Update: Great Strides Have Been Made!

In a moment of inspiration – when I was supposed to be doing something else, of course – I made the rudimentary template of my website! I had spent one of the sunny, beautiful days this last weekend mocking it up on paper, but had some conceptual problems with the color scheme. Luckily, those seem to be solved for now, so I wanted to show you a quick glimpse of the first draft. Let me know what you think!
(This is a mock-up of a blog page; the standard template won’t include the dark grey box in the middle, so each page would be slightly different in that regard. Also, in posting this to the web, I realize I’m going to have to change some of the dimensions – it’s a bit too long and not wide enough, so those changes will be implemented today or tomorrow.)

Blog Page

In other big news, I went to REI today and tried on some backpacks! I realized through this process that I have some pretty strict standards for what I want out of a pack – and rightly so, as it’ll be my lifeline for a year. My ideal specifications include:

  • 60L (with a range from 55L to 70L) – Any less than 55L would be too little for a year, and anything more than 70L would be too heavy to comfortably carry. 
  • Front (or panel) loading – Unlike hiking backpacks, which load from the top, panel-loading packs allow you to access your contents much like a suitcase. This is awesome for organizational freaks like me!
  • Daypack-equipped – I hate having several pieces of luggage, so having a daypack that clips onto the main pack reduces the weight of yet another purse while allowing me an convenient carry-on and hiking bag. 
  • Secure – As a small woman with a large bag, I’m an easy target for pickpockets. Since I can’t turn around quickly, and the distance of the outer-most pockets from my back is relatively great, I might not even notice I’m getting robbed. Solution: TSA-standard locking zippers, on both the daypack and the main pack. 
  • Women-friendly: Because the straps wrap around the hips, and women tend to have larger hip:waist ratios than men, packs designed for men can chafe women and provide a disequilibrium with certain parts too tight or loose. Luckily, there are several packs designed primarily for women, though they tend to range in the lower numbers correspondingly. 
  • Size Small: It surprised me today to find that there aren’t too many 60L packs geared towards small travelers. 60L doesn’t seem enormous, particularly in comparison to the 65L, 70L, and even 90L packs that are out there. Since my measurements at 17″ put me in the realm of small/ extra-small, I am going to have a particularly difficult time finding a properly fit pack.  
  • Protective of Straps and Clips (for Check-in): I didn’t think about this before, but hiking bags have many doodads and dangling bits that would easily get caught on metal conveyer belts and airport security. Travel packs, specially designed for airplane travel, have covers that protect the back panel, which includes the straps, clips, and cords that might emerge. 
  • Stylishly designed – I don’t want a rolling backpack. Aside from the fact that they’re not very comfortable to wear as backpacks, the wheels and internal frame add weight, and besides, I’m too old for a rolling backpack. It’s definitely tempting, since it’d be a convenient mix of the lightness of suitcases with the ease of backpacks, but I’m still shying away. Moreover, I want a slim backpack with a decently stylish look – because the width of my torso’s profile is so small, wearing a pack that extends out to twice my size is not a physically or aesthetically viable option. I’d rather a pack that covers my entire torso, but that stays relatively close to my body – think a turtle, not a snail. 

The closest I found to these ideal conditions was the Osprey Farpoint 70. It seemed perfect! It was awesome! It came with so many wonderful features, though a saddening lack of pockets or internal organization. Unfortunately, after the salesgirl and I loaded the pack up with weighted pillows, we realized that it was much too heavy for my little frame, and the moderate discomfort I felt from carrying 40 or so pounds of weight would only be exacerbated when walking for hours through all sorts of weather.

So the journey to find a backpack continues, which is a shame because the Farpoint was quite convenient when not packed to capacity. If you have any suggestions on packs you’ve used or about which you’ve heard good things, please let me know! The search for my backpack is almost as stressful as search for a new job, as both provide me with a sense of home (the job to secure my ability to even have one). There aren’t many options out there, which is surprising. But I have had an amazing last few days (had a pleasant night out with Sophie, went to the Botanical Garden with my mom, cleaned out my refrigerator finally), so I believe the universe has more good news in store for me!