The backpacker’s backpack

Backpacks: a piece of kit so integral to travel that a whole branch of it was named after them. On the whole, backpackers are adventurous types and, consequently, backpacking is an activity that finds its ideal expression in the marginal spaces of our planet. To wit, backpacking calls for a larger degree of self-sufficiency and planning than other forms of travel.

First of all, the backpacks used in backpacking tend to be the larger type that can carry the essentials of travel โ€“ a few spare items of clothing, toothpaste, the odd book, cooking utensils, etc. โ€“ whilst being hiked up a mountain, desert or jungle (tree-heavy or urban). However, one important thing to keep in mind with regard to self-sufficiency is that less can be more. Too big a backpack for the wrong environment or the wrong duration of travel will create the need to bring too much and literally and figuratively weigh you down. The essence of backpacking is freedom in self-sufficiency, and often this is found in freedom from possessions (although of course too small a backpack can often leave you woefully unprepared in the wrong circumstances).

This highlights the importance of planning and brings us back to the backpack itself rather than the contents. Unfortunately robbery is not an unknown occurrence for backpackers, and is something one must be prepared for. Usually robbers are interested in the contents of your backpack rather than the backpack itself. A useful trick to prepare for this contingency is to sew patches (of flags, national parks, etc.) onto your backpack with some cash carefully stowed in a plastic bag behind them. That way, if ever you are robbed you will have an emergency supply of money and you and your trusty backpack will not have to call it quits just yet!

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