Get a Good Day Pack and Share Luggage

Alaska Packing Tip #6

Get Yourself a Good Day Pack

A day pack is important for most Alaskan activities. You’ll want it when you take day hikes, go sight seeing, shopping, or cross country skiing. I’m not talking about a frame pack, but the smaller, lighter back pack variety with padded shoulder straps. It is wise to get one that has a strap you can cinch around your waist for support.

Get one large enough to hold rain gear, an extra set of clothes and socks, your water bottle, lunch, binoculars and anything else you would take on a day hike. You may carry as little as 10 pounds and as much as 30 pounds depending on the vacation adventures you choose.

This day pack will go on the plane with you. You should carry essentials on the plane like your money, documentation, medicine,and a change of clothes and underwear, cameras, binoculars, water bottle with duct tape wrapped around it (huh?), reading material for the airport ... that sort of stuff. (I usually carry a soft fluffy pillow cinched up in the hip strap of my day pack .... it is never in the way. I've been stuck in airports to darn many times!)

How to Pick a Pack
You and your pack will become very close while you are on your vacation. It is as essential to pick your day pack carefully as it is to pick your foot gear!

Here are some day pack characteristics to look for:

  • An internal water bladder can be very handy! it will have a straw-like tube that comes up through the pack and rests near your mouth so you can stay hydrated at all times, summer and winter!

  • Mulitple compartments with zippers and/or velcro will make it easier to keep things organized. You'll be able to stow snacks, documents, first air, binoc's and camera, and other stuff in an easy-to-get-to manner.

  • It should definitely have a hip belt that will support the pack's weight. You can tuck it away most of the time but it is nice when you are fully loaded. Some hip belts also have a couple of little pockets for compass, snacks, sunglasses, or whatever-else so you don't have to take your pack off.

  • Make sure that you get a pack that is long enough to put most of the weight on your hips. You will use the shoulder straps mostly to keep the pack from tipping over backwards. So the top shoulder strap attachment point should be at shoulder height or more.

  • Be sure you get one that is durable. You will develop a relationship with your pack while you are on your vacation; it will become your friend!

Shoulder pain can sometime be a problem even if the pack is long enough. One reason might be that the straps are too close to your neck. If you adjust them to the outer, bony part of your shoulder, you can often reduce the problem.

Getting a pack to fit requires understanding your own body quirks, and finding ways around them. So get your day pack far enough in advance that you can carry it around, with stuff in it. You'll be able to make adjustments to the straps and the places where you put your stuff.

Share Your Luggage

This is a very cool idea I just learned about! Wish I had known about it the last time my luggage was delayed for 3 days! If you are traveling with a companion or partner, divide your clothing and other items into two suitcases ~ half of your friend's and half of yours in each bag. That way if one bag gets lost or delayed along the way, neither of you has to go without for very long!