Osprey Waypoint 80
A large pack with super-handy side-load zippers and…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Around $300
A large pack with super-handy side-load zippers and a small day pack. Comfortable adjustable hip straps keep it from being overwhelming in size, but it can feel heavy if over-packed, even on a tall person like me. I'd definitely recommend a pack of this size by Osprey, though if you're packing lighter I'm sure a 60L bag would be just as good. I would not recommend long hikes with this bag fully loaded, but for backpacking in Europe and Asia it worked very well for me.
- Side zippers made everything nice and accessible
- Extra pair of buckles for compressing the pack to a smaller size were very handy
- Comfortable padded hip straps
- Daypack is small, don't plan on carrying more than water, camera, and a light sweater
- Side pockets don't hold large water bottles well.
- Very large and awkward if fully loaded, 80L is a lot of space!
When filled to full capacity, this sucker can be extremely heavy, but if you pack wisely this backpack is a gem! I have used it for many backpacking trips, and it has never let me down.
The straps can be protected on flights by a hidden zip-up cover, and if you have a small load you can even shrink the size of the backpack by using a second set of buckles on the side. This makes it more durable over multiple trips, and after maybe 5 trips there is only a little wear in the top corners of the pack which cover the metal frame.
The pack is designed with narrower shoulder straps to be comfortable on women, and it worked for me! The well-padded hip straps are comfortable and really help distribute the load well. It is easy to adjust the hip straps on the go. The padded side handle even allows this to be used as a duffel bag in place of a suitcase on less active trips.
I found it too heavy when I packed it fully for a longer trip (partly my fault, I was a backpacking newbie at that point), but heavy things can be packed at the bottom to reduce the strain on your shoulders. The straps that connect the shoulder straps to the top of the frame are detachable (because they zip away when on airplanes) and adjustable depending on your height. I'm quite tall and never found the fit awkward or too short.
The handiest thing about this pack was the side zippers. Watching my friends struggle with top-load bags to find things stuck at the very bottom of their pack, I could adjust the zippers to get into the bag exactly where I needed to. The pack can be organized according to two inside side pockets, a flat mesh pocket on the zipper flap, and straps to hold less-used things like extra sweaters flat against your back.
The small top pocket was handy for keeping essentials, but you still have to take the pack off to reach anything more than your water bottle (keep in mind the water bottle pockets aren't that big, and if you have the pack full they might not hold a big smooth plastic water bottle, which can sometimes try and leap out of the pocket). The foam padded spot that rests against your back has some breathable mesh to try and avoid getting too sweaty, though when you're really working it doesn't seem to do that much.
I never took this backpack hiking, and used it mostly for backpacking in Europe and parts of Asia. It was a bit bulky on buses in the Philippines, but in Guatemala it was strapped to the roof of the bus so it wasn't as much of a problem. Depending on the public transit you're taking, the pack might feel too big, but it has lived up to my expectations.