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International trip this summer: UL backpack or daypack?
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Evin Luehrs
International trip this summer: UL backpack or daypack? on 05/03/2013 09:53:16 MDT Print View

I'm relatively new to this forum and have spent some time combing through some old posts to see if I could figure out a solution to my packing conundrum for my international travels this summer, but I have some unique requirements, and am still undecided as to what to do.

So here's my situation:
- I'm going to be doing research Mongolia for 6 weeks this summer. My research involves cows and sheep. So I need to bring my laptop (5.5 lbs) and my muck boots, which weigh about 2 lbs. and are gonna be pretty awkward to pack.

- I hiked the Colorado Trail two years ago - I upgraded my gear to lightweight stuff but stopped short of buying a new backpack and sleeping bag, because I only had so much money. My current backpack I've had since 2004, and it weighs 2.25 lbs. My sleeping bag is rated for zero degrees, but it weighs 3.6 lbs.

- I will be staying in indoor accommodations at some points, but I'm also planning on sleeping in my tent and doing some multi-day treks. I'm not sure of all of the logistics of my trip, in terms of if I'll be able to leave stuff (i.e. boots and laptop) somewhere so I don't have to carry them while hiking, so I'm having to make a decision about buying a pack without that knowledge.

- I had been thinking about buying the Gossamer Gear Mariposa backpack, but after reading some posts on here, it sounds like this bag might not be durable enough for airline/hostel/train/etc travel. Now I'm considering the GoLite Jam – would that hold up better? I'm thinking about thru-hiking again in the future, so if I buy a new (large) backpack now for this trip, I'd like it to also work for future thru-hikes.

- Or I could get a daypack, either in addition to, or instead of, a large hiking backpack. One option is getting two packs, and packing the day pack empty inside my larger backpack, and pulling it out when I'm at my destinations and need to use it for day hikes. Another option is to buy just the daypack, pack it with stuff, and then buy a duffle bag to go with it (but I don't currently have a good sized duffle bag).
If I do get a new daypack, I want to be able to use it for every day school/work, so in other words, a super compressible daypack probably won't work. I'm particularly partial to the Osprey Comet, but am open to other suggestions.

- I'm also considering getting another sleeping bag, but don't know if it's worth it right now to spend money on a bag when I'm going to be carrying other heavy stuff anyway. If I do get a new bag, though, I'm thinking something that ideally weighs under 2 lbs and is compressible as possible.

So any suggestions how to best to spend my money would be welcome. I don't have a set budget for this gear, but I don't have unlimited funds, either.

Loren B

Locale: London UK, Greenville USA
daypack on 05/03/2013 13:55:32 MDT Print View

I would first make a list of what you already have, weigh each item, find the weights and costs of some lighter alternatives. Then you can go about finding which are the items for which an upgrade will cost the least, but save the most weight. This is where excel comes in handy. Just calculate the money to weight saving ratio of each item you are looking at replacing. It may be that replacing your current main pack is not worth the money for the weight saved. Electronics are often very heavy so maybe you can find lighter chargers, usb chargers so you can charge from your laptop.

Sounds like your main pack will spend a lot of its time off your back in a room (or maybe even a yurt :D), so a good daypack would probably be worth the weight. There will almost certainly be many occasions where you need a smaller bag for carry on, buying groceries, taking with you on any excursions or side trips. It could also be a multi use item as you could use it to replace a larger stuffsack, pillowcase at night, laundry bag etc.

There are lots of good daypacks out there, but I prefer a packable backpack since it just makes more sense for travel. You can get an ultralight cuben fibre one from zpacks which would be awesome, but it is almost certain that the money-weight saving ratio is not good enough to justify that, so how about:

-The REI daypack seems like a good value option. Has side pockets for water bottles etc (incredibly similar to the patagonia one).

-Then there is this sea to summit one. So light it effectively makes no difference to your pack weight whether you bring it or not.

