Green traveler/backpacker looking for some seasoned advice!
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John Lizarazo
(jope88) - F
Green traveler/backpacker looking for some seasoned advice! on 08/11/2009 12:39:42 MDT Print View

hello to you ;)

I have posted this list in a more traveler oriented website (www.bootsnall.com) correct me if I'm wrong but do the majority of people on this forum backpack throughout the wilderness and such? Either way, I'm sure you guys can provide some useful information for a first time traveler! I appreciate your time and consideration :)

I will be travelling along the southern coast of Spain this coming November for ~2 months and I'm looking for some advice!

first some more info:
I have a pretty tight budget..but I'm determined to travel no matter the situation come November. I will be going at it alone so I'll need to pack pretty lightly, I'm thinking no more than a couple changes of clothes, the necessities, and a few miscellaneous things. I do believe I'll be walking A LOT and on different surfaces and terrains (i.e. urban, rural, light-hiking, and beaches[!] ). So on to the gear..

•Shoes: looking for an all-terrain stable shoe. (one that doesn't require socks; asking too much?)
-I've come across "water-shoes" like the Merrel Maipo
my only concern with these are the stability and price.
-I've also seen that trail-running shoes might be a good investment though I don't know of any specifics and I'm afraid that if these got wet they wouldn't be too comforting to walk in.
-Other recommendations will be appreciated.

•Backpack: a 30-45L range. something that is unassuming.
-I've narrowed this down to the Eagle Creek Truist 45L. Is there anyone that has this bag or another version of Eagle Creek's Truist line? I'd love to hear some feedback as I can't really find any on the web =)
-I looked at REI's Vagabond Travel Pack ~43L but I can't find it for sale anywhere >.< if anyone happens to be selling theirs... :D
-Any other recommendations?

I can't much think of any other big gear purchases that I'll be making.

tentative list of what will be in my pack:

significant weight:
•2 changes of clothes + what I will be wearing at the time
•flip flops + shoes
•toiletries incl 2 sarongs and a small washcloth
•a hammock for outdoor sleeping
•a light waterproof jacket or windbreaker (any suggestions?)
•photography equipment
•a $300 netbook? decision has not been made yet. this will be for uploading photos from my camera and for some light editing
•a book or two + moleskine
•bathing suit
•Uniqlo heat tech shirts (can anyone vouch for these?)
•multipurpose lightweight rope also to be used as a laundry line

insignificant weight!:
•bugspray, pepperspray, some first aid things, sunscreen
•small amount of duct and clear tape
•sunglasses 8-)
•nail clippers
•fork knife and spoon (are there sporks out there that act as knives?? sporkifes?!)
•medication for fever pain and diarrhea (any recommended all in one kit for these?)
•keychain compass/flashlight
•headlamp Zebralight H501 though at $59.00 its a little bit pricy. Any cheaper alternatives that anyone can recommend?


Cheers,
-JP

p.s. I foresee being in the wilderness as short day-trips but mostly sticking to urban and rural towns and cities :) However this could very well change in the course of things. Smile

Edited by jope88 on 08/11/2009 12:45:45 MDT.

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Green traveler/backpacker looking for some seasoned advice!" on 08/11/2009 12:53:08 MDT Print View

Sounds like a fun Idea. Where are you going? Did I miss it? First off Eagle Creek is pure JUNK I would suggest saving your money and packing a small daypack with things you already own. There is not one single place on the planet earth where you wont be able to outfit any of your specific needs as they come along. If you are going somewhere warm you will more than likely go native with your first step off the plane. I have been living on the road for the last 80 days with little more than a change of clothes. I have been using a base camp and traveling from there. give a bit more information on where you plan on going. My motto, change your location not your cloths. When I travel in this manner I dont bring anything that would bother me if it was stolen. A blanket and a chep tarp will keep you warm and dry for about 10 bucks but I would be more creative. I hitchhike and am constantly offered a nice place to stay and a free meal. Ali

John Lizarazo
(jope88) - F
Re: "Green traveler/backpacker looking for some seasoned advice!" on 08/11/2009 13:12:08 MDT Print View

Thank you Ali E =)

I guess everything is relative :P I'd like to travel with a bit of comfort, but again what I conceive as comfort right now could be totally exaggerated once I'm out and about traveling :)

I don't really have a set plan, which is why I'd like to be prepared to be self-sufficient (not taking into account food). I will be landing in Seville early November and make my way south to the coast and then travel east hitting the big cities along the way, one being Gibralter.

