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Backpacks (again)

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2018
VdlP 2019
2020 Hatching plans
Hi

Which backpacks are the current go-to favourites among forum users?

My 15ish year old 25-30 litre North Face backpack has served me well for 2 caminos, but really needs replacing now.

I am planning a section of a camino in the very near future. Given current circumstances, it's going to be difficult for me to go to an outdoor shop to try different packs, or even just get an idea of how big they are.

I am 5ft8 and don't necessarily need a women's pack.

I have come up with a list of possible options, but would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for your help.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Hi

Which backpacks are the current go-to favourites among forum users?

My 15ish year old 25-30 litre North Face backpack has served me well for 2 caminos, but really needs replacing now.

I am planning a section of a camino in the very near future. Given current circumstances, it's going to be difficult for me to go to an outdoor shop to try different packs, or even just get an idea of how big they are.

I am 5ft8 and don't necessarily need a women's pack.

I have come up with a list of possible options, but would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for your help.
You would be better off running a survey than asking us individually about this question, because none of us individually can do more than indicate what backpack they would use.

When you say that your current backpack is 25-30 li, does this mean it is a base 25 li, with an expansion sleave that gives you an extra five litres? If so, do you use that? Do you have to squeeze everything in or hang things on the outside? Is there any other indication that you might need a larger pack. Because if there isn't, you already know what size you are looking for.

What features does your current pack have that you want to keep? At this size, you will find any number of urban/commuter oriented packs that offer laptop sleeves and internal organization options. These all add weight. Some won't offer features like hip belts and chest straps, which even in this size, will make your walk more comfortable. And some of these packs won't have a frame, which will make it more difficult to get the pack sitting properly and transferring weight to your hips.

I have used Mont, Deuter and Salewa packs in this size range, and North Face and Deuter in slightly larger sizes. My preferred Camino pack is a Deuter, but I have used Osprey as well where I have needed to take a larger load for multi-day trekking expeditions.

It is a pity that you might find it difficult to try on a pack. So much comes down to personal perceptions of fit and comfort, and only getting to a store with the gear you are going to carry, and seeing how a pack feels loaded will give you any idea about that.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
Hi

Which backpacks are the current go-to favourites among forum users?

My 15ish year old 25-30 litre North Face backpack has served me well for 2 caminos, but really needs replacing now.

I am planning a section of a camino in the very near future. Given current circumstances, it's going to be difficult for me to go to an outdoor shop to try different packs, or even just get an idea of how big they are.

I am 5ft8 and don't necessarily need a women's pack.

I have come up with a list of possible options, but would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for your help.

Honestly, if you cannot physically try on potential replacements with a reasonable dummy load, don’t bother.

Unless your venerable sack is totally beyond use, and especially as you’re only planning a section of a camino; stick with it one last time.
 

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2018
VdlP 2019
2020 Hatching plans
It is a pity that you might find it difficult to try on a pack. So much comes down to personal perceptions of fit and comfort, and only getting to a store with the gear you are going to carry, and seeing how a pack feels loaded will give you any idea about that.
Thanks for your post

This is the problem. When I looked last year, some 35l packs looked enormous and some 45l packs seemed tiny. The women’s fit ones seemed too petite, and the shoulder strap placement is important as I broke my collarbone recently.

I guess I’m more interested in what sort of pack size people are using and which brands can be trusted.
 

jcat

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria - Santiago 2016
Camino Ingles 2019
I've used my Osprey Stratos 34 on 2 separate 5-day Caminos, and I couldn't be happier. A female friend has the same pack just in the S/M size and also loves it for our local hiking / camping trips.
 

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2018
VdlP 2019
2020 Hatching plans
Honestly, if you cannot physically try on potential replacements with a reasonable dummy load, don’t bother.

Unless your venerable sack is totally beyond use, and especially as you’re only planning a section of a camino; stick with it one last time.
Sound advice, I think... much as I’d love a shiny new, larger pack with some actual *features*...
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
Sound advice, I think... much as I’d love a shiny new, larger pack with some actual *features*...

I’ve got nine (nine!) ‘quality’ rucsacs. I even bought a massive bag to keep some of them in. You really need a new sack - everybody does - but just not yet.

