The backpack you travel with can make or break a trip. If you pick the wrong one, you could end up with an aching back, wasting time on packing and unpacking, and even end up having your things stolen. Deciding which pack to go with is a tough decision, I know, but it's one that I can hopefully make much easier for you.
After six years of full-time travel, I've tried and discarded dozens of backpacks in search of the perfect fit. I now know whether it's best for you to get a front- or top-loading backpack, what size bag is perfect for you, and which features you'll want to make sure are included.
And after much research, I've come to the conclusion that the Osprey Farpoint 70l backpack is the best travel backpack out there, and I couldn't imagine using anything else. Here's why I recommend it for travelers.
It's a Front-Loading Backpack
Front-loading backpacks have their pros and cons, but for me, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Here's why: the main advantage to having a top-loading backpack is that they're slimmer and lightweight, often designed for hiking. They're good if you're small in height and weight and don't have much upper body strength, but that's about their only advantage.
When it comes to front-loading backpacks, though, there are so many more advantages. The first is that opening your backpack for packing or unpacking is so much easier -- you don't have to rummage around through a small hole at the top of the backpack and can instead open it up from the front as you would a suitcase. This also makes finding things far easier, because you won't have to remove practically everything from your bag just to get a charger. Finally, front-loading backpacks are more secure, because they're fastened with zippers rather than a drawstring, so you can padlock your stuff inside for peace of mind.
The fact that the Osprey Farpoint 70 is a front-loading backpack is a huge advantage for me. I can padlock my stuff inside to keep it safe, I can easily throw everything into my bag when I have five minutes before I need to check-out of a hostel, and finding things is far easier, too. Plus: packing cubes fit a lot more easily in a front-loading pack because you actually have enough space to fit them in.
The disadvantages to traveling with a front-loading backpack? They're usually heavier than top-loading backpacks, as they're designed for travelers rather than hikers.
Read more: Packing Cubes: An Essential Travel Investment.
It Has the Best Guarantee on the Market
One of the reasons why I always travel with an Osprey Backpack is due to their fantastic guarantee for travelers. Osprey promises to replace or repair any of their backpacks for any reason at any time. You don't even need your receipt. And yes, that means that even if you bought one of their backpacks 30 years ago, they'll still replace it now. I don't know of any other company with such a solid guarantee, and it means you'll never have to buy another backpack again!
And don't worry about what would happen if your bag is damaged while traveling, because I was still able to get mind repaired at a local repair centre in the country I was in. An airline had ripped a hole in the panel of my bag and Osprey were a pleasure to work with to get my bag repaired. I dropped my backpack off at their repair center (in this case, in Melbourne, Australia) and it was ready for me to collect a few days later. They replaced the torn panel with even stronger material than it had been made with originally, could have had the backpack couriered to me if I hadn't been able to get it, and even managed to do all of that a few days before Christmas!
I can't imagine not buying an Osprey ever again after such a positive experience.
You Can Keep Your Straps Protected in Transit
One of the things that has always annoyed me about my previous travel backpacks is that they always have so many straps and belts and adjusters dangling off of it. No matter what I do, it's inevitable that my backpack's straps will get caught on things. With the Farpoint 70, this no longer happens.
At the base of the backpack, you'll find a roll of additional material that you can unroll and zip over the straps themselves, creating a protective covering. It keeps all of the straps and loose ends secured inside the pack so that they don't get caught on anything. Perfect for checking your bag at the airport and knowing it won't get caught on anything as it transits to your next destination.
It Comes With a Daypack
Or as I like to refer to it: the overflow pouch.
The Farpoint 70 comes with a daypack attached to the front of the backpack with a zipper. I leave it attached to the backpack at all times and use it as an overflow section for packing disasters. If you're in a rush to pack up and leave, being able to throw a few extra items into this bag at the front makes packing so much easier and faster. That way, I won't have to worry about rolling my clothes and tightly packing them into the small spaces in my bag. I usually keep a pair of shoes and some of my dirty laundry in there.
