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carry-on backpack
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Skylar Ruloff
(skylar.ruloff) - F

Locale: north east
carry-on backpack on 04/03/2012 16:04:56 MDT Print View

I'm looking to get my first pack for light/ultralight backpacking. I also would like to use it for when I travel by plane. I'm sick of paying $50 for an airline to lose my luggage so I want to carry on my stuff. Do you think a pack like the osprey hornet 46 would work for that? If not, what size do i have to go down to. I'd rather not have to buy two packs, but it would be better than paying to check my bag and then never getting it back.

Ed Hayes
(ejhayes) - F

Locale: Northwest
under 40L generally. on 04/03/2012 16:12:18 MDT Print View

Generally packs under 40 liters will work as carry-on's.

Although a larger pack compressed could fit, while a smaller pack bulging at the seams might be too big.

I have a 38L Osprey that is a double duty air travel and backpacking pack.

Edited by ejhayes on 04/03/2012 16:13:42 MDT.

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
carry-on backpack on 04/03/2012 16:31:00 MDT Print View

On the whole, backpacks designed for hiking and airplane overhead bins are not ideal partners. Many airlines have dimensional limits for carry on bags around 22"x14"x9", and those don't match hiking backpacks well. If your bag is larger in any one dimension, then you'll be required to gate check it. Likewise, if you are in one of the last groups to board a plane, and the overhead bins are full, you'll be required to gate check your bag. I can't think of too many categories of bags that would be less suited to being thrown around by the ground crews and subjected to conveyor belts than backpacks. Too many straps to get caught and torn off, and no way to secure the contents

If you're not travelling by air regularly, then look at inexpensive convertible backpacks like the GoLite Travelite, Outdoor Products Essential Carry-on, Patagonia MLC, or Osprey Porter 46. Personally I use one of two Tom Bihn bags for airline travel - the Aeronaut for casual travel/international trips, and the Tri-Star for domestic business travel up to 5 days. They are far more expensive than the other options I mentioned, but they proved themselves week-in week-out when I was a full time roadwarrior.

Susan sande

Locale: South Central WA
Carry on packs on 04/03/2012 21:14:09 MDT Print View

My husband ended up sending his Exos 46 through as baggage Sunday. He also ordered an Exos 58, both with the large frame and both frames measured out to about 24,5" long. More inches in length than "allowed" so he didn't even try to use it as carry on.

Ron W
(Miles2go) - F

Locale: White River National Forest
Re: carry-on backpack on 04/03/2012 21:33:26 MDT Print View

My wife and I traveled with two full 60L packs in 2009. Carried them on and no one raised an eyebrow. 6 airports, US to Europe & back. In London they unpacked mine to take a look at the stove but didn't care about the size, nor the six ground pegs I carried. That's what was weird to me: no trekking poles allowed but they didn't care that I was carrying on 6" long metal spikes.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: No way to secure the contents on 04/03/2012 21:43:43 MDT Print View

My quick and dirty solution was to load up my pack and then slip it into a nylon roll type duffle bag from Academy. I zipped it closed and let it go as checked baggage.

At the trail head I pulled out my pack, folded up the duffle and stuck it deep down into the mesh pocket for later use.

Yes there was a small weight penalty during my hike but my air travel was hassle free.


Party On,


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: carry-on backpack on 04/03/2012 21:53:29 MDT Print View

An ultralight frameless pack can be stashed with your gear in a carry-on sized duffel. You'll get a real pack that way and the duffel can be used for extras, dirty laundry, etc.

Ron W
(Miles2go) - F

Locale: White River National Forest
60L packs as carry-on luggage on 04/03/2012 22:32:59 MDT Print View

60L Packs as Carry-On Luggage

Based on my experience you should have no problem with a 50L pack.

I took this shot in June of 2009, flying from Denver to Switzerland via several US and European connections due to East Coast storms that rerouted us.

I never would have attempted to carry these bags based on the research I'd done and was planning to check them, but two weeks before flying out we were at the airport to meet friends and saw a couple hanging out with 60L packs. Turns out they'd flown extensively, carrying them on. We tried it and it worked perfectly. As I said in my first post, no one cared and in the photo, my bag is on the right & someone else's 60L pack is on the left. My wife's in another bin. So more common than I expected.

Alex Gilman
(Vertigo) - F

Locale: Washington
Bags on 04/04/2012 00:27:02 MDT Print View

Bags are suppose to fit top or bottom end in not sideways like that photo. Those two bags took 4 bags worth of space. At that point the person doing that demonstrates that they don't care about anyone but themself. 22 x 14 x 9 that's the rule.

Some of us frequent flyer people get annoyed when we miss an upgrade and have to sit in the back and deal with that. It's just rude. Try catching a flight out of ATL like that and you will get your bag removed and put below.

