Gear can be a tough thing to sort through, read all the reviews, and finally make that big purchase. Here we try to help layout a couple options and provide our reviews after month long treks with this gear.
This is my very first backpack! So far, it’s super comfortable and great to wear, even packed full of camping gear and clothes. I got one with the extra large belt, (I’m a bigger guy) and it fits me just perfectly. I can fit all of my clothes, my hammock, my sleeping bag, our hammock cover (SMR Nube), and all of my clothes, a laptop and various other bits as well as toiletries, food and water bladder with room to spare. I love that I can get into the pack without opening the top, and there is space on the outside to put things that I haven’t even started to utilize yet! Really though, the fact that it’s comfortable and balances well and I can get it into position easily is the most important part for me.
Versatile and easy to use this pack fit everything Val needed and a little more. Packed correctly it has plenty of room for all your travel items for a couple months on the road and little space left over for those souvenirs you pick up on the way. The 65 liter is very adjustable with a detachable separator in the main compartment to provide more/less room for the sleeping bag/hammock storage. Although the pack is mainly used for top loading, there is also a zipper around the front of the pack (near the grey circle you can see in the photo) that allows for front access. This pack was also the perfect size for carrying onto international flights (aka our 7 weeks in Japan) and store in the overhead compartment, which was very nice to hit the ground running.
I love this pack for all of it’s organizing pockets. They can be a downside to the pack as well since it adds a little more weight and reduces the interior storage space. The water pouch is inside the main pack, which I only use to store flat objects like the stand for my stove or journal. The side pockets are nice and large for storing water or anything else you might want to reach every once in a while. In the lid of the pack you have two access points: the top and inside of the pack; the lid also has a secret storage area. Cinches are easy to use and very accessible. There are two side zippers that allow access to the main storage compartment from either side of the pack.
This pack is best for hotel hoping, light weight travel, and airplane carry on. I have traveled China for 2 weeks with only this pack and a week snorkel stay in Cabo (yes, my snorkel flippers and mask fit just fine inside the pack along with the rest of my gear).
I would take this pack with me to Japan for urban camping again, as all of my necessary items would fit and be very easily accessible. The main plus of having this pack is that the main zipper/access is along the back panel where it can then open like suitcase into the main compartment. It also has a zipper along the top for access to the central compartment. In addition, it has a top pocket (great for any additional quick access items) and a side pocket that is perfect for water bottle storage or shoes. It also has a little pouch to hold a water bladder and a hole to thread the tubing through.
The belt is also very comfortable and the chest strap allows for proper weight distribution for longer treks.
I personally have reflective rope woven through the side loops so that I can cinch pack down even slimmer when not using the full capacity of the pack. Which also comes in handy when I need to strap something onto the outside.
Sleeping Bags & Top/Under quilts
This bag was perfect for traveling Japan. Val purchased a long (begin close to 6 feet) and Ash has the regular. At 32 degrees and pure down feather, the bag compressed very well, but also kept us warm on some of those cold nights. Every once in a while we had to supplement the bottom of the bag with a little wind proofing due to compressing all the feathers by laying on them. During the 7 weeks in Japan we slept like babies and were very happy with the bags.
Some additional supplementation may be necessary for colder nights and re-stuffing over time due to breakdown. I am currently in the process of being an under quilt to combat the loss of protection under my hammock. Sadly these bags are only sold secondhand now.
Although I own the older version of the NeoAir XLite Therm-a-rest, I would still recommend this product. I do sleep in a hammock, but on many a cold night this air mattress helped reflect my body heat back at me and provided a wind breaker for my back. With the air mattress in the hammock, I do sleep a lot flatter, which can be a plus as well. Weighing in at 1 pound it’s one of the lighter mattresses.
Dry & Compression Sacks
Originally, Val and Ash purchased the large 20 liter dry sack and we were in love. It was perfect for shoving our sleeping bag, clothes, and non-necessary jackets in and sticking it in the sleeping pocket on the bottom of our packs. This way everything stayed dry and we didn’t have to worry about where we set down our packs. Before our purchase we even heard and saw videos of people completely submersing the dry sack in order to test the product; we didn’t do that, but never had any problems even in our downpours.
On the second purchase, Josh ended up getting two medium 15 liter dry sacks. Firstly, because two mediums was cheaper than one large. Secondly, because he thought it would be nice to separate and organize his items a little more. Sizing is all up to you and based on how you like to pack.
Traveling with a fanny-pack/hip pack is a little less fashionable, but it has always held all my necessary items: camera, water, money, chap stick, and more. I picked this pack out specifically because of the knife stopping mesh that is contained within the fabric and the metal cords that run through the waist belt so that someone can’t snip and run with all my valuables. The pack also have a little clip, so that you can lock the zippers in place, but so far I haven’t used it, since it’s a little bit of a hassle.Share