The Gear Conundrum

November 3, 2015

Winter is coming… no really it is supposed to snow. Thankfully we have restored the garage to its intended use and our vehicles are parked indoors so we won’t need to get our the ice scraper in the morning. After a recent work trip to Chicago by me, we were able to update our countries with carry on only to include the US. I have to admit I was somewhat nervous about doing carry on with just me. Paul measured our bag we bought in Bangkok and it fit the requirements so it was just a matter of me lifting it up and since I was only gone for 3 nights, it wasn’t heavy.

So what’s that got to do with “the gear conundrum” you ask? Lots I say! There is great debate about what works best, some people swear by wheeled travel bags, some by luggage and some by backpack. I think it all comes down to what is most comfortable for you. I will admit to being clumsy in my control of wheeled luggage… I have run over toes, gotten a wheel stuck and have tipped them over many times. I seem less dangerous carrying something on my back.

We have decided at this point not to travel with wheeled luggage and are going to each take a 40L backpack. We are used to backpacks and have both carried 65L on backpacking trips and used them on our Thailand journeys but those obviously won’t work for carry on. Also have to consider the fact we sold them in our garage sale. So we started researching in the last month or so.. well, Paul did the lion’s share. We visited and read various travel sites for opinions, suggestions and ideas.. apparently the color of the pack isn’t the most important factor. We looked at several different ones from Tortuga, Gregory, Osprey, Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC), Arc’teryx and read many reviews. We had narrowed it down to 3 maybes between Gregory, Tortuga and Osprey. Comfort, fit and ease of use being the main factors. Luckily MEC and another store are right across the street from each other so we were able to look and try on a everything except the Tortuga.

After a couple of excursions, we have decided on the Gregory J38L for me and the Gregory Z40L for Paul. We felt that these were the most suited as they met our requirements for size and comfort. I like the mesh back because its super breathable and for those that know me and my sweating habits.. well let’s just say it’s an important factor. Also, I was able to get it in grey with some highlights.. and didn’t have to take an Astral Red which reminded me of “fighting salmon pink” when I saw it in person. Right the color thing again.. but honestly, I did care. Not dissing those who prefer the brighter colors (more power to you) but I prefer the colors that don’t stand out so much. As does Paul, since he got his in black.

So that’s the backpack taken care of, what else have we done? Well… we have Cocoon Silk Sheet Sacks, MEC Base Camp pillows, Packtowl Ultralite towels, adapters and extension cords, Titan rope, Klymit Static V2 sleeping mat. We also found some Dr Bronner’s soap we will try, shaving oil and I am heading to Lush for shampoo bars which should be interesting. I am a princess when it comes to sleeping so the reason for the pillows and mats.. the big seller for these is they don’t aren’t supposed to sound like you are sleeping on crumpled chip bag. We have both tried the sheet which was really comfortable. The pillow, well, let’s just say it will there will be an adjustment phase. After 19 emails being exchanged on the various attributes of a travel purse for my personal item, I finally settled on the Travelon Messenger Bag. I wasn’t planning on the RFID, too many reviews leave it as questionable, but I liked some of the other features and we got a decent price. Funny, it’s smaller than the current purse I haul around. Paul is getting a day pack, but I didn’t want to have to carry one around at night and thought a purse would be more normal for me. No matter where we are, when we go out at night, I am the one carrying stuff like the Thermacell, the camera, mosquito spray because it’s me they bite and the kitchen sink, etc. We are anxiously awaiting the delivery of everything..

Sounds like a lot right? Well, hopefully it doesn’t pack like a lot because we are planning on fitting this in as carry on! Paul has weighed everything and so far we are at 7lbs which is under the airline requirements. Fingers crossed!

We are still looking into the best travel debit and credit cards since we don’t want lots of fees while travelling and this will take some additional research since there are so many out there. Back to the blogs I go.