Buena suerte y buen camino
 

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2018
VdlP 2019
2020 Hatching plans
I’ve got nine (nine!) ‘quality’ rucsacs. I even bought a massive bag to keep some of them in. You really need a new sack - everybody does - but just not yet.

Buena suerte y buen camino
Oh but... 😔😕😥
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I guess I’m more interested in what sort of pack size people are using and which brands can be trusted.
I think that this is the least well answered question there is on the forum, at least inasmuch as the answers are rarely particularly useful without some context that is generally omitted. Unlike @trecile in her earlier post, most people don't tell you how big they are, how much they carried, what season they walked in, how cold tolerant they are, and whether they could or could not afford ultra-light equipment. I could go on.

If pack size is an issue, brands are equally vexed. If someone hasn't done any hiking or trekking, I think it is unlikely that they have used more than their current Camino pack. I see that you have already found the fulsome praise of Osprey packs in another thread. I don't mind that someone has been satisfied with a particular brand, but that is unlikely to make them an informed contributor if that is the only pack they have ever used.

I recently explained my rule of thumb for making a first order estimate of pack size here. It might help, but it appears to me that you already know more than enough about the size you want. Clearly I am happy to indicate my brand preference, but know that what suits me is not going to suit everyone.
 

JoroAtanasof

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF may 2018
CP july 2018
CP Coastal august 2019
I guess I am lucky that i found the what works for me after 3 try .
It is osprey stratos 36 . I've tried talon and exos series but i found that i can make compromise with few extra grams of base weight of the backpack . And just to add that for the right size it doesn't matter how tall you are , it is about your torso length . Osprey even have an app that tells you which size is recommended for you.
 

Dromengro

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP - Leon 1984
Frances (2021)
If it's served you well for 2 Caminos and has been used for 15 years why replace it now? If you can sew, I can't think of anything that couldn't be easily and cheaply repaired or replaced, you could even add some extra features that you feel your pack is missing. It can be re-waterproofed and even re-dyed if needed to make it look new.
 

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2018
VdlP 2019
2020 Hatching plans
Thanks all for further comments. I am a minimalist packer, but on the VdlP the verb “luchar” (to fight) was frequently used as I tried to fit everything in each morning. The pack is really too small, especially when it’s necessary to carry enough water for a 30km stretch and food for more than a day.

So I guess this is the main reason for considering a new pack. Despite being so old, it is pretty functional but the bladder system is a nightmare when the pack is full (I like the look of the osprey external hydration systems); it is a heavy pack for its volume (I have removed all of the unnecessary bits); and it lacks the ‘technology’ of some of the new packs - such as a ventilated back system. It is also not especially comfortable and does not promote good walking posture.

Despite all of this, it should survive another week on the camino - unless I can actually go and try some packs out beforehand.
 
Last edited:

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2018
VdlP 2019
2020 Hatching plans
Yep - I know pretty much what I want. Ultimately I'm going to have to try some out before I buy.
 

Gail Dickson

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances April 2016
Portugese from Lisbon 2018
Via Francigena (2020)
I've used my Osprey Stratos 34 on 2 separate 5-day Caminos, and I couldn't be happier. A female friend has the same pack just in the S/M size and also loves it for our local hiking / camping trips.
I am 5'8" and also have the Stratos 34 with the suspension back
 

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2018
VdlP 2019
2020 Hatching plans
Interestingly, the woman from the customer service team at “Trekkit”, who I spoke to this afternoon, said she is 5ft 11 and would still go for a women’s fit backpack (despite her height) because of the position of the straps. Helpful.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
I guess I’m more interested in what sort of pack size people are using and which brands can be trusted.
First Camino, I used a cheap rucksack from Lidl, served me perfectly from St Jean pde Port to Fisterra. It didn’t have many extras (none) and I have no idea how many L it was. But what you don’t know you don’t miss! 😁
All my other Caminos (except the last one), I used an Osprey Exos 48. Fitted perfectly and I loved it. Too big for a Camino but wasn’t full and I hardly knew I was carrying it. It also meant I could fit camping gear in it when walking longer pilgrimages.
i now have an Osprey Lumina 45, just a little bit lighter which is what I wanted. Doesn’t have all the extras of the Exos but suits me fine.

