One Bag: What If It’s Really Cold?

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When everything you own has to fit in one tiny bag, on the chilly beach…

layer 1 on chilly beachlayer 2 on chilly beach

layer 3 on chilly beach

…it’s about ultralight Layers!

note: many links are affiliate links

kai and the tiny bagI’m glad the previous post about everything I own was so useful (and controversial). The astute may have noticed something, though, being that I’ve been up in Chicago part of this time. What if it gets really cold?

Well, I’ve had classes all week in San Francisco and this place always feels like winter to an Austinite. Fortunately I have a few simple extensions to the one backpack plan. The first is now my favorite piece of clothing I’ve ever owned: the Mont Bell Thermawrap. This jacket is not quite 10 oz and stuffs into a tiny sack. At the same time, I can wear it down to about 40 degrees with just a t-shirt underneath. It’s absolutely amazing. As with most of the ultralight kit, spendy, but well worth it. I’ve been wearing it every day in foggy, chilly SF.

Add a Patagonia Capilene 3 zip neck shirt and the tiny Icebreaker Pocket Beanie to the collection (beanie stuffs into the sack with the Thermawrap and I can’t even tell it’s there), and I can hang out at freezing temperatures. Fantastic. All still in a tiny backpack.

Now, I have been able to fit the rolled up Capilene into my tiny North Face Recon backpack and strapped the Thermawrap to the side. (The Thermawrap also makes a great little pillow on the airplane.) But this week I was feeling over the top luxurious and also discovered that I’d have to carry large notebooks to class. (At least, until I have a chance to scan them to a hard drive and ditch them.)

In any case, I upped my space a touch by experimenting with a new backpack. It’s a North Face Overhaul 40. I believe they might be discontinued already, but it’s a bump from my 30L pack to a 40L pack. Not massive yet, by any stretch, but definitely spacious. After what I’ve been using for so long this thing feels like it could carry three people’s life works. I’ve modified it a bit by adding two compression straps so that it takes up as little room as possible and better balances the load. So far no problem sliding it under the seat on the airplane and it definitely makes sliding things in and out really easy. Oddly, though, it also feels kind of loose and sloppy to me. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed having tight, tiny little places for each item where they tucked in just so.

So this pretty much handles 32 degrees and a variety of things in between. If I were to add anything else to the mix it would be a Themawrap vest which would provide crazy versatility for another 5oz. I’ve even thought about getting the vest and ditching the Capilene, but I think I’d miss having the mid level soft longed sleeve thing.

Related posts:

  1. Thailand On One Shoulder
  2. Travel System 4.0
  3. Everything I Own Weighs Less Than Your Shoes
  4. Edible Ultralight Clothes
  5. The Magic Umbrella

8 thoughts on “One Bag: What If It’s Really Cold?

    1. Kevin Triplett

      Whoops — nevermind, it has a “hard frame and mesh skeleton” for cooling. So it would be difficult to stash into nonconforming, tight spaces.

    2. Kevin Triplett

      Okay, I’ve ordered their 41 liter “Router” backpack (the I.T. guy in me wonders if it comes with an integrated network router) and I’ll give you a review on it. I hate ditching my incredibly light 32 liter Jansport Agave backpack for one that ways twice as much, but after around hauling a projector, laptop, clothes, DVDs, CDs and a collection of duplicate cables and connectors to all my film screenings (plus gifts for my hosts), I’m getting tired of traveling with two bags plus a Chico bag. Hmm, maybe there’ll be room to stash my Jansport INSIDE this backpack for when I want a durable day pack at my destination!

  1. Kevin Triplett

    I like the beanie, but I’ve opted for a tube since it has many uses and I’m not apt to be in the cold for long periods (he says). Mostly, I’m going from warm place to warm place with occasional stretches of exposure. I also got some sunscreen gloves, very lightweight, but better than nothing for when the weather turns cold and super compact. Both quick dry of course. Links are not to items I bought, just representations. tube: gloves:

  2. Kevin Triplett

    I bought the NF Router (alas, it did not come with any network device). You’re right, 40L is huge! And heavy. Looks like it could be their replacement for the Overhaul (REI Austin still had one Overhaul, so I was able to compare the two side-by-side). It doesn’t have the cool lower chamber, but the back is only slightly rigid, like it has an embedded, thin plastic panel, so it feels flexible enough to stuff in non-conforming spaces. The hip belt can disappear so that’s nice but the straps can’t, so it doesn’t convert into a bag like the Overhaul. The dedicated, side-load laptop compartment is a little nicer and it has a separate, power supply pouch that’s accessible from the outside, so that’s VERY handy for me. Has only one side bottle holder, but that’s fine for me. A few more organizational pockets inside, which is nice. Has compression straps! Over twice as heavy compared to my lightweight Jansport 32L but more durable feeling. Nice hipstraps should help with the weight and the pack being longer will help it reach my hips (my upper body is tall). Maybe the additional weight will motivate me to pack lighter and more consciously!

    1. Kai Mantsch Post author

      Woah. Yes, this is definitely the evolution. I’m kind of jealous. But it really is massive. I’m hoping the straps they added to the new model takes it in nice and tight and it sounds like the back might distribute the load a little better.

      1. Kevin Triplett

        Okay, I’m two weeks into a DUCT TAPE MESSIAH film tour of Sweden and can report on the pack. The compression straps do tighten down the unloaded bulk of the pack. Fully loaded this pack is a beast but with the adjustable shoulder straps and hip belt, it’s bearable. It’s holding my clothes, projector, laptop (MB Air), ultra-light portable screen, towel, umbrella, toiletries, bags, power supplies, and all the cabling for the micro-cinema. No extra bags, which was my objective, just the pack. But I realize now that I’ve got to get serious about lightening my load. 3 oz things add up quickly. The pack is built well but starts out heavy when empty, so the structure comes at a cost. And the stiffer back makes it less flexible. But I do recommend it for people who have to carry more than a 32L pack can carry. It can be heavy but it does distribute the load well, as long as the load is on the hips and not entirely on the shoulders (and also not too far from the body center line).

  3. Kevin Triplett

    Okay, I have a report to make. Just left the Arctic Circle in Sweden, the mining town of Kiruna to be precise. Didn’t spend a lot of time outside, but was in -1°C darkness (no sun but also no wind) for 30 minutes waiting for the bus this morning. I feel certain I could have spent another 30 minutes easily. Here was my clothing inventory: long sleeve shirt, button down shirt, the Thermawrap listed above, a thin tube covering my ears and neck and chin, and my summertime cap with the vents closed. Two layers of thin boot liners, ultralight running shoes (!), long john thermal underwear beneath the North Face convertible pants, and fingertip-less thin gloves. I was walking around taking photos of the snow-covered trees. It was satisfying knowing that while I might not last a full night in that gear, I was not miserable in the least.


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