THE UPDATE: What’s in our Backpack:

When we left for our world exploration adventure we did a lot of research, thinking, and list-making about what we were going to put in our 46-liter backpack. After 9-months of traveling we have made some discoveries of things we needed and didn’t have, as well as, things we rarely used. Still feeling we chose the right bag, here is an update on what is now in our backpacks.

(click here to see what we originally decided to pack)

MISC ADDITIONS:

  • 1 x Note pad – It’s been great for taking notes about everything
  • 1 x Adult coloring book and set of map pencils – adult relaxation time! (ended up sending it home because we wanted to get the weight of our bags down to 9 kg)
  • 1 x Smaller Sling Bag – sometimes our 12-liter day packs are too big for just the essentials

SHIRTS

  • 3 x T-Shirts
  • 2 x Collared Shirts – Had 3 but realized we didn’t wear them as much as we did back home.
  • 3 x Tank Tops – Started with two but we added one since we have been in a lot of summer places!
  • 1 x Long Sleeve T-Shirt

JACKETS

These take up almost half of our bag…really wish we didn’t have to have these for the few times we were in cooler places. Probably would have bought when we needed and donated so we had more room in our bag…still debating whether to send clothes home. 

  • 1 x Hoodie (both got new ones 8-months into the trip)
  • 1 x Synthetic Down Jacket
  • 1 x Rain Jacket

PANTS/SHORTS

  • 1 x Jeans
  • 2 x Long Pants (zip-off) – had to replace 1 pair of pants (one pair was ruined because Kevin ironed his synthetic pants)
  • 3 x Shorts – We had 2 pair but added one – we are in more warm weather places
  • 1 x Comfy Shorts (for lounging around) – Added 1 pair of comfy pants, for the lounging times
  • 1 x Rain Pants –  We have been fairly lucky with the weather and haven’t needed to use them but a few times, probably would not have packed them. (sent home)

SHOES

  • 1 x Hiking Shoes
  • 1 x Flip Flops – Replaced after 8-months

OTHER CLOTHING

  • 2 x Swim Suites – Added 1 pair, because they were awesome and had to have them
  • 5 x Underwear
  • 5 x Socks
  • 1 x Hat
  • 1 x Belt
  • 1 x Gloves – Rarely use, probably would not have packed since we do not go to many super cold places (sent home)
     
  • ADDITIONS
    • 1 x oversized Scarf – great to use as a sarong for temples and scarf for chilly weather
    • 1 x beanie – the UK got a little cold and it was worth the few dollars. (sent home in summer)

ACCESSORIES

  • 1 x Travel Towel – rarely use because places provide them, but they are super nice when we do need them
  • 1 x Sleeping Bag – After 11 days we got rid of them (we knew we would)
  • 1 x Handkerchief
  • 1 x Sunglasses & Case – Lost and replaced multiple pairs…Kevin looses his all the time.
  • 1 x Water Bottle – Our collapsible one finally bit the dust. Currently using normal water bottles to refill.
  • 1 x Bag Rain Cover
  • 1 x Lock
  • 1 x Security Cable
  • 1 x Digital Bag Scale
  • 1 x Multi-Tool Carabiner
  • 1 x Eye Mask – rarely use (sent home)
  • 6 x Ear Plugs 
  • 1 x Waterproof Bag
  • 3 x Ziplock Bags 
  • 15 x Clothes Pins – a few broke along the way, but these were life savers for laundry days
  • 1 x Clothes Line
  • 1 x Sewing Kit
  • 1 x Toiletries (all the goodies)
  • 1 x Electric Shaver
  • 1 x First Aid Kit
  • 1 x Wine Bottle Opener – Spain’s equivalent to the TSA confiscated it from us saying it was not approved to travel with. It was a sad day.
  • 1 x Collapsible Silicone Cup 
  • 1 x Business Cards
  • 1 x Journal – Just purchased our second journal because we filled up our first one
  • 1 x Pen – We have back ups for when the ink runs out
     
