First read, What to Pack – Part 1, Introduction
In this section I’m going to look at backpacks, day packs, security products for protecting them and some space saving packing ideas that help you get organised. I’m not the lightest of packers, but I like to pack simply and make use of practical equipment, so I’m always looking for innovative products that are as light as possible and adaptable.
So Let’s make a start.
The pack you choose will be one of the most important kit choices that you make, pretty much all of your accessible worldly possessions will be within it while you travel. Just like choosing an apartment or a house you’ll want to ensure that it safe, secure and durable. It should keep all your kit organised, clean and importantly dry! You’ll also want a pack that’s big enough to accommodate all of your kit, but that’s not too large that it’s going to weigh you down, when your rushing for that once a week rail connection. I like a 65 litre pack it’s large enough to fit in all I need, but small enough to impose a discipline on my packing, so that I’m not left with any excuse to fit in superfluous items.
I use the Lowe Alpine TFX Kibo 65, however backpacks are very personal, so I wouldn’t recommend a particular pack. That said, I do recommend either Lowe Alpine Berghaus or North Face packs in general as they have a great build quality. A good pack will be comfortable to wear. The weight of the pack (mine weighs 1800 grams) should be supported on your hips, not your shoulders. I think it’s essential that you seek a pack that has adjustable padded hip and shoulder straps, so that the weight of the pack is evenly distributed through your back. Do not consider buying any pack that you have not tried on. Good stores will allow you to do this and will also provide a suitable ballast weight so you can simulate your carriage. Take your time, try on lots of them and above all remember to look after your back, so ask yourself will this still be comfortable at the end of a long days hike.
Securing and protecting my backpack is of the utmost importance to me. I’m never unduly concerned about it getting broken into, or broken when I’m on the road or in accommodation, it’s more to do with what happens at airports with baggage handlers. Here are two products that give me peace of mind the Sakbag Airline Tote Bag which wraps away my backpack and in particular its straps. This prevents them from becoming snagged and chances are ripped off by mechanised airport baggage systems. It weighs 280 grams
The second item is a my Universal Rucksack Saklock, this secures the tote bag, fastens it securely and prevents opportunist airport staff from riffling through my possessions if the fancy takes them and it removes temptation from them to help themselves to whatever they fancy. Lightweight at 25 grams.
If you’re like me it’s your day pack that will see the most use and therefore abuse as it gets slung down frequently, whenever when you stop whether for a coffee, to take a photo. etc. In the past I’ve attempted to get away with using a smaller 15 litre Day pack, but it was always a struggle to fit everything in and impractical compromises occurred that I frankly regretted. I now own a Berghaus Twentyfourseven Backpack with a 25 litre capacity; 49cm (H) x 33cm x 25cm (D), it weighs in at 500grams and withstands the abuse I give it.
It’s very comfortable with its padded back flow system to aid posture and allow air circulation. It’s also hydration system compatible, so you can slip in a water reservoir and also has a walking-pole attachment and if you’re using the hydration system space for say a laptop, a tablet, or note book there’s a separate bottle pocket space. Other makes I recommend are Karrimor and Lowe Alpine
Space Saving Packing Bag
I stumbled across the Pack-Mate Outdoor Roll-Bag as I was browsing in a outdoor store and thought they looked useful, so I decided to buy a couple to try. A perennial problem with packing is fitting the bulkier clothing items into your pack. No sooner have you got them in than they fluff up to take up all the available space. The Pack-Mate compression bags enable you to pack more in your luggage, they are brilliant space-savers. They compress cumbersome items, like fleeces, jumpers, even socks to create up to 75% more packing space. They also help you to better organise your pack by segregating like items into one bag, so you don’t have to disturb your whole pack when looking for something. Simple to use, you just squeeze the air out through the special one-way valve, by rolling the bag and your clothes will be kept airtight in these durable, waterproof bags. They weigh in at a measly 100grams.
Available in all good supermarkets Ziploc bags are another essential for getting your back pack organised. As one of my travel buddies Mushbird explains; “My best tip for packing has been to roll your clothes, pack them into plastic bags so when searching for something you don’t have to keep unpacking your clothes, just pull out the bags and you can find what your looking for without having to refold everything!” The ziploc’s can also be inserted into the Pack-Mate Outdoor Roll-Bag.
Baggage allowance watch:
The items mentioned above comprise a combined weight of 2.30 Kilos out of your typical checked airline allowance of 22 Kilos. I have not included the Day pack within this calculation as it should form your cabin luggage.