Who This Post is For
This is post for those of you who don’t travel for extended periods of time, and who are not going to be wearing their backpacks 24/7. This is a backpack for petite women.
I believe this is the first post from a backpacker who can give advice for the smaller ones among us. I am 5 foot 1 and weight around 102lbs. Also, I have neck pain issues and delicate skin (not sensitive, it just bruises incredibly easily). Wearing heavy backpacks for more than a few hours practically kills me and gives me huge bruises along my shoulder blades and collar bone. As such, finding the perfect backpack for extended but comfortable travel was important for me this past summer.
What I Got
I got the Solo Everyday Max Hybrid.
It costs around $45, it’s 35 liters, and it has a lovely amount of useful features for those of us who need options. It has a separate compartment around the bottom for shoes – or it could be used for more valuable products that will be harder for thieves to get at. This backpack has a sternum strap which is literally a lifesaver. It opens like a suitcase for the front compartment which has taken my organization levels to a new high. There are water resistant pouches along the sides and top that I put my toiletries that could be damp in, like my shampoo bars.
It has nice and strong carrying handles that are well-distributed, and an entirely separate and deep lap-top compartment. Essentially it’s copycatting many of the features of high end backpacks, without all that much of a difference. The material is fairly water resistant (I had no issues in rainy English weather) as well.
Why I Like It
Aside from the aforementioned organizational features and its smaller size, I like it because it works well and it’s not $300. In my opinion, it has many of the same confusing features to deter theft, the suitcase organizing opening, and the ability to add on extras like bungee cords, all for a much lower price. I originally gave myself a large budget, but found that I would rather get the cheaper option without the “luxury.” Not everything is perfect, I’ll get to that in a moment, but unless you are traveling the world for more than 6 weeks at a time, more than 2-3 times a year, and you have places to stay – you don’t need those other backpacks.
I can fit one long packing cube and two small square packing cubes (enough for at least a week’s worth of clothes without washing), a change of shoes, a toiletries bag, my macbook, all chargers, a water bottle, a book, and still have room for some extras I pick up along the way. There’s no reason I would need any more than that. The shoe compartment at the bottom also works to separate out laundry if you don’t need the shoe change. I prefer to just include a few dryer sheets and dedicate a packing cube to laundry.
My Add Ons
A Bungee Net: This a great way to carry bulkier things like a pillow or a jacket without taking up space, and that’s what I use it for. This net doesn’t stretch as much as I would like it to, but it’s good enough.
Shoulder Pads: Again, delicate skin. If I’m wearing something thin, I find the “breathable” material on the shoulder straps to be far too scratchy. I need slippery and cushiony and these do the job. As you can see, they don’t have any ridges or anything that would create a “grippy” texture. Grip is all well and good when it’s not giving you a grid-like bruise along your shoulders.
What I Wish It Had
I wish the zipper tabs stayed on easier. They come off if you accidentally pull in the wrong direction. It’s not a deal breaker at all, it’s just a slight annoyance.
I wish it had a real hip belt. It does have a sort-of tie-around system but this is pretty ineffective. A hip belt would help relieve the weight even better with the sternum strap.
A zipper inside the laptop compartment. There are two pouches inside the laptop area, and for added security it would be really nice to have a zipper on the more fitted pouch. Either that or borrow from one of their other editions and have a detachable pouch/flap/raincover thing that goes over the top zippers and adds another compartment 🙂
A shoulder strap bag or hip bag. To really make things hands free, this would be a great addition to keep a few snacks or some cash at-the-ready, or to hold a phone. I bought one to attach but it wasn’t really that great, if it came with the backpack I’m sure it would be better.
A stretchy, outside water-bottle pouch. I like the two side pouches where you can fit a water bottle, but sometimes I want to take a metal thermos or something that spills a bit easier, I often can’t fit it inside and I would rather it spill outside the bag than inside.
For my eventual Round the World Trip, I would probably upgrade. However, if Solo-NY comes out with a backpack with all of the above features I would really have to consider it. For now, it suits my needs for summer study abroads and week-long last-minute trips 🙂 As it is, it’s not quite suitable if I wanted to wear it all day long – it’s still too heavy and not ergonomically suited to my body. But for a few hours a day it’s perfectly fine.