There’s much and more you can fit into my luggage of a 90-litre roll bag as well as both saddlebags hauled by my motorcycle over big distances. After a long day munching the miles, the notion of rummaging high and low to locate compact items such as my headlamp, stove and tea bags would be enough to tip me over the edge. As a Brit, just the prospect of not getting my cup of tea leaves me spitting feathers (angry and parched in my case). Wasting time rooting around for the components of a steaming hot cuppa, would be no less than stressful.
Furthermore, having recently converted to soft luggage from roomier aluminium panniers, my new travel configuration has to be super lightweight, tightly-packed and organized on an epic if not convenient scale, taking out all the aforementioned hassle. The Sea to Summit items up for a quarterly review on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula and the southern states in the fall and winter, will either leave me convinced that going soft was the smartest move known to a two-wheel nomad, or the worst.
Travelling Light Shoe Bag
The fact that I’ve got a lightweight shoe bag designated to keep my dirty—and some might argue pungent—walking shoes isolated from the rest of my paraphernalia is practical as much as it’s an intelligent way to pack. The bag material isn’t thick but is durable so I can compress down and stow the rest of my gear on top of it without concerning myself with potential rips and tears.
DryLite Towel XL
Just what I’ve come to expect from a travel towel worth its figurative weight: it’s highly absorbent and quick drying. I opted for the biggest size as it’s physical weight and thickness affords for maximum comfort. As a woman with long, thick locks and no hairdryer, towel-drying it on a decent surface area is harmonious. Particularly as I don’t relish having sopping wet tresses in cold temperatures or before donning my helmet each morning. For me, the little details go a long way; the towel has a loop that can be unclipped, which means I can attach it to just about anything without worrying a gusting wind will blow it away.
Lite Line clothesline
This compact and bijou clothesline is about the size of a GoPro camera. It’s tiny! The neoprene case is cleverly attached to the cord, which makes it easy to employ virtually anywhere. Without the room to carry luxuries such as pegs, I appreciate the line having two parallel cords and plenty of beads with which to secure my clean washing above the ground. Come blustery breezes or beautiful sunshine, this functional item is a keeper.
Travelling Light Laptop Sleeve
Employing a hard shell and an oversized padded case previously, I only managed to destroy the hinges on my old laptop and consume unnecessary space in my limited luggage allowance. Safeguarding my current laptop, which is my livelihood working remotely in all climates from one uneven road to the next, it’s imperative that I have something with moisture resistance and shock protection. This EVA foam paneled one has both. It even has a nylon covered access port on the edge so I can charge the laptop while it’s safely zipped inside the sleeve, away from the elements.
Travelling Light Toiletry Bag
No matter how long or short my trip, this is an accessory that accompanies me. The fabric might be featherweight but it has terrific tear strength. To my mind I need slightly more than a toothbrush and a miniature tube of toothpaste—and it’s without apology that Sea to Summit offers up a larger size to accommodate women’s needs and the space for those ‘must have’ toiletry items. I applaud their marketing research undertaken for that. Keen on the simplicity of the bag, there’s an exterior zipped pocket running the length of the bag and an inside open pocket, enabling me to consume the space with everything I need, as well as my one-stop shop partner where a bar of soap does for all.
Talus TS II Sleeping Bag
Having used and abused many sleeping bags during my ventures around the globe, it takes a great deal for one sleeping bag to get it right across every aspect for the conditions you’re in. For years I found the biggest drawback was the compromise of bulkier synthetic models versus the pack-lighter down fill bags vulnerable to moisture—in achieving the same warmth ratio.
Whisking the three season Talus TS II away with me to the Baja Peninsula where night time temperatures ranged from 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the loose mummy fit and reverse easy-grab zips with anti-snag features, allowed me to stay cool, slumber soundly and keep dreaming of my next cup of tea.
The sleeping bag recently came into its own at a spot in western Arizona where brisk March temperatures plummeted to 14, the precipice of the bag’s lower limit. Albeit with the addition of a thin liner and kitted head to toe in merino wool, the water-repellent 750+ loft at 90 per cent European duck down kept me perfectly insulated throughout the night. Protected inside the warm cocoon, I pulled the multiple drawstrings tight so the hood remained snug around my head, while the neck tube staved off any draught. Simply, the bag kept the bone-eating cold at bay and the desert bugs from biting. Waking up to an icy layer of frost and puffing white, the breathable Nylon 2D NanoShell prevented me from sweating and any damp from seeping in too.
The larger adjustable hood also gives me the option to keep my pillow inside, which stops it sliding away when I’m asleep on the ground. As a side-sleeper and prone to turning over, the bag affords a good range of movement through a broader shoulder and chest area, certainly compared to other mummy sized bags I’ve used. Namely without squashing the down or leaving my body rudely susceptible to cold spots.
