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27 Days in Mexico with a Shadow Guide 23 (pics and comments)

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    27 Days in Mexico with a Shadow Guide 23 (pics and comments)

    I’ve recently returned from 27 days in Mexico with a 23L Shadow Guide and a small shoulder bag, and I hope my experiences with the SG will be of interest to others here.

    I’ve previously travelled with packs in the range of 31 to 35 liters – in 2019, for instance, I spent eight days in Peru with a v1 Shadow Guide, and I did three separate three-week trips with other bags. For this trip, I decided to push things and see how light I could travel.

    On the whole, the experiment was a success –I even managed to take a heavier wool shirt for cool nights. That said, on future trips of longer than five or six days I’ll go back to a larger pack, if only to have a few more clothing choices and room for the unexpected.

    The pictures below lay out what I took with me and how much room was left when I packed. One photo shows a Daylight briefcase, but I left that home in favor of an Annex Liner sling from CODEOFBELL. I also carried a packable Matador tote bag, and wound up carrying that most days instead of the Annex Liner.
    .
    I was truly astonished by how much the SG23 will comfortably hold. I won't list everything, but I've laid out the contents in various bags and pouches: (1) Shirts & pants in two PCSBs. (2) Briefs, socks, & a travel towel in one travel stuff sack; packable rain jacket in another. (3) Several 3DOCs -- liquids in clear; tech in one mesh; first aid in another mesh. (4) Misc. stuff in a side effect. (5) Ghost whales for ear buds and spare glasses. (6) A dopp kit in a white X-Pac pouch; (7) An iPad Air with a keyboard case, and (8) A GRAYL water bottle with filter in a turquoise sling.

    The clothes were packed on the bottom, with everything else on top. If I were doing this again, I’d put some of the smaller sacks and pouches *inside* another PCSB or two, just so I could quickly take things out of the pack when I wanted to get my clothes. (I did that in Peru with the SGv1, and it worked well).

    The whole thing came to about 18 pounds including the pack. I’m a big guy – 6’4” with a 38 inch waist – so my clothes are heavier than a smaller person; and the iPad and case alone accounted for two pounds.

    In no particular order, an assortment of observations about the pack:
    .
    On the whole, the pack was a comfortable carry, even on my last morning in San Miguel de Allende, when I wandered around with everything for a few hours before walking 20 minutes to the bus station. That said, I’d like it even better with a load of two pounds less.

    .
    I almost left the unpadded waist strap at home, but I used it and actually liked it. Though it’s not a substitute for a fully padded belt, it did take a *bit* of weight off my shoulders, and kept the pack tight to my back.
    .
    Despite the slanted bottom, if the brain is empty and there’s some weight in the pack, it *will* stand on its own.
    .
    And that brain! The capacity is amazing, and I like it better than the lower-volume brains on most top-loading bags. Moving the zipper to the top was a good idea, since I frequently accessed the lid with the bag on the floor and standing upright.
    .
    I wrapped a leather “Mr. Gripper” comfort handle from DEFY bags around the stock webbing handle, and found that it added greatly to the comfort.
    Though I wouldn’t do without something like it, there’s no need for TB to pad the handle – as it is, it leaves a nice possibility for users to customize things to their liking. (For instance, some folks might want to wrap the webbing in paracord.)
    .
    In going from v1 to v2 of the Shadow Guide, TB turned the two pockets on the underside of the lid sidewise, allowing access from two side zippers. The size of these smaller pockets works well – they’re big enough for a passport or phone. That said, I found it hard to unzip them when the bag and brain were packed full, and wonder if it would work better to reverse the direction of the zipper (front to back instead of back to front), or use a zipper with a double pull.
    .
    With the bag fully packed the back bulges a bit, and it was a bit hard at times to get the iPad Air into and out of the laptop compartment. This might be more of a challenge with a larger laptop – the Air was the 10.5 inch version from 2019.


    .
    As I stressed earlier, the experiment was a success. Though I probably won’t repeat it, the SG 23 would be a perfect fit once I’m back to doing some work-related travel and need to attend a conference for three to five days.

    Bonus pro tip: If you forget that you’re not checking a bag and buy a bottle of artisanal mezcal, you *can* get it home. Just buy a half dozen empty 3-ounce plastic bottles; dump the mezcal into those; and carry them in your 3-1-1 bag of liquids.

    If you have questions, fire away!
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Buffalonian; 08-13-2021, 07:31 PM.

    #2
    Wow, a 27 day trip with a 23L bag is good going! I will never believe that the SG23 is really 23L. It holds so much!

    Love the trick of buying a bunch of 3oz bottles to get your Mezcal home 🤣

    Comment


      #3
      Impressive minimalism, but if I may ask, why restrict yourself if you’re a big guy. I’m currently on a 10 day trip to Mexico with my Aeronaught 45 and Synapse 25. Both are full, and I have enough clothes for the beach, classy restaurants in the evenings and gym/yoga kit. Admittedly my load out is 70L but I don’t need to walk miles, and can still carry it all on the plane!

      Comment

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