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How best to pack? Wheeled luggage vs. backpacks

Kentucky
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8 posts
82 reviews
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How best to pack? Wheeled luggage vs. backpacks

We have 4 adults and 4 teens going to San Pedro Sula to stay for a week long mission trip. Then we plan to go to La Ceiba for a few nights to tour National Parks, then to the Ferry out to Roatan. We will stay in West Bay. Any suggestions? Last we will ride back to San Pedro Sula. Any help is appreciated.

I wander the world
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1. Re: How best to pack? Wheeled luggage vs. backpacks

What are you most comfortable with?

For me it depends on how much time I will be on foot, how much I will be moving my bags, how much I want my eyes on my bag.

When traveling daily by public transport, bus, trains and on foot I take my beloved backpack.

When I only need to shift once or twice I will take my wheeled bag cause it is SO much easier in airports. My upcoming trip in India is with my Mother and a driver....no public transport, wheeled bag it is.

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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2. Re: How best to pack? Wheeled luggage vs. backpacks

If I was a business traveler I might get into wheelies, though I can't picture it. They're heavy and loud and the wheel mechanisms can take 1/4 to 1/3 of your packing space plus they don't work on the narrow sidewalks, cobblestones, and dirt tracks I tend to wander down.

I'm a cultural and adventure traveler and swear by carry-on sized conversion packs, straps tuck away if you decide to check them on the way home. I have a beloved Gregory pack I use for back country trips (to many straps for strap-eating conveyor belts + not organized for travel) and a separate pack which I highly recommend for travel.

I answered a similar question in detail a while back and will paste it below. Happy trails!

______________________________________________________

I've researched this heavily and vetted my top contenders and the information is below. You can't go wrong with either of these well made, nicely organized, great value packs; both fit your criteria:

rei.com/product/809157/rei-vagabond-tour-40-…

rei.com/product/…osprey-porter-46-travel-pack

I have a terrific Gregory women's pack for actual backpacking but recently replaced my trusty Columbia Pakmandu which I've used for 10 years (no longer available). It's a strange shape and not well organized and I travel so much I felt I deserved an upgrade. In November 2010 the Vagabond came on sale at the same time that REI was offering 20% off one regular priced item to members. I purchased both the Vagabond and the Osprey Porter 46 and took them home for a complete vetting with real packing and hikes up the hill from my house to assess comfort. My needs are specific to carry-on travel since I already have a different pack for backcountry pack trips and there's no replacement for actually trying a pack to be sure it fits you comfortably, but I'll summarize my findings below.

PORTER - Held more, easier to get into, a bit more of a classic carry-on shape, better compression system, a little simpler but still with nice organization features, similar to the Vagabond in that regard. The suspension system is not as nice as the Vagabond, both in terms of waist strap support and the part of the bag that lies against your back. The carry handles are a bit nicer than on the Vagabond.

VAGABOND - A bit smaller, narrower design, flap/zip system a tiny bit awkward by comparison, excellent suspension/strap system. It's a bit longer than the traditional carry-on measurement but I've made dozens of trips with Vagabond owners (relatives and friends I've recommended them to) and I've never seen one refused as a carry-on. In 2009 I lead a group of 15 people to Guatemala and nearly half had Vagabonds because they were closing out a very slightly different model and cut the price in half right before Christmas that year - no problems, everyone loved them. Nice organization features and a terrific suspension system all around, though it's a bit harder to stow away than the Porter's. This version is very different than the original which my son uses; I travel with the slightly smaller Hitchhiker version of the original (just got back from a long week-end trip to the east coast with it). The current one is improved in many ways, especially with a mild compression system and the included rainfly/cover, though it seemed a little awkward to use and wear the bag, almost designed more for carrying the bag with handles and for checking to keep the bag safer.

In the end I returned the Vagabond because the suspension/back system was plenty comfortable on the Porter for travel (better than the bag I've loved for years) and the general ease/opening/size/shape considerations for my traveling made it better for me (size was an important factor). I absolutely LOVE IT - really an amazing bag.

The eBags Weekender is popular with travelers:

ebags.com/product/…

My brother- and sister-in-law traveled with those when we traveled with them for 3 weeks in Belize in 2009. The design and organizational features were very nice and the price is great. The suspension system is pretty dismal, so I wouldn't pick that one if you think you'll actually be wearing your pack a lot. I think the Rick Steves’ bag is similar in size and function:

ricksteves.com/news/…travelbags.htm

Both would be good value options for the sort of travel where you're mainly carrying it in brief stretches but sometimes I'm off the track enough I walk a lot with mine.

Hope that helps! Happy trails!

Roatan
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292 posts
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3. Re: How best to pack? Wheeled luggage vs. backpacks

I think for your group backpacks would work best. The wheeled bags when you can't wheel them, typically carry quite awkwardly. The backpack also helps limit weight to what you can comfortably carry.

Kentucky
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8 posts
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4. Re: How best to pack? Wheeled luggage vs. backpacks

Thank you for taking the time to share.

Edited: 5:35 pm, January 11, 2012
Kentucky
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8 posts
82 reviews
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5. Re: How best to pack? Wheeled luggage vs. backpacks

Thank you for sharing your experiences and resources. Very useful information.

6. Re: How best to pack? Wheeled luggage vs. backpacks

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