You're right about finding any necessities pretty much anywhere, I'd just like to reduce the hassle of searching for a pair of nail clippers in Seville!!! I believe strongly in good preparation (not over-prep.), and as a photographer I have a general goal while traveling, so being able to grab something out of my pack rather than going to a store would save me time and worrying.

I chose Eagle Creek because of its low profile, a lot of the bags I've been researching have so many strings, loops, buckles, belts, etc. Just looking for a good support system and something to fit my needs which I can't imagine would be anymore than a 45L bag. Not sure what the minimum amount would be though...maybe 25 or 30L?

James Patsalides
(james@patsalides.com) - MLife

Locale: New England
Try an SUL backpack and cut the crap off... on 08/11/2009 13:18:36 MDT Print View

Hey! What an exciting project... on the backpack, you could try something like a Golite Jam, and cut off all the extra bits, strings, straps etc. This not only makes it look more low key/beat up (for urban camouflage!), but also reduces weight. These packs are rock solid, roomy AND light.

On the shoes, I'd recommend getting a good NON-waterproof sneaker - something like a New Balance with a good nylon mesh upper. This'll give you tons of comfort (with or without socks), are pretty durable AND , if they get wet, you just keep walking and they'll dry out in no time (versus waterproof trail runners which will hold the water IN for hours). I just downgraded (upgraded?) my hiking boots to NB sneakers and I'm MUCH happier with my feet.

Anyway, good luck!

James Patsalides
(james@patsalides.com) - MLife

Locale: New England
Oh, and a good trick... on 08/11/2009 13:23:55 MDT Print View

... to keep your pack weight (AND degree of clutter) down, is to buy a smaller pack and force yourself to only bring what will fit nicely in the pack! On that basis, you might do as Ali suggests and pick up a little day pack (LL Bean has a nice lightweight one at around 1000 cu.inch called the "stowaway" pack). That'll really focus the mind on leaving behind what you don't really need! Just my 2cs.

John Lizarazo
(jope88) - F
Re: Try an SUL backpack and cut the crap off... on 08/11/2009 13:50:09 MDT Print View

James thank you =)

That's hilarious! I never thought of the water getting out of the waterproof shoe :P Good call on that one, thanks. Though I wonder if there are any waterproof shoes out there that are quick drying if water does happen to get in.

The Golite Jam is just the right price and size. Doesn't look too flashy either! Thank you for the suggestion. I'm gathering a list of packs and I will go to a store nearby to try them on and see which works out the best.

Keep the great info coming!

-JP

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Spain travel on 08/11/2009 14:52:25 MDT Print View

"a hammock for outdoor sleeping"
Will there be trees where you are sleeping outdoors?

It's good if your clothes are light synthetics that dry fast so you can rinse out in a sink and dry overnight.

If you don't have a specific itinerary, a really neat trip I've read about is:
"The Camino de Santiago de Compostela, also known in English as The Way of St James, is a collection of old pilgrimage routes.", mainly across northern Spain. You don't have to be religious to do it (many are not). There are free or almost free hostels and churches to stay in. There are a number of websites, 1st google gave me: http://www.caminodesantiago.me.uk/

John Lizarazo
(jope88) - F
Re: Spain travel on 08/11/2009 15:08:23 MDT Print View

Hi Walter

I hope there will be some trees! If not...I haven't thought of that yet :P Maybe just a tarp and a blanket.

I've made a note to look for quick-dry clothing, thank you :)

Very interesting, I love the idea of reliving a pilgrimage. Though I'm not a very religious person I enjoy knowing what others gain or are willing to do in regards to their religion. I will keep this specific trail noted :) The weather in northern Spain during the winter months can get quite cold while its totally the opposite for the southern side. In a world where everything goes according to plan I'd basically "follow the warm weather" around the coast of Spain hahaha. Maybe if I can find some way to work and make money to continue my travels while in Spain I can reach the northern coast around spring time!

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Spain on 08/11/2009 15:25:26 MDT Print View

The south coast of Spain is mostly vacation resorts. It's the European version of Cancun in Mexico. In winter, it fills up with the elderly escaping the colder weather in northern Europe. It wouldn't be my first choice for a backpacking route.

Zack Karas
(iwillchopyou@hotmail.com) - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Camino on 08/11/2009 15:34:10 MDT Print View

I've 'hiked' the camino and was incredibly let down by the lack of any sort of wilderness--it is 95% on roads. If you do intend on doing that at some time, I highly recommend doing it on a bike.

+1 for the Golite Jam. It is my international travel/hiking pack of choice as it has that zippered back pocket which keeps things in and unwanted hands out. Mine, trimmed down, weighs 17 oz. It is also what I used for the camino and never used the extension collar.

