On our most recent trip to Europe in November, we decided to go the backpack route rather than traditional rolling luggage. For one thing we had a flight in the middle of our trip that we didn’t want to have to worry about checking luggage, and we knew we’d have a bit of time in cities during which we’d be hauling our luggage around and figured it’d be easier on our backs.
We purchased an Osprey Porter 46 as our main backpack to carry our clothes. Our research determined that this pack exactly met most airline carry-on requirements to not exceed 45 inches when adding length, width and height (its dimensions are 22x14x9).
It held a week’s worth of clothes for each of us (we did laundry once on our 10-day trip) and had a perfectly-sized top pocket for our two TSA-regulation quart-sized baggies. The bag itself weighs less than 4 pounds according to Amazon and as I was the carrier of that bag and am not particularly strong, I can attest that even full of clothes it made for a light pack.
My husband carried on his back a backpack we refer to as “skate fairy” because the words “skate fairy” are scrawled over and over inside. He purchased this backpack, which is actually a camcorder bag, to carry his camera, lights, sound gear, etc. He especially likes that it has a built-in laptop sleeve. In light of that, we thought it would be a perfect second backpack for our trip, carrying Chad’s laptop, his digital SLR within its case (necessary for our Northern Lights photos), and extra shoes, books, and other heavy stuff. It worked great too, and we had no trouble fitting either into carry on bins or carry them around town.
“Backpacking” is not my favorite way to travel (next time I’m thinking of packing a wheely-thing for when we are in airports) but if you are going to go that way, I definitely recommend the Osprey Porter 46.