Pack features ideal for trainhopping (1 Viewer)


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May 31, 2009
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Winnipeg, MB
I have hitched and hopped freights before, so know I have enough experiential knowledge to know what I want in a pack. I just retired an old pack with several broken zippers, and am looking to buy a new hiking-style backpack (def. not an Alice pack). My catch is that I seem to want a very unique set of features in a combination that does not exist (less than 50 liters, with sleeping back compartment, a few external additional space for organization), and that I am technically wanting a pack that will satisfy two different needs: train-hopping/urban/rural & winter wilderness camping. I am starting to realize this is a lot of needs to fulfill ideally with one pack, simply because I'm looking at two sizes.

So I recently bought the MEC IBEX 65 Liter ( in hopes that simply making a decision would end my indecision. I just can't get over how large it looks in the mirror, quite a bit larger then my previous 64 Liter. It would do well for winter camping, but it seems excessive for train-hopping and 3 days in the woods. So I'm back to the drawing board with a (slightly) more refined purpose for the pack.

I ask not what is the right priorities for trainhopping+3-day wilderness camping, but what are the priorities of the features you value.

In terms of making a decision, I feel like I need to prioritize what I want from it. For example, my main priority is low-snag and low-visibility. I am not so worried about weight, as I am about size and sleekness, since I hate having to struggle to haul a pack out of a grainer when its large, or having shit hanging off snag me on a ladder. A darker color is also important to me, but I can always change the color with dye or paint.

I also prioritize a quick escape. I like the idea of having a bottom sleeping bag pocket for those times when you wake up to a yardie shouting "show yourself, i know you're around here somewhere" and need to pack up in a JIFF and GTFO without messing around with bedrolls and cinch straps, etc. I rode with a friend who was super sprawly with his gear and I usually had to be on his case about packing his stuff up half an hour (if we had that luxury) before arrival because it was a struggle to repack each time.

Then I prioritize quick access, namely to pens/paper/maps/radio/knife stored in a few different pockets.

So basically I want it all, (don't we all?), in a relatively small pack. Even if the sleeping bag pocket took up 20L from a 50 litre pack, I'd be good. But I just have not seen it. That 65 L IBEX is the smallest such I've seen at MEC. And getting/modifying a small pack for strapping stuff externally seems like a good way to get snagged and or get caught red handed while trying to scram without leaving your gear behind. My previous pack was hard to pack efficiently, plus it was bulky and annoying.

I don't think pack decision-making gets easier the more experience you have, one just get's more anal about balancing the features properly. Oh to be ignorant about it all again, and thereby just excited by the prospect of travel.
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dharma bum

Sep 9, 2010
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Check out the Kelly redwing 44L pack. It doesn't have a compartment for your sleeping bag but you could still stuff it in there. You can also just strap it to the bottom (there are daisy chains and ice pick loops on the bottom). It comes in different sizes if 44L is to big/small for you. It's pretty heavy duty for not being G.I. or mil spec and it zips up like a book bag. Plenty of other compartments and room for a water bladder. I've had one for years and can't tear it up. The zippers have never broken either like they usually do on other zippered packs. Oh... and it comes in BLACK!

You can find them cheaper at other places... just look around this web thing.


I closed my account

This is the pack I have. Still waiting to hop a train with it but I chose it for this handful of reasons.
1. I was short on cash and it was on sale.
2. I can easily attach any extra shit on it.
-sleeping bag can go on top of the pack easily.
3. It's big enough and I dont see the point in having to carry around a bigger/heavier pack.
4. It's internal frame and I prefer that over external.

The only complaint I have is that there could be a few extra pockets but it still gets the job done. They're a pretty cheap pack for what you get. Might not be exactly what you're looking for but I think they're worth checking out.


Aug 14, 2013
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Sorry to bring this up after a bit of time but here are 2 good packs that are also pretty light with features you want.
-has rain cover and sleeping bag compartment
-less than 50 L (not much but still)
- Not very heavy
- organization space
-The best return policy for a pack
-more in your size range
-has sleeping bag compartment
-not heavy
-organization space
-Best company for returning/replacing packs
-Very lightweight and breathable pack
-no sleeping bag compartment but it will fit in there.
-easy to organize
-in your size range
-(my favorite pack for lightweight comfort)
Again sorry to bring this back up but I thought you would enjoy knowing that there are packs within your area of need. Also osprey is very well known for having an amazing return policy that is pretty much (you buy their pack and you have a pack for life).

Hobo Acre

Aug 14, 2013
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Interstate 40 Knoxville Tennessee
Although I haven't given an official review here yet on backpacks, I do want to stress a very important issue to consider when searching for the ideal bag. As we all know, the backpack is probably the most valuable piece of gear any of us will ever own while on the road. That being said .... research bags made of 100% polyester and 500-1000 Denier Cordura

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