Packing is like Zen to me. It’s an activity that brings me great calm, as I work to perfect what I would consider to be an art form. But this time was different. This was the time I truly put my new “ultralight backpacking” mentality to test!
You see, in December I drastically downsized from a whopping 90 liter backpack to a pint-sized 32 liter one. Sure, I’d been on 4-day trips since, but I always took a small daypack. But this was no weekend trip. This was a 17-day adventure on the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada, all centered around the TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange) conference, which I will be attending later this week in Vancouver.
Despite all the talk about downsizing, I had never actually packed my new backpack…yet. So when I took to it, I discovered something that wasn’t completely unexpected. It wasn’t easy!
Mastering the Fit
Fitting everything into a 32 liter pack is like assembling a puzzle as you struggle to find a carefully placed nook and crevice for that last little item. Fortunately, my new Deuter Futura 32 has plenty of pockets, though this process was made even more difficult by one it’s signature features…its Air Comfort system, which provides a gap between the pack and your back which allows air to circulate. I’m a huge fan of this, but it does have one disadvantage…the back of the pack interior is curved, forcing you to be even more creative with placement!
Maybe I’m just crazy, but to add to challenge, I was determined to get myself into one bag. That’s not to say I didn’t have a daypack with me…I have a Sea to Summit daypack that collapses down to almost nothing and attaches to my backpack. But for the purpose of getting to the airport (where I would re-pack the daypack to hold things like my netbook at my feet), I wanted to prove to myself that I could in fact put everything in my backpack. And you know what? I did! (Though since I originally wrote this post, I’ve added an actual daypack so I could keep my valuables at my feet and went with the slim Osprey Talon 11)
My Packing List
So, without further ado, how did I pack a 32L pack? Here’s what’s in it (including what I’m wearing on any particular day), revised to show my latest fascination with Merino Wool products:
- Clothes (compressed in one of those Eagle Creek air compression bags)
- 1 pair of shoes
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- Medium Pack Towel
- Silk sleeping sack (hey you never know when it may come in handy)
- Ultralight First Aid kit
- Laundry detergent, universal sink plug, elastic clothes line, clothes pins (see: The Secret to Ultralight Backpacking)
- Basic toiletries
- Electric razor + charger (a manual razor doesn’t agree with my skin so well)
- Chargers for the various electronics I carry on me (phone and laptop)
- iPhone 6
- External Battery Pack for Phone (a real life saver on a long trip)
- MacBook Air 13″
- Portable Surge Protector
- Universal Adapter
- Business Cards (no point in going a conference if you don’t want to network, right?)
- 1 Novel
If you happen to have noticed that I didn’t quite follow my own “one to wash, one to wear” philosophy (brining no more than 2 of everything) you’d be correct. There were some clothes that I needed to pick up at REI in Seattle that are included in this count.
So there you have it! My success at the 32 Liter Packing Challenge! I’d like to leave you with a memorial to the items that didn’t quite make the cut…
Baseball cap & polo shirt…you’re gone (well back in NYC) but certainly not forgotten!
How have you had to get creative with your packing situations?
P.S. I’ve only highlighted products in this post that I actually use and love. If you buy any of these products through the links on this page, I receive a small percentage of the sale. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and you’re supporting all the work I’ve put in to this site over the years! How cool is that??