This post is part of a series in which ladies on the road offer a review of their backpacks. Today’s post comes from Lindsey Hodder.
Hey hey! I’m Lindsey, a writer and seemingly perpetual student from Sydney. I’ve seen more of Australia at 22 than most do in their lifetime, ‘done’ the Western Europe loop, spent some quality time in England, and started to explore SE Asia. I have a love of untouched places, and my future travels dreams are filled with the mountains of Nepal, the deep forests of the Amazon, the wilds of Africa – and everywhere in between!
What’s your backpack brand and model? How much does this backpack typically cost?
I travel with an Osprey Exos 46. I bought mine for just over AUD$200. It’s a little more expensive than some bags on the market but so, so worth it. Osprey is amazing quality.
>> Check out prices for the Osprey Exos 46 on Amazon.
How long have you had your backpack and where have you travelled with it?
I’ve had this backpack since November last year, and it came with me for a two month jaunt through Bali, the Philippines and Thailand. Coming up, it’s going to be my only bag on a 4 day hike in New Zealand, as well as trips to Europe, and it will be my main pack when I set off on long term travels.
What factors were most important to you in choosing a backpack? How did you come to choose this one?
When I started searching for my backpack, I was looking for one that would see me through travels that were to be indefinite, through many climates, and many different places. I wanted something small (so I couldn’t overpack it, and so I could take it as carry on…), light (who wants a ton of weight on their back?), and – and I know this really shouldn’t be a consideration but I have an artistic eye… – I wanted something pretty.
Initially I did really want a front loading pack, but I prioritised small and light over front loading in the end. I also really, really wanted an Osprey pack.
What do you like most about your backpack? Any down sides?
I love the way that this bag is just such a great little package. I like that the straps aren’t too bulky. I like that it’s small, and I can’t pack so much into it that it’s uncomfortable to wear (trust me, I tried. This bag is ridiculously comfortable). Something that surprised me was that I actually really do like that it’s top loading. Whilst front loading did seem like it would be easier – in a bag this size you really don’t have that much stuff to root through to find things. I also liked the air flow panel on the harness. The airflow really helps with backpack induced sweat patches, and as a bonus because the sweat doesn’t make it to the pack, the pack doesn’t start to smell like I noticed some others doing!
The main downside I found with this pack is that it doesn’t have a proper front pocket. There is a side opening pocket, but with only one zip there’s no way to secure it closed, and you just can’t fit that much in there.
Tell us about the fit and comfort level of your backpack.
Don’t let the apparent lack of padding on the shoulder straps and waist belt put you off – this bag is the most comfortable pack I can remember having worn (and I did a fair bit of hiking as a kid). The Air Speed Suspension system on the harness feels great against my back, and to be honest I ignored the waist band a lot unless I had the bag on for more than an hour. The only issue with the fit of the pack was that – at 5’6″, I fell right bang in the middle of the S/M harness split. If this happens to you – go for the larger size. I ended up getting the medium though being at the very bottom of the range and once loaded, my pack sat perfectly with the added benefit that my taller boyfriend can use it too.
If you want to take your backpack as carry-on luggage, can you?
Theoretically, the answer to this question is yes, and it’s a huge reason I was looking at this pack in the first place. I’ve loaded it into a couple of metal guides that various airlines – including budget airlines – have at their check in lines, and it fit like a charm. Sadly though, I had a big bottle of coconut oil that I bought at my first stop which prevented me from being able to actually use it as carry-on.
Have you found the size to be too small, just right, or too large?
Whilst in general I found the pack to be absolutely right – I definitely wouldn’t want anything bigger! My packing configuration left a little to be desired. A big camera and bulky netbook that took up oddly shaped spaces and a few too many clothes (shh…) meant that I couldn’t pack my daypack contents away into the Exos when I wanted to. As long as I kept the camera and netbook out of it however – I had room to compress the bag right down and still have space on top. Just the way I like it. Weirdly shaped camera aside, it can fit a surprising amount in! I chose the 46L over a smaller bag as I wanted the flexibility to travel with it to warmer climates where I’d need bulkier clothes than the packing I had planned for SE Asia. With practice, I know this pack will do the trick!
The interesting test will come when I take it hiking in New Zealand and need to carry a sleeping bag and half a tent as well as food and clothes to suit all possible weather patterns, but as it features carrying loops on the outside – it is a hiking pack after all – I expect it to pass with flying colours.
Overall, would you recommend your backpack?
Absolutely. Osprey is a fantastic brand of stellar quality packs – and they come with a lifetime warranty. It’s a great pack for those looking to pack light, but still have room to move despite the carry on size. Best of all, it’s incredibly lightweight and extremely comfortable to wear. Smiles all round!
About the author: Lindsey is a twenty-something writer with a serious case of wanderlust. A penchant for the undisturbed, rediscovered and just plain beautiful; she travels slowly with camera in hand and boyfriend by her side. She’s blogging about her most recent adventures at Chasing the Wild, and developing a world-wide home for her other projects at her brand new photography website.
Love seeing this review! I have the same pack (in the tan/orange color) in the size small (I’m 5’2” / 125#). Totally agree w/what you say. This is my go-to pack for all of my hiking/backpacking (the camping type)/mountaineering. If you’re traveling for the purpose of hiking/backpacking (the camping version), this would be a good bag to consider.
My few additions are that this pack is a little on the delicate side compared to many of the other packs reviewed on this site. I’ve already ripped the mesh one of my side pockets just on a thicker brush section of a trail – I was able to fix that rip, but it’s just something to know could happen. I tend to throw it in a duffel before checking it on a flight for added protection (doesn’t sound like everyone does). The upside is that this pack is extremely light – the spec says this weighs in at 2 lb 8oz, but my size small weighed in under 2# after I removed a few features I didn’t need. Also, w/a lighter weight frame/straps, I find this pack to be uncomfortable when loaded past 35#. If you’re just traveling through cities, I don’t think overloading it would be a big deal. If you’re hiking and need to be sure of foot, I prefer my pack (the main portion, not the attach points) to feel a bit more solid than this does when loaded past 35#. Again, not an issue if you’re packing light.
I’ve used this as my carry-on (mostly unloaded – just with my camera in it and the rest of my luggage in a North Face Base Camp Duffel). You do need to be very crafty with loading this as a carry-on bag as it could easily grow outside the allowed dimensions because it’s not rectangular.
Ditto, the air gap behind the back is wonderful for cooling when you’re out hiking. It makes the pack not-rectangular, which you might find awkward for packing (I haven’t had an issue w/this). Tip: you can fit a partially full camelback water bladder in the air gap space if you’re running out of room.
Great review, Lindsey!!