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Packing woes, suggestions
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Sara Snow
(newtoallthis) - F
Packing woes, suggestions on 05/24/2011 18:23:19 MDT Print View

I need advice on what to pack—clothing wise now. The rest will come a bit later.
So, I’m new to backpacking. I’m studying abroad so the things I have really are limited. I’m visiting Paris-Koln-Berlin-Krakow-Prague. From late June-July. So not late summer but not cool spring.

Here’s the clothing I’ve packed:
One pair of jeans
One pair of jean-type things (kakhis?)
One pair of mesh shorts

One long sleeve wool shirt—not very hot, for cool weather
One heavy cotton shirt, cuts off before elbows
Two very light cotton shirts (less than a T-shirt)
One heavy nylon blend shirt, cuts off before elbows
One sports top to go with shorts.

One light leather jacket (I always wear this)
One sweater

One pair of tennis shoes
One pair of walkable ballet flats—I have nothing else that is broken in.

One bra
One sports bra

Two hiking socks, four pairs of other socks
Five pairs of underwear

A mesh sports cap

I’m trying to negotiate warm days with cold Polish nights, as well in figure in my hiking trip. Yet am I taking too many shirts? The good thing about wool is that you hardly ever have to clean it—the odor just seems to disappear. I’ve gone three weeks without pulling out the baby shampoo and doing the deed in the sink. Not so with the nylon blend shirt, which takes a good night and day or so to dry out.
Also, is there a need for the “nice” shoes? I find reference to sandals, etc, but I don’t have those. My shoes aren’t nice but would fit in at a restaurant, church, club, etc more so than my tennis shoes.

Also, I’m taking two bras because I’m fairly chest heavy and don’t think a bone and me would mix on a hiking trip.

Brendan Lammers
(mechB) - F

Locale: Washington DC
"Backpacking" on 05/24/2011 21:06:06 MDT Print View

You seem to be conflating the two types of backpacking, which seems to happen from time to time around here. This people around this forum are of the hike-around-the-wilderness-with-minimal-gear backpacking variety, whereas you seem to be thinking of the traveling-around-Europe-staying-in-hostels variety of backpacking. In the latter case, you might find more helpful hints on a different board. Correct me if you are thinking of doing both types while you're in Europe.

In any case, I've done the backpack around Europe thing before, so maybe I can give you a few tips. You should check out this Rick Steve's link, he also has a list specific to women:

Most of the hiking I did, and likely the hiking you will do, is just day hikes while staying in a hostel. I just brought a little drawstring day pack thing (the one with the little strings that you might bring to the gym, you know?) to carry around a rain jacket, some water, and some snacks in when I went hiking, and then leave your big pack locked up at the hostel. Don't bring anything you would be really sorry to part with (like a laptop), though I never had anything stolen (then again I just had stanky clothes and boring books).

Ultimately, it's not going to matter that much what you bring since almost everything is available to buy if you decide that you need it, especially in the cities you're going to. Your list looks just fine to me, I wouldn't stress about it and just focus on having a good time!

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Packing woes, suggestions on 05/25/2011 08:34:49 MDT Print View

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: Packing woes, suggestions on 05/26/2011 22:15:14 MDT Print View

There are people that have even travelled the world packless, instead relying on cargo pants and vest/jackets with plenty of pockets.

Anyway, you are in a "wrong" forum but many things from this site can be applicable to your trip. Since you're focusing on clothes in this post, so will I. Also much of this is going to sound "radical" and these are merely suggestions for minimizing weight and excess clothing. If how you look plays a role, you may keep certain items regardless of what pure pragmatism would dictate, and since you're in civilization

1) Avoid cotton at all costs, this is includes denim/jeans. It is slow to dry, holds lots of water, and does not keep you warm when wet. Cotton is also really heavy, a pair of jeans can weigh over a pound. Instead wear synthetics, down or lightweight wool.

2) Wash your clothes daily. If you do this you won't need 5 days worth of jeans, socks, or underwear. Wash one pair in a sink and let it dry over night. You'll have fresh intimates in the morning and only need to carry two of any type of clothing (although most clothes doesn't need washing daily).

3) Ditch the leather jacket. This may be the hardest thing, I know retiring my leather jacket was a sad day. For warmth you'd be better served by a light down or synthetic insulated jacket. Leather also isn't water proof and you'll probably want either an umbrella or rain jacket anyway. Montbell and The North Face have some insulated jackets that are cut well for women and should pass the city fashion test. Alternatively many of the softshell jackets available are great for urban life. I replaced my leather with an Arc'Teryx Gamma jacket (pricey example but other softshells exist) and I have far better temperature regulation and water resistance now by adding extra shirts for warmth.

4) Your shoe choices should be fine. Unless you're going really formal the ballet flats should work as "nice" shoes.

5) Rain protection: I mentioned it before, but it's worth pointing out again. So far you have very little, and if you're backpacking you'll want the security. You can go hideous and cheap with froggtoggs or driducks ($25) or go up to around $100 for something that actually looks like it was meant to be worn by people. People do take umbrellas backpacking and some light options are made by GoLite.

Hope some of this helps. Also read the Backpacking 101 guide. A lot of the info is outdoor backpacking specific, but the concepts are just as applicable to light weight travel (and honestly most of the gear/clothing overlaps between the two pursuits). Buy a scale and start weighing your clothes. You'll be surprised at what "feels" light but really isn't. Looking at your list I wouldn't be surprised if you've already put in around 7 or more pounds in just clothing (there are people who have all their gear: clothes, sleep, shelter, cooking, toiletries and backpack weighing in at less than what you'll be carrying in just clothes). Try to minimize number of items that you carry focusing on highly versatile clothing, then bring the lightest item that fits that role.

You're enjoyment is paramount, but often you'll be surprised at how reducing what you have can raise your enjoyment levels, especially when you're feet aren't as tired and worn out as a heavy backpack will make them!

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Re: Re: Packing woes, suggestions on 05/26/2011 22:50:40 MDT Print View

What everyone else said. I spent a month in Japan last spring, mostly in hostels, and packed using the same principles I'd use for lightweight/ultralight backpacking. Worked great. Especially easy to negotiate planes, trains, buses and streets if you have just one small backpack. Rinsing out clothes for the next day took about 15 minutes, and my stuff dried overnight.

If it were me, I'd take no more than a change of clothes (woven nylon pants, synthetic or merino t-shirt, underwear, socks) plus one warm top (fleece, wool or down) and a light rain jacket, then buy extras there as I figured out what else I needed/wanted. You'll probably want to buy some stuff anyway. It's been more than 20 years since I backpacked through Europe, but I remember some great flea markets--fun and cheap.

Have a great time.