour and see what you think. Most stores that specialize in backpacks will have weights and will allow you to do this in the store.

Here’s my opinion: I would go for the one without wheels. Wheels are really handy between the front door and check-in and between baggage claim and the curb at the airport. The rest of the time they’re not all that useful. Wheels don’t mix with cobblestones, rough sidewalks, curbs and stairs. These are givens, especially for the budget traveler, in any European city. The wheels and handle mechanism make the pack heavier and more uncomfortable (particularly if it’s a suitcase with backpack straps) when it’s on your back. You will probably be carrying it as a backpack more often than you’re wheeling it.

augustin25
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Having looked up the Osprey online I’d say Oldlady hit the nail on the head; it basically looks like a suitcase with backpack straps and would be my last choice. At that price point I would also look into packs specifically designed for travel. Some common features to look for would be panel loading (as opposed to top-loading), detachable daypacks, covers that protects your straps when you check it onto a plane, rain covers, and handles on the side for another way to carry it. Eagle Creek makes really good packs (I have daypacks and travel packs made by them) in roughly the same price range as the Osprey and Gregory. REI has their own line; I’ve seen this pack in the store and like it a lot: http://www.rei.com/p…
Deuter makes good packs (I own a couple) and I’ve been wanting this one but have too many packs as it is: http://www.backcount…

Having said all that, it won’t kill you to use the Gregory for your trip. A top-loading pack can be a pain when whatever you need from your pack always seems to be at the bottom, and having a daypack you can attach/detach is nice, but you’ll survive.

BlairLeake
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What packs specifically designed for travel would you recommend? (Not saying I don’t like the REI one you posted, I just like options)

Whatever I get, I’ll obviouslsy go to REI first and wear it with weights to get a feel on which pack is right for me.

Also, the Gregory has an access flap at the bottop that is pretty big for access down there. I think it designed so you can get your sleeping bag out, actually.

augustin25
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This is a pretty good deal on an Eagle Creek pack (last year’s model). but you wouldn’t be able to try it on before buying. I can understand that turning some people off, but with Eagle Creek stuff it should fit fine unless you’re particularly tall/short, etc.
http://www.ebags.com…

prime
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Id go to REI to at least try them on and see options. I took the REI Mars pack through europe for a 3 month trek and it worked amazingly. My brother took a Gregory and had no problems as well, but the fit is the big thing. I’d stay away from wheels and learn how to pack wisely so your gear wont hold you back.

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Livemusically
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So if trying the backpack on is obviously an important part, what if there are no REI stores near where I live? Has anyone been to a Gander Mountain? Any info on what they have in those stores?

I am leaving from Chicago, IL and traveling for 74 days
Dublin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Madrid, Conil de la Frontera, Tangier, London
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
augustin25
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I personally wouldn’t be afraid to order an REI or Eagle Creek pack if you’re of generally average size. Fit issues would be more of a concern if you’re particularly big/small, short/tall. But if Gander Mountain is close by go check them out. It looks like they carry technical packs, which while not designed specifically for travel, will work.

Livemusically
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The link that you posted for this pack http://www.rei.com/p… looks very nice. I read all the specs and think that if you feel that just buying it offline without trying it works too I will take that route. I just wanna make sure that at 2 and 1/2 months..this will work for me……

I am leaving from Chicago, IL and traveling for 74 days
Dublin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Madrid, Conil de la Frontera, Tangier, London
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
augustin25
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Here’s the women’s version of that pack:
http://www.rei.com/p…

Livemusically
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I wish they had a better color selection!

I am leaving from Chicago, IL and traveling for 74 days
Dublin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Madrid, Conil de la Frontera, Tangier, London
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
Livemusically
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Thanks for the advice!

I am leaving from Chicago, IL and traveling for 74 days
Dublin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Madrid, Conil de la Frontera, Tangier, London
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
Livemusically
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Yes I checked out Gander Mountain the other day and I was not impressed with the quality of packs they had to offer there. I think I will have to just try and order online through REI. I have checked out a few websites and the one Augustin25 suggested for me… http://www.rei.com/p… … based on the price,features, & quality seems to be pretty decent. I would have liked that it had maybe a rain shield to it also…but I guess you can get everything on a budget….

I am leaving from Chicago, IL and traveling for 74 days
Dublin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Madrid, Conil de la Frontera, Tangier, London
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
Jekster
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I would really try to go to a local store and try some packs on with weights in them. The reason i say this is because I did this recently and was surprised how bulky and awkward some packs felt compared to others.

So far, I’ve loved how Osprey packs have felt. Particularly the Atmos 50

http://www.ospreypac…

and Talon 33.

http://www.ospreypac…

I’m picking out a pack for this summer and have enjoyed going to multiple stores to try things on. I’m still not 100% sure which one I want, but I’m leaning towards the Atmos because it has more options.

