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The right backpack - rucksack for South America

Looking for advice on backpacks for south america
14 years ago, May 23rd 2008 No: 1 Msg: #36117  
B Posts: 171
hi, im going to spend 6 months in south america and im looking for some backpack advice.

first off. i do not need a tent or big hiking boots.

i have saught opinions from friends who have travelled around, some say they wished they had wheeled backpacks
and some say that i would be better off if i could bring the bag on the bus so as to avoid having to fret about it being stolen.
i guess my ideal pack would be a wheeled backpack pack with a zip off daypack (with front hanging option)

and the one that seems to fit the bill is the berghaus Jalan 70 - 15, and i have one and i am packing about max 65 litres into it just for trial. maybe i will take away some of this when i actually go.

pros of jalan 70-15:
- its nice and roomy, for expansion if necessary (visiting southern chile eventually)
- feels good on my back. balanced nicely. though i have not tried many other bags.

the daypack is very basic, not many pockets in it, if it gets slashed , the stuff might fall out too easy.

i think in an ideal world , i would get a wheeled maybe 65 litre with a 25l (and better) daypack but i have never seen a good one like that. (bar the "astro travel pack" which sadly is not available in europe i think. oh and doesnt have wheels)
anyway, so far i think i will stick with the berghaus but i have some questions for anyone who might know.

- can the (underpacked) Jalan 70-15 be carried onto the kind of bus im likely to encounter in south america?

- is it worth bringing a wheeled backpack to south america at all, or a waste of time?

- would i be much better off with a smaller one? say.. berghaus jalan 65-15.. Reply to this

14 years ago, May 25th 2008 No: 2 Msg: #36346  
B Posts: 171
ok, i guess the question was too compicated as there are no replies.....

i should be more direct..so just one question for anyone who like to answer

Wheels! will i need them?

(ps. i have now replaced the zip off pack on the Jalan, it doesnt zip onto the main pack but who cares.. a strap and a lock is just as good) Reply to this

14 years ago, May 26th 2008 No: 3 Msg: #36418  
Hi Matty

I have never looked into brands etc for a backpack but to answer your question, I really do not think that you will need wheels in South America.

Try to take as little as possible to keep the bag as light as possible, but extra space is great when you head home and need to carry hammocks etc. I would look out for a bag that you can lock and not buy a typical 'backpack' used for hiking or something as you cannot lock it. An integrated rain cover is also a must to keep your stuff dry. A day bag is very useful and it does not need to have many pockets in my opinion.

Enjoy the trip
Em and Frankie
Reply to this

14 years ago, May 26th 2008 No: 4 Msg: #36454  
Hi Matty,
I am currently bakpacking around South America for a year with my boyfriend. We both have a large backpack and a daypack each. The large backpacks are around 65 or 70 litres each and that is about the right amount for us (but we do have hiking boots and also are carrying clothes for every eventuality and quite a bit of medication as my boyfriend is diabetic).
The daypacks are completely separate from the big rucksack, i.e. a different make, bought at a different time. When we have to carry all of our stuff (bus station to hotel and hotel to bus station) we carry the big bags on our backs and small bags on our fronts. I find this fairly easy and not too uncomfortable. I would prefer that to having one attached to my large pack actually. When we travel on buses, we put the big bags underneth the bus and take the daypacks on with us. The daypacks are around 25-30 litres each so we can take all of our essential stuff (money, passport, etc) onto the bus with us. From what I can tell, it is extremely rare that bags are stolen from underneath the bus as there is almost always a driver´s assistant who keeps an eye on them. Make friend with him when you are putting on your bags and all should be fine.
Hope this helps, sorry if it is a bit haphazard!
p.s. 2 days ago by Berghaus daypack finally collapsed and the zip has completely bust, so I have had to buy a new daypack in Ecuador. My main backpack is Karrimor and I can´t recommend it enough. It has been with me for 8 years and still going strong.
p.p.s. No need for wheels. Reply to this

14 years ago, May 26th 2008 No: 5 Msg: #36469  
B Posts: 26
For a backpack, I think wheels get in the way. Find one that fits well on the hips and lower back.
I think the waist belt on the Kelty Tioga is the best.
Boots. Medium weight boots, get a good fit, don't buy a brand just because you heard it's good.
You need to find the boot that feels like a glove, eg. it matches your arch.
Tent: Probably not worth the extra weight. A boy scout hammock is a good idea, they weight about
6 ozs. Maybe a poleless tent. Tents are best for keeping out bugs, more so than rain. Reply to this

14 years ago, May 28th 2008 No: 6 Msg: #36600  
B Posts: 171
thanks for the advice everyone!

now i have fine tuned my pack so much that i have reduced the weight from 19KG to about 12KG while still having everything i need to keep warm/dry and not be wearing same smelly thing all the time either

i also noticed that my current backpack actually weights 4.5KG which is about 30% of the overall weight! im a bit gutted about that as the smaller non-wheeled one is only 2.8KG.
on the other hand due to its larger size it is very narrow and long when packed, and could probably fit in an overhead compartment now if necessary. and there is always the option of getting hiking boots if i feel like it etc.

what is the availability of backpacks boots and travel gear like over there? same quality ? cheaper?

ruth hope your having a great time in Ecuador, thats where im going 😊

thanks again folks


Reply to this

14 years ago, May 28th 2008 No: 7 Msg: #36681  
Hi Matty,

Wow, that is an impressive weight reduction! Wish I could do the same!

During our trip we have had to buy a new pair of boots for my boyfriend and a new daypack for me as well as basic camping equipment like cooking gas. In general there have been shops for this kind of stuff in the towns which are known for hiking (e.g. Huaraz in Peru or El Chalten in Argentina). Outside of those towns it can be quite difficult to find good equipment. Quality is fine and prices a little (though not a lot) cheaper than the UK.

It is raining a lot in Ecuador at the moment so my advice would be to bring a small travel umbrella!

Ruth Reply to this

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