Luggage has to be reliable. It must be capable of enduring rough handling and exposure to weather. It also needs to be simple and practical to use.
I have always favoured backpacks for travelling. To me, they allow a more natural flow of movement through congested areas than wheeled luggage. They also help to ensure you get adequate exercise while travelling and because you are carrying a significant weight on your upper body, it will very likely make you stronger. You will no longer need to pause before reaching a flight of stairs or remain stationary on an escalator or moving walkway. You won’t need to waste time fiddling with a retractable handle or taking up more space than is necessary as you get from A to B. You will feel more freedom and feel less a part of the congestion as you move more effortlessly through major transport hubs.
There can be several downsides though with taking a regular backpack travelling. Certain items always tend to end up being difficult to access because they have worked their way to the bottom of the pack and clothing often turns out severely wrinkled, giving you the look of someone perpetually dishevelled.
A few years ago though, I discovered a travel pack that could be loaded a bit like a suitcase but carried on the back using a traditional backpack harness. Although there are several companies that make this sort of luggage, I settled on an Australian brand called One Planet, and purchased their 70 litre travel pack called “Ned“.
To me, One Planet make the best rucksacks and travel packs in the world. The philosophy behind all their products is “make it good, make it work, make it last”. Simply put, it is the company’s adherence to this philosophy that makes their gear so good.
We decided to order another one of their travel packs for Clare. It was a 40 litre black canvas travel pack called “Wing-it“.
Both have excellent harness systems which can be hidden away by a zippered cover when passing through airports. Each comprises a spacious single compartment accessed via a suitcase style front opening. We really like this idea. It means you can pack your gear as you would in a suitcase, yet carry it on your back. They also have internal and external compression straps, and zips that can be padlocked. Both are made from tough, durable Waterloc canvas, that is excellent at keeping rain out.
Besides taking a travel pack, both of us will also take a small daypack. This tends to be the luggage we use most frequently on a day-to-day basis. During a flight, the day pack functions as carry-on luggage. I use it for items I don’t want to put through airport security like my wallet, passport, iPad and camera as well as items I like to enjoy during the flight such as water and snacks or a book.
After arriving at a destination and with accommodation sorted, the daypack becomes useful for getting around town, shopping for supplies or going on a hike.
Both our One Planet travel packs can be combined with our day packs and carried together, hands-free. They can either be attached to the travel pack using the external compression straps and carried together on the back or they can be carried at the front. We tend to prefer the later option as it allows for a more balanced overall load.
I have found it increasingly important while travelling to keep my gear organised. If I don’t, I seem to waste a lot of time, rifling around for the item I want. This becomes particularly difficult when the light is dim and all the clothing is jumbled up and looks virtually the same.
For this reason, I take a variety of different stuff sacks, dry bags and clothing cells. I have one clothing cell I use to store socks and underwear for example, and another one for shorts, shirts and trousers. A very reliable and high quality source of these items is Sea to Summit. The company also makes a good wash bag and lots of other useful items for travel.
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