Carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders…


Books are my downfall. I always carry too many books.

I carry a Lonely Planet or Rough Guide for wherever I am going (sometimes one of each), a couple (OK, let’s be honest, a FEW) books to read, a map or two, a dictionary for the local language, some magazines, a week-old copy of the International Herald-Tribune..

And of course a camera and some rolls of film.

OK, and a Discman. And a few discs.

A big bottle of water. A toiletry kit from Outdoor Research.
A roll of the most luxurious TP I can buy. With Aloe!

A pair of pongey Tevas, some Thorlo wicking socks, a hat, my bathers (rather staid ones, mind you) some cotton-rayon short sleeve shirts with buttons, some ‘once-were-white’ undies, a lightweight Goretex shell, a polar fleece jumper, and, and…

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It just keeps going on, doesn’t it? When will I learn?

I have been doing this for many years and never seem to get it. My pack is too heavy. My pack is always too heavy and the reason I carry so much crap is simple:

Because I can.

I can carry too much because the pack carries too much.
My pack is too big and I fill it.

(And since I have about as much sense as a lizard, I never seem to learn.)

My usual pack for these trips is the (long out of production) Galileo L4600 made by The North Face. It is a nice, rugged pack but it is too damn big. For my last trip to another continent, I chose a slightly smaller pack from the same company. No longer did I have trouble dashing to a waiting train or climbing to the fifth floor of whatever seedy hotel that the LP guide had sent me to (where I would be spending a sleepless night listening to bleating city busses).

I still carried most everything as before, though I limited myself to only a couple of books and only one guidebook. I had enough socks and undies, still looked vaguely presentable upon check-in and no longer was recognizable by the wheezing sound that I emitted as I wrestled with a pack roughly the size of a small Buick.

It only took me about twenty years to figure this out.