After years of fighting cheap or used backpacks, I finally bit the bullet and brought a "real" backpack. It help that REI was having a huge anniversary sale.
I original went into REI to get a travel backpack as I thought that it would fit all my needs. A travel backpack is a backpack that as a special compartment that allows you to hide the waist belt and shoulder straps. This makes it perfect for traveling on air planes where the straps of a typical backpack would be caught in the conveyor belt and destroyed.
However, when I tried on the travel backpacks with thirty or so pounds, I quickly discovered that they weren't that good… In fact, they almost hurt worse then my cheap $50 backpack. Needless to say, I was disappointed.
Here is where the genius of the REI's workers come in: they told me about a really cool duffel bag made especial for protecting your backpack during airline flights. This means I could buy a solid backcountry backpack and still take it to Paraguay!!!
[@more@]With this news, I started trying on all the backpacks designed for 4 to 7 days. The best one: Osprey Aether 70 Pack. It is awesome!!! I put 40 lbs in it and walked about the store for half a hour without feeling a thing!
And the waist belt was custom fitted to my hips!! (ie. they heated it up in an oven, put it on me and let it cool. The result is a sweet fit!!)
Osprey also has a great reputation for taking care of the environment and promoting "Leave No Trace" camping (shoot – their owners manual was printed on post-consumer recycled paper!!). Since I take both of these issues seriously, it was nice to send my money to a place that is doing things right.
It was a win-win deal.
Oh – did I mention I saved a tad over 30%? That's right baby – never pay full price!