Post vacation pack list review

After I get home from some time off, I like to reflect on my pack list for possible adjustments to future trips.  I had more thoughts than usual after my time in the mountains a few weeks ago (pack list here):

  • I much prefer thin socks over thick socks.  I have a really nice pair of ankle length hiking socks (details here) that I took in addition to a pair of socks that I’ve owned forever that are about half the thickness.  Out on the mountain, I didn’t notice much of a comfort difference between the socks, but what I did notice was that the thicker ones took much, much longer to dry completely even though they’re made of a polyester/nylon blend.  I wore the thicker ones on one of my hikes thinking that they were dry, but they still had a slight dampness in the toes for the first few hours of my ascent up the trail.  Going forward, I’ll probably wear the thicker socks at home for my local trail runs and take the thinner ones when I travel.
  • I have a great appreciation for how great Chaco sandals are for traveling.  I left the Chacos at home this time because I legitimately needed real shoes for climbing up the mountain.  But there were several wet, muddy spots on the trail as well as large patches of snow, and my shoes got quite dirty over the course of the day.  With the Chacos it’s no problem; I just rinse them off in the bathtub at the end of the day with some soap and warm water, and in the morning they’re dry and good to go.  Not possible with shoes.  I tried spot cleaning my trail runners the best I could, but they were still pretty dirty and had to wait until I got home for a thorough cleaning in the washing machine.
  • Bag size is progressively more important the longer you have to carry it around.  On each of my hiking days, I was out on the trail for around 8 to 9 hours with my bag on my back almost the entire time.  A year ago when Mrs. Lite and I did a similar hike, I took my usual travel bag..  This time, I took a backpack that is about 2/3 the size:  the REI Trail Hydro 20.  It fit everything I needed with room to spare, and because it was physically smaller, it was much more comfortable on my shoulders as the day progressed.  My larger Patagonia Refugio will still be my primary bag for most vacations, but any future hiking trips will be utilizing the smaller backpack.

I think there’s good value in occasionally taking inventory of all my travel gear and reassessing each piece to see if my bag contents can be improved.  More often that not, this results in slightly lighter luggage the next go around.

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