Suitcase or Backpack? How about both – A hybrid
What you decide to take as your main travel luggage will depend mostly on what you’ll be doing. If you’re climbing Mt. Aconcogua or Mt. Huascaran Sur, you’ll be needing a “mule bag” full of climbing gear plus an expedition pack, which I usually carry on my back and wheel the mule bag around. If you’re vagabonding, with overnights in hostels or camping, a backpack is the way to go. If you’re doing a tour where you’ll mostly be in hotels, a hybrid bag is great.
Travel as lightly as you feel you can, My rule of thumb is lay out everything you think you want to bring and cut it by at least a third.
But you’ll need some trusty long underwear and possibly a down sweater or something like that if you’re headed to Lake Titicaca in July or August. The reason I mention this, before I answer the size of the luggage and type, is… The bulk of what you may take could be the insulation for the chilly nights in Cusco and Lake Titicaca.
Luggage is a personal preference. I prefer a backpack just because I like the freedom of it, and I have traveled that way for years.
But it may not be what you like, and you may not want the option of hauling a backpack on your back. It depends on your fitness etc. A hybrid which is part backpack/and nice travel luggage is an excellent choice because it has wheels, extendable handle, side handle straps, and stowable shoulder straps that tuck into a pocket.
Regular suitcases would not really work so well on situations such as the boat at Lake Titicaca to the islands, which also involves a short walk to any family stays or lodging.
The alternative is, if you really like suitcases is to also take a moderate sized daypack that would accommodate your gear and clothes for a few days on Amantani Island, and leave the main suitcase in Puno at our hotel, while where’re on the boat and on the island. A hybrid or backpack will eliminate this issue. But if you don’t have a hybrid sort of pack/bag and don’t feel like purchasing new travel luggage, that’s OK too.
Again, good to make sure it has the stowable shoulder straps for the occasional hike to the lodge on Amantani, etc.
I’ve got a cheapie from High Sierra that works OK, it has no belt strap and the shoulder straps aren’t that good but it’s fine for the sort of travel we’ll be doing in Peru, as we’re not doing any overnight backcountry camping etc.
Check out Mountain Equipment Co-op in Canada for good prices and great gear. Even though they’re a bit too corporate and trendy for my liking, I’ve got to admit, The North Face has some of the best travel bags I’ve seen. If you want to travel a bit more green see if Patagonia has any travel bags. Give us a call if you have any questions. You can find our number on the contact page.
Tags: Aconcogua, adventure travel, Dexter R. Richards, Huascaran, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Mountain Spirit, Mountaineering, mtnspirit.org, New Hampshire, Peru, Randy Richards, Sunapee, The North Face, Travel Luggage, What's best travel bag