Get in Gear

What do we NEED for the trip?  What are we taking with us to the other side of the IMG_5885world?  One thing’s for sure, its not going to be everything and the kitchen sink, too.

In typical fashion for our family, the quest for our gear began with research. Should we pack and carry everything for ourselves and the kids?  What can we count on the kids to carry? Does everyone need their own backpack? I discovered Wardrobe Capsules.  (More on the wardrobe coming soon because I’m getting excited about this concept.)  But in short, this is an awesome minimalist approach to clothing.  An approach we are going to need when we have to live out of suitcases and backpacks.

Backpacks?  Like hiking backpacks?  We aren’t the most outdoorsy of families.  In fact, the last time I went camping, I left in the middle of the night to go find a warm bed.  That’s right.  I went AWOL from Girl Scout tree-house camping.  That’s how much we DON’T do that sort of thing.

IMG_5890Anyway, I started by thinking that we all needed backpacks.  I consulted a real-life person who had spent quite some time backpacking Europe last summer – my very own baby sister.  She carried a Dueter 50L and would opt to go bigger if she had known.  The best advice I received from that chat is that I needed to go to REI and get fitted properly.

She was right.  REI made our lives much easier.  They are so knowledgeable and so helpful.  It really helped me to see the size of the bags, the usefulness of each different kind and then narrow down what we needed.

The Gear Stash:

  • We chose an Osprey Ace 38 for both of the littles.  They are 6 and 7 years old.  I had no idea their spines needed to be measured.  Interestingly, the taller of the two had a slightly smaller spine.  They both fit swimmingly in this bag and we were able to adjust it to each of them perfectly.  We even loaded them up with some weights and sent them packing around the store.  This bag only comes in paprika red, which made Cielo extremely happy since red is her favorite color.  Chichi is just going to have to learn to love red too, because it doesn’t come any other way.  Maybe I’ll hand her some fabric markers and let her stylize her own bag?
  • For Goose (she’s 12.5) we went with the REI Passage 65 Kids.  There is an adult bag with the same name but IMG_5891this ones is a juniors unisex bag.  Again, the spine measurement guided us.  Her’s is 15″ so we wanted a bag that would cinch small enough to hug her shoulders and offer the proper support.  The awesome thing about her bag is that it goes up to a 19″ spine, which includes fitting it for my use because I’m around a 17/18.  If she doesn’t get too tall, this might be a bag she never outgrows.
  • For Romeo we chose more of an airport bag.  Let’s face it, we aren’t really going to be doing any actual backpacking.  We just need bags we can live out of that are comfortable to carry everywhere.  The problem with choosing a bigger backpacking-style bag for Romeo is that it gets too big to carry-on and then we are forced to check it everywhere.  All of the backpacking bags have lots of straps and dangly bits and we don’t want to send those through the airport machinery to get chewed up.  We went with the Osprey 46L Porter bag for him.  This bag has some really great cinching straps and versatility.  The reviews are really great on this bag and it seems the perfect fit for airport/shuttle/train/bus/taxi type of travel.  It is a convertible style, so you can carry it like a duffle or hook up the pop-out straps and waist buckle and create a backpack.  Oh, and it meets carry-on standard so it will never have to be checked.IMG_5889
  • MamaSita is getting the North Face Overhaul 40.  This is also more of an airport bag and perfect as a carry-on.  It’s not going to fit everything I own but it will be nice for hauling for short-trips.  It has a really great laptop and tablet sleeve. The laptop sleeve is mega-padded and includes a bolster in the bottom of the bag which will keep the computer “floating” when the backpack is set down.  This bag is going to be packed with compression sacks to save room.
  • In addition to the new bags we have a standard size suitcase.  This will be filled with anything that is going to go over and sit in an apartment at a stationary homebase.  Then when we travel around for weeks at a time, we will not be dragging that thing with us.

As we were leaving REI, Cielo turns to me and says, “You know, we’ve been talking about this trip like it’s a ‘maybe’ this whole time.  But we just bought our backpacks.  This trip is definitely happening!”

Shit just got real.

3 thoughts on “Get in Gear

  1. I must say I’ve backpacked all over the world and never had a problem with checked in luggage being chewed up. I do tighten all the loose ends and click the loops crossed, to make the pack a bit like a rolled up hedgehog. Only problem is when the backpack gets lost and it takes a couple of days before it finds its way back to you. So don’t check in anything you really can’t live without.


    1. Interesting. The associate at REI seemed to think that was a really big deal. He even advised us to put them in a garbage bag or saran wrap so they don’t get into the machines. He pushed us towards the airport-type bags after he fitted the kids. What type of backpack do you use and what size is it?


      1. I used to travel with my trusted Lowe Alpine Cerro Torro, but it was one bought ten years ago, not like the current sleek models. With its 65 liter volume, extendable to 80, it was enough for pretty much everything, supplemented with a small backpack as a carry-on and for day trips.

        Now I have small children I don’t backpack much, so it more suitcase travel. I have a Deuter spectro 32 liter I use for day trips and weekends and such, a bit of a tight fit for a weekend but I manage.

        I think it’s better to have a bigger pack that has space left rather than a too small one that you have to strap stuff on, because it’s so full. So I think you made a wise choice for the children to buy backpacks they can use as they grow. Not sure whether a 40L pack will be accepted as a carry-on by all airlines but it depends on its actual size and who you fly with.


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