Backpacks - Big or Small?

#1 Aug 9th, 2014, 22:08
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  • Jacob Stevens is offline
#1
Hi all,

I'm planning to travel to India solo for three months at the end of September. I've got a loose itinerary which i'm working on but know that I'll definitely be starting in Delhi and want to head to Darjeeling, possibly cross to Nepal and head to Goa also. In short, I'll be doing quite a broad range of stuff on a fairly limited budget - about 2000.

I've been doing a lot of reading on this forum (and found it super helpful) and other resources and I've bought my Lonely Planet guide. Whilst I don't have much experience abroad I've done a lot of backpacking around the UK.

My question is basically do I take a small 40-odd liter pack that I can easily carry around and qualifies as hand luggage or do I take a larger 60-odd liter pack and take more stuff?

I've read a lot of people saying that it's better to take the smaller pack and buy whatever you need out there for several reasons - chiefly maneuverability and easily being able to police up your gear. Most of my experience has been with a large Army Bergen which is a nightmare to wear in any kind of confined space so I can relate to the maneuverability aspect - let alone trying to find anything in the bottom of a 75 liter monstrosity. Also, correct me if i'm wrong, but being a solo traveler i'm going to want to have my stuff with me at all times, meaning that a smaller pack is going to open me up to a wider range of activities.

I suppose there's quite an element of subjectivity here, some people are going to struggle to give up some of their gear for a smaller pack but i'd still like to hear what everyone thinks?

On a side note - can't believe how much money you can pay for some of these backpacks!!!

Although my packing list is far from complete here are the essentials I figured on taking:

Netbook
Camera
Lonely Planet guide
3 sets of clothes
Towel


thanks
#2 Aug 9th, 2014, 22:17
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  • Fing Fang is offline
#2
The bigger the better. More room for souvenirs.

I took 55L backpack and a 15L daysack for 6 months, plenty of room. It wasn't even full at the end of the trip. I reckon you could survive 3 months with the 40L bag though as well if you wanted to pack small / light.
#3 Aug 9th, 2014, 22:18
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#3
Hello Jacob, welcome to Indiamike.

Small . You're going to be covering big distances on a budget so that means trains and buses. You need your pack to be small and manoeuvrable enough to get under the seats. I guess you mean you will have it with you at all times while actually travelling. But when you are staying in a place and going out for the day you need some kind of daypack/bag for your camera, guidebook if using, bottle of water, snacks to nibble on etc. The daybag is almost as important to get right as the big pack.

You might not need 3 sets of clothes. 2 might be enough if you do your own washing and if they are light and dry quickly.



< cross-posted with Fing! >
#4 Aug 9th, 2014, 22:20
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#4
Oh this is a can of worms . . . My own thinking, and doing, has been this: I take a big pack. First of all, I'm no minimalist, and proud of it I am, in fact, a Neo-Victorian (the luggage, but without the attitude ). I don't really wear my pack for that long, 99% of the time, I'm not wearing it. I am no fan of multiple bags - simply too much, too many things for me to keep track of. I like the fact that a bigger bag will allow me some shopping (for friends) and still not need to purchase or take another bag. Should you be inclined to two packs, you could find a pack that has a detachable bit that turns into a fanny/day pack. That particular type would serve you well, I think, for dropping the BIG bag upon arrival, then heading out with some day-stuff in the smaller pack.

It's apples and oranges . . . papayas and mangoes

The Right Answer is the one that works for you Good luck
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure - Marianne Williamson
#5 Aug 9th, 2014, 22:27
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  • vaibhav_arora is offline
#5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacob Stevens View Post I'll definitely be starting in Delhi and want to head to Darjeeling, possibly cross to Nepal
As this is happening in the winter months, here's my advice - Get the bigger pack. Get some good outerwear (quality outer wear - Nepal is full of fakes). It'll be useful in the Himalayas so do Delhi-Nepal-Darj. I'm normally attached to good gear but i suppose you could sell it off as well if it's a slow trip before going to Goa.

