This post is part of a series in which ladies on the road offer a review of their backpack. Today’s post is from Kristin, an American living in Brisbane, Australia!
I’m Kristin Repsher and I was the November Featured Guest Blogger here on Her Packing List. I’m an American expat that has spent the last four years working as a software engineer in Brisbane, Australia. It seems like I’m always running low on vacation days because I take every chance I get to travel, especially to any place where I can put on my backpack and hike out into the wilderness.
What’s your backpack brand and model? How much does this backpack typically cost?
My backpack is a blue and grey REI Saturn 74. I think it originally cost around $200 but I got it on a sale for $100.
How long have you had your backpack and where have you traveled with it?
I’ve had this backpack since mid-2006 and it’s been on quite a few trips with me. The biggest one was a three-month trip around New Zealand, where I spent nearly three weeks with boots on my feet and this bag on my back as I hiked through the backcountry.
What factors were most important to you in choosing a backpack? How did you come to choose this one?
I needed a bag that was going to be as comfortable as possible to walk in for long distances, so I was looking for good padding on the straps and an even balance to make sure my back wasn’t subjected to too much strain. It definitely needed to be hydration pack-compatible as well. To choose, I went to REI and tried on nearly every backpack I could find between 60-80L and decided on this one because it met those requirements. Plus, it had one extra key feature — panel loading — which instantly appealed to me over the frustration that is top-loading.
What do you like most about your backpack? Any down sides?
My favourite part of the Saturn definitely has to be the panel loading. I would have torn my hair out many times over if I’d had to unpack the entire bag every night to get my sleeping bag out, but instead, I could just unzip and get it from the bottom of the bag immediately.
I also liked the organisation in the bag. While there aren’t a huge number of pockets, the ones it does have were very convenient. I could sort my various smaller odds and ends between the front pocket and the pockets in the top panel. That said, I would have liked there to be more outside pockets. There were loops on the front where I could attach things like flip flops with carabiners, but a few more outside pockets to stash snacks and such would have been nice.
Tell us about the fit and comfort level of your backpack.
The straps could be a bit more padded because sometimes they could chafe a bit. Otherwise, the weight sat nicely on my hips and it was quite comfortable.
If you want to take your backpack as carry-on luggage, can you?
No, it’s definitely too large for that. Even lightly packed, it would still be way too tall.
Have you found the size to be too small, just right, or too large?
I found the bag’s size to be just right. When I purchased it, I had the option of buying the medium or large bag, with the main difference being the fit and 4L of space. I much preferred the large fit on my back and since it only added 3oz of weight, it was the obvious choice. It carried nearly everything I needed during my trip with the exception of my tent, which was easily strapped to the bottom of the bag.
Overall, would you recommend your backpack?
Yes, I’d definitely recommend it. It’s held up well both in the backcountry and in the luggage hold of buses and planes. While it was sometimes uncomfortable, I think any backpack would get that way after eight hours on the track. Plus, the panel loading was a godsend!