What’s the best luggage to take overlanding?

Working out the best luggage to take on an overland truck expedition can almost feel as daunting deciding what to take.

Most overland companies recommend you use a soft-sided rucksack as opposed to a suitcase or bags with integrated wheels.  How luggage is stored on an overland truck can vary from truck to truck. So can your luggage allowance, I’ve seen it range from 70-90L.

I’ve been on some trucks where the luggage locker is in a separate area closed off from passengers, so you can’t access your luggage on the road.  Other trucks have individual lockers so everyone has the same space and this is where turning up with unsuitable luggage would really become a problem for you.

Some have luggage at the rear of the truck and whilst you can technically access it whilst on the road, it’s not easy as it’s  piled on top of bags and sleeping equipment.

Utter Chaos the day before I left for a six month overland trip!

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Main luggage: Osprey Farpoint 70

The company you’re travelling with will usually state the type, litre size and weight of luggage allowed.  When I travelled with Odyssey Overland, it was 70L plus a day bag of 20L.  Luggage to be no more than 20Kgs, excluding sleeping gear.

osprey_farpoint70I purchased the Osprey Farpoint 70 for my last overland trip. I got the S/M size and the main pack carries 52 litres and the daypack 15.  M/L is 55 Litres for the main pack and 15 litres for the removable day pack.

On the whole, I’ve been pretty happy with it.  It’s held up well and never seems to look dirty, the only damage done has been by bag handlers in airports, but these are only scrapes and so far haven’t compromised the integrity of the bag.

The accompanying Farpoint daypack is a good size, too big for me for general use as I use this Pacsafe bag which is (almost) perfect for my needs.   The Farpoint day pack was stashed separately on the truck and stored all my cold weather gear when not in use, as I couldn’t fit it in my main bag. The two bags together meant my main luggage was within the 70L limit I was allowed.

Although the Farpoint daypack doesn’t have a dedicated padded laptop area my 11” MacBook Air fits into the back section in a padded case and sits nicely against my back.  In addition to the padded case, I always store my laptop in a lightweight waterproof dry bag.  I find the Exped ‘red’ size perfect for the laptop and other tech gear. I’ve seen too many bits of kit destroyed by something as simple as a leaking water bottle.  I slip my kindle and iPad mini into the padded case & dry bag to keep them safe too.

I tend to use the far point day bag on flights/buses now as I like to keep all my valuables with me.

Day Pack: Osprey Talon 22

In addition to the zip off Farpoint day bag (which I didn’t really use whilst overlanding as it was storing cold weather gear), I had a slightly larger Osprey Talon 22 litre backpack.

osprey_talonIn this bag, I kept items used when camping or for short hotel stays so I didn’t have to access or take my big bag to my tent/room with me.  This worked really well and was a tip from a fellow overlander and I’m glad I took her advice.

It made life so much more simple, especially if you were only in a hotel for a night.  Toiletries and spare clothes were to hand and reduced the risk of ‘pack explosion’ by having to root through my bag for things. A number of us deployed this method.

When we finished on the overland truck I gave the Osprey Talon to my partner as it was too big for my needs bag and his cheaper bag was knackered (sometimes if you buy cheap, you pay twice!).

I highly recommend this bag for durability.  It’s lasted so well and is very comfortable. We’ve washed it in the machines a few times with no problems and it comes out looking almost new.

Truck Stash Bag

When I was on the truck, I had a small 10lt backpack which was the right size for all my day to day truck needs, suntan lotion, kindle, iPad, iPhone, water bottle, scarf, sunhat etc.   This was a cheap pack that I gifted when my time on the truck was over.

Pacsafe Handbag

When out and about and off the truck I generally used my Pacsafe handbag and all backpacks stayed in the truck or hotel, if I was on the truck the Pacsafe handbag easily stowed in my main pack.

Transporting your gear to start the trip

When I left England to fly to Turkmenistan, I had my Osprey Farpoint with the day pack attached, both of which were full to the brim and together weighed around 18kgs.  The heaviest they’ve ever been.

In addition to that, I had the Osprey Talon 22 that I used as my carry on, which was also full, as well as my Pacsafe handbag.

Osprey Airporter

To lug additional gear I used the Osprey Airporter which is for protecting your luggage in travel, but I used it to stash extra gear in.  Others on the trip had used something similar, so I wasn’t alone!

The Airporter contained my:

The airporter is quite bulky and was never used again on my travels, but it was worth having to transport the items.

I posted it home with other gear when I left the truck.

In summary

Yes, it seems I did have a lot of bags! But thinking about it, many of us on our 6-month trip had a similar setup.  70L back pack, a reasonable sized day pack and and something to stash unused kit in. BUT, we didn’t have per-person allocated luggage space AND we didn’t have the maximum numbers on the trip.  If we did…it could have got a little bit messy!

By the time I finished overlanding and was backpacking in SE Asia I had got my gear down to:

  1. Osprey Farpoint 70 main backpack (weighing in at around 10-12kgs)
  2. The accompanying Farpoint day pack  (used when in transit)
  3. My Pacsafe handbag which I used pretty much ALL the time.

It may seem this post is sponsored by Osprey (I wish!) but it’s not, honest, although there are Amazon affiliate links in the post.  I and many others  think they do very good robust luggage.  Of course, there’re a few things I’d change given the opportunity, but on the whole I’ve been very happy.

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Much of the information and advice expressed on this website is the personal opinion of the writer. If you choose to follow any advice you do so at your own risk with no recourse to the writer or Adventures in Overland.

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