I've done quite a bit of reading on this site to try and gather information about different kind of backpacks. I'll be backpacking in Spain, Italy, and the Czech Republic in August for three weeks. It seems to me that a 45-60L pack would be enough. I'd prefer to have something I can carry on when flying across the Atlantic to ensure that my bag won't get lost. I'm confused as to what kind of frame I want, though. Should I spring for an internal or external frame and why? I know this question has been asked thousands of times on this board and I promise I've done some reading about it but I'm still left a bit confused. Thanks for any advice!
You want an internal frame. Externals are much more bulky and uncomfortable. Stick to the 45L for such a short trip.
Alright, cool. The EU-wide guidelines for carry-on luggage specify that the luggage cannot be more than 10kg or bigger than 55cm x 40cm x 20cm. Will most 45L sacks be within this size limit? I'm really not sure how heavy I should anticipate my pack being, either. I haven't gotten one so I haven't been able to load it up and weigh it. Thanks again for the advice.
With a 45L pack you are right on the borderline for it to be too big for a carry-on. It could come down to the ticketing agent as to whether you can carry it on or not. You may have a hard time staying under the 10 kg (22 lbs) limit. Gear can add up quickly, especially when you already start at 3 to 3.5 pounds with the weight of the pack. If I were you I would just check the bag, but if you do, make sure you buy a pack cover/bag to put the pack in before you check it. Luggage carousels and the cargo hold of planes can really mess up a bag quickly.
I would suggest that you go to an outdoor outfitter and try on packs to make sure they fit properly. A good outfitter will load the pack for you and you can check out how it feels loaded.
Pack lightly. You generally won't use everything you initially think you "have to take". As I have heard many times, "Before you go on a trip, decide how much money you want to take and how much gear. Just before you leave, double the money and halve the gear."
While I agree that a backpack is nice, you can also look at a rolling uprights (or gymbags). A coomon problem with 45l backpacks is that they are often to tall to fit in the max 55 cm range. Uprights don't have that problem, as they are more compact. (Plus you are more likely to get away with not checking them regardless of their weight and they are much cheaper too.)
It is also possible to travel with two daypacks in the 25 l range - it might look stupid to have one front and one on your back, but these can be cheap and are both carry-on size. Most college or high school students tend to have one or two of these backpacks anyway for their books, thus eliminating the cost of buying a large 45 l backpack for 100 USD or more.
One more advice if you are worryied about loosing your luggage, btw: Don't change flights at Heathrow.
I just came back from 30 days Europe trip a month ago. Took international flight and a few domestic flights too. I didn't carry my bag with me into the flight. Nothing happen....I received my bag in one piece everytime. What I brought with me is a kind of 3-in-1 bag where you can carry as a backpack, by hand and stroll because it has wheels too. I remember my luggage weighs about 14kg.
And please take note that flights don't allowed liquids. I think it is easier to just dump it into cargo and you just carry yourself into the plane. Enjoy your trip!!
What kind of bag is it? I'd like to check it out, if you wouldn't mind. 14kg isn't too bad - did you just pack the necessities? I'm thinking of packing 5 days to a week's worth of clothes: shorts, short sleeve shirts, undies, socks, undershirts, a pair of shower shoes, and the pair of shoes that I'll be walking in. Since we'll be mainly in Spain and Italy, I figure it will be hot enough that there won't be a need for jeans or long sleeve shirts. Am I misguided here?
Thanks again, all.