I’ve been getting asked quite a few questions lately about which backpack people should buy. While I am by no means claiming to be an expert on this sort of thing, I can tell you that if you are going away on a long-term adventure, getting the right backpack is really important.
When you’re carrying your life around on your back like a turtle for months at a time, you need to do your research. Don’t opt for the cheapest thing you can find – you go through a hell of a lot together when you’re travelling, so you need a well-made companion that isn’t going to give up on you when you’re half way through your trip (trust me, I’ve been there…and there’s only so far gaffer tape will hold it in place!)
One cheeky tip I can give you is to try a few on in a specialist store to get a feel for what you want, then go bargain hunting on the internet. Generally, I have found that shop prices can be quite steep and there are plenty of great deals to be found on the internet if you look in the right places.
For me, I couldn’t be happier with my Vango Freedom 60+20 Rucksack– it’s a decent size, a reasonable price, comes with a small detachable bag for day trips, and is side-opening which makes it ideal for packing and unpacking (especially when in a hurry!).
Here’s what I love about the Vango Freedom 60+20 Rucksack.
It’s affordable – At the current price point of around £70 on Travel Outdoors, it is pretty reasonable for backpackers who don’t want to break the bank, but still want a backpack that is durable and will last a long time.
It’s comfortable – With it’s adjustable back system, it’s easy to get a comfortable fit (it’s worth pointing out however that I am 5ft 7in, so I can’t really comment on how it might fit a more petite woman). The air mesh padding on the shoulder area and waist belt is also a nice addition for comfort and definitely helps reduce the chances of getting a sweaty back in more hotter climates.
It’s spacious – In my opinion, this backpack is just the right size for long-term trips. Having lugged around 100+ litre backpacks in the past (and realising I didn’t need half the stuff I packed) the Vango Freedom 60+20 is the perfect fit to take just the right amount. As long as you’re a light-to-medium packer, this backpack will do the job nicely!
Its suitcase-style – The Vango Freedom has a side-opening feature like a suitcase. This is now a must-have for me when looking out for any future backpacks, as it makes packing and unpacking so much easier. Inside the bag’s main compartment you’ll also find a drawcord gaiter and some internal compression straps to keep your clothes compact and in place. It also includes three zipped organiser pockets, which come in handy for separating laundry from the rest of your luggage.
It has a zip-off 20 litre daypack – There are times when backpacking that you will need a smaller bag for day-trips or as hand luggage on flights. So it’s quite handy that the Vango Freedom comes with a detachable 20L one! Easily zipped on and off, it is a godsend when it comes to carrying your luggage around!
Other useful features…
- A detachable shoulder strap, if your prefer to carry on your shoulder like a holdall
- Separate compartment at the bottom to keep things like shoes and laundry separate
- Lockable kissing zips for added security
- A flight cover to easily zip away straps during transit
Room for improvement?
It’s hard to pick faults with this backpack, but one thing I did find a minor annoyance is that there are no bungee cords or pockets on the outside to attach smaller items or accessories to. All that said however, that does mean there’s less chance of things getting lost if they aren’t hanging off your backpack.
Overall, I’d say that the Vango Freedom is good value for money, has a great range of features for organisation and comfort, and is a solid choice for three to six month trips. After a few trips and festivals with this backpack, it is still going strong and I can honestly say it has been one of the best backpacks I have ever used.