I did a little research on choosing a pack and stumbled upon Nomadic Matt's Travel Site. I found his advice helpful, and I gained a little bit of confidence in this impending decision that could ultimately affect my comfort and organization while traveling around the world. I made some mental notes, and with that, hubby and I were on our way to our local EMS.
We walked in and found the store's backpack guru. The selection of backpacks wasn't overly impressive, especially for me as I was looking for a women's fit. Once we weeded out the ones that would work for our type of use and the ones they had in my size, an entire wall of backpacks was diminished to three options that might work for me. Backpack guru guy loaded them up with some weights and had me try them on for size.
This was a frustrating experience because he kept asking me how whichever pack I was wearing felt and if one was more comfortable than another. Comfortable? You want me to tell you which awkward load on my back feels good? I don't typically enjoy this sort of thing. I'm sure I will love the freedom of having everything I need in one spot on my back while I am gallivanting around the globe, but walking through your store with this thing on my back just makes me feel dumb.
Also, I've never worn a pack like this for an extended period of time. OK, except when my husband took me to the Adirondacks for Memorial Day Weekend and I borrowed his old external frame pack that hung over my head threatening to topple me over into the mountain the entire time I wore it. The internal frames of these packs are much less intimidating as there isn't a constant shadow looming over my head, but I still wouldn't call them comfy. Anyway, despite the fact that I really liked the look of a red Gregory bag, I decided (with the help of backpack guru) that the Gregory Z55 Backpack fit the best and was my best option.
I wasn't necessarily convinced of my decision, but hubby had fallen in love with a (kind of gross-looking, IMO) rust-colored Osprey Atmos 50 Backpack that fit him like a glove and I couldn't go home empty-handed! I needed a toy to play with too. I needed a tangible symbol of my dream to stuff full of junk and wander up and down our stairs or around our neighborhood with while it clings to my back. (Also, the salesman assured us we could take the packs home, pack them up, try them out, and return them if we end up not liking them.) So, we decided to get them both and try them out.
We used our packs this past weekend for an overnight stay at my parents'. I was surprised how big my pack seems. Of course I was only going for an overnight...but there was room to spare!
After testing it out, I'm still not completely sold. I like pockets and this doesn't seem to have enough. I just really don't know how to tell if the pack is right for me or not...I don't have much to compare it to. I didn't put it on and get excited at how amazing it fit like my husband. Somehow I can't imagine any pack being comfortable. A backpack loaded down with my life is supposed to be comfy? We will see.
I'm looking for advice. Suggestions. Anything that might help me know for sure about this bag. I don't like making uninformed decisions...I like to weigh all my options and then feel confident in my choices. But with only three choices how can I be sure it's THE one?
I mean, come on, when I was getting married I went to at least three different bridal shops and tried on, probably over 50 (AT LEAST!) gowns until I found the one that made me feel like I didn't need to look anymore.
Online sites, including Matt's, suggest REI as a good place to shop for a pack, but we don't have any locally; EMS was really our best choice. There's the online option, but I'm not sure how I feel about purchasing such a personal, fit-crucial item online. Although...would it really make a difference to me since I can't tell what I like anyway?!