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Thoughts from a First Time Backpack Traveler

osprey farpoint 70L backpack

The following post was submitted by Karlie Marrazzo.

Even though I had traveled to 23 countries by the beginning of 2014 and I have a goal to visit 30 countries by the time I turn 30 years old, I must confess something: I had never traveled solely with a backpack or a carry on bag. Savvy world travelers everywhere swear by traveling light, and I was starting to feel like a fraud. It was time to take the leap.

Miss Wanderlust and her Osprey Farpoint 70L
Miss Wanderlust and her Osprey Farpoint 70L backpack

My husband Dave and I were planning a two-week trip around Morocco, sandwiched between a few nights in Lisbon and London, for his 30th birthday. We were going to be taking eight flights, as well as long bus and train rides, traveling from blue-soaked Chefchaouen in the north to busy Fes and Marrakech, all the way to the Sahara Desert near the Algerian border.

Our traditional rolling suitcases just wouldn’t be practical for the amount of traveling or the different terrain we would be covering.

After asking around to friends who travel with backpacks and doing extensive research online (mostly on Her Packing List!), I decided to try on some Osprey packs at the locally run camping store. The session was very helpful and my husband and I each bought the Osprey Farpoint 70L, which comes with a 55L main pack and an attachable 15L day pack. I am a slim 5’6″ so I bought the S/M torso size.

Miss-Wanderlust-Karlie-Marrazzo-2

In the weeks leading up to the trip, I was excited to take my new backpack for a spin around the world, but I tend to get a bit anxious and I wasn’t exactly sure how I would pack it properly or if it would be comfortable for me to carry all of that weight on my back. I did a couple of practice packs which put my mind slightly at ease.

It turned out that I didn’t have anything to worry about. Looking back on my 18-day trip now, there was never a moment where I was longing for my old suitcase. I didn’t use any packing cubes and while I did try to keep the weight distributed properly, it was my first time and I didn’t have the technique perfected yet. I generally didn’t find the backpack too heavy to carry as I usually didn’t have it on for more than 15 minutes at a time. When it did start to weigh on me, I would flip it around to the front kangaroo style, and it didn’t feel like I was carrying anything at all. This made navigating through the ancient medinas or running through Heathrow airport equally breezy.

On a more practical note, I also found it very easy to stay organized. I rolled all of my clothes and kept them together in the same general area of the pack – shirts is one area, undies in another, and so on. Since I had so little extraneous stuff with me, it was simple to lift items out, grab what I needed, and put the rest back exactly where it was.

osprey farpoint 70L backpack

It was imperative for me that my pack was a front loader, like a suitcase, and it did make everything super simple. I wondered if there would be enough room for me to bring things home, but I felt like this trip would be an exercise in scaling back. I was still able to bring home several pairs of Moroccan slippers and beautiful scarves. The whole shebang only weighed in at 11kg on the way home!

The absolute best part about carrying the Farpoint 70L with me was that, even though the dimensions are technically larger than the allowable carry on standard, I was still able to bring the whole thing with me onto a couple of the flights! I could always bring it through security, and when I wasn’t allowed to bring it into the cabin, I could check it at the gate and pick it up on the tarmac, which saved a lot of time. We had a 25-hour layover in London and wanted to pack in as much as we could, and Heathrow is notorious for long lines everywhere, so being able to save up to an hour by not waiting for luggage was crucial.

Now that I have successfully traveled to a country that would be challenging to navigate with a rolling suitcase, I can say with confidence that I have been converted to backpack life. I will challenge myself to use my Osprey Farpoint 70L on all of my trips, and I have already purchased the smaller 40L version for shorter getaways!

* * * * *

Miss Wanderlust

About the Author: Karlie is a 28-year old Canadian girl with an incurable case of wanderlust. She lives in the isolated winter land of Edmonton, Alberta and didn’t set foot on an airplane until she was 22. On her 25th birthday she set a personal goal to travel to 30 countries by the time she turned 30, and has already visited 25 with her travel partner and husband Dave. Her next big goal is to live abroad. Follow along with her at Miss Wanderlust, Facebook, Instagram (@misswanderlustca) and Twitter.

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Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

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Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

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Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Angelina says

    I recently found this website because that will be me and my husband in a few weeks. We are chronic overpackers but for our upcoming trip to Europe, we are going with bags that can be used as backpacks. The Osprey Farpoint 70L is on our short list, but we are also looking at bags that can go in most overheards such as the Osprey Porter 46L and duffles that convert to backpacks such as the eBags Mother Lode weekender, the Tom Bihn Aeronaut and the Briggs & Riley BRX duffle.

    • Megan says

      I purchased the Osprey Porter 46L for a spring break trip to Belize, and I absolutely love it! While all of the other girls were struggling with their overweight checked bags, I breezed past them with my 46L carry on only. I recommend it completely!

  2. Beth says

    Hi. I am thinking of getting this backpack for my upcoming trip for 6 months through Central America. At the times you were able to take it as carry on, did you have to turn it sideways to make it fit in the overhead bin (provided that the day pack was removed)? Or was it able to go in the way a normal carry on would go in wheels first (if it had wheels)? I hope you can understand the orientations I am trying to convey. Most people don’t get this size, and so I can’t find many reviews on it. Thanks

    • Karlie says

      Hi Beth,

      It doesn’t have wheels on it, but it was able to go into the overhead compartment as if it were wheels first.

