Posts Tagged With: backpack

REI is my crack

So sorry for being absent the past couple days…my mac has been at the hospital (aka the apple store) for a broken leg (aka a broken dvd player), but is now up to it’s old tricks again.  The same day I took my laptop to be repaired, I also visited REI since I knew their awesome annual sale was going on (and will be going on through the 27th).  My intention was to buy a backpack and scope out potential shoe options to be bought at a later date…naturally, I bought a backpack, a pair of shoes, and a travel towel.  I don’t regret any of it. All were items I would have purchased at some point before I left in August, so I might as well get 30% off now.  

Let me just say I am absolutely enamored with my new purchases because, like the title states, REI is my crack.  I think it’s a combination of the total awesomeness of the products and the friendliness of the employees that has me completely head over heels for this company.  I had one-on-one help in every department I visited, even two-on-one help in one (thanks shoe department!) and I couldn’t be happier with the products these knowledgeable people suggested.  The REI employees I interacted with went so far beyond the normal call of duty…they not only provided expert advice about their products, they also were psyched to hear about my trip! haha it’s not every day that I meet people as excited about a 3 year RTW as I am.

A quick overview of what I bought and why it’s essential…

  1. Travel towel = absorbs 8x its weight and dries in a flash, necessary for any place that has high humidity because it doesn’t mildew like normal towels, but also just useful when you are traveling quickly from place to place because you don’t have to pack a wet towel in with you clean (or semi-clean) clothes
  2. Keen Targhee II = a waterproof cross between a hiking boot and a cross-trainer, much lighter than my 15-year old hiking boots, more sturdy than my sneakers that are coming apart at the seams, it was inevitable that I would have to get something like this before I left…I’m thrilled that Keen’s make half-sizes up through women’s 11 (I’m a 10.5…yes I know I have gigantic feet)
  3. Women’s Flash 52 Ultralight Multiday Pack = the best fitting backpack I’ve ever owned, 52 liters is not huge but I’m actually glad it isn’t because I think this will help me not buy useless crap on the road.  The material feels very durable and the zippers are super smooth (very important on something you are going to be zipping/unzipping multiple times a day for 3+ years).  I packed everything I think I’m going to be taking into it and still had a little extra room.

In total, I spent about $240…and saved $100. Pretty damn good if you ask me…and even better? It’s $60 under what I thought I’d be spending on a backpack and pair of shoes.  That’s almost 2 nights accommodation in Paris :-D.  Even better than that? I am one step closer to leaving in August!!! 

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Day 17

There was nothing 'clean' about this place...

There was nothing ‘clean’ about this place…

Day 17 of Bootsnall’s “Plan your RTW Trip in 30 Days” addresses what kind of luggage you should take…suitcase, backpack or hybrid? This seems like a pretty obvious choice to me, but maybe it wouldn’t seem that way if I had never traveled long term before.  In my eyes, a backpack is the only way to go.  A rolling suitcase may seem practical…until you’re faced with miles and miles of gravel or cobblestone. That hard-shell might seem like a good choice…until you can’t stuff it in your assigned locker at a hostel and therefore can’t lock it up.  For these and a variety of other reasons, I’d recommend going with a backpack. It’s just easier to sling a backpack over your shoulder when you’re hopping from hostel to hostel, train to ferry, bus to plane. Having said that, don’t just run out and buy the cheapest backpack you can find. Take your time finding the one that is right for you.  Remember, you’re gonna be hauling this beast everywhere with you so you need to make sure it not only fits your body correctly, but is made out of a very durable fabric, has enough space for what you need, but not too much, because that can also cause discomfort, and fits any other specifications you may want. For instance, I prefer mine to have a raincover, be top-loading and front-loading for easy access, have a separate compartment for muddy shoes, and have limited extra external pockets as they tend to be a target for pickpockets.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money, but don’t skimp on your backpack because it will be such an important part of your trip.  Check out the sale rack at REI, LL Bean, Northface, etc. An outdoor store is more likely to have a super comfortable and durable backpack than say, Walmart, which is where I got my first travel backpack.  It did alright, but after about 6 months of backpacking, it had 2 holes and one of the stabilization stays had ripped off.  The straps were starting to rub and it smelled like a foot (though that last detail probably had more to do with the fact that I’d spent 6 months in the super humid Central American climate where nothing ever seemed to dry.  Stay strong and travel on!

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