If you missed my pre-trip overview of this pack, be sure to check it out!
I had high hopes for this pack since it came highly recommended by a friend who used it to backpack through Europe. Now that I've carried, dragged, thrown and even crutched it across five countries, I can safely say...
I love it!
Let me count the ways.
I chose the unisex S/M size for my 5'6" frame, which gave me 37L of space in the main pack and 15L in the detachable daypack. (Only the taller M/L size provides a total of 55L, as its main pack is 40L.)
|Packed to the gills on Day 1 of my trip.|
I was a bit worried about limiting myself to 52L total, but I never, ever, EVER wished I had a larger pack while on my trip. Rather, I was the envy of every backpacker who lamented the size and weight of his or her gigantic 70, 80 or 90+L pack. I earned major respect for traveling relatively light.
I'll never forget the Australian Greyhound bus driver who grabbed my pack to throw it into the storage compartment, then paused, looked at me and said, "Is this it? Good on ya!"
|My fully packed main pack is on the left; a hostel roommate's monstrosity looms on the right.|
I'm not into souvenirs, so I didn't worry about having extra room for more stuff. I believe many travelers just ship souvenirs home, anyway. I did add a few clothing items throughout the trip — a few extra tank tops, a pair of jeans — and they fit wonderfully, thanks to the magic of my Sea to Summit compression sacks.
The Farpoint 55 is advertised as being carry-on size, but when it's fully packed (minus the daypack), it does not fit into those luggage sizers you see at airports. I managed to use it as a carry-on only once, on my very first flight — from Seattle to Los Angeles on Alaska — and that was because I sort of hid it from the airline employees. It fit perfectly into an overhead compartment on the plane, but it wouldn't have passed if I'd been asked to place it in the luggage sizer.
With every flight after that first one, my problem was not the size of the main pack, but its weight. Most airlines I flew imposed a weight limit of 7 kg (about 15 lbs); my main pack weighed in at 12 kg (about 26 lbs). I wound up checking it every time, and it was actually a relief not to have to carry it through the airport.
I really loved being able to zip this back panel over the harness and hip belt to protect them while in transit!
My main concern with checking the Farpoint 55 was that it would get lost or that my belongings would be stolen by shady luggage handlers. I was lucky — neither of those things happened to me.
Of course, I always kept my valuables with me on the plane. I used the daypack and my DSLR camera bag as my carry-on and personal item to closely guard my laptop, two cameras, Kindle, etc.
I became highly attached to this TSA lock, as it protected the main pack whenever I checked it and whenever I moved anywhere, really. If the lock was ever opened by the TSA, I couldn't tell.
|I love how the main pack's zippers meet in a lockable single point of entry.|
Some hostels provided lockable storage compartments for my belongings, but many did not. In those situations, I would usually keep my toiletries and compression sacks of clothing on my bunk bed (you wanna steal my loofah? go for it) to make room for my valuables in the main pack, then lock the pack and shove it out of sight under the bed.
I never had anything stolen, but I also didn't made a big show of having a laptop or nice camera. The daypack does not have the same lockable zippers, so I never left anything valuable in there.
I never saw anyone use a PacSafe mesh net or anything like it, and I didn't feel like I needed one. With the Farpoint 55, I felt like a good lock and some common sense were enough.
On the other side of the spectrum, I noticed that a lot of travelers would leave their laptops, phones, cameras and even cash right on their beds, and to that I say... good luck!
When I was preparing for my trip, I first bought a top-loading Deuter backpack. I got a lot of feedback from experienced travelers advising me to choose a front-loading pack instead.
OK, guys — you were all right.
As I traveled from city to city on my trip, I usually looked like this:
|Brisbane. 6 a.m. Gotta catch a Greyhound bus.|
I wore the main pack on my back (with running shoes tied to a loop on the side of the pack), wore my camera bag and purse across my body and held the daypack in my hands. Sometimes I'd throw the daypack over my shoulders facing the front if my arms got tired.
Fun fact about that purse: It stuffed nicely into the daypack if I needed to stash it for flights on which I was only allowed one carry-on (the daypack) and one personal item (my camera bag). I eventually had to toss it in Chiang Mai, Thailand, when it became filled with moat water during Songkran. I never bought another purse and got along just fine without it!
Anyway, I found the Farpoint 55 to be quite comfortable, but I never had to walk very far with it. I mostly carried it short distances, like from the airport to a taxi, taxi to hostel, hostel to bus, etc. If I got lost or found myself with a several-block walk from a transit stop to my hostel, I used the hip belt and sternum strap to ease the weight on my back.
And when I sprained my ankle, I hardly had to carry it at all, since so many fellow travelers offered to help me!
I rarely zipped the daypack onto the main pack because it put way too much weight on my back, and the main pack was so stuffed that the daypack would barely zip on anyway. I much preferred carrying it by hand or throwing it onto my front. Choose your own adventure!
I can't even count how many times I've packed my Farpoint 55, but I noticed the weirdest phenomenon: some days, I could zip the pack up with ease, while other days, I'd be pressing it closed with my knees while wrenching the zippers shut in a sweaty fury. I guess it all depended on how diligent I was in packing smartly.
Let's just say I had a lot of zipper-wrenching days.
Regardless, my pack is practically like new after three months of backpacking. Nothing is broken or torn, and I've seen just how strong those zippers are because, trust me, I pushed their limits.
I'll be using my Farpoint 55 until its dying day — probably several years from now — and I can't wait to bring it on more adventures very soon.
The Osprey Farpoint 55 is completely awesome and the perfect travel backpack for me. Will it be perfect for you? Only you can figure that out, but I hope my review provides you with some good information as you make your decision.
If you have any further questions about this pack, please leave a comment and I'll absolutely answer you as best I can!
Note: All links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. I currently make zero dollars writing this blog — I just like doin' it — but if you purchase a product using one of those links, my travel fund will grow a tiny bit and I'll be very grateful. I only link to Amazon.com products that I personally use and love. Just wanted you to know. : )