In 2011, I did a guest post raving about my Kelty Arch 65 liter backpack, which I brought with me on my year-long working holiday in Australia. I had bought it on sale at REI and loved the color, a bright shade of lavender. It had soft hip pads and plenty of pocket room.
But I didn’t know then that it wasn’t “the one.”
I wasn’t yet the packing-savvy guru I am today, so I filled it to the brim with anything I might need: three books, five dresses and all sorts of other nonsense I never ended up using. Somehow I forgot that there are actual stores Down Under and I didn’t need to bring a year’s supply of toothpaste.
Problems became apparent over time:
- When I was traveling up the coast, the backpack became difficult to maneuver, particularly as I was hopping on and off buses constantly.
- It got ripped on the front panel before I even landed in Australia and I was worried the damage would get worse as I stuffed more items into it.
- It took up a lot of space in tiny dorm room lockers, so I typically just put it under my bed.
I Downsized to an Osprey Sirrus 36
I have since downsized to an Osprey Sirrus 36, which I received for Christmas 2012. It was a tough decision for me as I didn’t want to feel like I had abandoned my first backpack, but most of my trips these days are much shorter, around a month maximum. Even after borrowing a backpack from a friend for a trip to Europe, I chose a size still too big for me.
I think under 40 liters is the ideal size for travelers who are constantly on the move like I am.
Why I Love My Osprey Sirrus 36
George told us all about why she travels with a 45 liter backpack and I couldn’t agree more. When choosing your first backpack, think about how often you will have to unpack and repack all those items. It’s okay to admit that your first backpack is no longer a good fit for you, despite having sentimental value of those times you used it as a pillow on the train station floor, or all the patches you acquired during your trip.
If you’re thinking about downsizing your backpack, just do it. Your back will thank you.
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