This post is part of a series in which ladies on the road offer a review of their backpacks. Today’s review comes from Flora Baker of Flora the Explorer.
I’m Flora, of FloraTheExplorer.com. I’ve been travelling on and off for the last six years, and have been volunteering my way around South America since February 2013. At the moment I’m travelling through Bolivia, and will probably be in this country until early next year. As for South America, I’m planning to be here for a while yet!
What’s your backpack brand and model? How much does this backpack typically cost?
I travel with an Osprey Farpoint 55 litre pack, which usually retails at around £90-100/$150. This Osprey, like many others in the range, is actually comprised of a detachable daypack at 10 litres and the main pack at 55 litres, so there’s a bit more space than I first expected.
>> Check out prices for the Osprey Farpoint 55 on Amazon.
How long have you had your backpack and where have you traveled with it?
I bought my Osprey pack for my trip around South America. So far it’s taken me to Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia – which also means it’s carried my gear up mountains, through the jungle, trekking to Machu Picchu, and lying in the hold of innumerable buses.
What factors were most important to you in choosing a backpack? How did you come to choose this one?
In all the other trips I’d taken before South America, I’d travelled with a top loading pack. While there were times when this proved useful, ultimately I only stuck to this concept because I’d never tried anything else. But six months in Asia, moving accommodations every few days, I began to loathe being forced to unpack and repack my entire bag every time I wanted to get at something. So as soon as I started planning for South America, a side loading pack was the first thing on my list.
I also wanted a pack that could potentially serve as carry-on luggage if I needed it to, and I thought it was a good idea to take a smaller pack to stop me from buying too many souvenirs en route! I’d had recommendations about Osprey from fellow travelers.
What do you like most about your backpack? Any down sides?
I actually have something of a love affair with my Osprey pack! Firstly, the side loading element is fantastic; I also travel with three travel cubes so actually sorting out my stuff in the pack is a breeze. Secondly, the fact that the daypack zips on and off is a godsend. When I first started this trip, I used the daypack separately to store all my electronics and serves as hand luggage while I put the main pack in the hold. Obviously, I’ve obtained more possessions as my travels have continued, so at the moment the daypack stays attached to the main pack and I use another small bag to store my electronics and personal items.
The colour and style of the pack itself is really unobtrusive, which I really value. I’ve used daypacks before that look so over the top and this one is a great change. The bag itself weighs about a kilo when empty, which is really good if I want to use the main pack for a weekend away, too. I also love the ability to zip away the main straps of the pack – it makes the entire bag looks so much smaller and neater, which is perfect for flights and long-haul journeys when I’m separated from my bag. The side handle then makes the pack easy to carry, even when the straps are zipped away!
There are only a few downsides I’ve found to the Osprey. If I didn’t travel with packing cubes I can also imagine packing would be a bit of a difficulty; there are no dividers inside the main pack and just two thin clipable straps to hold everything together. The main pack has lockable zips but the daypack doesn’t; there’s nothing elasticated on the front of the daypack to quickly stuff in a jumper or waterproof; and the side pockets have very little give, meaning that anything more than a small water bottle won’t really fit.
Tell us about the fit and comfort level of your backpack.
The pack fits really well, with an adjustable padded hip belt and a good frame. I can vouch for the comfort level, having used both the day pack and main pack on various days of my trek to Machu Picchu – although I wouldn’t want to be carrying the pack for more than an hour or so.
If you want to take your backpack as carry-on luggage, can you?
The Osprey 55L is designed to function as carry-on, but I’ve never used it as such so far. I think the day pack would need to be completely empty in order to fit carry-on guidelines, though!
Have you found the size to be too small, just right, or too large?
I have an ongoing mental battle with backpacks in general. The longer-term I travel, the more souvenirs I like to pick up! In theory this bag is the perfect size for me, and I don’t need any more space, but I ran into a girl in Colombia who had the Osprey 65L and I immediately started lusting over the extra space she had!
I think, though, that for a long term trip around South America, the Osprey 55L is a very good size, as I need clothes and gear for a range of different climates. If I used it in Asia it would probably give me a huge amount of extra space!
Overall, would you recommend your backpack?
I would absolutely recommend the Osprey pack. It’s a well designed, sturdy pack with a lot of great features for a range of different trips, and has been a really great choice for me.
>> Check out a review of the Osprey Farpoint 40