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What to buy first???

Travel Forums Travel Gear What to buy first???

1. Posted by stowaway (Budding Member 28 posts) 10y


This may be a bit of a silly question, but I'm going to ask it anyway...

What should I buy first - the backpack or the gear???Should I get the pack then work out what I can take according to how much space is inside, or should I buy all the stuff I need THEN get the pack to fit the stuff? I don't plan on bringing more than I need (then again I'm sure nobody does).

OR does it really not matter what gets bought first?

2. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 10y

Hmmmm. If you buy all the stuff first, you will end up with several times too much, and when you go to buy a bag for it all to fit in, you'll end up having to buy something bigger than you expected. Like a Ford Transit...

Finding a good backpack which works for you [everybody's body is different] is comfortable, and has usful pockets/Straps etc for what you want can be hard, so if you see one, get it. BUT, don't get the bag just because you think you need a bag. Basically, i'm saying get stuff as and when you find it, not in a specific order.

BTW - Everybody has different ideas/Styles/Amounts of stuff they carry. Some travel light, some carry huuuuge amounts of stuff. I use a 26litre, with a canvas daysack that can pack inside that when i'm not using it, and thats fine. For many, that just seems waaay too small. One of my best friends and people i tend to travel with most often, generally uses a 90l plus a daysack, and he's fine with that, although he has no problem carrying heavy weights for considerable legnths of time. I've even seen people use 110l ones, plus 2 or 3 other bags.

There is no right or wrong choice, rather what works for you. However, the "standard" option is to have a rucksack of 55-65litres, plus a daysack of 15-20. Unless you are planning on doing significant amounts of camping/trekking, and need to carry your own tent, stove and several days worth of provisions etc, I wouldn't recomend taking anything bigger than that.

Also - personal choice - I don't like travel bags with a detachable daysack. Yes, the idea is good, and yes, it is helpful for when you are carrying everything, but in general the daysacks aren't designed that well. And if you think about it, you will be carrying your daysack for several hours virtually every day, whereas you only carry your main sack when you are moving between locations, and even then, it will be on the train/bus/Plane etc much of the time.

What i'm saying is that the daysack is at least as important as your main bag, so don't skimp on it and make sure you have one that will be comfortable/Useful for you.

3. Posted by stowaway (Budding Member 28 posts) 10y

Thanks for all the info Gelli! Just out of curiosity, what daypack do you use?

4. Posted by Dezafinado (Respected Member 177 posts) 10y

Quoting Gelli

What i'm saying is that the daysack is at least as important as your main bag, so don't skimp on it and make sure you have one that will be comfortable/Useful for you.

This is very true. I have an Osprey Departure 60L, which was designed with reversed logic. Osprey put the main frame sheet and suspension on the day pack and the main bag is zipped onto it.

The advantage is you have a really beefy day pack, which is what I wanted for the Tour du Mont-Blanc trek (170 km). The disadvantage is over-packing makes it difficult to zip the two parts together. You also want the heaviest items of your gears to be in the day pack during long hauls because it's closer to your back. This limitation can also be a good thing as it forces you not to over pack.

[ Edit: Edited on Jan 13, 2007, at 12:29 PM by Dezafinado ]

5. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 10y

Thanks for all the info Gelli! Just out of curiosity, what daypack do you use?

I admit this is now going to contradict everything that i've said, but I know i'm not a typical backpacker in terms of how i travel and what i take. I travel allot and have done for many years, and over time i've come down from a normal daysack to this. My daysack is a canvas Nike thing, the type which is shut by pulling rope, and has no hard edges/corners etc, when flat is about the size of a piece of A3 paper, and when empty folds/rolls down to about the same size as a coke can.

I pack it in my main bag when not using it, but can use it as short term spare capacity for stuff if i need it [i.e. if i've just bought food etc]. Personally, i realised that if i took a proper daysack, i just filled it with extra stuff which i then had to empty on to my bed in a hostel when i wanted to use the daysack [which i don't want to be doing].

The other thing is that it stops me carrying much about. I rarely use guidebooks (so don't need to carry one) and don't take rain coats/jackets, so i don't really need to carry much during the day anyway, and having this bag stops me from being tempted to carry more.

One really big bonus about the whole package is that i don't shout "backpacker". Even when i'm obviously foreign (i.e. i'm white) having a main bag which is the same size as an average daysack means that i don't attract the same attention for hawkers, taxi drivers, tour guides, hostel grabbers etc, as they assume i'm not a backpacker and know where i'm going/am a foreigner living there. Even if it just buys me 10seconds whilst they go for people with big bags, thats enough to escape attention. The same is true of my daysack. If i wear that and have ear phones (regardless of whether they are on or even attached to something) plus the fact i naturally walk quite quickly and purposfully, i look like i belong there so get left alone significantly more.

6. Posted by stowaway (Budding Member 28 posts) 10y

Wow, that's a lot to think about. I'm going to be realistic - no way I'll manage with as little lugguage as you do and I think I'll need a substantial daysack. Hmmm.... This means I might have to buy two separate bags... I think I need to do a bit more investigation...

7. Posted by angela_ (Respected Member 1732 posts) 10y

I have a 65L backpack that I absolutely love and bring with me everywhere I travel. I bought that first, before I decided on what to put into it and then strongly relied on the packing list on here on TP.
When getting your backpack, get one that is specially designed for women as it will sit better on your back and be more comfortable.

My daypack is just a hand bag big enough to hold your essentials for the day, for exactly the same reason as Gelli said, not to attract too much attention.

[ Edit: Edited on Jan 14, 2007, at 5:32 PM by angela_ ]

8. Posted by stowaway (Budding Member 28 posts) 10y

So you're all against hybrids... this is making it more difficult, but I'm sure I'll sort it out.. Cheers for the advice guys!

9. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 10y

Some hybrids seem pretty good, so don't rule them out entirely. Just make sure that they actually are hybrids, and not (as most seem to be) backpacks with a daysack added on as a kind of after thought.

At the end of the day, there is no rtight or wrong set bag choice. It's what works for YOU personally. Not anybody else.