Today marks 100 Days to Go until the departure date for my 16-month stroll around the planet, as appropriate a time as any to climb up to the roof and snap a few portraits through the afternoon mist of the bag I’ll be taking along. I also continued to ponder the question that popped into my head when I first saw it sitting, in all its compact glory, on the store counter: WTF were you thinking?
Maybe it was just the timing. I’m slowly beginning the process of packing up a four-room apartment –plus a bathroom and large hallway– so trying to visualize living out of a 60-liter/3600 cubic inch bag, no matter how rave the reviews, was a bit daunting.
Picking the right travel companion, one you’ll spend too much time carrying on your back or pulling behind you, is the most important decision to consider when planning long-term travel. And I did my research. I read dozens upon dozens of pack reviews, pored over countless RTW packing lists, and spent too much time reading spirited debates on what is the ‘right’ or best pack. I knew that 60 liters would be plenty. But the bag nonetheless looked ridiculously small. So I went and stuffed it with a dozen bath-sized towels and a pair of shoes. And I now feel much better.
By all accounts, Osprey has made and continues to make the best hybrid packs i.e. rolling backpacks on the market. Why wheels? Because I may be a dreamer, but I ain’t dumb.
I’m not 25. Or even 30-something. My body is already hauling around nearly five decades of experience –including varying degrees of abuse and neglect. My back, knees, elbows and a few others parts need to be taken good care of. By any reasonable estimation, I’ll be pulling my bag seventy percent of the time. For the remaining thirty, the Sojourn promises to fill its role as a genuine backpack remarkably well.
This year’s winner is the Osprey Sojourn 25″, which masterfully combines DNA from Osprey’s technical packs with perhaps the most intelligent convertible-luggage design available.
The foundation is the company’s High Road Chassis, an amalgam of high-grade aluminum frame, composite base, fiberglass matrix inlay, ergonomic two-position handle, and large, high-traction wheels. During tramps in Alaska, Colorado, and Mexico, testers gushed about how nimble and balanced the Sojourn felt, testament to the Straight Jacket design, which employs foam sidewalls to compress and center the load like an oversize taco.
Its zip-away suspension performed like a real backpack, using load-lifter straps and a sprung back panel that conforms to your physique. Inside the drop door you’ve got 3,600 cubic inches, with compression straps, front panel, and side mesh pockets for organization. The multiple haul handles were plush and provided excellent lift points for roof-rack tosses. Quibbles? Nada.
I haven’t read a bad thing about it. Anywhere. And at €199, even the price –especially here in Slovenia where such items are ALWAYS more expensive—was a pleasant surprise.
Next up is the day pack, whose design will have to hold a laptop, DSLR, at least two lenses, a camcorder, a GoPro and a small variety of related gadgets and accessories. Essentially the mobile office, with enough spare room for day trip essentials. Suggestions welcome!