Australia :: June 1994 - March 1995

Subject: Outfitting the multimedia guerrilla,
Date: August 29, 1994 18:20

Straight to Packing List

16:49 Whistler, BC; Canada :: 29 DEC 02

I thought it might be necessary to overhaul the packing list below. Written nearly a decade ago, the pace of change in multi-media electronics would seem to have obsolesced the information here.

My current DELL Latitude laptop is about the same size and weight as the old monochrome Toshiba T3400 used to write the article below. The hard drive is an unthinkable 40GB and the RAM is expandable to 1GB, with a huge colourful screen. The specs have increased exponentially, but so have the demands. Exchange floppy disk for a CDRW, digital video tape for Hi-8 and, if you're endowed with a digital camera, perhaps a couple extra memory sticks rather than roll-upon-roll of film, exposed and unexposed. All that digital data has to go somewhere and that laptop is now both short-term storage and archive disk writer.

What remains absolutely the same is the need for power, cables, adaptors, batteries and everything else that goes along with toting a rucksack full of electronics, just as it's described below.

23:18 Airlie Beach, Queensland :: 26 AUG 94

Having finally assumed the role of backpack adventurer, as opposed to luxury sedan renter or festival participant and brotherly parasite, I'll set about describing the contents of my down-scale valise. The bag itself is the Eagle Creek Transport II, a 65 litter combination of main bag and zip-off day pack. Eagle Creek manufactures two basic formats in this line and size of bags: back-pack and suitcase. The differences are primarily cosmetic with some alterations in zipper formats to accommodate carrying the pack upright on your back or sideways from a handle. While I prefer the back-pack format and cosmetics, I chose the Transport II instead because three extra, very useful pockets line the inside of the main bag.

Main Bag contents:

Main compartment:

3 stuff sacks for laundry, socks and briefs.
5 pairs of briefs.
5 pairs of socks--2 wool; 3 white cotton.
2 pairs long cotton pants (green, beige)
1 pair cotton casual shorts (beige)
1 pair swim shorts (in Oz these are called togs, bathers, swimmers)
1 pair running shorts
2 long sleeved cotton button-down shirts (mustard, purple)
1 short sleeved cotton upscale T-shirt (green)
1 mundane T-shirt (for running)
1 singlet (undershirt)
1 belt (nylon webbing)
1 pair running shoes
1 pair hiking shoes
1 fleece jacket
1 wind breaker jacket
1 cotton sleeping sheet
1 Lonely Planet guide to Australia
1 Lonely Planet guide to SE Asia
1 box of 10 Hi-8 video cassettes
1 Toshiba external floppy drive for T3400 laptop
2 3.5" floppy disks (for backups)
7 rolls of Fuji Velvia and Provia slide film
1 Non-fiction book (Anthony Trollope's North America)
1 toiletry kit
1 hair brush
1 Towel

Main inside pocket on front flap:

1 heavy-duty, non-slip shoulder strap.
1 crushable DriZaBone wide-brimmed hat
1 graph-ruled composition book (for notes and journal entries)
1 ziploc bag for recorded receipts and foreign currency

Small inside pocket on top:

1 Canon UCS5 battery charger/power supply w/ American power socket cable
1 North American to Australian power socket adapter
1 Toshiba T3400 power supply w/ Australian power socket cable
A strip of closed cell foam protects the power supplies from external shocks

Small inside pocket on side:

1 Canon UCS5 power supply cable
1 Toshiba T3400 American style power socket cable for power supply
1 Toshiba T3400 external floppy connector cable
1 twisted pair cable and Australian phone jack adapter
2 compression straps

Small inside pocket on bottom:

1 ziploc bag for air tickets, traveler's check #'s, insurance documents, etc.
1 first aid kit
1 Money belt (in reserve for less law efficient countries)
1 box prophylactics

Large outside pocket on front flap:

Nothing now, but magazines and brochures when I get `em.

