I’ve written in a few different places about the best backpacks for travelers and one name that always comes up near the top in both quality and popularity is Osprey Packs. If you go backpacking around the world, you’ll see that Osprey logo on the backs of a lot of travelers, either in the Waypoint 80 size or this more manageable Waypoint 65 size.
The number refers to cubic liters and as any backpacker will tell you, empty space doesn’t last long. When you’re carrying your worldly possessions on your back, you tend to fill any available capacity. So I like this 65-liter (4,000 cubic inches) version better as it forces some discipline. Whether you’re going for two weeks or two years, you should be able to cram what you need into here as long as you follow our regular advice on double-duty travel gear and lightweight, quick-dry travel clothing.
But enough preaching—what about this backpack? Well, it has all the elements I look for in a travel pack, as opposed to a super-light top-loading tube used for hiking. It’s got a comfortable handle on the top and another one on the side for all those times you’ve got to sling it onto the top of a bus or check it onto a plane. The straps zip behind a flap when necessary it doesn’t get shredded in a luggage carousel. It’s got cinch straps in all the right places plus side supports to keep it from bulging out. It has the all-important waist strap and chest clip for weight distribution.
There’s a removable daypack as well and although I’m not normally a fan of those because they make your load top-heavy, this one might actually get used: it’s so small it won’t tip you over even if you jam it full. Plus one of the compression straps for the pack goes through a flap on the daypack to keep it all tight.
It’s all the little extras though that set this newly updated $250-list-price Osprey pack from ones that cost half as much. There’s heavy-duty ripstop nylon, quality metal zippers with good pulls, and a super-comfy padded mesh panel against your back when you wear it—which keeps your back from turning to a river of sweat. Hey, if somebody tries to rob you, there’s even a built-in rescue whistle!
There aren’t a whole lot of pockets in the main pack, but that means you’ve got one big compartment to hold everything, like a duffel bag with a few zippered pouches on the sides and the flap. Internal adjustable straps hold everything together. Plus sleeping bag holding straps and tool loops are on the outside. The daypack has places for a netbook, your music player (with a cord port), pens, etc.
The design of this Waypoint bag makes it much slimmer than other 65-liter packs I’ve used, with the compression system seeming to make the weight distribute better as well. There are versions cut a bit differently to fit men and women. The men’s version weighs 5 pounds 12 ounces. That’s a bit more than some travel backpacks, but less than anything with wheels.
You’ve got to like Osprey guarantee, which says, “Osprey will repair for any reason, free of charge, any damage or defect in our product – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday.” I’ve taken this on a couple trips already and planning on strapping it on for many more to come.
See more features and specs on all their backpacks at OspreyPacks.com
Tim Leffel is founder of the Practical Travel Gear blog, as well as the Cheapest Destinations blog and the narrative webzine Perceptive Travel. He is the author of The World's Cheapest Destinations (now in its 4th edition), Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune, and A Better Life for Half the Price.
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