The sleeping bag compresses down to an impressive 5.5 litres, comes with the handiest internal zipper pocket to keep my keys safe and I appreciate the tapered foot, so my nesh (receptive to the cold) feet are not swimming in oodles of space to get them warm.
Comfort Light Insulated Mat
Yes, it’s pretty easy to achieve a comfortable night’s sleep in the backcountry nowadays, certainly upon a 4-inch thick, 6-pound mattress that takes an electric pump to inflate. But can it be done at half the depth, a mere 20-ounces at a toasty R-value of 4.2? To my body’s overwhelming joy, yes it can with the Comfort Light Insulated Mat.
Featuring a hybrid layer using Air Sprung Cell technology, which comprises three layers of high and medium resolution cells for maximum warmth and comfort. As well as use of Exkin Platinum, an almost soundless non-woven fabric designed to reflect heat loss back to the sleeper and Thermolite insulation, which for someone like me with minimal body fat is the magic ingredient as it prevents convective heat loss between my body and the ground. The best just got better in revolutionizing camping at the height of comfort and light.
Air Stream Dry Sack Pump
An absolute prized possession in all of my camping equipment. Why? Because I’m too lazy to blow my mattress up day in, day out when I could be undertaking something far more constructive like getting the tea on. On a more serious note, puffing breaths into my pad and my partner’s larger one can sometimes leave me dizzy and lightheaded, especially at altitude or at the end of hot days.
Based on Bernoulli’s Principle of fluid dynamics goes a long way towards explaining why the sleeping mattress inflates in no time at all. Mind-blowingly quicker than sole use of your breath alone. Allow me to expound on the physics: plugging the dry sack at the bottom into the valve on the mattress, and blowing into the top of the dry sack about six inches away from the opening, I seal the bag as I would any regular dry bag. Gently squeezing the bag down, a rush of low-pressure, fast-moving air charges into the mattress, causing the static high-pressure air outside the pad to rush in and equalize the pressure. It’s incredibly fast, much cleaner and requires hardly an ounce of effort than with traditional valves. Moreover, the sack feels strong but is so fine, it packs down to almost invisibility. There’s nothing not to love about this barely there but brilliant item.
Flow 35 Litre Drypack
One of my biggest pet peeves in today’s mainstream offerings: a rucksack that isn’t weatherproof, only shower-resistant where rain covers invariably invite the ingress of water. As travellers with more expensive photographic gear than we can afford to lose, the last thing I want to be doing although always am, is wondering whether the rain cover is doing its job in a heavy downpour. Or if a fatal mishap might occur when on or near water.
I am seriously indebted to Sea to Summit for having the ingenuity in offering a robust backpack that’s a dry bag combined. The pièce de résistance for photographers—it’s permanently moisture-, weather- and waterproof, complete with all the trimmings of being fully featured. My favourite elements comprising: a roll top closure that will withstand full submersion at a certain depth (albeit for a short period); the abrasion resistant, TPU laminated 420D nylon fabric— giving rise to an adventure-proof quality too; an ergonomic back panel with a removable padded waist belt and ventilated padded shoulder straps. Amply sized side pockets and a white interior to enable quick location of items are thoughtful details that add the finishing touches.
It is rugged as much as it’s built to last and I am convinced that going forward, our camera equipment and electronics will be anything but compromised within the safe confines of the Flow Drypack.
As modular packing systems go for motorcycle travel, I can’t beat this one—especially in comparison to what I was using before. Leaps and bounds better than having individual items bounce around in the hard panniers, subjected to quicker wear and tear and eventual expiration. Not to mention the perishing aspects of the weather. Sea to Summit’s travel arrangement is practical, well organised yet barely any heavier and with a finite number of enclosed spaces to fill, ensures I stay mindful of keeping my belongings to a tight minimum. For me less is always more, which makes for a far more comfortable riding experience long term on the road. And I’d argue without a moment’s hesitation, for all kinds of travel. As a serial organiser, I will be taking all of the above gear as my go-to items, coupled with a soft pannier-full of other Sea to Summit goods on my next trip—and that is as big an accolade as I can give any set of travel accessories.
As true S2S converts, these are the other products we use and love:
- Comfort Plus Insulated Mat
- UltraLight Insulated Mat
- Thermolite Reactor Compact Plus Liner
- Premium Silk Travel Liner
- Ultra-Sil Dry Sacks
- Lightweight Dry Sacks
- Travelling Light Cable Cells
- Travelling Light Garment Mesh Bags