Packwire Featured Article: Living out of a 28 Liter Daypack

Packwire-Banner-Logo-750x175-300x70This article of mine was featured on Packwire’s site. Check them out for reviews on backpacking and camping gear as well as tips to take on the trail.

For me there is nothing quite as exhilarating as packing up my life, strapping it to my back and hitting the road. In fact, I have found the prospect so enjoyable that about a year-and-a-half ago I decided to downsize my life and hit the road full time. Since then I have been enjoying life out of a 28 Liter pack.

A lot of people would agree with the makers of the Deuter ACT Trail 28 SL that it is indeed a “day pack” meant for short day excursions only, but after having experienced lugging around upwards of 40lbs on my back I decided lightweight travel was the choice for me. Fully loaded, my possessions weigh in at around 20lbs and all fit neatly into my pack.

My number one reason for living like this is that I don’t want to be confined by my possessions. I like knowing that I can arrive at a new destination and take off on an excursion without having to find a luggage locker first. I enjoy the freedom of being able to walk from airport to bus station to hostel with not much more than your standard sized book-bag on my back.

Not only is it extremely liberating, but low and behold I have found that even with my small sack of possessions I tend to be more prepared than the average backpacker I meet along my travels, most of whom carry upwards of 60L and who knows how many pounds of stuff on their backs. And even now as I contemplate my pack there are a few things I have been pondering getting rid of.

These are some common questions I ask myself when I am contemplating adding something to my pack (or to my life in general):
-Will it add value to my life?
-Does it bring joy or help facilitate more joy in my life?
-Do I need to own it or can I borrow it/rent it, etc.?
-Do I need it now, or can I wait and see how things go without it?
-Am I prepared to be responsible for the full weight of my decision? Will I carry it happily?
-What will it replace? (As a general rule I don’t add anything without finding a place for it beforehand, which means creating space by getting rid of something else.)
-Also, at the end of packing up, I like to look over everything I have and say “OK, now what can I take away?”.

So what IS in my pack? To name the bulk of it: enough clothing so that I only have to do laundry once a week (wearing tops and bottoms multiple times before washing), a small toiletry kit, a towel, bag of small electronics and cables, a laptop, and I even splurge space on a sleeping bag (because I get cold easily and it provides me a warm bed wherever I go).

“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.”

I love this Chuck Palahniuk quote from his book Fight Club and it highlights the importance of remembering that we are not what we own.

I think being a minimalist is an attitude. It’s not about how much we own or even what we own. Rather, the importance comes in contemplating why we want to own something, and being intentional about every item we allow into our bags. On a larger scale the same is true about the things, people, situations, etc. we decide to welcome into our lives. Be discriminating. Choose only what you know will add value. Don’t fill up your pack or your life with useless crap.