My Camino stuff actually easily fits in my other backpack I use for day walks, an Osprey Tempest 20, but I find it very uncomfortable when fully loaded. So I prefer the larger one.
 

TaraWalks

Peregrina without a skateboard
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2016 & 2018, planning for Le Puy 2019/2020ish and for some shorter Caminos stacked
Thanks all for further comments. I am a minimalist packer, but on the VdlP the verb “luchar” (to fight) was frequently used as I tried to fit everything in each morning. The pack is really too small, especially when it’s necessary to carry enough water for a 30km stretch and food for more than a day.

So I guess this is the main reason for considering a new pack. Despite being so old, it is pretty functional but the bladder system is a nightmare when the pack is full (I like the look of the osprey external hydration systems); it is a heavy pack for its volume (I have removed all of the unnecessary bits); and it lacks the ‘technology’ of some of the new packs - such as a ventilated back system. It is also not especially comfortable and does not promote good walking posture.

Despite all of this, it should survive another week on the camino - unless I can actually go and try some packs out beforehand.
I second the use of Osprey external hydration systems! If you use a bladder, they’re great on a Camino as you can pull out the bladder and refill without emptying the contents of your pack. FYI I use an Osprey Tempest 40. Works for me.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015, 2017, 2019) and plans for 2021 (Sept, Oct)
I did not take a precise inventory of backpack brands on our three caminos, but if you accept anecdotal information, Osprey is the most used brand on the Camino Frances. We way them everywhere on our caminos. My wife has a 48L Kestrol and I have a 50L Atmos. They are superb. They may be a bit larger than what we need but we have the discipline to not stuff them to the brim. Over time, our needs change. For example, my wife developed severe knee pain during our first camino (later diagnosed as a stress fracture), so we used Jacotrans to transport her backpack mid-way through our 2015 camino. The last two caminos, we used Jacotrans to transport her backpack every day. Also, during our 2019 camino, we stayed in private rooms each night, so did not need to bring a sleeping bag, an inflatable pillow, and some other items with us. Another thing to explore is whether you can attach a smaller Osprey daypack to your larger backpack. There are so many sizes and designs. An experienced sales person suggested this and it worked great for me.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
but if you accept anecdotal information, Osprey is the most used brand on the Camino Frances
I think that unless you have deliberately undertaken your camino to collect this kind of information, there are two things happen. First, we see what we use, such as the car make and model we drive ourselves, and this skews our observation of what is common. Second, we forget fine details - memory is an unreliable thing.

I know that I saw a lot of different brands, but I didn't pretend to count them. So Osprey, Deuter, Berghaus, ChechuaQuechua, North Face just to name some that I remember. ChechuaQuechua seemed quite common after Sarria on the CF where there were a lot more Spanish pilgrims, but I am not sure that any one brand predominated. I just didn't walk counting the numbers of each brand.

Another thing to explore is whether you can attach a smaller Osprey daypack to your larger backpack.
I took this approach too, but only for my first camino. On subsequent camino's I carried a small soft daypack that I could pack a few things into when walking around town, but it was never my intention to walk a day with it, even if I could have. If I were going to use a pack transport service more regularly, it might be a good option to have a more structured daybag. My current thinking is to avoid the weight of that approach for the walking that I am intending to do.

Edit: Thank you @trecile for pointing out my incorrect spelling of Quechua.
 
Last edited:

Murgyman

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
None yet
I am 5'8" and also have the Stratos 34 with the suspension back
Hi Gail and jcat - I'm looking seriously at this pack. I currently own a Talon 30 (?) and really want the "trampoline" type frame. My Talon carries really heavy, no matter how tightly I cinch the hip belt. My husband has a Stratos 36 and I've been borrowing it to see how I like it. I think I'll prefer the 34 as it's a front loader. Also, the S/M size is 55 cm and qualifies as cabin baggage while the M/L technically doesn't. Last time we measured each other, I was right between sizes. I'm hoping I can get away with the S/M for carry on...
Any likes or dislikes I should be aware of?
Cheers,
Mary
 

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2018
VdlP 2019
2020 Hatching plans
I think that unless you have deliberately undertaken your camino to collect this kind of information, there are two things happen. First, we see what we use, such as the car make and model we drive ourselves, and this skews our observation of what is common. Second, we forget fine details - memory is an unreliable thing.

