A bag for Southeast Asia – Osprey Farpoint 70

My prep continues for the trip to South East Asia, as the clock is ticking down – my gAdventures app now happily reminds me i’ve just got 70 days until departure!

Thankfully most of the gear I bought for my adventure to Peru is the same stuff i’ll need in South East Asia, but one thing I did need is a sensible travel bag.  As you probably know I do a lot of travel for work – but that’s always ‘easy’ travel – a suitcase, into a taxi, into a hotel.  Whilst this trip is fairly comfortable, it’s much more suited to a backpack style packing than a suitcase, so it’s time for me to invest.

For Peru I borrowed my friends bag, a Haglöfs backpack, but since i’m no longer living in Sweden, that’s not a convenient option.  On top of that, i’m planning to more of these style trips, so it makes sense to invest in my own.


Osprey Farpoint 70

Today, I decided, was shopping day – and I headed into an area of London where there are a bunch of outdoors shops.  I’d already done a bit of research online so I knew roughly what price point I was looking at, and who stocked which brands.  In the end my decision was fairly easy – hanging right by the entrance to Cotswold Outdoor was the beautiful Farpoint 70 from Osprey.  It’s a brilliant idea – a 70 litre backpack which combines a holdall style packing with the carrying convenience of a backpack.  The whole thing zips up so you can hide the backpack straps and turn it into checked luggage, or you can quickly unzip it and stick it on your back at the other end.  On top of that, there’s a front section which doubles as a day-pack, but zips to the main bag when you’re ready to carry them together.


Two bags in one!

What a brilliant idea!

Essentially it’s two packs in one, but they can be carried as a single pack – one of my big fears about having my own pack was having to do that silly front/back carry which you see travellers doing all the time.

A 70 litre pack should be enough for 18 days, plus some space for souvenirs.  The really neat thing about this pack is that rather than packing top-down as most backpacks do, it unzips open like a hold-all.  This makes it much easier to get in and out of it when you’re travelling quickly between different hotels – rather than having to delve deep into the bag to find that one illusive item.


Front-loading packing system

I’m really happy with my purchase, and looking forward to getting to the stage where I can pack it!

Video review here

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Can I go yet????

Well, after three tries, I managed it! Everything fits into the rucksack. And the rucksack fits into the flight bag.  Which means, it’s time to go!!!

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Except I have a week of work still to go.

Can I go yet?!?!

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A sign of the time(s)

So, i’ve made my mind up not to take my iPhone to Peru.  Which leaves one huge logistical issue – I need a watch!  It’s amazing how many day to day objects the iPhone has replaced – my watch, my diary, my mp3 player – the list goes on and on.  Most of them i’m not going to need whilst exploring jungles and hiking the inca trail, but there’s no getting away from the fact that I will need a watch!

So, for the first time in about 5 years, I’ve bought a watch.  I went into a watch shop and told the assistant I wanted ‘the cheapest watch they have, so I can destroy it and not care’.  And voila, my beautiful new Casio plastic timepiece:  Casio watch

It is exactly what I asked for – a really crappy watch!  But, it tells the time, it has an alarm and actually, it has a huge array of pointless features – it can tell me the tide time, the moon phase and supports multiple timezones (which could be kind of useful).  It also has a light which makes it easy to read when sitting in a tent in the middle of the Inca Trail.  Basically, it’s got an obscene amount of functions for something so cheap and crappy!

The only thing that really bugs me – it’s impossible to switch off the ‘beep’ when adjusting any settings or switching through modes!  If anyone figures out how, please let me know!!

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Hiking Pants… resolved!

After my weekend in the UK last weekend, I managed to resolve the hiking pants dilemma!  I went to Ellis Brigham sports at Westfield Stratford early on Saturday morning and they were extraordinarily helpful.   Continue reading

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Still to buy…

mspowerhoudi_darkdenimI’m on a mission today! I’ve still got a few things to get on my shopping list for Peru… Hoping to tick almost all of them off this weekend. Continue reading

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Shopping list spreadsheets

Gadventures are great…. they have provided piles and piles of advice on the trip including lists of ‘what to bring‘, which look really useful.  Except for one thing – they provided it in the form of three lists.  Initially I took this at face value – one list for ‘general’, one list for the inca trail, and one for the time in the amazon.  But the problem is, there’s a huge amount of cross-over on the three lists.

How do you easily determine what to pack into the one bag i’m planning to take when consulting three separate lists?? Well, you make a spreadsheet… if you’re me, anyway!  Colour coded, naturally.  With macros, and sorted alphabetically by item type and purchase status, so I know what else I need to buy!

Yes, it’s over the top, but it’s my way of working… As you can see, I have quite a lot still to buy!!

Packing List / Page1 Packing List / Page 2

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2 months to go!

Well here we are – September 1st. That means it’s exactly two months until I leave for my big adventure to Peru! I’ve still got loads to do before I go!

Thinking from the top of my head, the first big thing I mustn’t forget is the second injection of Twinrix on September 12th.  Apparently the travel clinic will text me to remind me, but i’m still trying to keep that date locked in my head.  After that the only medical thing I need to remember is I have to take two ‘shots’ of the Cholera medication at the start of October, and I must also get hold of some Mosquito spray with DEET.

I also still need to find a lot of clothes, a big backpack and many other things – hoping to do a lot of this when i’m in London for the weekend on the 19th-21st September.  My spreadsheet still feels like the majority of it is un-purchased, rather than bought, which is kind of scary considering how much money i’ve already spent!

The last thing is that I must get some more practice hikes in, before the weather turns fowl!  Swedish Winter starts in about October, so the clock is definitely ticking on this!

BRB, panicking!

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An amazing evening hike!

imageYesterday evening a group of us went for an evening hike after work.  It was a really great evening, and we explored a hiking trail called Vättlefjäll.  The trail is an 11.7km route, and we did it in just under 3 hours.  The pace wasn’t very high but it was the ideal opportunity for me to try out my new hiking gear!  I’m glad I had packed my day pack with all of the things I have bought, since I used the water bladder, hiking poles and head torch – by the time we finished it was pitch black outside!

As you can see from the runkeeper log, it’s a course that circles a lot of the lakes in the area.  The lakes are ideal for canoeing and we saw a few people setting up tents along the route who had canoed around – must make a note to do that one day!

Continue reading

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camino-inca11Camping. You either love it or hate it, right?

For me, thinking about camping brings back memories of our childhood holidays in the Lake District and Dumfries & Galloway on our way to visit relatives in Scotland.  My mum, sister and I squeezed into a two man tent, arguing about who gets to turn the light out and whether we’re allowed to have macaroni cheese out of a tin for 3 nights running.  Those were pretty fun holidays – and particularly memorable is a place in Dumfries which had a giant chess set and an outdoor swimming pool!

Since childhood, I think i’ve slept under canvas twice – once at a music festival that I was helping out with some lights on, and the second as a romantic get-away night with my (soon to be) ex girlfriend.  Neither of those were particularly excellent memories.

But the Inca trail camping will be different.  It has a purpose.  I don’t think any of the previous experiences were really about camping with a purpose, it was about budget holidays.  This will mean so much more – a means to an end, a way to get to Machu Picchu and witness the views and experiences of thousands before me.

I plan on renting my sleeping bag in Cusco before we head out on the trail.  I’m told that this is not only the most cost effective way to do it, but also the most sensible – there’s no point in carrying a sleeping bag all over Peru when it’s only needed for 3 nights of the trail!  Apparently it can get down to -6c at night on the trail, so it could be quite an experience – thermal underwear is on the packing list!  I don’t even know what thermal underwear looks like!  Better get shopping!

I can’t wait to experience it all!  Check out the view in the picture – that’s on the first night, apparently!

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The Hiking Pants dilemma

When I went shopping the other day, I discovered a problem which I hadn’t anticipated.

Hiking PantsI’m too short for hiking pants.  Or at least, I’m too short to buy the hiking pants on offer in Sweden.

I’m 5’7″ (172cm) tall, which isn’t unusually short, but certainly is below average for a male in Sweden.  However, my body is a bit disproportionate and my inseam is only 28″ (70cm).  That causes problems with hiking trousers much more than any other clothing, because hiking trousers have a knee patch.  On the models of hiking pants I tried on, the knee patch falls exactly where my knee ends.

Unfortunately for me, Swedish people tend to be proportionally taller than Brits, so the shops here don’t stock “Short” versions of the hiking pants.  That leaves me with an odd shaped body and very definitely a problem in buying the correct gear for the trip.

Fortunately I have a trip to London planned in September, so I will try to pick up my hiking pants whilst i’m there.  If anyone has any top tips for where to buy appropriately sized trousers, i’d love to hear it!


Update:  After a second shopping spree, I managed to locate some shorter style hiking pants in the Sale (“Rea”, in Swedish) section.  They’re not particularly high quality but they will do for training hikes and days when I’m not on the Inca Trail!

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