We first and foremost see ourselves as travelers (not hikers nor tourists) and our equipment is a reflection of this. Forget half-person tents and mailing equipment or food ahead. We have ultralight gear but are nowhere near being lightweight travelers. Time is our friend and we want to savor the journey.
Before revealing more of what we will be carrying, let me first admit that I again created an Excel spreadsheet for the analysis. The (very) maximum pack weight was set to 1/3 of our body weight: 18kg for Clara and 22kg for myself (total weight assumes that we will lose a few kg in the bush – yep we are already taking credit for our future good physical condition). We estimate that food and water could reach 7kg for the longer trails (10 days) and hence Clara’s backpack should weigh no more than 11kg whereas mine should be 15kg. While these are achievable targets in theory, things look tighter when we consider that elephant in the room: the bags and bags of photo equipment and electronics.
– On electronics, the tablet was an easy one to solve (and we are grateful to live at a time when technology is powerful, lighweight and compact) and we bought the 3G Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7. It meets all our needs: phone, super fast surfing, extra storage via mini-SD card (option for backups, maps and documents), USB connectivity for data transfer for our blog posts (or photo backups), size: 20x13x0.8cm and all this packed into only 340g. This is the only (non-photo related) equipment we are bringing – no GPS, no emergency personal locator beacons, no pocket-sized mobile phone, and most sadly of all, no kindle. I guess we’ll have to find some other way to pass the time during those rainy evenings in the tent ….
– On the camera side, Clara has a point-and-shoot that weighs 200g and her battery charger uses the same cable as mine … so saving her from carrying one. My photo equipment is far from being light though, weighing in at a hefty 4.4kg. A large part of the total relates to batteries, chargers, a hard drive for backups (Comment from Clara: note the paranoia here…backups, backups & more backups!) and … a tripod that I felt compelled to bring after seeing some great night shots from Nicky and Cookie and that I am still struggling to acknowledge in my weight analysis (for now it is counted as an “exceptional item” and excluded from the total – a trick I learned during my corporate financial reporting days). I don’t list the items of equipment here to avoid shocking both lighweight backpackers and photographers; the former because of how much I am bringing, and the latter because of how little!
While the clothing contribution might look heavy at about 5kg each, we are determined to be warm. After many years in HK we do feel the cold more than most, and Clara was heard complaining last week about the nip in the air when the mercury plummeted to 29 degrees! We probably have too much warm gear packed but we’re not prepared to give it up just yet!
Although Clara’s overall pack weight is 1kg more than her ideal maximum, she appears unconcerned and exhibits a quiet confidence that we’ll be ‘grand’! I however have my nose daily in the spreadsheet trying to figure out how to shave a few grams here and there. During my first backpack trial (moving from theory to practice where I ended up with a 19kg pack!) we had a good laugh when I looked at her in despair holding my only towel (45g) and asked whether it was really an “essential” item. While Clara is keeping an eye on what’s happening with my backpack she has yet to pack hers. Granted that she has more experience than I and that she is the proud owner of a monster 85L backpack, but it is difficult to ignore our many previous hikes where she unloaded stuff into my pack (water, food, rubbish, rain coat and more) without a second thought. She made some progress recently by giving it a little wash and it is now sitting on the bay window quietly waiting to be stuffed up.