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Lessons of the Pack

Articles from United States Indiana, United States | May 15, 2013

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  These are the top 5 lessons I learned when shopping for my first ever travel pack.  

There are very few times in my life when I feel like a child - being schooled in the oh-so-personal art of pack-choosing is one of them. These are the lessons I've learned so far in choosing the right pack for me. These are the top 5 lessons I learned when shopping for my first ever travel pack. I had read that REI was a really good company so I decided to head to Chicago and see what I could find.

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Lesson #1: It's a pack, not a bag.That's the first thing I learned when I went shopping for my first ever travel bag (I know, I know - it's a pack). I had done a lot of research on the internet about travel packs and learned a whole slew of new terms to impress with. Of course, those many hours didn't amount to much when having conversations face to face with experienced world travelers.

Lesson #2: Price Tag SurpriseMost packs are in the range of $100 - $400 depending on the company and size. I decided the $200 range is acceptable for my budget. This turned out to be a good amount to begin at - the experienced employee at REI recommended me to packs no more than $240 in price and even praised a pack at $150 as one of the most versatile and trustworthy. Moral of the story: higher price does not equal a "better" pack, and it also doesn't mean it's the pack for you. Stay within your budget, but remember that this pack should be lasting you for years to come - don't think $50 here or there is a bad idea when you consider how long this item is going to serve you let alone where it will be going and how it will be treated (I heard you wanted to go to Antarctica right after the volcanoes in Hawaii).

Lesson #3: Women's Packs are Women's PacksWomen's packs are not simply male-packs downsized - they are uniquely made to fit the body of woman and this is seen in the general size of the bags and the shoulder straps. Women also get much more interesting colors to choose from. Why is this a lesson of mine? It might be because I tried one on thinking I would purchase it until the employee pointed out it was a woman's. Thatmight have happened. Don't feel embarrassed if this happens to you - apparently it happens all the time.

Lesson #4: Sizing?Yes, that's right, you must get sized for a pack as though getting sized for a shoe or a suit. A pack is personal and it's going to be with you for a very, very long time - you don't want something that feels uncomfortable or you're only 'okay' with. Every person's body is different so there is no universal answer for what pack belongs to which type of person. The store will have a sizing mechanism there for you to try on. Make sure everything about the pack fits well and comfortable, and don't rush in making a decision!As for the size of the pack itself, it would be a good idea to be able to store it in over-head compartments on airplanes. Most carry-on luggage is about 22 inches tall, which was my guide for sizing up the pack I'd choose.

Lesson #5: In-store PracticeWhatever pack you are choosing, make sure to have it weighted and actually walk around with it. You're going to be travelling with all of your things so wearing an empty pack is no good. The store will have weighted pillows to fill the pack with. Try sitting, kneeling, bending over, walking up stairs - this will help you really feel the pack and how it fits to your body. The design of the pack will make a huge difference here - rounded backs for ventilation versus straight backs with foam pads will affect the distribution of weight due to the frame build.

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These lessons took hours and hours of online research and face to face conversation. After all of these things were tested out, I made a decision as to what pack I was going to get: I chose the Osprey Atmos 65 out of the bunch I was looking at (I tried a total of 11 packs!). It didn't have a rain cover so I purchased that separately (also from Osprey) for another $35. In total I ended up spending about $300 and I don't really feel bad about going over budget because this is the kind of thing I have always saved up for and it's one of the most important tools of my journeys. I chose this pack for a few reasons. 

First, the design of the pack was extremely comfortable - the curved back design distributed the weight near perfectly and didn't put too much stress on any one part of my body. Second, the ventilation or air flow for the back on this pack is outstanding! That's good for humid areas which I will be more involved with, let alone regular travelling which guarantees sweating anyway.Third, I also enjoyed the bottom compartment which allows easy access to the bottom of the bag which will be a great time saver if I need something packed all the way down there. Lastly, it was a pretty sick looking pack and the colors were all me. This is a pack I can relate to and would love to take with me around the world - and that's what it all comes down to. 

Tags: travel , tools , pack

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