Nomad Travel, the Osprey Farpoint 55 and the ITravel Shoulder Bag
By the end of my year long jaunt around South America my cheap and cheerful rucksack had all but disintegrated:- zips had broken, straps had dropped off and a hole had abeen scuffed in the bottom.
It was time to get a new one, but which one?
You obviously get what you pay for but my main requirement was that the bag should not be as heavy to carry as my last one that I took around Latin America – and the only way that I was going to achieve that was to reduce the capacity and therefore the amount that I was physically able to pack.
Paul Goodyer, the CEO of Nomad Travel invited me to his store in Turnpike Lane, London to choose a bag for my next adventure.
Nomad Travel is a little piece of travellers’ heaven, staffed by friendly knowledgable staff and full of gadgets and equipment. I was questioned about my travel style and my habits and I was asked what my preferences might be.
I wanted a bag no larger than 55 litres and it had to stand up to the wear and tear of being bundled up on top of buses and jeeps or slung into aeroplane holds. When I travel I carry my netbook and valuables in a separate daypack worn on my front – the only time that I deviated from this was the time that I had my purse stolen.
At the Nomad Travel shop my height and bodyshape were taken into account and then I tried bags on for size and comfort which were loaded with weights to ensure a realistic experience. More and more gender specific bags are coming onto the market but Paul explained to me that this labelling may actually be limiting as a slim man would better fit the more tapered design of a female specific bag, etc etc and so he advised me to just go with what was comfortable for me.
After much deliberating and discussion I decided on the Osprey Farpoint 55ltrs and for extra versatility Paul suggested that I also trial a shoulder bag from ITravel.
The Osprey Farpoint is called a travel sack as opposed to a rucksack and whilst when packed it looks like many other bags it does differ from a standard rucksack.
The most obvious difference is that you access it like a suitcase with a large zip which opens up the entire side rather than having to delve deep down into a toploaded bag. It also has a clever cover which zips over the main backstrap system for use on aeroplanes or buses and will hopefully limit the potential of damage to the straps and buckles, but this also makes the whole thing look smarter and more like a suitcase if I should check into a nicer hotel rather than a backpackers’ hostel. I also like the discreet little emergency whistle which is moulded into the sternum strap.
The smaller daypack zips to the body of the main bag where it is held securely in place with compression straps. The daypack can be detached and worn on your front for security but rather than hooking over your shoulders it can clip to the larger bag on your back leaving your arms free.
The final packed weight of my main bag is 10kgs (the bag itself weighs less that 1kg), and with a further 4kgs in the little piggy-back daypack and 3kgs in the shoulder bag, the total is considerably lighter than I carried on my previous trip. The zips were straining as I pulled them closed, but despite the lightweight material the system of straps gives me confidence that this bag will survive. I opted for the blue bag so that I can spot it coming down carousels and it will stand out a little bit should anybody attempt to steal it from underneath a bus.
Whilst the bag doesn’t have the additional pockets that I am used to I also have my shoulder bag that I can put my little bits and bobs into that I might need when I am travelling. The ITravel shoulder bag was created by Paul to meet the needs of the traveller and is especially useful if you want to carry electronic devices and cameras.
A thoughtful addition to the ITravel shoulder bag is the hip strap which prevents the bag from swinging and bumping you as you walk. There is a padded compartment for tablets and netbooks measuring up to 13 inches and a adjustable vecro system so that you can alter the internal configuration depending on what you want to carry.
This bag has a side mesh pocket for a water bottle and a plastic splashproof touchscreen compartment for your MP3 or smaller smartphone and it has two magnetic catches for quick closure and a metal hook for security.
I have my routines when I am travelling and whilst these bags are very different to what I am used to, I am confident that they will be sturdy enough for my needs yet light enough that I don’t grow to hate them.
I will report back after a month or so on the road and tell you how the bags and me are holding up. I will also let you know how comfortable the bags are to carry around.
My next stop is Helsinki and I plan to travel south via Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and then work west through Poland. Click ‘to like‘ my Facebook page and follow me as I travel
Do check out the Nomad Travel stores or their online shop. They also offer an excellent Travel Clinic and Pharmacy as well as sensible advice on kit and equipment.