50L or 65L Backpack?

Old Apr 2nd, 2015, 04:42 PM
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50L or 65L Backpack?

After months of researching I am no closer to deciding which sized Osprey Aura backpack I should purchase for my 2-months across Europe. I was fitted for the pack and have at least decided which one I want, just not which size. According to stores, for the length of my trip I should take a 65L pack, and the same advice is suggested by other female hikers who enjoyed having the extra room for souvenirs and not having to mess with yanking things out every time they needed access to their belongings. However, it looks so clunky and this is my first major trip and I want comfort to be priority #1 so a lighter pack seems much more appealing. The smaller pack is also cheaper, and I think I could fit it in the overhead bins at least on my U.S. flights which saves a lot of money too... but from what I can tell online about European discount airlines it would probably have to be checked baggage even at 50L. We will be sleeping in hostels and using a rental car for the first 2.5 weeks of our trip around Ireland and Scotland so we will be pretty mobile but we can sling them in the trunk if need be, we won't be hiking with our packs the whole time. Once we lose the rental car we will be a little more restricted in where we are able to leave them in some of the smaller cities where we are hosteling it up- but most of the big cities we will have hotel rooms. My husband will have a 65L and I plan to mail small trinkets home from the big cities we hit.
If any of the above blabber has swayed your opinion to recommend one size pack over the other I am all ears. I am mostly concerned about comfort, convenience, and how to transport it on flights. I'd also hate to buy one and find out it is no where close to fitting what I have. I plan to bring the following: (Suggestions for how many cubes I'd need, also welcome).

5 shirts
1 pants
2 leggings
1 shorts
2 dresses
4 socks (2 hiking, 2 regular)
Hiking shoes
sandals
1 sleep shirt/short
1 light jacket
1 microfiber travel towel
1 plastic travel laundry bag
7 underwear
2 bras

Hairbrush
mini shampoo
extremely mini hair straightener (non negotiable)
mini deodorant
mini lotion
small makeup bag
hair ties
toiletries
detergent packs
(throwaway razors)

Tablet & charging cord
Passport, Drivers License, Credit Cards, money
(Some of these items will go to husbands money belt)
Backup paperwork (ID/reservations)
Tiny Camera
memory card
International charger
mini flashlight
journal & pens

Am I forgetting anything?
siren6214 is offline  
Old Apr 2nd, 2015, 05:26 PM
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How are you getting Euros?
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Old Apr 2nd, 2015, 05:53 PM
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Go smaller if comfort is critical. If it is larger you tend to pack the "just in case" items and that adds weight.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2015, 06:07 PM
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I have a 65L Osprey pack that I use for long-ish (8-9 days) wilderness backpacking trips. This includes carrying sleeping bag and pad, tent, stove, fuel, food, camera gear and tripod. I do leave the hair straightener at home.

Based on that you should be able to get by with 50L.

Osprey packs are excellent. Make sure the shop knows how to fit you properly. Have a great trip!
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Old Apr 2nd, 2015, 06:30 PM
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I would focus more on weight than capacity. My pack (which I haven't used for a few years) is about 65L but when carrying a pack I tried to never carry more than about 10kg (including the bag itself). I was never hiking with it, just carrying it a maximum of a kilometre or two, hotel to hotel. That's about as much as I was comfortable with. If I were hiking, I'd be tempted to get the smaller one. How much weight can you comfortably carry? I also find that carrying an extra bag in my hand is much harder than carrying a slightly heavier bag on my back - it seems to throw my posture out and that extra bag seems heavier than it is. It may seem contradictory but an alternative which may also suit is a very small wheeled suitcase combined with a day pack (each 30-35L). Sometimes having two small bags is more convenient than one big one, depending on what kind of travel you are doing.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2015, 06:49 PM
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Are you actually hiking, as in camping or hiking from town to town?
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Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 12:27 AM
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Hi Siren-
In response to " Am I forgetting anything?", I didn't see any rain gear in your list. (Poncho, hat, umbrella?) You are bound to see some rain during your 2 month trip. You may need a medium weight jacket at night in some places and a hat and sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
Depending on where you plan to visit, there are usually many stores where you can purchase items (like laundry soap, hair shampoo, toothpaste, etc. ) if you run out. Be aware that some of these products are fairly expensive in Europe. One item comes to mind for me- I once paid about $7 in Germany for a small dental floss which sells for $1 in the US.
Following Greg's comment, you shouldn't take much cash with you. It is very easy to use your ATM card to get Euros and you will get a better exchange rate using an ATM than exchanging cash in a bank. Some banks won't exchange cash.
Have a great trip!!!
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Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 04:28 AM
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Important Note.. If you are planning on using any smaller air carriers during your trip.. Their baggage restrictions will determine the size and weight allowance for your whole trip. just a thought.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 04:37 AM
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In December I did a 17 day trip around Europe (visiting the microcountries) travelling solely by train and my 50L pack was quite sufficient. Even had enough room for trinkets acquired along the way. It never got to the fully stuffed point.

I also had a 30" duffel bag folded up which I always bring for "emergency" purchases but, on this trip, never had to pull it out.

One laundry day was built into the schedule and that was sufficient, allowing for two days' wear of most clothing.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 04:49 AM
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Thanks everyone for the input.

Greg - I had planned to exchange in the U.S. before getting to Ireland, a couple hundred dollars worth- but haven't really planned that far ahead with the money just yet. Our trip is scheduled for next June. Appreciated Travelforbeer's suggestion of ATM, that sounds easy enough - just curious what the fees would be.

Nelson & Fmpden- I won't be bringing any camping gear with me, so perhaps 50L would suffice. Thanks for the encouragement.

dreamon - I am so glad you said that. I was considering that as an option as I am terrified of getting pickpocketed, but that does sound like it would throw something off. I will definitely stick to the one bag! Really wish the Aura's detachable top turned into a day bag. Appreciate the advice.

