How to choose a backpack for travelling around South America (and the world)

Hello there, and thanks for stumbling on this, our inaugural post.

I feel that through the haze of the last 4 month’s build up I have finally achieved something worth talking about. Since egg and I set the date to hop it to South America, most things on my to do list have steadfastly not budged from my said list. Even booking flights to Argentina has only thrown up more questions about return flights, but that’s for another post. But now, yes, I finally decided on which pack to take. (For those who think that isn’t worth shouting about, either you’re sweetly naive or too experienced to be reading this, clear off. Besides, egg hasn’t got his yet, so I’m one up on him at least.)

Having briefly flirted with the idea of a wheely bag I opted for a conventional top loading pack. The easy dismissal of the wheels is purely to avoid embarrassment and enable freedom; I can remember shooting pitying looks at the groups of girls (invariably, I’m sorry) who couldn’t manage unwieldy cases up stairs in hostels, or into lockers, or over non-city terrain. Whilst I can see the benefits, who can’t, I want to know I won’t have to turn around at the first big puddle. What I really mean is with everything on my back I feel a bit more of a proper traveller; a bit more prepared and authentic. Clearly that’s nonsense but we all do what we can to mentally prepare before a big trip.

So, “proper backpack” decided on, there are still so many more hurdles to get over, or run under. Top or front loader, day pack or not, 30litres or 90 litres, and what colour to go for?

Top versus front I found an easy one, familiarity won me over immediately. I’ve always used these in the past and had no issue, so why change now? Exactly, no reason. That being said, I think I will upgrade from old carrier bags to proper stuff sacks/packing cubes this time. I can’t imagine the bags would last much longer than the fortnight I used them for before.

The day pack I debated about some more. They seem to be a no brainer good idea, a built in decent small pack for being out and about. But we (fingers crossed) won’t just be doing the tourist trek, but trying to settle down in a few places. In that case, I’ve never been much of a backpack girl, so I invested instead in a decent leather saddle bag.

Now, size, for most of us this is surely the hardest part. Having read the excellent advice at I was determined to take 40l and be the minimalist traveller, unencumbered by 20 pairs of socks and a tent I would never need, let alone be able to take down  (I always find getting them down harder than getting them up). This fell down a bit when I was confronted in the outdoorsy shop by just how diddy they are. Really tiny! Besides this, they just weren’t that comfortable, and I couldn’t find a good one for women. In the end I plumped for the one I felt I had a connection with, not really any method, it just seemed like an extension of me. This turned out to be 60l. Only time will tell if I live to regret it, but be sure as soon as I know, so will you.

So I’ve gone for the berghaus women’s torridon. And for those who care, it’s a rather dashing grape colour.


Location – sofa in our flat -London

Listening to: she keeps bees – cuddle alone


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