  • ADDITIONS
    • 1 x electric hair clippers – we cut each others hair 95% of the time to save money

ELECTRONICS / GADGETS

  • 1 x Phone  (Brad’s phone died and we are still figuring out if we need a second phone for him during the last few months of travel)
  • 1 x Computer
  • 1 x External HDD 
  • 1 x Ethernet Cable
  • 1 x Camera, Extra Battery, & Extra Memory Card
  • 1 x GoPro, Remote, & GoPro Stick – Have never used the remote. We can get an app on our phone to use so the remote is obsolete (sent remote home)
  • 1 x Mini Tripod  (replaced with a new know 9-month into the trip, Kevin’s b-day present)
  • 1 x Rechargeable AA Batteries
  • 1 x Universal Power Adaptor – LIFE SAVER: It has worked beautifully. It also has two built-in USP ports. Only in South Africa did we have to purchase a separate plug adaptor.
  • 1 x Headphones
  • 1 x 2-Way Audio Amp (so we can listen to the same thing at the same time)
  • 1 x Jambox MINI
  • 1 x iPod Nano – LIFE SAVER: For those long, long journeys on busses and trains it is essential for listening to a good book or rocking out to music (plus side, it doesn’t kill our phone battery)
  • 1 x USB Car Charger & USB Battery Pack
     
  • ADDITIONS
    • 1 x computer mouse – Brad hates using a track pad when playing some computer games
    • 1 x external hard drive – we take A LOT of photos!

What’s in Our Backpack

One of the questions we get from people is, “how can you fit everything you need in just one backpack?” The key is really a combination of careful packing, only taking what is really needed, and picking the right items.

First, it was important to choose the perfect backpack and once we had done that it was time to start making a list of everything we thought we needed. Next, we took that list, asked ourselves if we really needed everything on it and started cutting items off the list. This was much easier to do since we had already packed our lives into a box. Finally, we researched what someone would need on a backpacking trip and started to buy things to fill our backpacks.

 Bag Empty. Ready to be Packed. 2016
Bag Empty. Ready to be Packed. 2016

HERE IS WHAT WE DECIDED WAS A MUST TO PACK

SHIRTS

  • 3 x T-Shirts
  • 3 x Collared Shirts
  • 2 x Tank Tops
  • 1 x Long Sleeve T-Shirt

JACKETS

  • 1 x Hoodie
  • 1 x Synthetic Down Jacket
  • 1 x Rain Jacket

PANTS/SHORTS

  • 1 x Jeans
  • 2 x Long Pants (zip-off)
  • 2 x Shorts
  • 1 x Comfy Shorts (for lounging around)

SHOES

  • 1 x Hiking Shoes
  • 1 x Flip Flops (for the showers and beaches)

OTHER CLOTHING

  • 2 x Swim Suites
  • 5 x Underwear
  • 5 x Socks
  • 1 x Hat
  • 1 x Belt
  • 1 x Gloves

ACCESSORIES

  • 1 x Travel Towel
  • 1 x Sleeping Bag (will end up ditching at some point)
  • 1 x Handkerchief
  • 1 x Sunglasses & Case
  • 1 x Collapsible Water Bottle
  • 1 x Bag Rain Cover
  • 1 x Lock
  • 1 x Security Cable
  • 1 x Digital Bag Scale
  • 1 x Multi-Tool Carabiner
  • 1 x Eye Mask
  • 6 x Ear Plugs
  • 1 x Waterproof Bag
  • 3 x Ziplock Bags
  • 15 x Clothes Pins
  • 1 x Clothes Line
  • 1 x Sewing Kit
  • 1 x Toiletries (all the goodies)
  • 1 x Electric Shaver
  • 1 x First Aid Kit
  • 1 x Wine Bottle Opener
  • 1 x Collapsible Silicone Cup 
  • 1 x Business Cards
  • 1 x Journal 
  • 1 x Pen 

