How heavy is your life?

If you were like I was, you have a decent amount of stuff, a room full of stuff, maybe a whole apartment full of stuff. If you're like how I am now though, you're constantly thinking of what you can get rid of or what can be replaced with something smaller or more efficient. That's life on the road, when you need to be able to carry everything you have.

It's a bit more complicated than packing for a week long vacation, you need to consider every possible climate and situation you may find yourself in. You're also leaving everything behind for good, so you need to pack everything you care about without weighing yourself down too much. I managed to walk away carrying everything I needed, but have since lightened my load considerably.

My sleeping bag takes up the most space in my pack, but is also one of my most valuable items. There would have been some almost unbearable nights hitchhiking cross country without it, and it even gets it use while couchsurfing.

Clothing takes up another big chunk, closely followed by electronics (laptop, phones, camera, chargers, adapters, cables, etc). Other than those space hogs, I also have toiletries, a few random trinkets & tools, and the much debated cooking pot. All of this equates to a filled-to-the-brim hiking backpack. While this better than how I started (add stuff hanging off the backpack, plus another smaller pack), I'm still "that guy" in a crowded subway or elevator, and trying to bring my pack into a popular bar or movie might get me turned away.

I'm shooting for a "school" sized pack or smaller. Here are some of my plans for slimming down.

Kill 3 birds with one phone
I have 2 phones right now, which also means a few chargers including car chargers. One is a regular phone, the other I use for email/text/internet. Redundant as all hell, I know. It would be even better if I could get a phone with a really really nice camera built in, then I'd be killing 3 birds with one phone. Suggestions?

Hobo Jack Pack
An idea I had, and I've seen things similar online, but not exactly what I want. It would be a sleeping bag with sleeves that unzips in the middle (waist area) so the top half could be used as a winter jacket, and the bottom half has straps to be used as a backpack. You'd also be able to take the shell off the jacket for use as a light windbreaker/rain jacket. This would be a huge space saver. Anyone seen anything like this, or wanna help build one?

Pants/Shorts Zipper Jeans
I know I've seen these before, where the legs zip off to become shorts. I can't seem to find a pair now, at least one that isn't goofy looking. Getting these would let me throw my shorts away... not a bunch of room, but everything counts.

Beyond that, it's little tweaking. I have two pairs of shoes to which is pretty annoying. I grabbed a pair of Keens, which is kinda like a sandal but covers most of your foot and has a solid toe cover, they're made for hiking and work in almost any situation... until it gets cold. I had to get hiking/trail sneakerish kinda shoes too. All ideas to save space in here are appreciated.

I suppose perfection will be when I can effortlessly tote everything around everywhere I go, free to get up and go at a moment's notice. I guess it's not too bad now, I'm never more than 30 minutes from gathering all my stuff and jumping in a car shooting across the country. One day it'll be 30 seconds instead, here's to that.

Comments

  1. Hi Ken, it looks like you've had quite a bit of fun. I'm planning on heading out on a similar worldwide hitchhiking/traveling vagabond trip sometime this spring. I've been getting into ultralight backpacking, and might have some ideas for you.

    Phone: I'm looking into smartphones aswell, something with wifi and a SIM slot (I'll be traveling Europe)...Currently using a Tmobile SDA, works well, no QWERTY keyboard, but looks innocent enough that nobody wants to steal it. Many of the Sony/Ericson phones have good cameras, though they are fairly expensive.

    Zip-off pants: REI sells them, as well as many outdoor outfitters. I love them.

    Bag/Pack: That's a VERY interesting idea. I know a lot of ultralight backpackers whom might want to take you up on the idea. Any interest in collaborating on a project like this? I know of a few similar ideas with packs (Search for "ultralight G4 backpack") to make them really light/multipurpose...

    Are you going to be up in the New England area anytime? I'm still waiting for my job to disintegrate before I ship out, but I'm living up in Burlington, VT for the time being. Let me know,

    -Matt

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  2. Hi! A suggestion for the footwear: Invest in a couple of pairs of wool or wool-alpaca socks and wear them under your Keens. Wool is VERY warm and wicks moisture away, and a Wool/alpaca blend is so warm, your feet will be sweating at temperatures above freezing. I personally would switch to boots when in snow, but rubber galoshes that fit over your shoes would also work, and would be lighter than toting a second pair of shoes around.

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