Choosing the Best Luggage for a RTW Trip

I’m a list person. My life would not function without several dozen running at once. My desk is consistently overflowing with post-its, notebooks, calendars and miscellaneous scraps of paper with tiny to-dos. There’s something about writing down every last notion that makes me feel in control.

You can imagine the field day I’m having now that I’m planning a huge adventure with lots of details. I have lists for what to pack, electronics to buy, furniture to sell, vaccines to get, entry requirements to figure out, flights to book, countries to understand, books to devour, blog posts to write, blog posts to read, quotes to inspire me, apps & podcasts to download, people to see before I leave NYC and of course, what gear to buy for the trip.

While I am still researching items like sink stoppers, PacSafes and international cell phone data plans, I’m most concerned with picking just the right luggage for the journey. I can’t roll up to a hostel with my Diane von Furstenberg overnight bag – not unless I want to get punched straight in the face.

This weekend, my pal Kyle (of Cancun near-death experience fame) was in town staying near Union Square, which gave me the perfect excuse to drag him to Paragon to try out backpacks. I did some online research before I went and had narrowed the options down to two choices – the Switchback Max 25 & the Eagle Creek Twist 65L.

Just so we’re all reading from the same guidebook, my main requirement is wheels. I know a lot of hardcore backpackers think having a wheeled pack is about as legit as Milli Vanilli, but guess what? I don’t give a hoot. I’m short and my back hurts, so if I want to wheel my pack through the Sahara desert, then that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

I was thrilled to find out that wheeled backpacks even exist. Most of the time, I am happy to drag all my stuff around the world. On the occasion when wheels are impractical, say in a subway station with lots of stairs, then I can unzip the straps and become a bonafide backpacker.

I’m hoping y’all can help me decide between the two bags. Here are the pros & cons of each (just an excuse to make another list). The price points are roughly the same.

Switchback Max

Pro: Detachable day pack

Con: Only comes in black, heavier hardware

Twist 65L

Pro: Lightweight hardware so it’s not too heavy to begin with, nice color option so I can recognize easily on the baggage carousel

Con:  Do I want to commit to one color scheme for a whole year? Also, doesn’t have a detachable day bag.

What would you choose? Is a year too long to commit to one color, considering my affinity for being matchy-matchy? How important is a detachable day pack? Do you have any other recommendations?

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  • November 22, 2010
    Wezby

    I totally agree with you on wanting wheels. So so much more convenient.

  • November 22, 2010

    As someone who dragged along a wheel-less pack for a year and a half all over Europe, I fully support this decision. My back hurt for years after. Why try to be a tough guy (or girl) when there’s no need?

  • November 30, 2010

    I’d say…maybe the dark one for it’s detachable day pack which can be really useful and lighter but if both feel great, go with any you feel like the most!:) Congratulations on leaving your job, I read that today was the bid day, hope it felt good!:)

  • January 08, 2011

    Hey! I stumbled across your site as I’m currently researching what luggage to choose for my RTW trip. I wondered if there were wheeled backpacks, as I too would love having wheels, and a friend cautioned me about different terrains in which wheeling luggage around would be really difficult. So since these packs can be converted back and forth, that’s great! I’ll look into them. Thanks for posting!

    • January 09, 2011

      Hey! I’m loving my pack so far, but I haven’t yet had to break out the straps to wear as a backpack. Good thing because I’m short and it’s heavy! Good luck with your trip!

      • January 09, 2011

        Thanks! Good to hear that the pack’s working out so far. Looking forward to following along with your adventure!

      • June 25, 2012
        Laurie

        I know this is an old post, but which one did you ultimately choose? Planning my RTW solo trip now…

        • July 03, 2012

          I picked the wheeled backpack, but never ever used the backpack straps. Not even once!

  • May 15, 2014

    today, you can’t go without wheels! and you don’t have to XD

  • January 23, 2017
    May

    One advantage of having a good trip is light backpacking. I always have a lightweight backpack. Also, the stuff which are brought along are important also. They should be all must-have items.

    Annually, I travel with my beloved daughter. We all fancy fashionable backpacks in pink. Any suggestion on this?

    Thank for your info and please keep it up.

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