Bigger is not always better. My Arc’teryx backpack was a true expedition-quality pack and with a capacity of 95 liters could carry damned near anything. It’s the pack you want when you’re climbing Everest. Or when you’re in your twenties and a lot more confident of your own strength than you are now.
I knew my Arc’teryx Bora Backpack was too big before first leaving town three years ago but it was high-quality, had already been around the world once and –most importantly– was already paid for. And it has served me well, but I was tired of struggling with the size and the weight and realized that just by downsizing to a smaller, less-manly pack I could cut 3 pounds or more from my total load. And I’d have less free space to fill with junk.
So I picked up a 70 liter Osprey Aether Backpack on sale at REI and am very happy with it so far. The quality of construction is considerable less than my old pack but the load on my back and shoulders is noticeably less. I also grabbed an airport pack cover which will be handy when checking my bag and double as a rain cover.
The next heavy item to go was my leather boots — they looked great and I really appreciated them in cold, wet weather but mostly they were a four-pound, size-12 brick in my backpack. I replaced them with a pair of waterproof Teva trailshoes — $140 at REI but I found last year’s model online for $80. They’re half the weight and take up about 1/3 less space.
I bought most of the big stuff at REI but made an effort to keep prices down (and was lucky enough to be shopping during the holidays’ sale season). By the time I was finished, I’d managed to buy almost $700 worth of gear for just under $400 by catching sales items, taking advantage of rebate offers and shopping in the store, then buying online.
I avoided buying clothes and assorted stuff sacks, etc at the premium shops and picked these up at Walmart, sporting goods stores, Old Navy and such. I don’t mind paying for quality gear but there’s no sense paying double for a pair of cargo pants.
All in all I think I shaved about 6-7 pounds off my old pack weight and can tell a huge difference when I put the pack on.
What follows is my full gear list (for those contemplating their own long-term trips) and a graphic showing how I pack.
Too much? Or am I missing something? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
WHERE’S THAT ALL GO?
FULL GEAR LIST
70 liter main pack, day pack w/ rain cover, airport cover, small camera bag
15″ Macbook Pro, iPad, iPhone, 2 portable hard drives, Canon T2i w/18-135mm lens, 70-200mm lens, leather iPad ‘man purse’, tripod
Bag of goodies
Chargers, cables, USB hub, travel surge protector, wifi booster, flash drive, USB battery charger, extension cord, 3-to-2-prong plug adapter
3 short sleeve shirts, 2 tshirts (Underarmor), 2 socks, Keens sandals, Teva trail shoes, floppy hat, 2 cargo pants, 2 shorts, 2 light long sleeves, rain jacket, underwear, cold gear (thermals, ski hat, 2 heavy socks, windproof fleece jacket, Marmot Hydrogen bag w/ compression sack)
Silk sleep sack, money belt, passport cover, asst. stuff sacks, photocopies of passport, dry bags, towel/sarong, small umbrella, bandannas, small multitool, pocket knife, velcro tape, duct tape, zip ties
Antibiotics, meds, bandages, rehydration salts, bandaids, vitamins, contacts, solution, ankle wrap, moleskin, cough drops
Earplugs, sun screen, insect repellant, toothbrush, battery-powered beard trimmer, soap and such