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Level Contributor
144 posts
121 reviews

We want to be able to take backpacks on our trip to Belize. What are the best kind to bring? Any idea or suggestions would be much appreciated as I never realized the wide variety of backpacks there are.

Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
7,283 posts
74 reviews
1. Re: Backpacks

Get one designed for travel. The types designed for walking in the mountains are all wrong for travel.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
Level Contributor
13,829 posts
331 reviews
2. Re: Backpacks

I recommend a carryon sized (usually 40-46 liters) conversion pack - straps tuck away when not needed. I've answered this question thoroughly before and have pasted my response below. Happy trails!


I've researched this heavily and vetted my top contenders and the information is below. You can't go wrong with either of these well made, nicely organized, great value packs; both fit your criteria:



I have a terrific Gregory women's pack for actual backpacking but recently replaced my trusty Columbia Pakmandu which I've used for 10 years (no longer available). It's a strange shape and not well organized and I travel so much I felt I deserved an upgrade. In November 2010 the Vagabond came on sale at the same time that REI was offering 20% off one regular priced item to members. I purchased both the Vagabond and the Osprey Porter 46 and took them home for a complete vetting with real packing and hikes up the hill from my house to assess comfort. My needs are specific to carry-on travel since I already have a different pack for backcountry pack trips and there's no replacement for actually trying a pack to be sure it fits you comfortably, but I'll summarize my findings below.

PORTER - Held more, easier to get into, a bit more of a classic carry-on shape, better compression system, a little simpler but still with nice organization features, similar to the Vagabond in that regard. The suspension system is not as nice as the Vagabond, both in terms of waist strap support and the part of the bag that lies against your back. The carry handles are a bit nicer than on the Vagabond.

VAGABOND - A bit smaller, narrower design, flap/zip system a tiny bit awkward by comparison, excellent suspension/strap system. It's a bit longer than the traditional carry-on measurement but I've made dozens of trips with Vagabond owners (relatives and friends I've recommended them to) and I've never seen one refused as a carry-on. In 2009 I lead a group of 15 people to Guatemala and nearly half had Vagabonds because they were closing out a very slightly different model and cut the price in half right before Christmas that year - no problems, everyone loved them. Nice organization features and a terrific suspension system all around, though it's a bit harder to stow away than the Porter's. This version is very different than the original which my son uses; I travel with the slightly smaller Hitchhiker version of the original (just got back from a long week-end trip to the east coast with it). The current one is improved in many ways, especially with a mild compression system and the included rainfly/cover, though it seemed a little awkward to use and wear the bag, almost designed more for carrying the bag with handles and for checking to keep the bag safer.

In the end I returned the Vagabond because the suspension/back system was plenty comfortable on the Porter for travel (better than the bag I've loved for years) and the general ease/opening/size/shape considerations for my traveling made it better for me (size was an important factor). I absolutely LOVE IT - really an amazing bag.

The eBags Weekender is popular with travelers:


My brother- and sister-in-law traveled with those when we traveled with them for 3 weeks in Belize in 2009. The design and organizational features were very nice and the price is great. The suspension system is pretty dismal, so I wouldn't pick that one if you think you'll actually be wearing your pack a lot. I think the Rick Steves’ bag is similar in size and function:


Both would be good value options for the sort of travel where you're mainly carrying it in brief stretches but sometimes I'm off the track enough I walk a lot with mine.

Hope that helps! Happy trails!

Level Contributor
144 posts
121 reviews
3. Re: Backpacks

That sounds great. We are heading there this week anyways, we will check it out

San Ignacio, Belize
Level Contributor
4,770 posts
277 reviews
4. Re: Backpacks

A backpack is the way to go. And since you can pack very lightly, you don't need a huge one. If you take the bus, just don't put any items of value in the little outside pockets. Like everywhere, there are miscreants that are really good at getting things out of those pockets.

Have a great time!

5. Re: Backpacks

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