Q:

Which backpack should I take to Europe this summer?

Which backpacks are big enough to hold a down sleeping bag (7X13” packed) and a three-season tent (7X23” packed), ong other travel supplies, but still small enough to carry on a plane? I’m going to Europe in the summer, and I've looked at the REI Tour Travel Pack and the North Face Terra 40 pack. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks. Chris Ledgewood, New Jersey

Mar 20, 2007
Outside
Outside Magazine
Osprey Atmos 50 Backpack

Atmos 50 Backpack

A:

There are variables, but for a pack that can be carried aboard a jetliner, you’re looking at around 3,000 cubic inches, maybe a bit more. You probably could get away with 3,500 cubic inches. And that’s quite a bit, really. Especially if you re-think your load, which I’ll get to momentarily.

For a pack, the REI Tour Travel Pack ($145; rei.com) is a pretty good unit made up of a primary pack and a detachable daypack. With the daypack attached, the unit might be too big to carry aboard. But if you detach the daypack, you can carry on the primary pack and claim the daypack as a personal item, so you’re OK. And there’s nothing wrong with The North Face Terra 40 ($109; thenorthface.com), but it’s really just a big day pack.

If this were my trip, I might get the REI pack, but probably would go for the Osprey Atmos 50 ($199; ospreypacks.com). Why? Because it’s a GREAT pack—pretty roomy (3,000 cubic inches), light (at just over 3 pounds), and very comfortable. It would carry on nicely and manage those days when the pack is on your back quite a bit. I also like Eagle Creek’s Voyage ($185; eaglecreek.com), which has the removable daypack shtick but still is a nice travel pack and can be carried on.

OK, pack taken care of. Now for your gear. What the bloody hell are you carrying? A sleeping bag that’s 7X14? A tent that’s 7X23? Good lord, this is the 21st century, you’re taking a SUMMER trip, and you’re packing like Scott of the Antarctic. Get yourself a Marmot Arroyo ($249, one pound, eleven ounces; marmot.com) or a MontBell 30-degree Down Hugger ($270, one pound, seven ounces; montbell.com). Both pack down to the size of a cantaloupe. Then get a Mountain Hardwear Meridian 1 tent ($170, just under four pounds; mountainhardwear.com). Give it a good squish and it’s half the size of what you propose to take.

You’re buying a plane ticket, you’re taking the summer off, you can afford both. Don’t even bother to thank me.

The Gear Guy reports from 2007 Winter Outdoor Retailer, the bi-annual gearapalooza in Salt Lake City. Check out his top picks for gear to watch in 2007.

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