Edited by Vertigo on 04/04/2012 00:39:25 MDT.

Ron W
(Miles2go) - F

Locale: White River National Forest
Re: Bags on 04/04/2012 00:39:31 MDT Print View

"Bags are suppose to fit top or bottom end in not sideways like that photo. Those two bags took 4 bags worth of space.

Some of us frequent flyer people get annoyed when we miss an upgrade and have sit in the back and deal with that."

Ahh well. Bags are supposed to arrive when you check them but occasionally don't. I'm not taking the risk in having to rebuild my kit 1 day before a two-week long backpack trip, just so frequent flyers can be less annoyed. They let 'em on, they're going on. When I fly around the country normally, I usually don't even have enough with me to put anything above so that's kinda like carbon offsetting, right?

Alex Gilman
(Vertigo) - F

Locale: Washington
Re: Re: Bags on 04/04/2012 00:44:28 MDT Print View

Try going on the forums and saying that, you'll be on the do not fly list in no time. :)

Edited by Vertigo on 04/04/2012 00:44:59 MDT.

Ron W
(Miles2go) - F

Locale: White River National Forest
Re: Bags on 04/04/2012 00:54:17 MDT Print View

"At that point the person doing that demonstrates that they don't care about anyone but themself. 22 x 14 x 9 that's the rule."

Oh you added to your post so I gotta have a little laugh at this assumption. So what does 20+ years of highly-decorated military service demonstrate? What does 3+ years of non-profit work on behalf of people with a disease that I have no personal connection with demonstrate? Indeed, I must be a real self-centered dude.

I say bring it on board backpackers! I won't mind. I'd rather help you start your trip off on the right foot, but I better watch myself or I could ruin my self-centered reputation. lol.

diego dean
Bag size limits on 04/04/2012 05:45:14 MDT Print View

I fly for the airlines and have seen pretty much everything people try and get on airplanes. If you make it through the ticket counter with your oversized backpack, you then need to make it past the gate agent and lastly the flight attendant as you board the aircraft. My experience is that if you have a backpack, in almost any size or shape the GA and FA will let you go through. They know from experience that most backpacks can be crammed to fit somehow. What they dont want is someone in the back of the aircraft with their oversized ridgid carry on thats not going to fit holding up the boarding process. Now a real backpackers backpack may truly not fit especially in regional jets overheads, but you will probably get the oppurtunity to try. The one exception to this is military personnel backpacks, those things are filled with bowling balls and no flight attendant is letting that thing through the door.

Edited by cfionthefly on 04/04/2012 05:46:31 MDT.

Richard Fischel
my cilogear 40l (lid off) fits perfectly on 04/04/2012 08:14:02 MDT Print View

end-in in the overhead storage bin. I strip it down so that it is just the pack bag and nothing else. I try and fill it with my heavyist items like double boots and my alpine rack so that i can keep my checked duffle under the weight limit. i'm always having to check a bag because they'd frown on me taking an ice axe as carry-on.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: carry-on backpack on 04/04/2012 10:06:12 MDT Print View

Here's a photo of my wife with her carry-on frame pack which she also used as her backpack on a recent backpacking trip to Patagonia. She carried no other luggage.

She walked on with it for 6 flights in all and had no problems. It is a home made frame pack and weighs about 10 ounces. For backpacking the bag slips down the frame, leaving room at the top of the frame for strapping on extra gear if required.

There is also a telescoping hiking pole in the pack. She packed it diagonally so it would fit in and placed it between layers of her folded closed cell sleeping pad to protect the pack and its contents.


Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: Re: carry-on backpack on 04/04/2012 15:22:31 MDT Print View

I fly fairly often and usually with 4 days worth of kit and I use three tricks combined which works well in any situation.

my backpack is not that important the choice, it happens to be a 40L GoLite Peak with removeable hipbelt so its got cleaner-lines to get through security, aircraft, etc with less to catch and less to lose. I've used for trips to Panama, Trinidad changing via Houston. I lost the chest brace clip silly fool me in Trinidad.

So I also never check luggage, EVER, lots of reasons, wasting time at dropoff, pickup, chance of lost luggage plus I sometimes change my flight, in my last flight back from Panama and from Trinidad I managed to get a seat on the earlier flight and in one case boarded just as they closed the door. I mention because....

Even though there are airline rules on max bag size, if you happen to be one of the last to board, either being standby or late connection or no-status and seat near front of aircraft, etc, all the other passengers will be doing same as you and will have max luggage carry-on and overhead bins stuffed, so....

In the top of my 40L backpack I have a light small 20L daysack, plenty of makes exist, such as from Golite, I remove this and it contains what I'll need during the flight and goes under the seat, that then halves the contents of the 40L pack, which being frameless then folds in half and will fit in any irregular spare space overhead, and you don't have to check it. Inside at the bottom of the 40L pack I have a drybag which contains the rest of my kit.

