In 1990, right after high school graduation, I headed over to Europe with my best friend Erik and his older brother Pete on a backpacking, hitchhiking, Eurorail adventure.
I was kitted out with a Eurorail Pass, a youth hostel card, and an REI black and red external framed backpack. This was the type of old school backpack you never see anymore. The pack where you would attach your sleeping bag to the bottom with bungee cords. The type of backpack that makes you look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, especially when you are wear a poncho to fend off the English rain.
I remember at SFO watching my checked pack get stuck on the roller belt and seeing the buckle of my hip belt rip off. This is the worst part of the pack to lose because you carry the weight of a pack not on your shoulders but your waist. (My dad had to send a replacement buckle to me in England).
Times have changed and materials have improved becoming lighter yet stronger. While I have used a backpack for, well, backpacking, I have favored a carry-on roller bag for airplane travel.
As the European travel guru Rick Steves notes, no one ever returns from a European trip and wishes they brought more. The same applies to my past travel experiences. I always wonder why I brought that shirt or sweater I never ended up using. I’m always fine tuning my travel kit to find the right balance.
Iceland was a time to return to backpacking. Could I do it after 30 years? I was not 18 anymore. But the packs, clothing, and packing accessories are so much better than when I first backpacked Europe three decades ago.
After some research, I decided on an Osprey pack. I have an Osprey daypack and it is one of the most comfortable packs I own. Osprey was founded in 1974 in Santa Cruz (nice local connection) and well, the osprey is a cool bird! The original business was called Santa Cruz Recreational Packs on River Street. The building now is Down Works.
The Osprey pack that I chose was the Farpoint 40 which is the company’s most popular travel backpack. This tics all the specs to fit in an overhead compartment while providing a large main compartment to hold together your life on the road. How is this done?
Because the main compartment has no dividers, compression packing cube are essential for organizing items and compressing them to fit. In one medium cube I can fit one pair of pants and six shirts. In a small cube I could fit one pair of thermal underwear, five pairs of socks, and five pairs of underwear.
Now how does this work on a 15 day trip? Most of my clothing is made of synthetic material which means they are quick drying. So every few days I wash clothes in the sink or bathtub and then dry them on my Sea to Summit travel clothesline and they’re dry in the morning. This saves a lot of space in my bag.
And it sure feels great to travel lightly and not be encumbered by a heavy, unwieldy roller bag.
Iceland here I come!