Spain isn't known for it's forests, so I don't know what to say about bringing a hammock--could work sometimes, could be used as a bivy/tent for the other times.

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Green traveler/backpacker looking for some seasoned advice!" on 08/11/2009 15:51:33 MDT Print View

Here is somethinyou need something to think about

A toplading pack is great to carry but evrytime you need something it will have made its way to the bottom so you have to dig forever or completly unload the entire pack.

A travel pannel loading pack aside from weighing 4-6lbs will access very easily but will also carry like a sack of potaoes. What ever you choose I suggest you pack it and spend serveral days living with it. Take it to work carry it on the bus, if you dont ride the bus start. walk around the gocery store. My point is it will go where you go and should be slim trim light and carry well.

You will find yourself selling or giving away much of what seemed great on the showroom. TNF makes 1800 ci daypacks that carry well are built to withstand travel and are pannel loading. I have owned serveral UL Packs and they simply would not survive independant travel. Also go to the grocery store and get an old potatoe sack If you ever have to check(loose) your bag or strap it to the top of a bus or train it will look like a locals bag(worthless) not a rich Americans bag(gold mine. U used to love Eagle Creek and carried one around the world but they have definately gone sount IMHO. BTW I am a professional photographer and have been sine 1991. I was on a world safari when I lost all my gear in a flash flood. My 900ci zip off daypack and my Canon A1 were all that survived. I continued on for over two years and never upgraded my bag or my camera. I simply lived with what I had. I dont know what type of CG you are bringing but my Canon g9 comes very close to my D50 for most practical purposes. IF you havnt read Into The Wild it is a great read and will get your mind in a good place to live out of a pack. Remember when hitch hiking you are more likely to get picked up if it doesnt look like its going to be a huge hassle, IE giant pack. Hope you are planning on posting pictures and a story.

Side note, I just hit day 100 in my $100 Lafuma 30 degree down bag. it is very light and small and can fit in my REI 1200 CI stuff sack day pack (dont know the name. Ali

John Lizarazo
(jope88) - F
Re: "Green traveler/backpacker looking for some seasoned advice!" on 08/11/2009 23:17:57 MDT Print View

Thanks for your time everyone :)

Zach,
I haven't thought about biking until you mentioned it! Though I won't be going along that pilgrimage trail it sure would help cover ground much quicker wherever I may be. I will look in to that while I'm in Spain and let you know how it goes. I'm going to have to set up a blog of some sort...hmmm..

Ali,
Sorry to hear that about your gear :( but it would be the film camera that survives! those things survive anything. I'd love to bring a film camera with me, the logistics of film and developing are a lot though.. I haven't been in a darkroom for so long either :(

As for the camera gear.. a Pentax K20D with 3 prime lenses (28mm 2.8 50mm 1.4 and a 135mm 3.5) the smaller two have AF but I find the all manual 135mm so awesome to use :D they're all super small and light.

I'm glad you mentioned that about top loaders and panel loading. I've been debating over the two types for a couple hours so far... I think I'm going to with the top loader GoLite Jam2 because of its profile. I could just separate my items in to different categories and just put em in mesh bags to make it quicker for me to get to the bottom if need be. I'll be hitting up a store soon to try out packs and see what sort of suggestions the sales reps have.

Once my list is finalized (soon!) I will decide on the pack :) I've got lots of potential ones.

Into the Wild was the first book I read that had my inner wanderlust wheel moving... I also just recently read Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. Its a great little book on traveling.. he writes more about reasons why we should travel rather than the technical aspects of it, check it out

Ali I'd love to see some of your work, do you have a website?

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Green traveler/backpacker looking for some seasoned advice!" Video pictures Olympics on 08/12/2009 09:52:33 MDT Print View

Ha I do have a website www.boatyardprates.com One last suggestion. Osprey makes light packs that are very comfortable I have been using the Talon 33 on the 4th I carried a full load and 80% of the group food plus camera gear and 4 liters of wine with no complaints. I usually dont carry that much crap but it was more of an independants day celebration than a UL trip here is a link to the video. Ali http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0BvYs7Abi4

FYI I have owned two jam 2 packs and IMHO the Osprey is ten times better also much better Customer Service. Enjoy I think I paid 135 for my T33osprey packs

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
backpacking in spain on 08/12/2009 10:26:36 MDT Print View

"I'd just like to reduce the hassle of searching for a pair of nail clippers in Seville!!!"

It's not a hassle, really --- any pharmacy, or for a wider range of needs just go to the Corte Ingles (large department store). Seville has everything; my recollection is that there are at least two Irish bars in the city.

