This post is part of a series in which ladies on the road offer a review of their backpacks. Today’s review comes from Erin McLaughlin.
I’m Erin, a lover of everything travel, adventure and exploring new cultures. I’m a relatively new traveler, in that I hadn’t left North America until July 2012. In May 2012, I decided I needed to get away- it was imperative that I find a plane to take me somewhere new, so I could experience something, anything. I was quickly bitten by the bug, and spent about a month traveling Scotland and Ireland. Coming home was terribly difficult, and I immediately started to figure out how I could take more vacation and where I could go. In December, I took off for England, Belgium and Scotland (again). In August, I took off for a month to explore Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Spain, Netherlands, Scotland (again) and Germany.
Not having much experience with hiking bags, I wasn’t totally sure what I needed, so I began to do a bit of online reading and research, and then finally ventured into some local shops to try some on. Still a bit confused in the end by what I needed (also the want vs. need factor), I ended up purchasing a bag that made its way through Europe for approximately 7 weeks.
What’s your backpack brand and model?
I purchased a new Ridgeway by Kelty 64L for my trip. I purchased this one mainly because I’m a little on the shorter end, and it was the biggest bag that felt the most comfortable on my back. I brought this bag and a medium sized cross-body bag (that broke as I boarded my first international flight, ever, in Montreal).
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What factors were most important to you in choosing a backpack? How did you come to choose this one?
I’m short- 5’3″ on a tall day. I really wanted something that fit my body. I really struggled to find a bag that was made for women when I went to the local stores, so I had to find something that was either male or unisex that fit me comfortably. I tried on a lot of bags before I found one that really fit right. I also was pretty naïve to how much I could comfortably carry on my back. I really over packed on my first trip, and ended up mailing stuff home from Scotland to Canada.
Because the bag was larger than most airlines would allow as a carry on, I wanted something that had a bit of color to it so it would stand out in a pile of bags coming through the bag pick up area.
What do you like most about your backpack? Any downsides?
The size was great. I could fit a lot in it, which is also a bit of a problem if you tend to over pack. Extra space in your bag does not mean you need to bring more stuff with you! What I liked best was the side compression straps and the load compression strap. It also has a lot of pockets, including an organization pocket at the top of the bag. In the bottom of the bag, there’s a spot for the rain cover, which is also included. The bag really fit my body well too, which was important.
The only downside- and it’s a personal preference- is that its top loading. Yes, there are side panels, but they don’t fully open so you still have to kind of dig your hands in to find anything, just creating a mess.
Tell us about the fit and comfort level of your backpack.
Generally, the bag was pretty comfortable to carry. The shoulder straps are padded and offer a lot of comfort, and there are hip straps as well that were helpful in the distribution of weight in the bag. I definitely carried far too much stuff in the bag the first time I used it, and that added to some uncomfortable treks through the cobblestone streets of Edinburgh. The structure of the backpack was good, and I felt that it was ergonomic in the sense that I didn’t have any shoulder, back or hip pain lugging it around.
If you want to take your backpack as carry-on luggage, can you?
Some airlines allowed it, while others didn’t. I was able to take it on Air Canada, Air France, and KLM; however, a few other airlines like AerLingus and British Airways wouldn’t allow me to bring it as a carry-on.
Have you found the size to be too small, just right or too large?
The size was perfect, but I’ve now decided to try the REI Vagabond 40L based on a review from Her Packing List. I found the bigger the bag, the more I “needed” to bring with me.
Overall, would you recommend your backpack?
I definitely would recommend this backpack to fellow travelers. It was a great bag, and although I didn’t use it for my 11-country trip in August/September 2013, I’ll be using it for future trips.
Do you have extra questions for Erin and Kelty Ridgeway 64L backpack review? Leave them in the comments below.
About the Author: Erin McLaughlin is a travel addict recently bit by the travel bug who dreams of love affairs with foreign countries. She’s based out of New Brunswick, Canada but hopes to someday live the life of a global nomad. She blogs over at Adrift in the World, where you’ll be able to read about her upcoming European adventure and past tales of travel.