-Another rei pack

-The patagonia lightweight travel pack would get my vote. They are kinda expensive (I sneakily got mine for free with moosejaw points), but are really great. I use this bag for absolutely everything including using it while in civilisation to carry my laptop around, work, backpacking etc. There is no reason why you can't use this kinda bag as an everyday bag. I think they look pretty cool as well, but that might just be me lol.

These are all frameless (some have backpadding though) so if you need to carry more weight you could use your sleeping pad as a backpad.

Anyways sounds like an awesome trip. Hope you have fun!

Edited by ljamesb on 05/03/2013 14:08:57 MDT.

tyler marlow

Locale: UTAH
hey evin! on 05/03/2013 20:33:25 MDT Print View

Whats up man! Its been a while since the CT!

I'm about to do some traveling myself and have been thinking the same thing. What ive been considering is getting a small packable pack like one of the rei ones or the marmot compressor to use as a daypack or for extra storage while still being able to pack it away easily inside my hiking pack when its not needed.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: International trip this summer: UL backpack or daypack? on 05/03/2013 23:16:24 MDT Print View

My first reaction is a 2.25lb pack isn't that heavy. If it is carrying your stuff well and has adequate durability stick with it and use your money for other things. I won't trust the Gossamer Gear Mariposa as check through unless you packed it in a duffel bag... but you will have to do that for any normal pack to protect the shoulder/hip straps and keep it from getting hung up.

You might ask yourself the question "Can my volume be reduced enough to fit in a carry-on" size bag? If the answer is yes, the even light Sil-Nylon backpacks would be fine. In the past my family has used the Gossamer Gear G6, GG Gorilla and a couple of the Six Moon Design packs as carry-on bags. They work well so long as your don't over pack them. One issue though, while our bags where carry-on legal size wise, one of the internal Chinese carriers limited carry-on to 5kg (11lb). My Gear + laptop + camera were more than this even without water and food. Thankfully they didn't enforce the weight limits, but you never know what they will do.

I would second the recommendation of having a day use bag. Either a daypack, or my preference is a courier style bag because it can be used while wearing the backpack. I have been using the first generation patagonia ultra-light courier bag for a number of years and been super happy with it.

If you weren't doing back country backpacking, just needing a bag to do hostel to hostel on for travel I would recommend taking a look at a travel pack... but it sounds like you want something with an excellent suspension.


Edited by verber on 05/03/2013 23:23:17 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Eddie Bauer convertable pack on 05/04/2013 10:35:23 MDT Print View

The Eddie Bauer Alchemist expands from 40 liters to 50 liters.

Check it out. It got some design awards for the convertability feature.

Evan Chartier
International Travel on 05/04/2013 11:52:23 MDT Print View

I have done a fair amount of international research/backpacking excursions. I did a 3 month trip around Asia (Mongolia, China, Laos, and Thailand,) and last summer I did a 3 month independent research project in Kenya and Uganda.

I have always been a fan of the 24 liter more durable packs. On my first few trips I took the Osprey Stratus 24, however on my last research trip in Kenya and Uganda I too needed a computer. The curved frame of the Stratus would not allow for my laptop. My partner took a Golite Jam, as you asked about, and found that it worked well, except it was too large for her. She overpacked it (because she could!) and by the end of the trip it was heavy and difficult to manage on packed public transportation. I decided to take a Deuter ACT Trail 24 pack. I found this pack the perfect size for my 3 month research trip- the sleeve against your back fit my 13" Macbook Pro really well, and the pack is super durable.

Before I would decide on a pack and sleeping bag for Mongolia, I would think hard about where in the country you will be located- will you travel all over? North? The Gobi? The weather in these places can vary drastically over the course of the summer. In some areas I would not take a sleeping bag at all, perhaps just a silk liner. In order places you will want a sleeping bag/quilt. If you will be in the capital region for the most part, you will probably not see many low temps below the upper 40's in summer. I once took a 15 degree Helium on a trip through subsaharan africa and it was (mostly) overkill. Think hard about the weather!