I know that I saw a lot of different brands, but I didn't pretend to count them. So Osprey, Deuter, Berghaus, Chechua, North Face just to name some that I remember. Chechua seemed quite common after Sarria on the CF where there were a lot more Spanish pilgrims, but I am not sure that any one brand predominated. I just didn't walk counting the numbers of each brand.


I took this approach too, but only for my first camino. On subsequent camino's I carried a small soft daypack that I could pack a few things into when walking around town, but it was never my intention to walk a day with it, even if I could have. If I were going to use a pack transport service more regularly, it might be a good option to have a more structured daybag. My current thinking is to avoid the weight of that approach for the walking that I am intending to do.
@BROWNCOUNTYBOB bought a packable daysack - £2 from Decathlon, 10l, weighs ?30g and no bigger than your palm. It’s survived two Caminos and a lot of heavy use
 

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2018
VdlP 2019
2020 Hatching plans
Update: decided that even in normal times I would need to go to London or up to the Lakes to be able to find a shop with a big enough range of backpacks in stock for comparison. So decided to order a few online to try out at home.

Spoke to very helpful customer service team at Open Air in Cambridge and Trekitt in Hereford to narrow down the options. Ordered men’s and women’s Osprey (Kyte/Kestrel) and Lowe Alpine Airzone.

Definitely agree with advice to go for women’s fit - the position of the straps is infinitely better for female anatomy and back length is fine.

Currently leaning towards the Lowe Alpine, as fit is far better, more technical and better quality, I think.
 

Pilgrim9

Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-SdC (2017)
SdC-Muxia-Fisterra-SdC (2017)
Lisboa-SdC (2018)
Ferrol-SdC (2018)
Which backpacks are the current go-to favourites among forum users?

I ... would be interested to hear your thoughts.
I used a Kelty Trekker 65 external frame backpack for my four pilgrimages, and was so pleased with it that I bought another one as a spare.

It has many fitting adjustments (height of waist-belt, height of shoulder straps, lateral position of the top mountings of shoulder straps [essential for me because my spine is crooked], etc.), the external frame holds the pack away from one's back which aids ventilation and coolness, and replacement waist-belts, shoulder straps, and etc. are available from Kelty.

As manufactured, the frame tube bottoms have hard slippery plastic caps which encourage the pack to slip down onto the floor immediately after one props it upright against e.g. a chair. My very easy and economical fix was to push a pair of 7/8" / 22 mm inside-diameter rubber cane tips onto the bottoms of the frame tubes.

Before boarding the aircraft I had the entire loaded pack stretch-wrapped at the airport. The stretch wrap very effectively protected the fabric and various straps and other snaggy items.

The one I used is still in excellent condition after ~1800 km of walking with minor signs of wear - no holes or tears, and only very slight fading - and will be good for another two or so thousand km of walking before its retirement.

I have no economic interest whatsoever in Kelty or anything else other than my pension.
 

Espee84

...
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2018
VdlP 2019
2020 Hatching plans
Having said all this I may just take original old pack if it’s going to be sprayed every time I check in at accommodation!!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2016), Norte (2017), Portuges (2018), Mozarabe (2019), Primitivo (2019), Via de La Plata (2
Hi

Which backpacks are the current go-to favourites among forum users?

My 15ish year old 25-30 litre North Face backpack has served me well for 2 caminos, but really needs replacing now.

I am planning a section of a camino in the very near future. Given current circumstances, it's going to be difficult for me to go to an outdoor shop to try different packs, or even just get an idea of how big they are.

I am 5ft8 and don't necessarily need a women's pack.

I have come up with a list of possible options, but would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for your help.
I use a 40 litre back pack which is great for size but I made a mistake when I bought it as it does not have lower spine bar which lifts the sack off your (very sweaty) lower back. This omission means that I have to wrap all of my clothes in individual plastic bags to keep them dry - a pain. These type o packs are a little more expensive but worth every penny. Buen Camino.
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
I have used 3 different sizes of packs Osprey 48, Osprey 38, and Zpack Nero 36 ltr. The difference is every trip I keep lightening my load. My Nero empty weighs 11 oz. Camino stuff 6 lbs 11oz. Plus water and snacks less than 11 lbs I love it.
 

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