Tuesday, 17 May 2011


I confess: I am a terrible at packing, and I suffer from COPS. Chronic Over-Packing Syndrome, that is.

There are a few people out there that still mock me for one trip in particular, in the days before I owned a backpack. It may or may not have involved a large "wheelie" suitcase being lugged up a steep hillside covered in a foot or two of snow (I eventually had to hand it off to a kind gentleman *Thanks Dave* who took pity on me). In my defense, I had been told it would be fine to bring said suitcase. I had no idea we would be "off-roading".

About two years ago my adventurer brother, Mike, was working at an outdoor sports store and bought me an awesome 30L North Face backpack with his sweet discount. He even picked it out in my favorite shade of orange! What a guy.

However, due to my condition (COPS), 30L has never quite seemed to cut it. Somehow, things just seemed to fill too quickly. Perhaps this is partly due to my love of the bulky hoodie, or my penchant for bringing large books on long trips.
Or the fact that I am a super-klutz and always manage to spill food on myself, so I need that extra shirt, to clean myself up when the inevitable happens.
Or maybe because I always think I might need that 3rd pair of shoes, because the other 2 don't coordinate with that other pair of pants I'm bringing.
What if it gets really cold? I'm going to need another hoodie. What if its really hot? Maybe I should bring a skirt.
And I need to have a nice handbag, as well as my homemade shoulder bag, because what if I go out to a nice dinner while I'm away?

As you can see, it escalates quickly.

I asked my brother if I could borrow his 60L pack. I know myself too well.

On Sunday I looked up packing lists for the backpacking traveler.
Over and over again, the authors rammed into my head, "Necessities only! Pack light! Take half of what you think you need!"

I know that my upcoming trip would not allow packing frivolities. I'm going to have to be really strict with myself. Necessities only.  (Who am I kidding?? I've already put in a colorful scarf, and 2 headbands...they don't take up much space, right?) One site I found particularly informative and helpful was www.travelindependent.info. He wrote with the firm tone I needed to keep myself in line. Furthermore, he convinced me to take my own 30L pack. A scary thought.

Anyway, I did a packing test-run today. I don't have exactly everything I will be bringing, but it gave me a good idea. I actually succeeded in getting everything in there (with the exclusion of my tiny daypack/carry-on)! I was pretty impressed with myself. This is quite a triumph. I only cheated on a few items (including the headbands & scarf). It weighed approx. 25 lbs. I am a weakling, and that is heavy enough for me. I think I would crumple under the possibilities of the 60L pack!

One thing I have learned through this experience is quality over quantity!
I tend to buy lots of clothes, each for a different "need"...I think in the future I will have to just buy fewer, better quality items, that are more versatile. Its a process, I guess.

What about you? Have you learned the secrets of the light packer, or do you have COPS like me?


Progressive Lens said...

I would join COPS Anonymous if there was such a thing.

Sonya said...

I suffer from a terrible case of COPS. Like you, I tend to think of all the what-ifs and need to pack for any possible scenario that I may encounter.

Anne Geddert said...

I under pack -- and then borrow Dan's clothes, 'cuz he overpacks! =)

David said...

I used to suffer from from a male-version of COPS, but now I think I have recovered reasonably. I wouldn't say I am the most minimal packer, but can definitely trim it down. Ps, thanks for the name-drop! haha

Jill.and.Regis said...

I'm glad I'm not alone in my sufferings!

Dave, I figured you'd earned a name-drop...and now I've got another comment out of you! Huzzah! ;)