The Backpack. The most important object a Backpacker can own.
I mean, it's literally in the name.
So if you want to fly away and do some backpack-ing, you better be sure to have one you feel comfortable with, and one you like.
I've been out and about on my Ukulele Road Trips with the Gregory Z55. And I love it.
I'm not going expand on the depth of my affection for it here, as you might start thinking I'm mad. But for many many uninterrupted months, this bag, was my house. And you don't do that without developing feelings. And during this cohabitation, the Z55 (or, "Greg") has proved to be everything I needed, and has made my life on the road much smoother. Also, I love it. I may have mentioned that.
There's a bunch of practical features for the (musical) adventurer that I'll chat about underneath, but also, as you can see, it straps itself nicely around the backpacker, still enabling movement, dancing, and singing on the Stefan cel Mare street of Romania's old capital:
Because I want to be completely honest with you here, I must tell you that before my big adventure, I wrote to a couple of Backpack companies and Gregory were enthusiastic about the project and were kind enough to send me this Z55. I chose the colour though. And couldn't have chosen better anyway.
What makes life easier is that it's just really well designed. You get lots of quick access pockets and such. But the best part for me was the special ukulele pouch at the front of it.
The Ukulele/baby kangaroo Pouch
Now, I don't know if it was designed with ukuleles in mind, but it has got a sort of pouch at the front, where you can just shove stuff in without opening the whole bag. I guess it's used for scarves, jumpers, or large items (it's got small openings at the bottom, so small stuff would fall out - I think I lost a maracas and a musical egg like that), but that's what made it so comfortable with my little blue soprano uke. I have a bigger ukulele in its bag, and then I'd just shove the little one in the pouch.
The best thing is that, that way, music and singing are only ever a quick movement of the arm away! Hop, hop, glingedygling! It really influenced the way I becme so spontaneous with music and singing during the Road Trips.
My second favourite feature is that it looks very good. That is all. But it's true. You're welcome Greg.
Pockets and Features
Third favourite feature(s): all these pockets!! Everyone knows, an important use of a home is putting stuff in it. Well, travelling for more than 9 months with House on your back, it's important to keep it organised and practical. There two quick access pockets in the belly straps (not the technical term), great for gum, nuts&raisins, or in my case, my 'business' cards for the project.
Behind the famous pouch, there's a cool flat secret pocket, that you open from the outside, quick access practical. And in front of the pouch, as you can see from the pics, a vertical huge pocket. That's where I keep my books, leaflets, maps, and all kinds of stuff I'm too lazy to organise.
In the bonnet head thing, there's a pocket on top and underneath. When the backpack is all strapped-up, you may need stuff quickly in emergency situations. So in the easy access top-bonnet pocket I keep my backpack's rain cover, and leg's rain plastic trousers (gotta keep those jeans dry). The pocket underneath that is handy also, for documents and such, as you have to unstrap the top bit of the bag but not open the whole thing to get to them.
And inside the main area, there's a hidden pocket, good for important documents you don't need too often. I had clothes, a coat, a camera, books, my (rather heavy) laptop and charger in this Backpack for more than 9 months on the road in 2015 and if you've got a good system, space isn't too much of an issue.
It's a fantastic adventure-partner, but what you may need to keep an eye out for, is the weight you put in it. Not only for your back's sake, but starting at 12kg I felt the straps might be a bit more vulnerable to a brisk grab up from the floor.
Mine has never torn (sigh of relief) and it's been through its fair share of adventure-ing. Actually it still feels pretty much new. But when it's full and not on your shoulders, it's best to carry it with the solid middle strap, just above the shoulder-straps to avoid the strain of the whole bag on just one of the two shoulder straps..
Talking about strain, the bag has two sets of on-your-body-click-click straps. One goes across your chest slightly sideways and the other, across your belly. It's really useful for long hikes as it takes the weight off of your back. I think the top one is sideways for the ladies' sake, but I might have to get some insider info on that one.
All in all,
Did I mention I really like this bag?
Backpacking with a couple of ukes, and with lots of little stuff I like to put away here and there, I really don't want to backpack with any other. *reminder to place a heart emoticon here*
I haven't tried many others to be fair, but I really got the right fit for myself with this one.