With only ten days left until we leave, things are getting very real for us. We just dropped $1000 each on travel insurance and are now getting down to the really dirty business of packing. Namely, shopping.
Things you might not realize before packing for a life in a backpack:
Not all underwear is created equal
This wasn’t a sudden realization. It crept up on me over time (gross pun?) and literally ten hours of mindless internet surfing and late night travel-blog reading led me to realize, I’d been all wrong about underwear.
First of all, one does not wear buy underwear in packs of 10. I was already a late-comer to this understanding and I’m not going to say I’m still not struggling with it a bit (I mean it just makes economic sense), but apparently there’s more.
Factors to consider: how ‘breathable’ it is, how fast it dries, how much it rides, how light it is,how well it fits, and how much it costs. After multiple internet forums and a lot of soul searching, I arrived at the Patagonia Active Hipster, which has surpassed all of my underwear expectations so far.
Everyone is going to steal from you
Name a body part and a cloth carrying vessel and you’ve got yourself a ‘safety’ product at REI. Never mind your money belts
and neck pouches (amateur hour, anyone?), but you’ve got your thigh high garter belt cell phone holder, your up the sleeve money carrier, your headband money clip, and best of all your decoy wallets in which you place the fake credit cards you get in the mail. They also have an obscene amount and variety of locks so that you can lock everything in every way (to itself, to yourself, to your bed). That’s to say nothing of the anti-rape devices I’ve heard of, but REI isn’t up to date on that.
We ended up getting a couple locks and a money belt (and we’re definitely going to use that decoy wallet idea, mostly because it makes me feel like a spy).
Factors to consider: how scared you are of the world and how much money you have to lose at any given moment
Apparently, Jansport is not the latest word in backpacks
Not even close! (and I thought I was so cool in middle school.) I spent weeks, literally weeks, going to and from a variety of outdoor stores so that I could find a backpack that fit well. This was in large part due to some poor customer service at a variety of REIs (shout-out to my man, Manny, at Erehwon) but there is a very legitimate science that ergonomically fits a backpack to the length of your back, the size of your hips, and the curve of your shoulder, allowing you to carry a good amount of stuff for a long period of time without scientifically destroying your back.
This probably wouldn’t have been such a big deal to us if we weren’t planning on hiking the Camino de Santiago toward the end of our trip (in which we need to walk twenty miles a day with all of our stuff).
I ended up buying the Osprey Ariel 65 and Dan got the Gregory Z40. Our goal was to get the smallest backpack we reasonably could (because the bigger it is, the more you pack)that was front loading (so we didn’t have to take everything out to get to the bottom), and fit well.
Factors to consider: how much stuff you will be carrying, how long you will be carrying it, how often you will need to open it (front loading versus top loading), and what your favorite color is. Also consider that all the best brands are equally amazing quality so one should prioritize fit over which of these brands to pick.
These things matter:
Lightweight microfiber towel
- see: The Hitcker’s Guide to the Galaxy and also Basic Hygiene
CoolMax Sleeping Sack
- To protect against questionable sleeping places
Teva, Keen, or Merrell Shoes
- The dorkier it looks, the better it is for your feet.
Steripen: Water purifier
- To delay the inevitable sicknesses associated with the word ‘explosive’
- Nomadic Matt’s Packing List (http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/packing)
- The Complete Travel Packing List for Women (http://goatsontheroad.com/the-complete-travel-packing-list-for-women/)
- The Complete Travel Packing List for Men (http://goatsontheroad.com/the-complete-travel-packing-list-for-men/)
- Packing List for Seven Months in Asia (http://www.adventurouskate.com/packing-list-for-seven-months-in-asia/