Just saying.
#6 Aug 9th, 2014, 22:33
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#6
Or, you can give your not-necessary-any-longer clothes to people in those areas that really need them. Did this in Dharamsala . . . the money you get back is money/here today-gone today . . . the smiles I got back remain indelible
#7 Aug 9th, 2014, 22:51
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#7
Thanks for the replies everyone, plenty of food for thought! Good point about the weather and the need for outerwear - that alone is going to increase the amount of room i'll need and I hadn't really thought about souvenirs which, considering i'm a bit of a shopping addict, was a bit short sighted.

I'm entertaining the possibility of taking a larger pack for clothes, souvenirs and non-valuables then keeping all my valuables in a day pack which i'll keep with me. Now I just have to find some affordable packs!
#8 Aug 9th, 2014, 23:17
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#8
I traveled 3 month with a 60lt backpack and a 12lt daypack and it had plenty of space. I carried lots of gifts (both ways :-) with me, layers of warm clothes and solid shoes for hiking and at the end nearly all clothes stayed there.

For the daypack I can recommend you to have a good closer look at the "bottle holder", since you mostly always will carry a bottle of water with you and its nice to have it not in the hand or to close by the netbook. And check that you can store your netbook safely, sometimes it has a separate upholstered compartent.

Make a kind of test packing, then you'll see how much your pile will grow.
And enjoy the preparations
Surely there comes a time when counting the cost and paying the price aren't things to think about any more. All that matters is value - the ultimate value of what one does.
James Hilton
#9 Aug 9th, 2014, 23:32
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#9
Yeah having somewhere to stow water bottles makes sense. I'm guess i'm also kind of concerned about places i'll be able to store a larger bag - both while i'm using transport and staying in accommodation. I also like the notion of the freedom you get from just having all your stuff in a small pack on your back and being able to take it anywhere.
#10 Aug 10th, 2014, 01:07
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#10
I had also a very useful raincover with a zippo around for the big backpack. I nearly left it on it all the time. It was a bit bigger but it protected from strange liquids, dust and everything. Everystop I could just wash the worst from the cover and never was feeling uncomfortable to put it into the dirt, onto the roof or under the bench.
And I could and can "seal" it with a single smoll lock. This way its easy to depot it in a cloakroom or while flying. Of course its not slit proof but you would realize it.

The worst thing that happend to me with it that I had to carry it, during a bumpy busride, once nearly 2 hours on my lap but hey, now I have something to tell.
#11 Aug 10th, 2014, 02:46
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#11
I always see pack "horses" struggling to get in and out of trains with over large packs. I notice that they attract touts whereas I just walk by. I'll go with Julia, no more than 55 liters. However this time I went with a rolling pack. I had to look hard for one that wasn't heavy (LL Bean). But, it held a bunch and was extremely convenient!!
#12 Aug 10th, 2014, 12:25
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#12
EkCoffee, like the idea of a cover over the back-pack. definitely keep way much of the dirt etc away.
#13 Aug 10th, 2014, 13:17
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  • BholeBaba is offline
#13
I vote for a wheely suitcase that can slide easily under the train berth or under your bed in your hotel room, along with a school bag type back-pack for everyday use- water, guidebook, whatever.

Why not also give some business to all the coolies standing on train platforms?
#14 Aug 10th, 2014, 14:42
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  • skids ghost is online now
#14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacob Stevens View Post Hi all,


Towel


thanks
Greetings Earthing,

While a towel might make an adequate repository for Plum Sauce or whatever condiment you think necessary upon your journey, a towel in the laughably western sense of the word is unlikely to be the nutritional supplement you desire. Used as directed a towel, once moistened and packed away for the next leg of the journey often becomes a sustainable bit of micro agriculture that in no way bears any resemblance to Plum Sauce. Much better to use a locally acquired lungi or other such piece of kapra to squeegee that which you're corporeally bound to after bathing. A thin piece of cotton drys much quicker and is easily sanitized by exposure to the nearest star.


skid
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#15 Aug 10th, 2014, 15:10
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#15
We always come back from India with more than we take. We used to do rolling cases but find rucsacs much more practical.

Its easy to find things in a rucsac if you use packing pods. This set from IKEA was recently available in the UK for less than a fiver. http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30235115/ I'm not sure if it is still available in the UK as it does not appear on the UK website but pods are easy enough to get through Amazon.

Being able to lock your rucsac is essential if you want to use railway cloakroom left luggage counters.
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