QUOTE(starlagurl @ Mar 25 2008, 09:23 AM)
....or don't overpack...
This is the best advice. But you will anyway. We humans tend to like to make our own mistakes. trial and error, you know.
And then a few months down the road, or longer, you'll start ditching all that stuff you don't need and find yourself with an enormous bag. I could certainly be wrong, but experience has led me to believe that there are alot of things you don't think of, or believe before you jetset off somewhere. Then reality, and common sense strikes once you get used to being on the road and you realize you don't need most of your stuff, including what you've left behind at home.
I'd second the motion on a Wolfskin even tho i'm not a big brand promoter. I've had my pack for 8 plus years, packed it every which way and sideways, used the extra top-loading, not used the extra top loading, and it's still in great condition with nary a rip, tear or any other damage.
Go to a store, try on some packs, load them up with gear and see what's comfy. Be sure to measure your back and get the right fit. What's comfy will be uncomfy if you have to wear it for a long time and it doesn't sit right on your hips. heavy and uncomfortable are two totally different things. A heavy, unfit pack can end up causing alot of pain and back problems. Make sure you know how to fit a pack to your back properly. Can't emphasize that enough. Find out online. This way, you're quality pack will last for years to come because it will be ideal for you and your body shape and you will love it because it will be perfect for you
. Don't just buy whatever.
From the sounds of your journey, you will experience all kinds of situations. You don't ever want to rely on someone else to carry your bag, or slow down a group because yours is too heavy. Trust me. You'll kick your own butt for that.