What's in a Backpack - The Conclusion
First of all, I made it all the way through the two years (ish!) with my backpack.
So I can say "I backpacked around the world!" 😉
I still don't know whether it was the better way or not, but for better or worse, I brought back my backpack, in roughly the same shape as it was when I left.
The backpack may have lasted the whole journey but what was in it definitely changed.
I ended up with two opportunities to repack and leave behind things I still wanted but didn't want with me - once when I met my parents in Scotland for Christmas 2018 and then again at the end of 2019 when I made an unexpected trip back to North America for some family stuff
So what came home in the backpack?
I still have 2 packing cubes of clothes, with roughly the same type of clothes in them. But all but one item has been replaced, and in the case of the t-shirts, replaced multiple times. And even the one remaining item - a skort - has a story. I wore it in the warmer weather in Europe during the first 6 months but then decided to leave it with my parents at the end of the year. It got added back during the repack of 2019.
Originally I didn't pack jeans; they are bulky and take a long time to dry. But I soon missed them. In my opinion, they can make you look a bit more put together than the convertible pants I was wearing, even when wearing running shoes. So I had my parents bring a pair to me in 2018. They lasted a few months until I could no longer patch the holes. When I made the unexpected trip home at the end of 2019 I needed to buy some more clothes to wear while I was there. After happily tossing out the remaining pair of convertible pants, I bought a couple of pairs of jeans and despite their disadvantages, decided to take them with me, figuring I would need an extra pair of pants for cooler weather in Australia and New Zealand. As it turned out I never made it to Australia and New Zealand but did wear them quite a bit when I was hunkered down in Hanoi - at least until it turned hot and humid towards the end.
I had packed a few accessories and most of them remained, plus a few new items. A necklace from Uganda, a bracelet from Rwanda and earings from Laos - all made from local women - were added to my collection.
My North Face rain jacket got left behind in 2019 in favour of a simple rain poncho that took up less space. My Tilley hat made it all the way to the end - a bit dirtier and bent out of shape but ready for more adventures
I replaced my running shoes and sandals during the two years. And in fact, to save weight on the journey home, tossed out the sandals in Hanoi. They were a cheap pair I had picked up in Marrakech the August before and were splitting anyway. And in a last-minute decision, also tossed out the pair of Sketchers I had bought new during the trip home at the end of 2019. I had other running shoes waiting for me at home and this pair hadn't worn particularly well. I kept my hiking boots throughout the whole two years but in hindsight, I could easily have left them behind in 2019. I think I only wore them a handful of times in Southeast Asia and in the heat and humidity, and as I got wearier, my enthusiasm for hiking waned. I originally packed a pair of casual loafers for 'going out', but I soon didn't bother with worrying about that and just kept my running shoes on. They got left behind in 2019.
Most of the small incidentals remained, although I did replace my regular and purifying water bottles. I streamlined the toiletries and medicine and first aid supplies throughout the journey, and again to save space, most of those were tossed in Hanoi before heading home.
Two things I added during the repack of 2018 that I thought were must-have's but didn't end up making it all the way:
Great sounding music - a Logitech UE roll 2 speaker. Although small, weighing only 330 grams (less than 1/2 pound), when I was repacking for the final stretch I really wanted to streamline as much as possible, so left that behind
Hot water bottle/heating pad - during the first 6 months my left knee bothered me on and off so I added these items to help. While I was not without aches and pains during the remaining months, I found the issues with my knee disappeared at some time so tossed these items at some stop
So there you have it... the conclusion of What's in a Backpack!
It is now ready for a good cleaning and rest 😀