Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Note on Backpacks

I’ve always had a thing against them – associating them with filthy feet in run-down sandals, Let’s Go travel books and raucous laughter in overcrowded train compartments.

My bias has cost me over the years. In the late 1970s, when a high school friend and I went to Europe, we decided we weren’t going to join the backpack crowd – and went instead equipped with two huge duffel bags, which over the ensuing months cut huge gashes into our shoulders with their single straps.

Roller bags, which I later moved to, are fine for airports but not so good when you are running through markets trying to catch a bus or walking miles to try to find the weirdly isolated B&B you booked.

In both cases, the contents end up a jumbled mess and mornings were devoted to frantic grab-bag searches to look for clean underwear, my passport, or whatever else I needed.

You’d think I’d learn. But vanity persists and I reverted to a duffel bag for this trip – one of the most intense packing/unpacking sequences of my life. But I’m saved! Before leaving the U.S. I bought a set of “Eagle Creek Travel Gear” packing envelopes – Velcro and cloth sleeves that zip up into neat little packages. Into one go socks and underwear, into another shirts and t shirts, and into the largest go pants, sweaters, my raincoat and whatever else I stupidly overpacked on the trip. Then, one by one, they slide into the duffel, making it a convenient traveling dresser.

I’m usually sceptical of “organizational breakthroughs” – doubtless the sign of a terminally disorganized mind. But these damn things have made a real difference. Thank You, Eagle Creek (I’m not a paid spokesman but I would be in a second – Eagle Creek, call me).

Now, back to packing.