At Home in the Wild
Q: My college-aged daughter will be studying abroad starting in January. The program requires that she bring everything she needs for the entire semester in a single non-wheeled backpack. She won't be camping out but doing homestays in Germany and Tanzania, with some travel in between.
-- Deb, Amherst, New Hampshire
A: It just so happens I saw exactly what she needs this past weekend in Salt Lake City, where I was attending the Outdoor Retailer trade show. One of the new exhibitors there was MacPac, a long-time New Zealand maker of excellent outdoor equipment that is now entering the U.S. market.
Anyway, MacPac makes a BIG travel pack that's also an excellent all-around pack. Called the Genesis, it holds just over 5,000 cubic inches of stuff in the medium size, has a detachable daypack, and includes a built-in harness cover to simplify airline check-in. It's also very ruggedly built, and should last your daughter through many, many trips. Price is $350 (www.macpac.co.nz). Question is, can you find one over here? Try Bob Smith's Wilderness House in Boston (www.wildernesshouseboston.com). They're one of MacPac's new retailers, and if they don't have a Genesis, they can get you one.
You might also look at the Osprey Waypoint 80W ($240; www.ospreypacks.com), another excellent no-wheels travel pack. It's a little smaller than the Genesis, but still holds nearly 5,000 cubic inches, has a detachable daypack, and comes with traveler-friendly features such as pockets that help organize important paperwork.
It's also entirely possible to purchase a big "regular" backpack, then purchase an inexpensive duffle to stick the thing in when traveling via air or train. Gregory's Whitney ($329; www.gregorypacks.com) is an excellent, big backpack5,450 cubic inches of space in the medium size. It's got a very fine suspension as well, so it'll be comfortable to carry.
One very worthwhile accessory will be a PacSafe 85 security web ($65; www.pac-safe.com), which is a stainless-steel mesh that locks over a pack to keep out prying hands. Well worth the money.
I hope your daughter has a grand adventure! And learns something too, of course...
For more expert reviews of the world's toughest haulers, check out Outside Online's all-new Backpack Buying Guide.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication