Freedom can be measured in liters
Here at the Ask Baz Blog we’re a little skeptical of articles which include the claim ‘this experience changed my life’. However, the following post from our new National Sales Manager really does recount a life-changing episode. It may be the catalyst for you to whip the metaphorical rug out from under yourself and do something you’ve always wanted to do.
Lesson 1. You have to plan your escape
“And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you…” There will never be ‘the right’ time for you to escape from your everyday life and pursue your dream (whatever it may be). In our case, my wife and I realized that we might only have one opportunity to see and experience different cultures together before the trappings of “normal” life made such an endeavor impossible. So - we quit our jobs and embarked on what would become a ten-month trip around the world.
That was six years ago. Looking back now, I can say it was one of the best decisions we ever made.
Brian and Amanda in Goa, India during Holi.
Lesson 2. Boy, you gotta carry that weight
One of our goals was to travel as light as possible. We wanted to be mobile, never have to check a bag, and have the flexibility to easily carry our belongings wherever we went, regardless of the situation. This was made difficult by the nature of where we wanted to go. We had to be ready to enjoy the beaches of Thailand, a trek in the Himalayas, day-to-day life in some European cities, and anywhere in between. Besides the logistical web of flights, visas, and weather considerations, we also had to be extremely picky with our gear choices.
Lesson 3. How do you limit what you take without this becoming a limitation?
We started the process by limiting our pack size, choosing 35L and 40L packs respectively. The next step was to choose essential items we could not live without; this list eventually got cut in half, then in half again but included items like underwear and socks, shirts, pants, hats, etc. Finally, we had to pick the “luxury”’ items as well as daily “around town” stuff. Realizing that we would not want to schlepp big backpacks everywhere, we started researching ultra-lightweight day bags.
Up-stream river “hiking” in New Zealand.
You can find a complete ‘kit list’ at the end of this article.
Lesson 4. Good gear works
Travel broadens the mind. Travel planning should focus your attention.
The point of this article is not to run through an item count of the gear we took with us (although as mentioned, there is a gear list at the end of this blog post). Your adventure, and your need for equipment and clothing may be very different from ours. What I think is helpful is to focus on the value of an item you may take with you.
There are few items I own that fall into the category: “Things I never thought I’d own so long and use literally every day.” However, after living out of a small backpack for a couple months I quickly identified these items. I fell in love with Merino Wool, treasured my waterproof camera, and came to value my Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack as an extension of my body. I took it everywhere, and I still use it to this day.
Lesson 5. What can you learn from living with less?
The value of a vital piece of clothing or equipment is not a question of the item itself, but about what it represents. I still own and regularly use most of what I brought on that trip 6 years ago. Every time I put on a piece of clothing or pack my bag, I am transported back to a time and place where Amanda and I were unencumbered and free to explore.
So, this article isn’t about gear per se; it’s about the realizations you can come to in reducing the things you carry down to elemental essentials.
This is an insight that stays with you long after you’ve put your pack down for the final time on a particular adventure. In today’s culture of overnight shipping and heedless consumerism, I’m reminded to be thoughtful about my purchases: will a piece of equipment last? Was it made sustainably? Can the manufacturer repair it or provide spare parts? Does the gear do what I intended or at least hoped for?
Since the trip, I also regard outdoor and travel equipment in a different light. These days, when I consider a purchase, I find myself looking forward the memories that will be made while using the right pieces of carefully-chosen gear.
And that has changed my life.
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack
3 merino T shirts
1 trekking shirt
1 mid-weight base layer
1 pair hiking/casual pants
1 pair hiking/casual shorts
1 pair board shorts
4 pair merino socks
4 pair merino underwear
Trail running shoes
Buff neck gaiter (for warmth or to put over eyes while sleeping on a plane/train/bus)
Waterproof point-and-shoot camera
Small DSLR camera with one lens and small padded case
Water purifier UV light
Charger cables for all
Toiletries (all travel size):
Small first aid kit
Drain stopper (for sink laundry)
Travel laundry soap
Lacrosse ball (for tight muscles)
Rain cover for pack
8 Liter Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil dry sack (for dirty clothes or water adventures)