First and foremost, your backpack. You'll be living out of it
and it must be user-friendly, strong, and intelligently designed.
We lucked out - the guy at REI in Berkeley chose ours for us, and
considering all the designs we saw abroad, and our experiences with
ours, they are the best for long-term travel.
We used the Eagle Creek World Journey packs (in 2010, the equivalent model
is the Thrive-90L), which are crammed with so many great features, I will
only remark on several here.
Go to EagleCreek.com
and check out them out.
Features we liked:
The day pack was expandable, and crammed with useful pockets, internal key
clasp, and it can be hung in front of you, if you like that style (we
didn't). The day pack was perfect for carrying onto the planes and buses
and held our snack foods, CD player stuff, sweater, hat, tons of other
things, and books. It zips onto the main pack in seconds and can be locked
down with a padlock.
The belt sections and shoulder straps of the main pack can be hidden away
by unfolding a hidden zippered panel which zips up over them. You then
use the side luggage handle - turns it into a suitcase for safer
handling on airline luggage, or it hides the fact that it's a back pack,
if you ever want to stay at an expensive hotel.
The main pack's design is everything-accessable when unzipped. No reaching
down into three feet of darkness with a top-loading bag. Internal tie-straps
held the stuff in place, so the load and balance can be optimized, and no
shifting of stuff inside.
The materials, zippers, and overall workmanship are excellent, period.
Our models are 5000 cubic inch capacity, and we used all of it. It was perfect
and limited us to what we needed, plus some extra junk that you pick up along
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