Major Life Decision: The Backpack

Posted: December 8, 2013 in Round The World, Travel, Travel Tips
Tags: , ,

Overwhelming to the say the least. Whether it’s a one week or a one year trip, what you’re going to get your stuff around in is a big decision. Buy too small and you’re screwed, buy too big and you fill it with crap you don’t need. Aside from some last minute game time decision I’ve narrowed my choice to two back packs. I will either be getting the MEC Supercontinent 65 Travel Pack or the MEC Supercontinent 75 Travel Pack, the difference between the two being the size. The 65 ranges from 61-77 L depending on whether you get the S/M or M/L. Me being the towering 5’6 that I am, the S/M will probably be my best option. The 75 ranges from 76-92 L, a noticeable difference from the smaller option. Other than that there aren’t very many differences. Obviously the 75 weighs a little more but not enough to be the game breaker. Both come with a day pack that attaches to the back and front, a definite selling feature. I hope to be leaving the travel pack at the hostel/hotel/guesthouse/cardboard box as much as possible and having the day pack when exploring cities and towns. the day pack will hold up to 14 L which should be good for things like rain gear, chargers, and anything else that may need for a few hours away from your accommodations.  The downer to both these is that they are not water proof, the fabric is treated with some water repellant that will help rain bead up but in heavy rain a cover will be needed. That being said, I still prefer to buy one of these travel packs and then spend $15-$20 for a rain cover than pay an additional $80 for a pack that is water proof and has a worldwide recognized name on it. If you don’t recognize the name MEC, which stands for Mountain Equipment Co-op, it would mean you aren’t Canadian, I won’t hold it against you. They are well known throughout the country with stores from East to West in most major cities. They are a one stop shop for a RTW trip to say the least. Everything you need is there from packs to shoes, water purifiers, health and safety products, money belts, accessories for electronics, the list goes on and on.

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The above picture is the 75 version, I won’t post the 65 as I trust you can picture the same thing, just a little smaller. The picture is from the MEC website. So, the price? the 75 is $185 CAD and the 65 is $165 CAD. This is in the range I was expecting, I have no plans on spending $250 just as I have no plans on cheaping out and buying a $75 pack. This will be a very important thing to me while I travel I plan to use it again for future travels. After visiting a store today and trying it out these are the pros and cons as far as I can tell:

Pros

-front and back attachable day pack
-main compartment zips all the way down to bottom making retrieving articles from the bottom easy and not having to unpack/repack just to get that extra set of batteries that have made their way to the bottom
-access to the main compartment from the bottom. There is a separate zipper that goes around the bottom allowing access to the very bottom of the main compartment without having to access from the main zipper at the top
-back straps have a cover that zips over which is great. I’m not paying upwards of $200 after taxes to have have straps and buckles destroyed by airport conveyor belts and x-ray machines. The cover tucks away nicely into a small compartment
-good strapping and compression straps and belts to balance the weight and keep the load comfortably and evenly dispersed . The waist strap also has some pockets, convenient for passport, visas etc. just in case you’re not into those super hip money belts

Cons

-day pack lacks pockets, it only has the main compartment
-The description says the day pack has two water bottle holders, I’d be lucky to fit my 15 month old nephew’s sippy cup in them
– The material is not water proof (big CON right here)

Overall I think I’ve made my choice. You can check out these and all the MEC products HERE . I don’t work at MEC or anything like that and I’m not in anyway making money by endorsing them. From what I’ve seen so far though they have the products I need and the website and in store service is great. That’s all.

My tip, research online but buy in person, there is no substitution for trying a product firsthand. Be sure to ask that they add some weight to the bag with some weighted bean bags (or similar) to get a real feel. Ask questions, no matter how stupid you think they sound the staff have heard them all. Besides, imagine the horror of realizing you made the wrong choice and focusing on a sore back instead of your new surroundings.

Happy Travels!!!

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Comments
  1. Kristin K says:

    So what was the verdict? Which one did you get and how did it hold up? I’m headed on a 2wk backpacking trip from London > Paris > Lyon > French Riviera, half will be spent in hostels and the other half in some 4-star hotels for a wedding. Interested in the MEC Supercontinental for the ability to disguise it as just a backpack, but still have the functionality of a travel pack with an internal frame and good weight distribution for carrying it from place to place.

  2. Brett says:

    Agree that choosing a good backpack is tricky and little details can make a big difference. I recently got another Osprey Atmos multi-day pack and an Osprey day pack — excellent all around and i can vouch for those!.Sounds like the MEC pack is quite good as well.

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