I am leaving from Indianapolis, Indiana with $8000 for 43 days
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Livemusically
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I guess I will just have to take the time to head out to Chicago and check out REI then…There is no where around where I live that has decent gear….. Thanks for the info Jekster!

I am leaving from Chicago, IL and traveling for 74 days
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Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
Jekster
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It will be worth the trip! I’ve heard many people say your pack is the most important thing for a Eurotrip. It will be your home for 73 days. Wink

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Livemusically
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This is very true…and it will give me a reason to go play in Chicago for the day Smile

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Dublin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Madrid, Conil de la Frontera, Tangier, London
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Packer
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There is a major difference between male and female packs. I see many travelers in Europe that borrowed a friends or brothers pack without trying it on fully loaded and making adjustments. The padded waiststraps should not touch or overlap each other. If they do, you cannot get the starp tight enough to carry the load. The shoulder straps should not go up and over the shoulders and back down to the backpack. If it does than your shoulders are carrying most of the weight(you won’t last long). The old-school way was that your shoulder straps actually went up 2 inches above your shoulders. This keeps the pack close to your back and you can release the shoulderstraps a bit to get some airflow between your back and pack to keep you cool. Male and female hips are constructed differently and most of the backpack weight rests on the hip bones. A good salesperson at a good shop can show you all the adjustments on the packs for a proper fit.
Never carry your daypack on the back of your backpack. It throws off your center of gravity. You are a bull in a china shop and will hurt people by turning around in subways and trains. Most stores do not allow backpacks for this reason. Always move daypack to your front chest in crowded areas so you don’t get pick-pocketed and you are better balanced. When trains, buses and especially subways are very crowded, wear day pack on front chest and take backpack off and place between your legs to allow more people on (watch out so straps don’t get caught in the dorrs or people don’t step on them. If you fill your pack full, you have too much crap, lay it out on bed and take half. Roll your pants, jeans and shorts seperately and place a rubber band on them so they do not unravel. This gives you more room. Also the new compression bags at all stores including target and wallmart are fantastic. Place items inside and roll out all the air. Quick and easy. Helps to seperate and organize clothes. A stuff bag or mesh sack is great for dirty clothes Take a small stack of dryer sheets in ziploc bag and place one in dirty clothes bag so you and other travelers can tolerate the smell till you get to the next laundrymat.

Livemusically
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Wow, that was fantastic! Thank you packer Wink

I am leaving from Chicago, IL and traveling for 74 days
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Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
Livemusically
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Ok so it has been a while since I have been on here chatting away about the backpacks. I still have not made it to the REI store I have been so busy with getting things in order at home. With the time that has passed I have noted that the pack I was looking forward to trying on in the store is no longer available so I would like to hear everyones thoughts about this pack that I have been reading into before getting my mind set on trying this one out in store.

http://www.rei.com/p…

I am leaving from Chicago, IL and traveling for 74 days
Dublin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Madrid, Conil de la Frontera, Tangier, London
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
Livemusically
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Also, I was wondering if anyone had any advice for me on my wondering if I could just take a sleeping pad and a blankie with me instead of a sleeping bag. I cant imagine that Europe is that cold July-Sept and I would rather have cushion when I sleep then a thick sleeping bag. Ashley and I have been thinking this over to save space. That way one carries the blankie and the other carries the pad.
Any thoughts are welcome Smile

I am leaving from Chicago, IL and traveling for 74 days
Dublin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Madrid, Conil de la Frontera, Tangier, London
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
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Why are you taking a sleeping pad and sleeping bag or blankie?
Do you plan to sleep in parks, train stations or campgrounds?
If you plan to stay in hostels, leave all that extra crap at home!
The less you bring, the happier you will be!!!!!
With today’s world and bad economy, I would never sleep in a public space.
All good hostels provide sheets, pillow cases and blankets or comforters.
I have been caught in week long rain storms and a big hail storm in Switzerland in July. there has been torential rain storms in July and August that has caused severe flooding in the past 7 years.

Livemusically
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We plan to that that in lieu of sleeping bag because we plan to camp in certain spots that we will be traveling to. We will do Couchsurfing were we can, some hostels, some hotels, and some camping Wink

I am leaving from Chicago, IL and traveling for 74 days
Dublin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Madrid, Conil de la Frontera, Tangier, London
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
Livemusically
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I have finally picked my pack out at the REI shop on Monday. http://www.rei.com/p… Is the pack I chose. I went into the store wanting a 55 or 60 but had niether. The choices at the store were slim and the packs higher than 60 were too tall and towering over my body so I narrowed it down to this pack Smile

I am leaving from Chicago, IL and traveling for 74 days
Dublin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Madrid, Conil de la Frontera, Tangier, London
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
mb
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I never saw where BlairLeake got a backpack so I’ll recommend Sierra Trading Post

Look down the left side of the page for “Bargain Barn” for the best deals.

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