I have limited experience with the Spanish coast. The best known coast location near Seville is Malaga which indeed is touristy. I have no idea what it would be like trying to just setup camp along the beach somewhere.

I think you would have a better time taking bus or train from town to town and looking for a hostel. I'd pack quite differently for that. For me personally it's more important in Spain to dress and act so that I don't stand out as a tourist; with the gear you're anticipating there's pretty much no hope of that. Nothing wrong with that (!), just a different approach.

John Beisner
(trtlrock) - F - M

Locale: Blue Ridge
Cabo de Gata on 08/12/2009 11:06:26 MDT Print View

As long as you are there, you should really hike the coastal edge of Cabo de Gata.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabo_De_Gata

It's as close to wilderness as you'll get in Spain, and the scenery is stupendous. Easy to stealth-camp, or stay in a small pension in a tiny village if you prefer.

Allocate about 5 days or so if you like to take pics & mosey...

John Lizarazo
(jope88) - F
In reply on 08/12/2009 12:57:35 MDT Print View

Ali E,
I love what you're doing. My cousin and his family live on a boat just down the street from me.. something like a 55ft Catch, reaaally nice and homey sailboat. Me and my cousin have had similar thoughts of living on a sail boat in the future, definitely no larger than what you guys have (sorry, I totally went through your website, I think its awesome!). Anyway I checked out Osprey and I'm looking at their Kestrel 32/Talon 33, they have some good reviews so I'll add them to the list of ones I already have to try on :)

Brian Lewis,
Any tips on not looking so touristy? I have some Spanish blood in me (Colombian!) so I'm hoping I won't look too too out of place... I've decided on a daypack to carry everything I need; similar looking to a regular school backpack enough that I don't think I'll get any stares :)

John Beisner,
Thank you for the suggestion, its just what I'm looking for :)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Stealth tourist on 08/18/2009 09:45:51 MDT Print View

What identifies a person as a tourist?

Physical characteristics
Body language/demeanor
Speech
Clothing
Luggage

I'm an American of mixed European ancestry with dark hair. That makes it a little hard to blend in Asia, etc. In Europe I was mistaken for German several times, even in Germany.

Feeling like you belong there helps with body language. Head up, walking with pupose, etc.

Speech is tough, but you identify yourself the minute you speak, even if you are fluent.

Manners and politeness rule. A sense of humor helps immensely.

Clothing, especially shoes, identify you quickly. American females taveling in more conservative cultures tend to stand out.

A small illustration: you know the easiest way to identify American servicemen? They travel in mixed racial groups-- let alone the short hair and age. Just walking with your hands in your pants pockets will make you stand out too.

Want to blend it as a local tourist? Local clothing, local backpack or luggage. Something as subtle as carrying a local newspaper will make you blend in.

But it is so subtle and pervasive, I say why bother. Try to dress with local customs in mind. Be clean and polite. At least learn to say "please," "thank you" and "excuse me" in the local language. Then go enjoy yourself.

Aaron Bradshaw
(bradshaw) - F

Locale: Alberta
Both packs on 08/18/2009 13:33:16 MDT Print View

John - I've travelled with both the Jam and the Kestrel 32.
The Jam is great if you are only taking 2 extra changes of clothing and a few other items you can divide into 2 stuff sacks. I found it beneficial to pack my clothing into an eagle creek folder which acted as the frame/back panel. The thing about taking the frameless pack is that it has to be packed correctly - every time you load it up. Loose objects in there just make it feel like a sack of potatoes.

I prefer using the Kestrel 32 now, eventhough it's heavier than the Jam. Because of the frame and the compression straps, I don't have to worry about ensuring it's packed the same way each time. It's also a little more convenient to find items in the pack-especially when you have to dig out your camera.

As long as my total pack weight is between 10-15 lbs, the Kestrel is more convenient for me. Traveling, as opposed to backcountry backpacking means you'll be accessing your pack more often during the day. But you won't go wrong with either option as I really like both packs.

Gary Boyd
(debiant) - F

Locale: Mid-west
Sporkive... on 08/18/2009 19:42:52 MDT Print View

The LightMyFire Spork has a knife on the Spork... it's also very light.

John Lizarazo
(jope88) - F
In reply on 08/18/2009 21:00:17 MDT Print View

Dale,
Thank you for the info! I'm part Colombian with a bit of tan in my skin..hope it helps!

Aaron,
Thank you =) +1 for the Kestrel lol. I'd probably get very impatient using the Jam and having to make sure its packed properly, though using an eagle creek folder is a brilliant idea, kudos! Have you ever traveled with more weight? 20-30lbs?

Gary,
Noted :D