Some aircraft have some very odd shaped bins, so a soft backpack can squish to shape and take spaces many passengers can't use. So I don't compress my gear very tight as it then makes it a firm shape and harder to shape to whatever space is available so my drybag is one of those eVent drysacs which only becomes compressed by the presence of kit ontop, otherwise its soft for shaping.

I don't think the specific backpack, daypack or drybag are that critical but you need basically 2 half-size bags inside a full bag trick. I do recommend the eVent base drybags so it can let air out at altitude and not pop!

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: carry-on backpack on 04/04/2012 20:22:28 MDT Print View

I've taken a Granite Gear Meridian Vapor (about 3200 cu in) and an Exos 34 as carry-on before with no issues on Southwest and then Hawaiian airlines.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
carry-on backpack on 04/04/2012 20:50:16 MDT Print View

Yes, you can do it, but if you're flying in the USA.....

1st you have to get it past the TSA

If it won't fit through the entry to their X-ray machine, it has to be hand-inspected. That's probably not something you want to go through, especially if your schedule is tight.

If it fits through the entryway, it has to pass the visual inspection of the x-ray guy/gal. These people can be paranoid about certain items, especially if they are new and/or don't know what they're looking at. While you might slip something past them, it's not a good bet. On their hit list......trekking poles, stoves (unless never used and you'll have to prove that), fuel of any kind, strike-anywhere matches, and knives. Good luck with those sharp tent pegs,, especially the titanium nails. Arguing is futile. Their word/interpretation is final. No appeals allowed. Check it or lose it.

I hate hassels, especially unnecessary ones. I always check my pack along with my trekking poles. I put the fragile CF poles in a cardboard mailing tube. I put my pack and the mailing tube into a cheap, home-made duffle bag, pull it tight, and tie it off. No dangling straps or mesh to get caught on anything. Easy to grab and carry. Besides, out of sight lessens curiosity and temptation. I've flown for years like this with no loss or breakage.

At my destination, I fold the duffle into a pre-stamped padded envelope and mail it home or to trail's end. At trail's end, I ship my trekking poles home via UPS or FedEx, slip my now much smaller pack into the duffle, and check it on my return flight.


Lowell Mills
(FarmHand357) - F
Carry-on backpack on 04/04/2012 21:48:25 MDT Print View

For what it's worth, my North Face Terra 45 seems to be exactly the standard carry on dimensions of 22" x 14" x 9" mentioned above. Many US airlines are cracking down and insist that what you have fits into the sizing thing by the gate and doesn't exceed any of these limits...

Ryan P. Murphy
(rmurphy) - M

Locale: Colorado
size restrictions on 04/05/2012 09:00:06 MDT Print View

I have carried on my Golite Jam2 dozens of times with no problems and it fits in end on. I have also carried on an older north face prophet 65 without a lid and it fits end on without problems on everything but CRJs.
I used to sell luggage for the nation's largest specialty luggage retailer and can tell you a lot about carryon sizes. First of all on the vast majority of US airlines the carryon baggage size limit is 45" (total of length + width + height/depth) so any size that falls into the 45" limit is fine. This is typically broken down as 22x14x9 inches although this is in no way required, so the assertion that if it's over any one of these dimensions is false; it has to be over the total 45 inches. That being said by far the most important measurements for fit are total length and depth. Most European continental flights have nearly identical size requirements as US airlines with the exception that they set a shorter max length (officially roughly 20" but in practice closer to 22").
Nearly all "22x14x9 legal carryon bags" sold by all the major manufacturers are over the size limit in every dimension (and guess what? Most of them still fit). Typically a carryon (factoring wheels and handle in) ends up being 24" long by about 15 or 16" wide and 10 or more inches deep. The airlines have started cracking down on these oversized bags and manufacturers have responded by shrinking their bags or switching to a "euro size" 20x16x9" bag. The point is that pretty much any backpack up to 24 inches long with an internal frame, assuming it isn't over stuffed, will fit in the vast majority of overhead bins and it will fit end in. You might be able to get away with an even longer frameless bag that you could shove in but I wouldn't try it (You could easily carry it through security and you could likely even get it to fit and you're still impinging on others' space). The biggest dimension to watch out for is going to be the "thickness" (distance between the back panel and the part of the pack furthest from your back) as this is the number one reason full bags don't fit so be mindful of using your compression straps to keep everything nice and neat.

Shooting for a 40l size pack as a carry on is a safe bet as they tend to be the closest to "actual luggage" dimensions. In answer to the original question, an Osprey Hornet 45 would definitely fit both needs as a hiking and traveling pack.

Edited by rmurphy on 04/05/2012 09:03:04 MDT.