Since 2019, I updated my kit a little bit, but mostly it stayed the same.
My Ryu Quickpack was a delight once-again, as I used it to transport all my gear to Japan, and then from city to city. Most days it sat in my room as I travelled around with my DSPTCH Waist Bag or just what I could fit in my pockets. Ergonimically, this bag is one of the most comfortable bags I’ve owned, but due to its size, I don’t like hauling it around all day. I hoped that the DSPTCH bag would work really well during day to day travel, and it probably would have if it hadn’t rained every day. The waist bag isn’t waterproof (boo), or particularly comfortable for long stretches (double boo), due to the one shoulder setup. I wear the Waist Bag to work almost every day, but for way less time, so I’d forgotten how little continual stress my left shoulder can take. Also, I learned that with my rain coat on, the bag slides up uncomfortably against my neck, so next time I’ll need a day backpack again. Most days, I chose not to bring a bag to avoid this discomfort. I hauled my LAMY Safari pen + a Hobonichi Weeks, my phone, and some tissue paper, so a bag was overkill mostly.
I took my Arcteryx coat to Japan, and it served me well, despite being a little tight. However, I wandered into a Snow Peak store early in the trip, and my friend Sarah and the shopkeeper convinced me to try on a steeply discounted Japanese XL fire resistant jacket. It fit like a charm, and was long enough to easily cover my knees so I could stay warm and dry in the constant rain. I alternated between the two coats through the rest of the wet trip, but with both in my RYU bag, there wasn’t much room for other stuff. I never plan on buying much in Japan, and certainly not clothes, so this was a pleasant surprise. As a back-up, I had a packable Baggu tote, but I never had to resort to carrying stuff in the tote on the way home. If I were traveling to a rainy area again, I’d only bring one coat, and which one would depend on how much layering I needed to do. It’s kinda nice to have options.
By the end of my trip the RYU bag was a tight zip. I bought two manga tankoban, and one Japanese novel, as well as a series of gachapon souvenirs, omamori, and a load of Vick’s lozenges because of my cold. Everything fit, along with my two jackets, but only just so. I wore my DSPTCH bag on the front, outside of the RYU to get on the plane or train, but I could stuff it in if I needed to.
Next trip, if the weather is similar, my plan is to bring one jacket, and not buy another. Additionally, two pairs of pants was really beneficial, but a new pair I bought should pack better than the Nike pants I brought, so that will save some space. My new toothbrush worked swimmingly, and I didn’t bring a charger, since my trip was ~2 weeks. I brought just enough toiletries, and that felt nice. I wish I’d brought a tank top to sleep in, as I only had two shirts, so I felt like one was always a little funky from sleep, but because they wick, it was alright. For a daypack, I might look for an ultralight packable daypack, like one from Matador or YNOT, but my Topo Designs bag is probably good enough.
Next time I fly, it’s a short trip to Portland for a conference I’m doing a talk at with some friends. Two days means I’ll bring my Oppose This bag, and have a chill, easy time. Hopefully I’ll get to go back to Japan later this year and test this whole load-out again.