ELECTRONICS / GADGETS

  • 1 x Phone
  • 1 x Computer
  • 1 x External HDD 
  • 1 x Ethernet Cable
  • 1 x Camera, Extra Battery, & Extra Memory Card
  • 1 x GoPro, Remote, & GoPro Stick
  • 1 x Mini Tripod
  • 1 x Rechargeable AA Batteries
  • 1 x Universal Power Adaptor
  • 1 x Headphones
  • 1 x 2-Way Audio Amp (so we can listen to the same thing at the same time)
  • 1 x Jambox MINI
  • 1 x iPod Nano 
  • 1 x USB Car Charger & USB Battery Pack
 Bag Packed. 2016
Bag Packed. 2016

We are two en route to pack up and head out

 

Choosing The Backpack

When we chose to live on the road for more than a year we realized one of the most important items we would have was the pack on our back. After some initial online research we knew this was something we would need to purchase in person.  We would need to try it on, feel the quality of the interconnections in the zipper, how the materials felt between our fingers and all the other feel goods the internet can’t offer.  For us that meant a trip to REI.

 Photo from  Preston Hollow Advocate
Photo from Preston Hollow Advocate

Since we are mainly “urban backpacking” those large monstrosities of outdoor hiking bags were immediately eliminated. Which unfortunately, is most of what is on the market. When it came to what options were still available, we initially had thoughts like, “there is no way we can live in anything less than 70 liters each.” Between needing outfit options, creature comforts, electronics, and toiletries, we felt 70 liters was even going to be hard. Keeping in mind that we plan to live out of this bag for over a year we wanted to have room for everything we would need, but also knew carrying extra unnecessary weight was going to quickly get old (and painful). It was time for us to do some serious research to figure out what was going in our bags before making a final decision.

Most people we spoke with and blogs we read had a general consensus that 20 lbs (all-in, filled to the brim) was the target weight for a pack. In order to stay around that weight, we knew 70 liters would be too big.  Filling 70 liters to the brim gets you well past 20 lbs, ouchies. Now that our backpack was shrinking, another question came up; did we want to have a carry-on size pack? We decided that this was a must. Not only would this make it easier to carry on our back, it would be easier on all forms of transit. As an added bonus, often times carry-ons are free while checking a bag costs extra and the more dollars we save the more days we travel.

Since we are going to be taking all forms of transportation in many different countries, another key feature we felt was a must was security. We wanted to make our packs appear to be hard to try and break into or steal especially since everything we own will be inside. Security features we looked for were tear resistant fabric, high quality construction, and lockable zippers.

  Image from REI website
Image from REI website

With so much security built into one bag, we wanted to make sure the bag was still easy for us to use. The last thing we want is to be in a situation where we need something quickly and are not able to get to it with ease. Some great features we saw on bags was being able to open them like a suitcase so you could quickly and easily get to everything,  smaller compartments to help with organization, and the ability to attach and detach a removable day pack for when you just need a few things with you and can leave the bulk of your items stuffed away someplace safe (not on our backs).

After we looked at what different backpacks offered and compared them to our must have list, we chose the Osprey Porter 46. It is a carry-on size, 46 liter pack with a suit-case style full zip opening for ease of use, great security, and the ability to attach a 13 liter day pack (Osprey Daylite). As an added bonus, the Porter 46 even has compression sidewalls that help keep everything snug and secure no matter what’s inside. Packs purchased!

 Image from REI website
Image from REI website

As is often the case, before committing to something long term it is a good idea to give it a short term trial. We purchased the Porter 46 and Daylite to take with us to New Zealand in April.  This allowed us to make sure the packs fit well, held up, and actually fulfilled our wants and needs. From storing them overhead on the plane to only taking the Daylite with us around town, they did great.

 Piha Beach with only the Daylite, New Zealand, 2016
Piha Beach with only the Daylite, New Zealand, 2016

We are two en route to backpack the world.