THERE’S always one alarming moment, every time I pack to scoot off overseas, when I wonder how I will fit everything laid out for the trip into my empty suitcase on the floor.
Experts recommend selecting everything you want to take then returning half to the wardrobe. But the what-if factor means that never works, and I’m yet to master the art of rolling my clothes to create surplus space in my luggage.
But my packing woes have been greatly reduced by visiting a travel outfitter – you will know brands such as Paddy Pallin, Kathmandu, Mountain Designs, BCF, Ray’s Outdoors, Aussie Disposals – and buying a couple of key pieces that reduce the number of extra items I need to pack.
My prized “windproof and waterproof shell’’ is a jacket that lets me leave a stack of heavy layers at home, with the neutral shade of black allowing me to wear it all day before donning it again at night, and comfortable Converse sneakers adapt to many occasions and allow me to pack fewer shoes.
Sound like a good idea?
The only question now is where to start when the local Mountain Designs is crammed with gear and buying the wrong item means an expensive white elephant will be stuffed into a corner of the cupboard.
All about layers
“Layering is a must – especially when experiencing different environments – so we suggest a base layer, long-sleeve shirts, fleece jumpers and a waterproof shell,’’ Mountain Designs’ Melbourne store manager Emma-Lee Whyte says.
“Thermal layers can be worn as a T-shirt or for sleeping, they are warm, breathable and quick drying to wick perspiration away from the skin, but must be fitted correctly as once stretched they can lose heat and functionality.
“Fleece is a popular item for a mid-layer, especially wind fleece and fabrics such as Polartec, and Gore-Tex or a fabric guaranteed to be waterproof is a perfect option for the outer layer as it becomes a four-season jacket that’s not only useful in wind and rain but is breathable.
“Sealed seams and durable fibres are a must, removable hoods and pit-zips are extra features that provide added comfort and versatility.
“Mountain Designs offers eco-friendly fabrics, and the jacket needs to be something that can be used day to day so a traveller will keep it a long time.’’
Emma-Lee says “average travellers’’ looking to do a bit of wandering during a vacation generally don’t need expensive hiking boots, with a solid pair of walking shoes standing up to the demands of recreational pavement pounding.
“As many holidays require sightseeing be done by foot, travellers should look for a shoe that’s slip resistance with cushioning, support and stability,’’ she says.
“Walking shoes with deep tread, a sturdy sole, and light ankle support are recommended so travellers can walk through an ancient city on cobblestone streets or manage a half-day hike.
“And average travellers should look for a shoe that can be worn casually from day to night, from the forest to a restaurant, and while waterproofing is often optional, it can be handy when travelling with only one or two pairs and the weather changes suddenly.’’