The MEI Voyageur is the perfect allround travel backpack and bag.
When you wish to live light and travel cheap there is no room for a closet full of different backpacks. To minimise the number of backpacks you need I know no superior alternative to the Voyageur from Mountain Equipment Inc.
- The backpack fits perfectly within the cabin luggage constraints of most commercial airlines.
- The materials are durable to the extreme using heavy duty YKK zippers and 1000 denier Cordura®. Have you ever had a zipper or the seams just by the zippe fail on you? Since I got the voyageur in 2009 I have had the habit of forcing the zippers until I give up. Guess what? I still use the same backpack. It is durable to a level you do not find in most backpacks.
- The backpack/bag got hideaway hideaway shoulder harness with sternum strap and hip belt that are actually comfortable to use. This is key to keeping the minimal look, especially when you know the bag is within the size limits, but not the weight limit of the plane you are boarding. And if you ever choose to send it you do not have to submit though special luggage as required for some backpacks.
- The square construction optimises the available space inside it compared to the size the bag takes in a trunk or in the overhead compartment in a plane.
- For maximum storage room the backpack got only one room that takes up space, but additional flat compartments for valuables and documents (books etc). One large at the front and one smaller inside.
- Available in essentially any colour.
- Dimensions: 36x23x56 cm, 1.6 kg (14x9x22″; 3.5 lbs)
I have claimed that the MEI Voyageur is the ultimate travel bag and asserted its durability. The backpack still performs great and I have put it though a lot. Here are a couple of the trips my backpack has been on:
- Backpacking trips all around the globe including stops in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, South Africa, Lesotho Swaziland, England, Spain, France, Switzerland and Argentina.
- To many climbing trips to count including Costa Blanca (Spain), El Chorro (Spain), Siurana (Spain), Fountain Bleu (France), Kalymnos (Greece), Lofoten (Norway), Bohuslän (Sweden) and Ceuse (France).
- Multiple amazing hikes including Amphitheatre Chain Ladders (South Africa).
Final note: Even thought the design is from the 1970s and the guys over at MEI does not want to change a winning formula they still implement nice little improvements. When my girlfriend got hers last year they had implemented small clips that prevent the end of the adjustment straps from dangling freely. This is great when checking the backpack in at airports knowing that they cannot snatch to anything and it improves the look of the backpack.
To order a MEI pack is not as easy as a one-click-purchase at Amazon, but it has gotten a lot easier than it once was, and the delivery times are getting better as well. Pick yours up at directly at meipacks.myshopify.com (which is their homepage these days).
Popular alternatives (and why I did not choose them):
The Aeronaut is lighter, but does not have as strong fabric and does not have a frame. I prefer the durability and increased carrying comfort of the MEI Voyageur. In addition the two extra pockets are guaranteed to reduce the amount possible to pack in it. Last but not least the Aeronaut lacks compression straps for when the bag is not actually full.