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Putting our backpacks to the test

Two months left until departure. It seems like just yesterday it was still five months off. Time flies… So time to check out these backpacks that Tiu spent so many dozens of hours researching. Earlier she was thinking about one of these, but then after more research ended up with Granite Gear’s Meridian Vapor Ki and Vapor Day Ki. We decided to pack them fully and take them out for a test walk – just a few kilometers to see how they feel.

Unfortunately we don’t have scales at home, so I can’t say how much they weigh yet. But I would guess about 12 kgs each. Not bad, considering they carry:

  • Our camping gear*): tent, quilt, sleeping pads, a stove (reviews of this coming later!)
  • Our climbing gear: shoes, harnesses, ATC, carabiner, chalk bag
  • Our hygiene and medical equipment
  • Electronics: two netbooks, a Kindle, and a pocket camera
  • Clothing (equal set for both):
    • Two pieces of underwear
    • Two t-shirts
    • One long-sleeved shirt
    • One pair of long-legged pants
    • One pair of shorts/one skirt
    • Swimwear
    • Fivefingers
    • Rain jackets
    • Ultralight down jackets*)
  • Other miscellaneous miniscule items such as headlamps and mobile phones (which might as well go in our clothes’ pockets)

The items marked *) are for the colder climate only – i.e. Australia, NZ and Canada in winter. We won’t even need the camping and hiking gear for the beginning of our trip in Thailand! And we’re still debating whether to take our climbing harnesses along… They are kind of bulky and heavy and we just don’t know how much we are going to need them. We can still do a lot of bouldering with just our shoes. Granted, even so we’ll still need to borrow or rent pads in many places. But harnesses, ropes, cams etc can also be rented. And we most certainly don’t want to carry all of that around everywhere we go. Decisions, decisions.

In any case, the experience of our short 4km walk was promising. The Granite Gear backpacks fit us well and we were able to distribute the weight pretty equally despite the pack size difference (32 vs 50 liters). We do have to modify the backpacks quite a bit – many straps have to go completely or be shortened significantly. There are just SO MANY STRAPS! It’s crazy. On the bright side however, the packs are easy to access, yet difficult to pickpocket. The weight distribution is great and the shoulder straps, back panel and hip belt feel comfortable against the body. The hip belts are removable, which is good for airlines. But the real benefit there is that the belts can be switched between packs. Tiu has a women’s hip belt and I have one for men. So whenever one of us gets too tired of carrying the heavier bag, we can just swap bags and keep the belt that fits.

So far it all seems promising! It felt so silly to walk around Helsinki with full packs without really going anywhere, but it really gave us a nice chill down our spines as we stepped outside and realized that soon – REAL SOON – we are going to do this FOR REAL!

Yeah the backpacks are just fine!

Update on 18th of Aug 2012: Just thought you guys would also like to read what we finally ended up carrying around the world and also about a full review of the Granite Gear Meridian Vapor pack:)