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on December 20, 2013
My wife and I each purchased a Col 35 for our trip to Europe earlier this year. After exhaustive research into luggage, packing, how to pack, and what to bring, we decided on a backpack that would be small enough to carry on a plane, but large enough that we could fit everything we'd need throughout the course of our trip. We found that perfect bag with the Col 35. I got the bag in orange, she got pine (green.)

A little background: my wife and I spent 3.5 weeks traveling across Europe this past spring. It was the first time either of us had undertaken a trip like this and the first time either of us had even left the United States. We had read horror stories about people who overpacked for a long trip, who had simply brought too many bags and how much of a pain that made their trip overall. We wanted to avoid that particular pitfall of world travel, so we went with the Col 35.

We each packed 6 days of clothing in addition to the essentials (toiletries, shoes, coats, gloves, hats...we were traveling in early spring, it was cold.) The bag swallowed up all of these items with ease, I was amazed at how much room it actually had. I was able to fit a small camera bag with my DSLR and a couple of lenses in as well. Truly an amazing amount of space for such an unassuming bag. There is also a removable pouch on the top that carried smaller items we'd need access to frequently. It came in very handy. It tended to flop around a little bit, but if it was cinched down tight enough, this wasn't a problem. We also loved the mesh bottle holders on the side, this allowed us to carry our Nalgene bottles with ease. Never underestimate how great it is to have water available while traveling, it can be hard to find in many places.

Our trek carried us to 6 different cities in the 3.5 weeks we were traveling. We flew, took busses, and took trains and the Col 35 was great for all modes of transportation. Even fully packed it was easy to fit in to the overhead bins on planes and busses. The trains were even easier as the bag fit either overhead or under the seat. I can't overemphasize how great it was to only have carry on luggage. Not only did we save on checked bag fees, but we also got to simply grab our bags and deplane. Others had long waits at baggage claims. By the time others had their bags, we were already on our way to do something fun. Not only that, but we had no fears about lost or damaged luggage because we had everything we owned with us at all times.

The Col 35 is comfortable to wear for long periods, even fully loaded. The shoulder straps are well padded and adjustable making it easy for either me or my wife to wear our bags. She is 5'4", I am 6'1". The Col 35 also has a padded waist strap and a chest strap that allow you to take some of the weight off of your shoulders and rest it on your hips. Definitely a welcome feature when you've been wearing the fully-loaded bag all day.

As far as the security of the bag goes, I'm very happy and feel confident that nothing could get stolen out of it without me noticing. The top of the bag has 2 drawstrings each with a clasp. Not only does this securely close the bag, but makes it easier to pack things in there more tightly as you have more leverage to get the bag fully closed. Furthermore, if a thief were to try to reach into your bag, he would have to undo both drawstrings to get access to the contents. Not to mention, he'd have to get past the pouch on top that coverts the opening to the bag.

There is a nylon cover in the bottom of the Col 35 that is designed to cover the bag when deployed. The cover is water resistant so it's great for when you get caught in the occasional rainstorm. We didn't have the chance to use it as we avoided most of the rain during our travels. However, it was nice to know that it was there as we were both carrying electronic items in our bags.

My one gripe about the Col 35 was that the opening was on top. This means every time I wanted something from the bag, I had to dig through it to find it or basically unpack the whole thing to get what I needed. As I got smarter about what I'd need from the bag during our trip, this became less of an issue. It's a double-edged sword though. The annoyance of digging through the bag was trumped by the extra security I felt that the top-only opening offered.

Overall we simply loved the Col 35. After undertaking a long and difficult trip with it we both exclaimed that we couldn't imagine traveling without it in the future. If you're looking for the bag to make your travels easy, this is it. Buy without hesitation.
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on June 12, 2017
LOVE THIS BAG- I purchased this bag almost 3 years ago for my PC service and I love this bag. Its top loading and can fit a lot of stuff. It doesn't have a lot of pockets so it's perfect if you are worried about walking thru crowds and such. There are straps that cross the side of the bag right above the water bottle pouch. These are perfect for holding things like yoga mats or something like that flat to the bag. It has a top portion(flap) That is perfect for putting things like cell phone and money and it's right by your head so no one is getting to it unless you leave the bag lying around. Very sturdy, comfortable, easy to clean, and comes with a rain cover! Also its lightweight so if you only have a little bit of stuff to put in it you won't have a problem with the bag looking gigantic.!!!
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on September 20, 2013
The problem with this bag is that there are no separating compartments. To find anything inside, you must dig around or pull everything out. Very frustrating when you are hiking. It is like a huge purse. It is disappointing and I don't recommend it.
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on August 9, 2015
One con: the shoulder straps are pretty close together at the top and squeeze your neck a bit, especially if you pack it heavy.

My favorite parts are the compression straps and the belts. It fits very securely and it compresses very well.
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on July 20, 2016
I bought this for a trip of backpacking across the country. It held everything I needed and provided a lot of support. Even though my bag was fairly heavy, it distributed the weight so it wasn't too much for any one part of my body.
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on April 16, 2013
I bought this bag based on the reviews that everyone wrote about it being "sized" for a carry on, fits under an airplane seat, evenly distributes weight and packs a lot of stuff. After shuffling this bag across England, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, this is not true:

1. Fits under the seat- If you pack this bag to be even remotely full, it is too deep to fit under the seat. You could however, try to cram it in, put your foot over it and then your coat over your lap so the stewardess won't force you to check it.
2. Sized for some carry ons- It is ok for 8 out of 10 airplanes. Smaller airplanes will force you to check it and the bag needs to be placed horizontally to fit in the overhead (meaning it takes up a lot of room). I highly recommend you getting on the flight first to make sure you have enough space. Also, UNITED may force you to check this bag for domestic flights. This bag theoretically meets the size requirements but it just LOOKS huge. Beware.
3. Distributes Weight- If you pack this bag to be remotely heavy, you will hate yourself. It feels no different from any other backpack filled with heavy stuff. The internal frame does very little to make this tenable.
4. Packs a lot of stuff- This bag looks big but doesn't pack a lot. The most I've been able to fit is about a weekend of clothes (that I wore twice), toiletries and shoes. My friend had a purse that fit more than this bag. There are no side packets or any nooks and crannies to store most things. Things that are slightly wide are really hard to put in and take out (IE: laptop, papers, notebooks)... I tried to put a binder in to no avail.
5. Top loading is terrible- If you are backpacking across XYZ, imagine having to take EVERYTHING out of your bag to get a pair of shoes...now, imagine doing that again and again, spreading your stuff all over dirty hostels around the world.
6. It does not fit a sleeping bag- Unless you ONLY want to fit a sleeping bag. The bottom compartment has a "rain shield" for the bag and thats really about all it fits.
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on June 29, 2013
This backpack was everything i was looking for! I am going on a scout trip for five day in the uintahs (in utah) and this will hold everything that I am going to need! I also like that it has a spot in the pack for a hydration pack bladder.
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on January 9, 2014
I took it to Central America on a backpacking trip for a week and it was awesome. Keep in mind that I used a space bag for my clothes and packed fairly light, but I felt I had more than enough room for everything I needed. It holds up very well and fits in the overhead bin on the airplane (which was awesome, I hate checking my bags).
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on February 20, 2015
If you're looking for a serviceable frame pack at a cheap price, here it is. The construction is OK. It's certainly not the most comfortable pack I've owned, but I've used it for several long day hikes without trouble.
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on November 22, 2013
This would be 5 stars if it had one good size external pocket. It's well designed and has quality construction. I like the simple design but my son would have preferred at least one external pocket for the smaller items that an older guy would probably put into his pants pockets instead of his pack.
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