2 March 2013

Bag & Boots

I have a fairly small shopping list, as I'm not planning on taking that much with me - the whole "I wish I'd taken half as much stuff as twice as much money" is very true.  I'm not sure I can do much about the money, but I can take less stuff.

Of what is on the list there are a few bigger-ticket items; a good bag and a decent pair of boots are high on the list, along with a good sleeping bag and mat  (a good night's sleep makes a lot more things bearable / a lack of quality sleep can make the little things seem a lot bigger).  Not so expensive but just as important - a good pillow.  Really - a good pillow when camping makes up for a lot.

The last couple of evenings has been some serious looking at just about everything that the glut of outdoors shops in Covent Garden has to offer, where I came home last night with the bag & boots.

The bag.  Given my criteria there are very few choices - I wanted:
  • Proper backpack - something I can wear comfortably over distance and take of a bit of a hike
  • Not a top-loader - they are a PITA to live out of
  • Minimum of 65L, ideally 70+  - yes, I know I just said "I'm not planing on taking much with me"
  • No wheels - there is a time and a place for wheeled luggage and this isn't it
  • (Ideally) with an easy way of carrying a day-sack too
It really came down to a choice of two, the Osprey Waypoint 85 or the Lowe Alpine Travel Trekker II 70.  Both are very good bags and either would have been a good choice, but I've got for the Osprey - the fit is slightly better, although the Lowe is probably better for trekking, and it is lighter and has more space - not to fill, but to allow for less tight packing and/or to allow me to buy things on the road and not worry about how to then carry it.

I get home last night with the bag and my flatmate's teenage daughter looks at the bag, looks at the size and asks what it's for.  I explain that this is what I'll be living out of for the next year - cue look of disbelief. :-)

Boots.  I think I've tried on every pair of wide-fitting walking & trekking boots in London, or at least it feels like it.  Far too may to list, but it came down to two pairs of Meindle - the Kansas GTX or the Burma Pro MFS.  Again, neither is bad, but the wearing one of each and the choice is clear - the Kansas.  It doesn't have quite as much ankle support as the Burma (but it has plenty), but is is easier under-foot and is more suited to more of what I'm doing.  Crucially - it just felt better and that is something you've got to go with.

If I were doing more serious hiking as the main activity I'd have gone for the Burma - as is there is some hiking, but they also need to take me through the streets of countless places and do some comfortably.