Feel free to PM me with more questions and good luck!


Fitz Travels
Money on 05/04/2013 13:16:26 MDT Print View

the real question is how much money are you willing to spend.

there is no way in hell i would carry a 5.5lb laptop with me. I know that i7 and big screen is awesome, but no way. Unless someone is doing CAD or Photoshop, for most general activities, a 5.5lb laptop is overkill. The Microsoft Surface Pro is 2.5 lbs, Mac Air is 2.3

if i was going to buy only 1 thing (and i had the money), it would be a lighter laptop. 2 pounds saved instantly. In my pack, 2 pounds savings instantly is HUGE. not to mention space and bulk saved. Recently, i got so tired of lugging my 3# laptop around, i got an Ipad Mini (immedietly jailbroken) and havent looked back. Obviously, you cant go that drastic route, but to the point is, I came to the point where I had to access my needs vs. wants, and to save 2#, I was willing to honestly assess what i was really doing with my laptop and come to the realization that i could do it will a lighter product. Everyone is different, but most people really dont need a huge screen and i7.

The second big change would be sleeping bag. Do you really need a 0 degree for this trip? at 3.6 lbs? If you think you can squeak out a 20 degree bag, and money is an issue, the Kelty 20 isnt too shabby for $120 and weighs around 2 1/2 pounds. also it compressed suprisingly well. Yea, the Western Mountaineering posse will secretly mock you, but screw them.

I use a Deuter Act Trail 32. It has one of those metal bars shaped in a U for a frame. It compresses really well when not full. I am not a big proponent of bringing a separate daypack, but i am a semi gear weanie at times and so i cant justify those extra ounces. Its just not logical to me, although I can see where in certain situations it might be valuable to have. I contemplated doing that at one time, but that was when I had a big heavy pack and didnt want to lug it with me everywhere.

what i did instead was focus on upgrading my gear to decrease my bulk and weight so i could fit everything easily into a 32L pack, so I really wouldnt mind carrying it around with me to begin with.

I would highly suggest, considering you are going to be carrying a 5.5lb bulky laptop, to have some sort of frame on a backpack, however minimal. Basically, if you dont have any rigid structure or frame, your laptop will become the makeshift frame for it, and put a lot of pressure and stress on it (assuming you put it against the back). Incidently, This will quickly leave permanent marks on the screens from the keyboard being push against the screen, plus, i find it to be uncomfortable anyway.

Edited by fitztravels on 05/04/2013 13:20:49 MDT.

Evin Luehrs
thanks for the input! on 05/04/2013 14:56:48 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for all of your input so's super helpful in terms of helping me consider options that I haven't yet and also in figuring out what my priorities should be.

I'm a little hesitant on buying a compressable/packable daypack, because I honestly don't think I would use it much after this summer. On the other hand, it looks like they're not very expensive, and even if I don't use it that much in the future, investing $30 into a bag isn't going to break my budget.

I was considering getting a new laptop, but somehow decided against it...I'm not exactly sure what my line of thinking was. But I think you're right, Fitz, that my priority should be getting something to replace my behemoth of a laptop.

Part of my issue is that I don't know exactly where I'm going to be. My adviser for this project is in Switzerland, and I've only corresponded with her over email. But it's clear that I should do my best to try and get as much information from her as I can before making any purchases.

The Deuter packs look really of right now, I really like the idea of getting the Deuter ACT Trail 32. I just need to do my best to figure out as much of my packing list as I can before I buy it.

Sean Passanisi
(passanis) - MLife
ULA on 05/06/2013 13:10:15 MDT Print View

I've also been mulling over the pack I want to purchase for my 4 trip to India and SE Asia later this year. I've been happy with a ULA Circuit I bought a couple of months ago and I'm thinking about purchasing a smaller CDT (or maybe Ohm) for my trip. I've been impressed with the quality and durability of the workmanship and the materials, though I understand there are downsides to traveling with an UL pack vs. a proper panel-loader or travel bag with compartments.