See all of our downsizing stories in one place!
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.
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 have since downsized to an Osprey Sirrus 36.
While it made sense at the time, since I had no way of knowing how long I would be gone, 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 too-big 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.
The Osprey Sirrus doesn’t have the thick hip pads the Kelty did, but is about half the size and folds flat. There is plenty of pocket space and it is, of course, front and top loading. It comes with a rain cover to use in bad weather and to keep it clean. It’s compatible with water systems like Camelbaks. I can bring it as my carry on bag on most airlines and it keeps me from packing quite so much. Not to mention that my back isn’t constantly aching from that extra 30 liters of weight. The pack has now gone with me to San Francisco, New Orleans, Portugal, Austria, Germany and Canada.
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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