Backpacking both city and outdoor
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Sep 24, 2013 8:51 PM Last Post By: LaVenture
Sep 18, 2013 7:02 PM
Backpacking both city and outdoorI've been planning to do some long term (at least one year and hopefully longer) travelling RTW. I will be spending a significant amount of time in cities, but also am looking to do a lot of outdoor activities such as camping, climbing, etc. I want to backpack into some mountains for a week at a time here and there. I know I'm more than capable of travelling from city to city (hostels / couch surfing) with a 35-40L pack, but what should I expect to need for ultralight travel that involves navigating both busy cities and the backwoods? Any tips for packing camping gear around the city and not looking like a total noob? Can anyone direct me to sources or blogs of people who do this sort of 'hybrid' travel? Thanks in advance, your advice is appreciated.
Sep 19, 2013 12:45 AM
1I'm not sure I fully understand your question? What you seem to be calling hybrid travel is what I call travel. Mixing urban and rural, remote and major centres... Not sure why carrying gear in a city would make you look like a knob? If you've got trekking boots hanging from your backpack I think most people would assume that you don't plan on wearing them when you go on a night out. But I might be misunderstanding your question.
Sep 19, 2013 12:02 PM
2I think the OP is asking about urban travel mixed with multi-day trips into the outback and what gear to pack for both.
If that is correct, I'd use my Osprey 46 liter pack for both (stow-away shoulder straps and waist belt yet sturdy enough to use as a backpack). Not ideal for packing into the wilderness, but it will work for a multi-day trip into the wilderness in a pinch and great for carry-on while traveling in cities.
For trips into the outback I'd plan on eating "cold" (that is not cooking hot food which saves you hauling around a stove and fuel). Rice cakes, peanut butter, jerky, foods like that which you can purchase in a store for your trips into the wild. No tent, just take a sturdy pancho or small tarp to protect against rain and doubles as an overcoat in bad weather and for a bed cover in cities.
Shoes. well a sturdy pair of trail shoes (heavy duty tennis shoes) or even TEVAs (saw a woman hiking out of a glacier in the North Cascades of Washington last week wearing just TEVAs).
Other stuff can double up for your city traveling (lightweight and compactable sleeping bag or just a synthetic blanket, quick dry synthetic pants and shirt, fleece coat or vest, good quality but compactable raincoat)t All that stuff can be used in hostels and such as well.
Other than that, specialized equipment you may want for backwoods travel is a compass (be sure to set it for the proper declination for your area), a knife (I carry a Leatherman for the pliers and screwdriver functions as well as the blade), and if packing far into the outback maps of the area of course (along with the ability to read and follow topographic maps).
Sep 22, 2013 9:58 AM
3Thanks for the advice CascadeBob. I see a lot of blogs/posts/threads on people hopping from city to city, and there are plenty of camping tips, but I'm having trouble finding helpful information on how to balance the two. For example I don't want to have to lug a 65L bag on a busy train for city days, but I also don't want to be ill equipped for a camping trip. So I'm looking for the minimum amount of camping stuff I can bring and still enjoy overnights in the wilderness. Bringing cold food only is a great idea. That would really cut down on cookware, stove, etc. Great advice.
Sep 23, 2013 6:06 AM
4I would agree with Roaman IF you plan to spend considerable time trekking into the outback.
But, I assume that your trekking would be in reasonably temperate climates (not aiming to summit K2 or anything). And, if you plan that 90% of your traveling is urban (non-trekking), I'd still go with the sturdy, smaller capacity travel pack with shoulder straps that can stow as carry-on for planes and busses (I like the Osprey, but there are many others out there). Yes, it isn't as comfortable for wilderness backpacking, but it is strong enough and large enough to work for trips of a few days, even up to a week.
Same with the cold food. I too like a hot coffee and hot meal while trekking the wilderness, but for occasional treks while traveling I'd just suck it up and eat cold rather than lug a stove, fuel and cooking implements around for the occasional trek into the back lands.
Also, If you trek with guides or group trips, most outfitting services have some equipment to lend or rent such as tents and sleeping bags and most provide food. Sleeping bags are bulky, but can double as bed covers for sketchy hostels and such, or for extra warmth along the way, so a lightweight sleeping bag may be OK (I have a REI Nooksack sleeping bag that rolls up very small with compression straps, yet is warm down to about 8 degrees C and lower if I wear long sleeve undershirt and pants). I normally don't travel with it though as even this compact bag takes up valuable room.