Zip-off Daypack contents:

Main compartment:

1 T3400 Notebook Computer
2 Camcorder batteries (1 hr, wrapped in closed-cell foam)
1 very old fully manual Ricoh 500 RF 35mm small format camera
Some closed-cell foam to protect electronics

Small compartment:

1 Canon UCS5 Hi-8 camcorder w/ 40 minute battery
1 spare roll 36 exp. Fuji Provia slide film, 100 ASA
1 Swiss-army "Rucksack" lockback knife
1 Canon lens cleaning kit
1 Mag-lite mini-flashlight
2 pens
2 Novels (the Oz classic, We of the Never-Never and a Fritz Leiber fantasy, Swords & Deviltry)
More closed-cell foam to protect the UCS5

Front pocket:

1 3X5" notebook and pen
1 white card for white-balancing the video camera
1 spare Fuji Hi-8 ME tape
1 ziploc bag for unentered receipts
Lots of post cards

Day pack harness storage slip: (pack straps hide-away in this compartment)

More closed cell foam for added carrying comfort and to protect the T3400 computer in the main compartment.


In what has become for me the signature passport wallet on a neck string you'll find my passport, credit cards (Amex & Mastercard), cash, receipts for accounting & other odds-n-ends.

I'm definitely carrying more weight and bulk than desirable but most everything listed is essential. I'll probably turf a couple socks but another T-shirt would be useful. I would normally do without the running gear: shoes, shorts, T-shirt, a pair of white socks (or two), but I need the exercise. Certainly, three pieces of reading material are unnecessary and two of them will be put up for adoption immediately after taking down some notes and quotes.

14:02 Airlie Beach, Queensland :: 27 AUG 94

Some words about choosing a backpack.

While the majority of travelers carry huge top-load bags, serious budget travel gurus consider the "front-load backpack with zip-off day pack" to be the best format for traveling light and compact. These gurus also vigorously recommended the main bag meet guidelines for carry-on luggage. That is, it should fit under an airline seat. Becoming permanently separated from your gear is less likely if you always carry it with you. A bag this size carries 3 changes of clothes, a sweater, rain jacket, a couple extra T-shirts, summer weight sleeping bag (down), some food, the ubiquitous towel, and a toiletry kit. There will be room left over for food & water and the day pack will remain relatively empty until you put your camera and some film in it.

The problems for the multi-media backpacker begin with the nature of mobile electronic equipment. The gear itself can only be so compact and then there's the question of batteries, power supplies and cables. More bulk comes as recording media: floppy disks, video cassettes and film. All this bulk and weight limits bag selection options. Some bag formats simply won't accommodate the bulk. More than a matter of simply cramming it all inside, it's important to stow the devices, cables, power supplies and other peripherals so they are secure, accessible and protected from external shocks. Ideally, cables and peripherals won't confront you every time the pack is opened or impede access to clothing or other frequently used gear. Also important is the accessibility of the devices themselves, particularly the camcorder and camera.

16:47 Airlie Beach, Queensland :: 28 AUG 94

I looked for a bag set in which the day pack could carry all the electronic gear and essential peripherals required on a typical day trip. Not only must the gear fit but there must remain ample room for foam padding to protect the more delicate devices. Essential gear includes the camcorder and 3 batteries, the computer and a phone-line cable, small format 35mm camera, a reserve roll of film, a reserve video cassette, lens cleaning kit, white-card, flashlight, pen and notepad. Where necessary, I would add foam padding to protect the camcorder, computer, power supplies and batteries. (The 35mm camera, an old, all steel, manual Ricoh, is virtually indestructible; it doesn't need protection.)

To make sure the bag met these requirements I shopped for bags and electronics at the same time. Eventually, I chose the Canon UCS5 over a somewhat superior Sony camcorder because the Sony's blocky body would have been difficult or impossible to fit in the thin compartments characterizing the zip-off daypacks on the market. By contrast the UCS5, while about the same volume as the Sony, is shaped more like a hardcover novel (approximately 1.5"X6"X8") and fits nicely in most bags..

After narrowing the bag contenders down to three I purchased the Toshiba and UCS5 and brought them along with the cables, power supplies and other peripherals, into the bag shops to assure a proper fit. The Eagle Creek Transport II won out because, 1> travel gurus recommend Eagle Creek bags above all others; 2> the Transport II day pack provided the best fit for the electronics; 3> the inside pockets of the Transport II main bag quite handily fit the power supplies and cables--the other contenders didn't sport this feature.

Patrick. -- Responses Sought --