Yes, this entire post is about finding a good backpack to accompany me in my next adventure.
Because we wanted to have a bit of choice and test a few different brands, my husband suggested taking a day trip to Germany, Cologne. We had good experiences with travel gear and accessories bought in Berlin in a similar outdoor outlet and were lured by Globetrotter’s claim of having “Europe’s biggest outdoor store”. Finally, having the advantage of one mid-week Belgian public holiday, we were sure to beat the globetrotting crowds.
If you decide to head to Cologne to buy your travelling gear,
and you happen to be by car, I suggest finding a good value parking spot. In my experience, most large German cities try to discourage driving in the city center by charging tons for parking, think up to 1 Euro per 20 minutes. This adds up to quite a bit, especially if after your shopping spree you decide to visit the Cologne Cathedral and have a cold Kolsch. We parked under the Severinsbruecke, 10 minutes walk from the Globetrotter, and paid 4 Euro for 24 hours. The map here – http://www.stadt-koeln.de/4/verkehr/parken/00094/ provides a few parking alternatives.
The shop is, as advertised, huge (7000m2). There are 4 levels of traveling goodies, including a pool on the ground floor for testing water and diving equipment. As regards brands, they have an impressive selection, featuring the big names (North Face, Jack Wolfskin, Deuter) as well as other brands. I was particularly interested in backpacks and functional t-shirts. Concerning backpacks, you will be able to find a selection of: Bach, Tatonka, Meru, Eagle Creek, Osprey, Lowe and a few others. As far as prices are concerned, overall, I had the feeling I was getting more value than in Belgium, with prices starting at about 100 Euro for a complex trekking backpack. The functional t-shirts (North Face, Columbia) were on sale, at about 15-20 Euro/piece.
In the backpacking section, not only did we get to try 3-4 different brands for size but each backpack was fitted to our bodies, as the aim when fitting a rucksack is to have the weight distributed approximately 70-80% on the hips and 20-30% on the shoulders. The backpacks were already packed to give a realistic estimation of the weight we would have to carry around. We were given plenty of time to walk around the shop and test each different model. The salesperson was knowledgeable and nice. After a couple of hours, I decided for an Osprey Kestrel 38, three functional t-shirts and one trekking trouser. All in all, a pleasant shopping experience. Two photos of the shop are below. Where do you shop for travel clothing/accessories?