Thursday, July 22, 2010

Backpack Cover for Flying

Several past visitors arrived looking for information on backpack covers for flying. While I haven't flown with my backpack, I have ridden several buses with a backpack.

On an earlier shakedown hike in California's Big Sur, I used a large lightweight nylon duffel to over-pack my 5500 backpack. I bought my nylon duffel at Academy Sports for about $15. The dark green Timber Creek duffel we bought has a large piece of webbing sewn around the duffel to create two large hand straps. Actually, the straps are so large one could almost wear the duffel as a pack itself. We used a small carabiner to clip the two straps together to make picking up much quicker and easier.

Once at our destination, we folded the duffel into a packet and placed it on top of the closed main compartment, flipped the top pocket back over, and fastened the retaining straps. When we returned to the Greyhound station at Salinas, we opened our pack, expanded the duffel, dropped our pack inside, and attached the new baggage tag.

While we've not done this on the trail, we did experiment at home and discover that we could turn the duffel inside out, which positions the handles inside and prevents them from snagging on branches along the trail. The duffel doesn't quite unzip the entire length, so there's a small "hood" that one can place over the top of one's backpack and the duffel will naturally hang over the pack. Its an easy task to take a spare nylon strap, like the ones used for attaching sleeping bags and pads to exteriors, and wrap it around the pack and duffel. As our duffel is longer then our pack, we found we could under-fold the excess material so the top of the duffel material overlaps the bottom and secure the entire fold with the nylon strap.

Hope this is helpful to those of you flying to the Appalachian Trail.

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