My Superb New Backpack: The FirstLight® 35L+ From ThinkTank

“Stepping out to a different world and you might be home late” – Ocean Colour Scene.

My Superb New Backpack: The FirstLight® 35L+ From ThinkTank

My Superb New Backpack: The FirstLight® 35L+ From ThinkTank

All these years of long term backpacking has meant a constant need to change, alter, switch, shift, upgrade to a new, clean, pristine backpack, multiple times. I’ve changed backpacks about 15 times in the last 26 years, since I first studied journalism at Belvoir Tech in Belfast’s Fair City. Those were glory days, and I never once planned this backpacking lifestyle, but I inadvertently backpacked the world since, swallowing so far 218 countries and this means, I’m almost always wearing a backpack!

Sundays Inspiration: The Aimless Diary of A Long Term Backpacker, Aged 35 and 3 Quarters

The Long Term Backpacker – Turkistan (away)

These days, the stronger, the better, the more durable the backpack, the better but also – the quirkier the better. I love a good backpack with extra quirks, hidden compartments and secret parts to keep all my possessions in. I’ve changed backpacks a lot down the years and haven’t always mentioned them, so here are just 4 of my previous backpacks/rucksacks…before I tell you about my SUPERB new backpack, arguably my favourite yet – The FirstLight® 35L+ From ThinkTank

The ASDA £5 backpack (2009 – 2010)

I am not kidding to say that this one cost me £5. It was part of a £10 bundle in ASDA in Bournemouth in 2009 which contained – 1 blue backpack, 1 blue drinks container, 1 blue pouch, 1 blue toiletry bag, 1 blue utility bag. This was the one I wore while backpacking Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore before winding up in Australia. It appears here…

Jonny Blair of Don't Stop Living lives a lifestyle of travel

The £5 ASDA backpack at Tailuga in Taiwan

That backpack eventually got ripped and was out of use by 2010. It really served a purpose but I was a cheap backpacker back then. It was also my carry-on backpack, as I also had two larger backpacks at the same time. After this backpack was binned, I went through 4 more backpacks before getting my Osprey and Mindshift.

The Osprey Aether 70 (2015 – 2019)

This hardcore backpack was part of so many journeys when I used to disappear for months. I still have it, I still love it and I occassionally use it – but only when I’m on a long trip. The last time I used it was in Africa in 2019 when I visited Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo on one trip. It’s still in good condition but long term backpacking has passed me by after COVID. The one below has swallowed 50 countries.

Tuesday's Travel Essentials: My New Rucksack - An Osprey Aether 70

Tuesday’s Travel Essentials: My New Rucksack – An Osprey Aether 70

The Mindshift Gear Rotation 180 – Blue (2015 – 2018)

This excellent backpack, the Mindshift Gear Rotation I also still have. It has swallowed around 70 countries and was very durable. The reason I don’t use it much anymore is because of space. It does fit a lot in, but it’s too tight for me now, since I’m hand luggage loyal, and you can get away with a slightly bigger bag than this one.

The Mindshift Gear Rotation 180 Travel Away

The Forest Green BackLight®18L From Mindshift Gear (2018-2023)

Having loved the blue MindShift Gear backpack, my next upgrade was to a lovely forest green MindShift Gear backpack. Now let me tell you that this very backpack can tell some stories. I have lost it, it has been stolen, it has been in multiple police stations, it has been to court, it has been to prison and it has also been accused of smuggling drugs to Heathrow. Ridiculous and a lovely colour and remarkably, I still have it and it works, it’s just a bit worn.

Arrival in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan with The BackLight®18L From Mindshift Gear

And so…my new backpack is the superb black colour, 35 litre…

FirstLight® 35L+

Introducing The FirstLight® 35L+ From ThinkTank

Here’s the official video of the FirstLight 35L, before I list the specs and my own video and experience having started using it in Summer 2023.

The FirstLight+ backpacks are actually designed for traveling outdoor photographers. However, I ignore all that as they suit me completely as I love the different compartments and I use them for anything – not just photography! So if you are a professional photographer, yes, you will love the FirstLight+ series from ThinkTank, but actually I’m going out of that niche and using this as a travel writer’s backpack! I first debuted this backpack on a trip from Belfast, Northern Ireland to Dublin, Athenry and Galway, Republic of Ireland in June 2023 and now I have it in Poland…

Debuting my FirstLight® 35L+ From ThinkTank

Debuting my FirstLight® 35L+ From ThinkTank on the Belfast to Dublin train













It’s a backpack with a lot of options, as you can see in their video above, and indeed in my own video at the bottom of this article. Built for extended days of travel, the pack is carry-on compatible with most airlines hand luggage *, making it easier to get to your destination without having to put it in hold. The FirstLight’s contoured, 11-point adjustable torso harness fits most men and women, I adjusted it to me quickly and easily. The packs also offer ballistic nylon bottom panels for durability, ample space for long lenses and expandable personal capacity with a dedicated laptop pocket. My books go in the back in compartments along with clothes, chargers and nik naks. The side pockets, I use for water/juice. I put important documents in plastic in one of the outer/rear zippable pockets while I put my rain cover, raincoat, hat and sunglasses in the easy access top or side pockets. There are a lot of options!

*Check with your airline for their current carry-on requirements

Debuting my FirstLight® 35L+ From ThinkTank

KEY FEATURES of the FirstLight 35L:

  • Expandable front pocket
  • Removable (Floating) top pocket
  • Re-designed organization pockets
  • Improved top and side pockets for easier access to small items


All the details to buy The First Light 35L From ThinkTank are here –

FirstLight® 35L+

I have just started to use my FirstLight 35L and love it so far. Look out for it in my future trips, one of which I will write about very very soon. I’m aiming to hit country 219 next week!! Safe travels!!

Debuting my FirstLight® 35L+ From ThinkTank

Debuting my FirstLight® 35L+ From ThinkTank

Debuting my FirstLight® 35L+ From ThinkTank

The FirstLight® 35L+ From ThinkTank

The FirstLight® 35L+ From ThinkTank

The FirstLight® 35L+ From ThinkTank

Here is a video of me packing my FirstLight® 35L+ in Gdansk, Poland in August 2023:

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