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Cutting it down and fixing it up

In an earlier post I mentioned the new pack I'd bought to use for my Israel trip and other shorter journeys. It's a 20 Litre Gonex, weighs 6.5 ounces, is well made and in a downpour one day, everything stayed dry inside. Greg asked if I'd do a write up about the total weight and how I did that. So here it is.
This is the stuff

All packed up it looks something along these lines.
Notice, on the right how shallow the pack is. It's a pleasure to carry. My 35L backpack is 3 inches wider, 3 inches deeper and 4 inches longer than this.

The pack as it is needs some things doing to it. One thing I don't really like are external labels, so the brand got blacked over. My larger backpack, loaded with the normal travel writing kit, weighed over 14 lbs without water. Now, with the ultralight pack, I've lost a lot of weight. It took some messing about to get it down and I tried everything I could think of to achieve it. From the bottom left:
  • Clothing, inside a Pertex bag I made. One change (wear one - wash one), a pair of Quacha shorts for when I need to dry or clean my jeans and that's it—1.25 lbs.
  • Toiletry and other sundry items are in the next two bags—2 lbs.
  • My new zipped bag for the tablet, with power pack and other electronic bits in. The 8 inch tablet fits fine, I can stick my tube with chopsticks just over it and zip it shut—2 lbs.
  • The backpack: inside it are some flat things, like documents, a linen towel and the like, with those—1 lb.
I'm rockin' 6.5 lbs (without water—1 lb decreasing)! That's over 50% less weight. :D Everything else, I wear. My smartphone is my camera and in a pocket. Passports, wallet etc., too. A fleece with a shell waterproof jacket (it does get cold sometimes) and a packable hat.

I could lose another pound if I don't use the tablet, but not sure if I want to do that. For one or two day journeys the phone is okay, I can zip up the good fotos and upload them okay to this site's storage facility.

Digital life sure can get complicated at times....

The backpack alterations

A number of things need doing on the pack. First of all, this thing is seriously vulnerable, as I found out when someone tried to pick it in London. I got off the metro and found the zip was open several inches, not much good to the guy though, because everything was inside a plastic bag with the top rolled down (I always do this). The thought of a small padlock didn't really appeal to me and those mini-carabiners are useless. The tablet bag to the rescue—it came with a wrist strap that had a little clip on. I cut off the rest of the strap.
This slips easily through the holes in the zipper tabs, is a bit slippery to use and would deter any pickpocket (too much hassle).

Inside the Gonex is good stitching, but it is single row only, everything sold here is. My Jeep was a "grey" import and had double stitching, strong and solid. So I got my sewing machine out and added another row on all the inside that I could.
The pads and double stitching finish it off.

Because of my spinal problem, I need to take the base of any pack off the lower part of my backbone. To do that I make two little pads, with about 3-4 inches between them to sit on my hip and lift the pack away. So that's been done too.

I now have a good ultra-light travel set up, that can be carried on and off anything. Long term trips I will have the larger backpack and extra weight of my laptop, Leica/Lumix camera etc. The Gonex wraps up very small, so I could just use it as a day pack once I'm on location.

How well did it work?

On one occasion, when leaving Jerusalem for the Negev, I covered quite a few kilometers with no problem. The desert walk the same and for the flight back to London I must have walked about 3 kilometers, in the wee hours of the morning, to a point where I finally found the correct bus stop.

Getting stuff in and out went well, especially for airport security. So all things considered, the weight, way it was loaded and comfort were fine. I treat it a bit rough, have clambered over rocky dry Wadi walls in the Negev and off trail in some rough thorny areas in the UK.

I've used it in rain and stuff stayed dry. It cost 9 UKP (about $11) and is tougher than a Hyperlite at a fraction of the cost. Will probably get another one.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70EB-K
One thing that has changed is my camera. I've finally found one that I can use as a standard travel camera which fits into a pocket for security and also can be used for wildlife. 30X Zoom @ 12MP or a whole bunch more at 3MP. It's gonna take a lot of getting used to (it's seriously fussy).

One special note: I carry a Swiss Army knife in one of my little bags. No problem from London (and on all other trips), but in Ben Gurion Airport when leaving—they said no. It took a while, but finally I got permission. So be warned, leave your SAK at home if going to Israel.

. . . . . . .

Some need instead of want, a bit of imagination and a sewing machine, works wonders.

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latest comment at top
Is all that lot under 8 kilos?
Mar 03, 2019 at 1433
"Digital life sure can get complicated at times"

Certainly agree! Especially when you've got to carry a bunch of gadgets (laptop, SLR, HDD, etc) to pay for the trip. :)
Mar 01, 2019 at 1716