On the other hand, If you plan to do a lot of wilderness travel, then a regular backpack as Roaman recommends would be better. In either case I've found that 45 liter capacity pack is plenty if you pack wisely and keeps you within carry-on size for traveling on planes, busses, trains and boats and, a smaller pack is much easier to carry around city streets as well as down the trail.
Sep 23, 2013 1:04 PM
5Yes Roaman, true, a week long backcountry trip would push the limits of a travel pack, even my trusty Osprey.
As for the stove - even a whisperlite as you reference needs a fuel canister, cooking pot, and a bottle of fuel - all bulky items and may be difficult to transport across borders (and certainly not allowed on an airplane) Unless the OP is planning many backcountry treks where food is not supplied I'd opt for eating cold as much as I like my hot meals.
Sep 23, 2013 3:57 PM
6Hhhmm, pretty impressive low pack weights there Roaman. I must say I travel heavier than that, maybe 8 - 10 kg. Not too much, but I do like a few creature comforts so long as it fits into my 46 L pack.
And I agree, you can only go so far spanning the difference between urban and outback travel before you just have to commit to one or the other (my wilderness pack is an old 65 L internal frame North Face that will haul anything you can fit into it - its been up to 30+ kg before on particularly long, deep-in trips).
Well, let's see what the OP has to say.
Sep 23, 2013 10:24 PM
7Thanks for all the responses. I guess I have a lot to consider. I think perhaps my best bet is to shorten my time in the wilderness to 2-4 days in exchange for less hassle. See the area, know what to expect and come back and really rough it. That way I can really focus on my outdoor experience and be well prepared for a week+ hike when it can be the focus of my travel. That's why I posted, to get an idea of what is realistic.
The other day I was able to fit everything I thought I'd need into a 45L pack, but that didn't include my tent (it's airing out in the back room). I don't have an accurate scale but it felt fairly light and had extra room. Will be even lighter if I can split some of the supplies with a friend. Everyone loves hot food but I'd be willing to pass on it if it means getting into the outback for a few days. Though I would think I'd want an emergency stove or at least lighter / matches to be safe anyway.
As far as destination I was hoping to do Banff in summer, which I've heard can be unpredictable, then move to SEA for winter and go from there.
I've also thought about the issue of bringing certain camping items on a plane. For example if I want to bring my leatherman (which I carry quite regularly) I'd have to check it, claim it... more work.
On the topic of hostels and bed bugs - will they even let me stay there if I bring a sleeping bag? Even if I don't plan to use it during my stay there? Are silk liners still okay?
I guess the idea I'm getting is if you want the full experience, or even a half way comfortable experience, you have to break it up. I'll try to make future posts less hypothetical. Thanks again for the advice.
Sep 24, 2013 11:04 AM
8Yeah Raoman, those old Kelty's are good packs and the Tioga is legendary. My first pack was a Trapper Nelson (aging myself) - a wooden frame with canvas rucksack mounted on it). I graduated to my North Face Snow Leopard in 1990 and folks on the trail nowadays remark that my gear should be donated to the Smithsonian (I also use an old Svea backpack stove that most folks under fifty have never seen before). And yes, those low-water trips are a pain. Nowadays I pack in into well watered areas - I hate hauling water.
But back to the OP: If you are trekking in southeast asia and Canada, are you planning on going on your own or with a group or guide? My experience with foreign "camping" trips is that you usually go with a group or guide. As before, most guide services provide food and some camping equipment. The tent is the thing that is bulky to haul around and seldom used and the first thing I'd consider leaving behind.
Another problem with shipping camping gear, even if your fuel canister is empty, it still retains vapors that may be detected by security. I've had my backpack stove looked at closely, but haven't lost it yet. Your Leatherman if carried on may well be confiscated, but if you are checking luggage it should be OK.
Sep 24, 2013 8:51 PM
9I'm planning on bringing a friend, so we can split the weight some. Not really doing any tour / guided stuff unless I could get a pretty good deal. And yes, lol, I know about hanging food away from bears. Good advice about the sleeping bags and liners. I'll really have to think carefully before packing those. Thanks again, really glad I posted before doing more planning and purchasing.
Bags feeling light?
Coffee table looking bare?
Get your guidebooks, travel goods, even individual chapters, right here.
Check out all our reviewed and recommended accommodation and book online.