      It also has a flap that rolls down and tucks under, and then when you want to check it or put it in the overhead it untucks and zips over all of the loose straps, etc. There is also a handle on the side so you can turn it sideways and carry it, kind of like a duffle bag. A little more inconspicuous when trying to bring it as carry on 🙂

  3. Bee says

    Hi Karlie, nice post 🙂 I’ve been travelling with the Osprey Farpoint 40 for the past 10 months RTW and I absolutely love it! I love that it opens just like a suitcase and that I can lock all the zips. I admit I do use packing cubes to compress everything though as space is so limited with only 38L for size S/M. Would highly recommend the Farpoint range it to anyone!

    • Karlie says

      Thanks Bee!

      I just bought the 40L a few weeks ago and I’m going to use it for a weekend break to Seattle this weekend. I’m so excited to use it! I can’t believe how much stuff I can fit in it.

      Karlie

      • Bee says

        Yay! You will love it! I always think you can fit more into a suitcase-opening style backpack than you can fit into a top-loading style. Best of all it can be padlocked with small locks for piece of mind when checking in or taking onto public transport. Just be wary of hand luggage allowances as mine is unable to be taken onto the planes as carry on because I have more than 7kgs in it and at the minute it is packed to the brim (and is completely padded out in the outside pocket) which actually makes it bigger in size than the carry on allowances. I am referring to most airlines too, I have been unable to take it on Qatar, Emirates, Air Asia, Virgin Aus, amongst others. Good luck with your trip and enjoy yourself Karlie 🙂

        • Mary says

          Hi Bee,

          Just to clarify: Are you saying that when you fill the front pocket your bag is too big for some airlines carry on dimensions?

          Thanks.

          • Bee says

            Yes that’s right. But I guess it depends on who you fly with as carry on allowances do differ. I am from the UK and I have never flown with a US airline for example, maybe they are more lenient?

            I think the outside pocket is designed for a laptop and an A4 folder, you know, like a school bag! In my outside pocket I have shoes, sleep sheet, trek towel, guidebook, maps, Osprey raincover, plus lots of other little bits & pieces – let’s just say it’s well packed out and I’m using every available inch of space! (Also the carry on allowances on the many airlines I have used in the past year has been only 7kgs. The bag itself weighs over 1kg before you even put anything inside.) It is the large outside pocket that adds bulk to the bag’s dimensions, the pocket needs to be flat otherwise the bag is too deep. The length and width measurements are fine for carry on. I would suggest doing a test pack and measuring the bag yourself.

  4. Mary says

    Beth,

    The specs from the osprey website are:

    Dimensions
    Dimensions are shown as length (height) x width x depth
    M/L
    In: 25 x 14 x 13
    Cm: 64 x 36 x 32
    * does not include daypack

    I’m guessing it wouldn’t fit in the “normal” way.

    I have the farpoint 40, and I feel like it can hold more than my old bigger bag.

    • Beth says

      Thanks. Actually ordered the S/M one and I hear it’s 24″. I have my normal carry on which fits in the overhead. It’s a 4 wheel so slightly taller. I will measure them side by side when it arrives. I might order the 40 as well to see if I can get all my stuff in there as well. Might be worth revising my packing list

  5. Lorise Clark says

    I really enjoyed your post. I am not sure I would be able to carry any amount of weight on my back due to prior back surgery and my age. I sure would like to give it a try just to avoid waiting for luggage and of course pushing wheeled luggage along cobblestones in Europe can be difficult. I would definitely have to cut down on weight, which improves every time I travel. Thanks for the informative post.

  6. Dave says

    My wife and I took a month trip last year to Thailand (mostly) from the not so “isolated” and not always “winter land” of Edmonton. Our itinerary gave us a 36 hour stopover in Tokyo, lots of time in Thailand of course, a side trip to Cambodia and another 36 hour stopover, in Hong Kong, on the return.

    Keeping in mind the environment in which you’ll be travelling will really help you decide what kind of luggage is appropriate based on what you need to put in it and, as Karlie alluded to, what kind of hassle it will be to haul around.

    Southeast Asia has a tendency to get a little warm so packing light is a no brainer. Given our warm destinations, we had all the space we needed with our 40L and 55L Osprey Farpoints. My wife is 5’1″ and I am 6’1″ and the fit of the packs were great and we had all the room we needed.

    As a bonus; these sizes do meet the carry on rules when the daypack comes off the 55 (no daypack on the 40). The day pack was my “personal item” that the airlines allow. Most of the time we checked our bags but we had the carry on option if we wanted to exercise it.

    Ironically, if we do go back (my hope), I’ll probably take even less and have even more space to bring back mementos.

  7. Mary says

    Thanks again Bee!

    If I’m flying on a strict airline I’ll remember to leave the front pocket of my farpoint 40 mostly empty as you suggest.

    Here in North America most airlines have pretty generous carry on allowances. I always weigh my bag before I fly, and it will be easy enough to measure it as well.

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