Building a Better Backpack

I’ve spent months refining my packing list. Back in September, I used the prize money from a photography contest to stock up on the essentials, but thanks to the generosity of friends and relatives and a few fortunate turns in my budget, a lot of items on my backpacking B-list (stuff I’d love to have with me but don’t necessarily need) have been fulfilled. And I’ve also now had time to do packing test runs and think more about what I really want to take on the road.

So how has my packing list changed?

  1. I finally chose a day bag. I knew a day bag in general would be part of my packing list, but I had a hard time settling on the perfect one. This was actually even harder than choosing my backpack. I wound up with TravelOn’s Medium Crossbody Bag. It’s the perfect size – midway between a purse and a messenger bag – and it has tons of anti-theft measures built in.
  2. I switched out my bulky packing cubes for compression sacks. Why didn’t I do this in the first place? Sea to Summit’s 10L compression sack shrinks my fleece and rain jacket down to half the size they would take up loose in my pack.
  3. I bit the bullet and bought an ASUS T100, so I can have a tablet instead of a full-fledged laptop in my bag. Love my Samsung, but it’s a lot of extra bulk and weight, which I just don’t need to travel with now that there are quality hybrids on the market.
  4. I’ve received several extra odds and ends as gifts from friends and family. At the top of that list are a headlamp, which I’m sure I would have regretted not packing, and a mini surge suppressor for charging multiple devices on the go.
  5. I’ve fleshed out a list to build my own first aid kit, instead of buying one of those prepackaged ones. I’ll have all the stuff I need and none of the stuff I don’t.
  6. I made a few other tweaks to my list of miscellaneous stuff like adding a couple emergency granola bars and a pillowcase, so I never have to put my face on dubious linens.



WorldSmith’s Complete Packing List

The Bag: Osprey Farpoint 40L Backpack

In the main compartment…

  • 2 pairs shoes
    1 pair sandals, 1 pair nice flats – I’ll wear my hiking sneakers in transit to save space
  • Cocoon silk sleep sheet
  • 1 small packing cube for loose odds and ends
  • 2 Sea to Summit 10L compression sacks
    One for cold weather clothes, one for warm
  • TravelOn Medium Crossbody Anti-Theft Bag
    This will be packed separately later in my trip, but my first flight allows only one piece of carry-on luggage.
  • nylon laundry sack
  • Envirosax packable tote
  • small camera case
  • small black toiletry bag
  • first aid pouch
  • quart-size Ziploc bag for liquids
  • RFID blocker wallet
  • decoy wallet with expired credit cards
In the cold weather compression sack…
  • long sleeve tee
  • convertible hiking pants
  • jeans
  • long sleeve dress
  • cardigan
  • fleece jacket
  • raincoat
  • thin silk glove liners
  • fleece headbandThis list includes items I plan to wear in transit.
In the warm weather compression sack…
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 2 tank tops
  • yoga pants
  • shorts
  • maxi skirt
  • 2 sundresses
  • 2 swimsuits
  • sarong
  • folding sunglasses
In the camera case…
  • Fujifilm Finepix mirrorless camera
  • rechargeable AA batteries
  • extra memory cards
  • SD card adapter
  • emergency stash of US dollars
In the toiletry bag…
  • mini makeup palette
  • concealer stick
  • eyeliner
  • lip balm
In the first aid kit…
  • mini pill case filled with Advil, Sudafed, Pepto Bismol tablets, and vitamins
  • 1 year’s supply prescription medication
  • anti-malaria pills
  • azythromycin
  • altitude sickness pills
  • Band Aids
  • steri strips
  • moleskin
In the packing cube…
  • 1 year’s supply contacts, plus case
  • glasses, plus case
  • Lush solid shampoo, plus tin
  • Dr. Bronner’s bar soap, plus case
  • small Sea to Summit Tek Towel
  • sunscreen wipes
  • cucumber face wash wipes
  • Purell wipes
  • travel size deodorant
  • disposable razor
  • nail clippers
  • toothbrush, plus cover
  • Colgate Wisps
  • dental floss
  • tissue packet
  • Q-tips
  • hair clip
  • mini wide tooth comb
  • tampons
  • TravelOn laundry soap sheets
  • universal sink stopper
  • 10′ paracord
  • SteriPen
  • headlamp
  • caribiner, with mini LED flashlight, whistle, TSA-approved multi-tool, and mini Sharpie
  • cable lock
  • rubber door stop
  • collapsible spork
  • extra Ziploc bags
  • duct tape
  • Point It visual dictionary
  • journal and pens
In the quart-size Ziploc…
  • travel size saline solution
  • travel size clarifying shampoo
    to combat Blue Lagoon hair, so this will be used up and tossed after my week in Iceland
  • travel size toothpaste
  • sample size perfume
  • tinted moisturizer with SPF
  • Neosporin

In the internal mesh pocket…

  • 5 pairs ExOfficio underwear
  • 2 pairs Thinx underwear
  • 3 bras, including one sports bra
  • 5 pairs socks- hiking, regular, and compression

In the front compartment…

  • Asus T100 transformer book, plus charger
    charger also works for smartphone
  • smartphone, plus waterproof case
  • waterproof iPod shuffle, plus charger
  • earbuds with mic
  • plug adapter kit
  • Belkin mini surge suppressor
  • USB thumb drive
  • Anker external battery
  • Duracell battery charger

In the top pocket…

  • document pouch, with passport, tickets, etc.

In the external pockets…

  • inflatable pillow
  • eye mask and ear plugs
  • collapsible water bottle

Clipped to the zippers…

  • Sea to Summit rain cover
  • TSA-approved travel lock

3 thoughts on “Building a Better Backpack

  1. Pingback: Building a Backpack | WorldSmith

  2. Wow, that’s super comprehensive! I’m always on the lookout for helpful packing tips, given that I take a heck lot of a time to pack (and unpack/repack/pack differently and so on) my travel bags. Does that medicine kit have an anti-allergen? It saved me this one time when I got a bad itching breakout thanks to some bug or whatever it was on my bed.


    • Thanks Ami. I’m definitely an obsessive packer myself, especially now that I’m trying to prepare for a year’s worth of travel in one carry-on bag. I did not think of adding an anti-histamine or itch cream, as I rarely if ever need that kind of treatment at home, but I will definitely give it a second thought!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s