At the end of the week my wife, kids, and I will be heading overseas to England to visit my family. It will be the first time my two small kids have ever been to England and their first time meeting their aunts, uncles, and cousins. It’s going to be exciting.
I’m sharing this because I was suddenly struck by the realization that my approach to packing for this family vacation is almost identical to the method I would use for a lightweight backpacking trip. Pack what I need and nothing more. I can’t help myself, I have packing light mentality and have noticed that my wife and kids have just automatically followed suit – pretty cool.
Obviously there are some major differences between a family vacation (with small kids) and a UL/lightweight backpacking trip, most noticeably the need for more ‘stuff’ for my kids, but the process of pairing down the gear list is striking similar. We are all carefully evaluating each and every piece of gear that we want to take and individually making a determination of whether or not it is a ‘want’ or a ‘need’ – naturally there are some ‘wants’ creeping in, but that’s all good.
I haven’t taught my kids to do this. They’ve observed me getting ready for backpacking trips and learned by themselves, but by providing them with their own backpack for this specific trip (a stroke of genius I have to attribute to my wife) they have had to pick and choose what they can take. The end result will be a single backpack each plus one piece of checked luggage. The checked luggage would normally be completely avoided, but we have quite a few ‘gifts’ to take over with us that definitely won’t fit in our packs.
For this trip I will be using my GORUCK GR1 rucksack to carry all of my personal items. The GR1 has a 26L capacity and despite being a somewhat feature-simple rucksack it has an exceptional track record (I’ll be posting a detailed review after I return). You can follow these links to read more about the amazing story behind the design of the GR1 ruck and GORUCK.
It will be an eight-day trip, but that does not mean we will be taking eight separate changes of clothing. We’ll be taking at most four changes of clothing and will simply wash our clothes halfway through the trip. My wife and I learned this trick several years ago on our travels and it has stayed with us ever since.
Here is my urban packing list for our eight-day trip to England. Note that these may not individually be the lightest weight options for gear (my gram weenie friends will disown me), but it is at least a minimal approach to the amount of gear I’m taking.
- GORUCK GR1 Rucksack
- Pants (4) – two pair of Vertx tactical pants, two pair Levi jeans
- T-shirts (4)
- Micro Fleece (2)
- Underwear (4)
- Socks (4)
- Beanie Hat – TNF wool/fleece beanie
- Rain Coat –
- iPad2 + cable (ebooks, movies, audio)
- iPhone4 + headphones
- Lumix GF2 Camera
- Toiletries (repackaged in 3oz containers)
- Men’s Shower Gel – for me and Jack to share
- Toothpaste – whole family
- Toothbrush + floss
- Deodorant Stick
- Disposable Razors (2)
- Basic First Aid – Band-Aids, ointment, and painkillers
That’s it. This was a spur of the moment blog post after realizing I was scrutinizing every piece of gear as I was pulling it all together to put into my rucksack. I’ll be putting my GR1 through its paces during this trip and taking notes of how well it performs. By all accounts this will be a total breeze for a pack that is military-grade, made in the USA, and comes with a lifetime SCARS guarantee. It will get a real pounding in June when I take part in my first GORUCK Challenge!
How do you pack for urban situations?
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