Picking The Pack and More

I’m coming off of a very busy, exhausting and fulfilling weekend! I have lots of updates to share which I am going to split into two separate posts. My first post is pilgrimage planning.


Exactly 2 weeks from today I will be on an airplane heading to Spain. [excited. nervous. excited. nervous]

Just days away, and still making gear changes! aaak!!!

face your path coelho
Paulo Coelho is one of my inspirational gurus!  


On Friday night Mr. Mo and I drove straight to REI from work (again). This time it was his turn to find new shoes. The pair he’s been using are comfortable but heavy, and breaking down too quickly (they were cheap hikers from Costco). So, while he was trying on all all the shoes, I was trying on all the backpacks (again).


While he was trying on all of the shoes, I was trying on all of the backpacks (again). Sadly, my lovely red Deuter 28 has become increasingly uncomfortable on our road training walks. Despite constant packing & re-packing, and making continual adjustments as I’ve walked I just could never get this bag to fit comfortably, or get the weight to distribute properly.

The perfect pack for someone else! 

This pack puts all its pressure on the top of my hip bone and basically perched on top of my butt, because the torso was not adjustable (too long for me). If I managed to cinch the pack higher on my waist, then the shoulder straps would always be about 1-2 inch above my shoulders. Also, the design of this pack does not breathe well in the back. I was always hot and sweaty and sticking to the pack. So, somehow I had to find a new pack that would fit my extra-extra-small torso.

choices… choices… choices…

I came prepared!

I brought my current Dueter 28L packed with my actual gear. This way I could load up the trial packs to see and feel exactly how they would perform. A nice woman associate who really knew her stuff, plus another male associate who offered additional helpful tips took care of me. Between the two I found almost everything I was looking for in the Osprey Sirrus 24L. Cool one-piece “trampoline” back with tons of ventilation, amazingly supportive support, straps that sit properly on my shoulders, and some nice hip pockets that my Dueter didn’t have. It FITS me. I also love the beautiful shiny turquoise color.

Osprey-Sirrus-24-front to back
love! But such small capacity…

The only downside is that it’s a 24L which is really small for packing everything I need to take for a 10 day trek. This means that I won’t have any extra room for water or snacks (or anything else I might gather along the way)  – and I will definitely not have room to pack my raingear or Ecco sandals. I could potentially hang extra items on the outside of the pack –  but not while traveling – and the idea of not having a choice except to hang things is not ideal. So, that’s the conundrum. I did go ahead and trade in my Dueter for the Osprey Sirrus because I knew the Dueter wasn’t ever going to work, and it was a straight trade across – easy peasy (I love REI). This would give me a chance to walk around in it. Over the weekend so far it has performed super, but I have now decided that I really need to at least TRY the next size up. Sadly, Sirrus doesn’t have a 30L which would be perfect. Next up is a 36L which is much more space than I need.

Will 3rd Time be the charm??

Unfortunately, neither of our local REI’s stock the Sirrus 36 in an Extra Small. That means ordering it online and having it express shipped to my local REI. So, this is exactly what I’m doing (thank heaven for my Chase rewards card so all these gear experiements don’t keep coming out-of-pocket) It will not arrive until Friday. That is really cutting things close!! However, I’m hopeful this could be the perfect bag for me. As long as I can fit everything inside and still pull the straps in tight enough when travelling to pass the Vueling flight restrictions for a carry-on (this pack measures 24″ fully extended, I’ve gotta make it 22″ or less for Vueling).

That is my latest backpack saga.

Shoes For Mr. Mo

Meanwhile, because he has large feet, Mr. Mo had limited footwear options at this store. We knew we could find less expensive and more variety online, but REI has such a great return policy we want to be sure we can try, test and bring back if they don’t work. Luckily, he found his match in the Topo Terraventure. Designed by Tony Post (“ToPo”) of Vibram fame. These lightweight low profile adventure shoes are designed specifically for trail running and light hiking, with a wide toe box, and lots of grip for hills. He tested these out on a long hike Saturday and already loves them. Fingers crossed for no blisters!


The struggle is real my friends.

It seems like a lot of hassle to go through each of these intricate decisions regarding out gear, but it is essential to get it right. However, nothing would be worse than being stuck out on a trail in a foreign country miserable with back or foot pain due to ill fitting gear. I think these two items – shoes and backpack – are the MOST important gear pieces. Every item we are taking is being weighed and considered and fussed over. Space is limited. Weight is even more limited. I have to remind myself that no matter how much we plan there will be items we wish we had brought -and more likely, items we wish we had left home.

It’s especially important to me that I have a pack that will stay with me long-term; not only for my first Camino, but for many more travel adventures we are dreaming of!

¡Buen Camino!  – Holly

P.S. Part II of my long weekend will post soon. Stay tuned!

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