Sassafras - not hiking with the packs at all, but a lot of land to cover in 2-months so there will be lots of transportation with the packs.

Travelforbeer - See, I knew I was forgetting something! Umbrella will be added to the list and that is a very appreciated tip about the dental floss! Thanks for the good looking out.

Tony2phones & NoFlyZone - Please elaborate. From what I've read online I will have to check in my 50L bag because the carry on dimensions are pretty tiny. Is checking in a backpack through RyanAir expensive/hard to do?
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Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 04:54 AM
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On planes, I always check my pack because it's a PITA to carry on. FTR I also carry a much smaller day pack which is used for day touring around wherever I am plus as carry on. I don't see why it should be difficult at all to check it on Ryan Air, other than maybe the cost, but then again that's not an airline I would ever fly.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 05:53 AM
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Ryanair can be expensive, some other carriers also have size and weight restrictions even stricter/more expensive than Ryanair. All I aimed to do was highlight that these restrictions/costs could be influential. Just check cost and size's..
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Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 06:13 AM
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I think the question about camping/hiking (which was not fully answered) was very pertinent. If you are not camping or walking any great distance with your stuff - merely going from hotel to hotel or b and b using public transport or taxis, AND given that you are worried about pick-pocketing, (which is usually easier from a backpack) then I think you would actually be better off with a case. Backpacks are an absolute nightmare on public transport.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 06:21 AM
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How heavy can you carry it? Put your stuff in a bag and put it on your back?
And the last line above is SO true--not just a nightmare--a total annoyance.
Will this always be on your back--no rollers--ability to carry like a suitcase.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 06:41 AM
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RM67 is absolutely correct. That is why I posed the question. There is the romantic notion of backpacking through Europe, which is not how many people actually travel today. If you are not really hiking with a pack or camping, or needing the pack to lay your head on while sleeping on a bench somewhere, then why haul everything on your back. It is not romantic or practical, and it is easy to keep bumping into people as you walk and on trains/busses. It is also an easier target for pickpockets unless you carry it in front. Frankly, just a pain. Get a regular 21/22 or even 24" piece of luggage with wheels. Easy in airport and on trains, even on sidewalks.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 03:41 PM
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I disagree with RM67. I've travelled with backpacks and suitcases and both are absolutely fine. Of course, with a large backpack on your back you need to be aware of swinging around and hitting someone. And with a suitcase, you have to be careful to not trip someone up. That's just commonsense. Personally, I find it much easier to carry weight on my back. If I had to choose between a largish backpack and a largish suitcase, it would be backpack every time for me. Lifting a suitcase which weighs more than about 8-10kg is, for me, a major hassle. Having 10-12kg on my back is not. And lifting is frequent when travelling.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 05:02 PM
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I totally agree with Dreamon.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 05:52 PM
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Plan ahead for your souvenirs. Think about buying practical items like t-shirts. I always buy a calendar for the next year while on vacation. Buying toiletries in another country is always fun because when you use them at home, you remember the event. I bought sunglasses in Finland once and treasured them as much as any other souvenir.

The only real souvenirs I buy are miniatures, everything from a tiny penguin in Argentina to an Eiffel Tower in France. They don't take any room and I display them on a printer's tray so I can see them all at once and remember the trips. My husband likes to buy small stuffed animals (Beanie Baby size). Each has a story to tell and we display them in the sunroom. The grandchildren love to play with them and we always tell them about the place where we bought them.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 06:07 PM
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siren, this is the time to research what your bank charges for taking money out of foreign ATMs. The big banks in the US usually charge $5 per withdrawal plus 3% foreign exchange fees. While that adds up, it's better than ordering foreign currency from your bank which often ends up adding 10% to the cost of foreign currency. (Banks say things like "no fee" which means we've given you such a terrible foreign exchange rate that we don't need to charge extra to still make a bundle off of you!)

Check out local credit unions, as they often will have no charge for use of a foreign ATM, and some charge less for foreign exchange, maybe only 1 or 2%. My brokerage charges nothing for use of a foreign ATM and actually refunds any local charges for ATM use, plus only charges 1% on foreign exchange. Open an account you will only use for travel And do you have credit cards that don't charge for foreign exchange? You'll need at least one.
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Old Apr 7th, 2015, 04:44 AM
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So much great advice here, I thank you all for taking the time to share it with me, it will not go to waste! We do not plan on camping with our backpacks whatsoever; we plan to hit some hiking trails but they are mostly just day trails and we will be able to leave our belongings in the trunk of our car or in a hotel room or (hopefully a hostel??). There are some days when we check out early and will have to lug our bags around with us until we catch the train at night. I suppose the romanticism of backpacking plays some role since I mostly use rolling luggage everywhere I go within the U.S.- however the people I am with will both have packs and honestly it just seems easier to have my belongings on me, rather than to roll them around for 2 months- but that preference is probably something I'll just have to learn the hard way. Plus I swear I read that Paris or Rome banned rolling luggage recently, because it was too noisy?
I did read through RyanAir before and remembered thinking to myself how dreadful the flying process would be, but the amount of money we would save does make it worth it. What should I worry about most? Is it like Allegiant or Spirit? I think we fly like twice... once from Dublin to Edinburgh and once from Rome to Krakow. Should I absolutely consider paying 3x as much NOT to go with RyanAir?
Kathie- thank you for the heads up on the fees. I actually happened to notice on my bank statement yesterday that my primary credit card company does not charge a foreign transaction fee, but my other 2 cards did charge a 3% fee.I have to see what my actual bank charges, definitely something to put on my to-do list!
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