Nothing sucks the life out of a backpacker faster than a broken backpack.
When you’re on the journey of a lifetime, bouncing from country to country, meeting interesting people and having a blast, working around the logistics of a broken backpack quite simply just sucks. It’s bad for your back, it slows you down on the road, and it makes things just a little more difficult.
But fear not! There is a way to fix your broken backpack problems, and it starts with being prepared. Here are some tips every backpacker should read before traveling:
1. Email your receipt to yourself when you purchase it!
I had spent weeks researching backpacks on the internet and reading customer reviews before I purchased my awesome crimson red pack. Two months later, an innocent Nicaraguan cab driver pulled the bag out of his trunk using the strap in between the shoulder straps. I heard a tear and turned around.
“Lo siento…” was all the poor man could muster. I will be honest and say I freaked out, cried, and felt like a pipe burst in my newly bought home.
Thankfully I am now the proud owner of a new, yet different model bag thanks to the cooperation at Moosejaw.com. They did an amazing job in communicating with this sad backpacker.
2. Research before you buy
Many backpacks, like those at Moosejaw, offer warranties for their products. Almost every product at REI is backed by their lifetime guarantee. If you purchase a product with a credit card like an American Express Platinum, they’ll also provide protection for your products. Simply put, do your research before you buy and ask the store clerk what options they offer should your brand new backpack break on you.
3. Remain calm
When everything seems overwhelming, take a deep breath. Remember that you are strong enough to figure everything out — it just might take a little logistical work. Use Skype to make long-distance calls over the internet, send your emailed receipt to companies, and pick an address they can ship a new product to (one a couple of weeks ahead of where you are now). You’ve got this!
4. Get those order confirmation numbers and invoices ready and get on the horn!
Most likely your bag is a common name brand such as Osprey or Kelty and many of these brands have lifetime warranties, and if your backpack breaks these companies can help you in getting the problem resolved.
Sometimes that might mean having it repaired at a global location, other times it might mean sending you a brand new bag. Decide how you want to proceed and be direct with the company.
5. Take action
Do you need to print a shipping label? Ask your hotel or hostel. Need to find the nearest repair satellite store abroad? Do not put off these annoying errands, unless you are traveling at a slow pace. It took me three trips to the Panama City DHL with my original red bag until I received the new one.
I had a good break of luck and a friend was visiting me so she offered to bring the bag back to the States and ship it from there. (Note: Most companies will not offer to help you out on the shipping costs unfortunately!).
6. Receive new bag and rejoice!
Originally Moosejaw.com graciously offered to repair my bag free of charge, provided I ship it to them from Nicaragua. Obviously I realized I could not go without a bag so I requested to purchase a different model and send back the broken bag for full reimbursement.
Since I was going to be in Panama for three weeks they shipped the new bag ahead of me, and I met it in Panama.
A special thank you is going out to my good friends over at Moosejaw.com. From original backpack purchase to helping me to receive the new one ya’ll were extremely helpful and kind. I truly appreciate your customer service and would recommend every Go! Girl to be outfitted with your gear and your guarantees!
Disclaimer: Moosejaw.com did not actively participate in contributing to this article, nor did they comp my bag for a write up. My comments are of my own free will.