Alternatively, if you don't want to keep the daypack attached to the backpack at all times, you can unzip it and use it as an actual daypack to save you from having to invest in a separate one. I'll be honest: it's more of a daypack for heading out to explore a new city with your camera and a bottle of water inside, rather than something to carry all of your tech in -- the straps are thin and don't offer much support -- but if you don't have much to keep in your daypack, it would definitely work for this. I also use it to put my towel and sunscreen in if I'm heading to the beach.
There are Lots of Cool Additional Features
These are a few of my favourites:
The two mesh compartments on the inside. These are perfect for either storing your underwear for easy access, or for keeping your dirty laundry inside to keep it separate from your clean clothes. Whatever you decide to put in it, having more options for organization is always an added bonus in a backpack!
The water bottle holders. On the front of the backpack, attached to the extra daypack, you'll find two mesh water bottle holders, which are perfect if you're going on a day-long hike and want to stay hydrated. Granted, you could just put the water bottles in your pack, but having them attached to the outside means you don't have to stop walking in order to take a drink.
The compression straps work well to shrink down the backpack to a smaller size, to help it fit into small spaces on transportation. If you're using the daypack to store extra things inside, the compression straps will help your backpack get down to a more streamlined shape.
Buckles for the attached daypack: One nifty feature is being able to unzip the daypack and attach it to the main backpack so that it hangs over your front. You secure the top of the daypack to the main backpack's straps and the bottom of it to the bottom of the main straps. When you're walking around, your daypack is then attached to the front of you, leaving your hands free and keeping you better balanced. It's like a double turtle that backpackers are famed for but the daypack's straps won't keep sliding off of your shoulders.
An attached safety whistle: I believe that travel is one of the safest things you can do, but there's no harm in taking precautions. I love that the Osprey Farpoint 70 has a safety whistle tucked into the sternum belt. If ever I happened and I found myself in danger, I'd be able to reach it quickly and easily -- more so than if it was in a purse or my daypack.
A Great Harness and Support System
I've worn a lot of backpacks, and the Farpoint 70 has to be the most comfortable. The compression straps are soft and spongey, so it doesn't dig into your shoulders if you're carrying a heavy load. The comfortable hip straps make it easy to carry your backpack for prolonged periods of time -- I've actually found that it's more comfortable to keep my backpack on my back at all times than to take it off and put it back on when taking a break from walking!
It's Not Too Bulky
I mentioned above that one of the downsides to opting for a front-loading pack is that they aren't as slimline as the top-loading ones. With the Farpoint 70, this isn't as much of a problem as it is for other front-loading packs. Instead, the Farpoint extends backwards more than it does outwards. This makes it far easier to walk along the aisles in buses and trains, because you won't be banging into people with every step.
Who Isn't it Good For?
Now that I've given you a rundown of why I think the Osprey Farpoint 70 is the best backpack for travel, let's talk about who it wouldn't be right for.
Carry-On Travelers: If you travel as light as you possibly can and want to travel with a carry-on bag, this is not the backpack for you. Instead, I recommend looking at the Osprey Farpoint 40. It has many of the same features as the 70 liter pack but is smaller and perfect for carry-on luggage. It's my favorite carry-on backpack and one that I've happily used for two years and counting.
Hiking Lovers: If you want to undertake many hikes or a long walk, such as the Camino de Santiago, the Farpoint is not the right bag for you. Instead, I recommend picking up the Osprey Exos 48 pack, which is the first backpack I ever traveled with. It was designed for long days spent hiking or walking, so would be perfect for you. It's so lightweight that putting it on used to blow my mind!
Minimalists: If you don't want to travel carry-on only because you like a few more comforts or want to travel with large bottles of liquids, you'll find the Farpoint 70 to be too large for your needs. In this case, the Osprey 55l backpack is a great option for you. It's large enough to fit all of your travel essentials in, but won't weigh you down through being too cumbersome.
Have I convinced you to try the Osprey Farpoint 70? If so, check out the price and selection on Amazon!