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Schrodinger's Smart Alec - aka A Packing Excercise

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    Schrodinger's Smart Alec - aka A Packing Excercise

    After months of wishing and waffling about should I or shouldn't I, would it fit me or not, last week I finally caved in and ordered a Smart Alec (Black/Black/NWS) along with a black top modular pocket. Not long after receiving the shipping notice, doubt set in that maybe I shouldn't have done that, wasn't the SA the one I tried on in store and it was way too large for my frame, etc etc. Especially when I realized it was exactly the same volume (26L) as my beloved Aubergine/Steel Western Flyer which I often feel ends up too large and/or heavy to carry as a backpack.

    Fortunately I live close enough to the TB factory that my SA and assorted small bits were delivered quickly, but due to various circumstances I knew there was no way I would have time to really try it out until the weekend. So for 3 days, that bag has waited in the box, Shrodinger's Smart Alec - simultaneously both the perfect one-bag backpack, and at the same time too large and overwhelming and duplicative for my needs.

    Today I finally had time to take it out of the box, try it on, and do a test pack for my ideal theoretical one-bag trip - a 3-day whirlwind to San Francisco including carrying the bag through 2 airports, BART to the hotel, and around the city while sightseeing for up to 1/2 day on the final day of the trip before taking BART back to the airport.

    Theoretical packing list:
    • 1 pair jeans (wear lighter/more comfortable not-jeans on plane)
    • 3 shirts
    • lightweight jacket (wear heavier/thicker fleece on plane)
    • socks/undergarments for 3 days
    • micro 4/3 camera and 2 small organizer pouches of accessories, in a Jill-E camera insert (to insert into a Packing Cube Shoulder Bag as my "day bag" for sightseeing)
    • iPad mini and keyboard cover in neoprene sleeve
    • 3D clear organizer pouch (as 311) and snake charmer (half full) for toiletries
    • 1 pair flannel PJ pants
    • 1 pair sock-like slippers (for flight and hotel)
    • iPhone 6S+
    • medium/large-ish wallet
    • noise-cancelling headphones
    • 2-3 lightweight scarves

    So, I opened up the Smart Alec, and started folding and tucking and loading everything in to the giant, cavernous interior in a reasonably orderly fashion (mostly, remember to put the 311 and NC headphones at the top for easy access, put the iPad Mini in the middle for a little extra protection.) Aaaaaaaaaaand....................... everything fit. Easily, with a tiny bit of room to spare and no need for the upper modular pocket (although I realized later I forgot to pack a couple organizer pouches with iPad/iPhone charger, and a few other tiny essentials from my EDC bag, so those would go there if they didn't tuck into the side pockets.)

    Then the real test: I put the fully loaded Smart Alec on, and walked around the apartment a little, and looked in a couple mirrors to see if it was overwhelmingly "geez, look at that small person with a horribly large backpack!" on my small frame. And it was super comfortable, and actually felt much lighter than expected. It also didn't look overwhelmingly large, likely due to the solid black exterior color blending together a bit.

    As a comparison, once I was done trying on (and loving) the Smart Alec, I loaded everything into my Western Flyer and hooked up the backpack straps to try it on. While I wasn't surprised that the WF was a little harder to pack with everything (mainly an issue of fitting in the NC headphones and 311 kit where they were easily accessible) I was surprised at how much heavier the same load felt in the WF. To the point that I recognized there was no way I could walk around San Francisco for 1/4 to 1/2 a day carrying the bag like that, even with the camera in a PCSB with a cross-body strap.

    The one thing I forgot to include in my test pack was my travel tripod, and due to its size I'm fairly certain I could re-arrange a bit and have it fit in the SA as well. At that point though, the tripod may put the bag over the limit of comfortable weight, but since the tripod is a very optional inclusion I'm not terribly worried about having to leave it home.

    While a 3-day San Francisco whirlwind isn't likely to be on the calendar anytime soon, the theoretical test pack and comparison to my Western Flyer did prove that a)the Smart Alec is indeed an ideal one-bag backpack and b)even though it is the same volume as my Western Flyer, it doesn't handle the same at all and is useful (for me) to have in addition. I'm very much looking forward to using it on a couple of shorter weekend trips coming up this month, where it will be an excellent companion to my Aubergine/NWS Swift since I'll be "two-bagging" on car trips.

    And because this theoretical exercise wouldn't be complete without at least one photo, here's the final configuration of the SA using gatekeeper straps to replace the front bungee, and with black/turquoise custom cord pulls:
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    Rambling On. . . . .

    You beat me to it - I'm heading out on a 2-week family vacation with my SA as my main bag, and it is staggering how much this bag can hold! I will be camping, hiking, sightseeing, and experiencing some great music and food in Asheville, NC!

    (Apologies in advance for the terrible photos)

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    Clothing Shown:
    - 3 Icebreaker t-shirts, 1 Icebreaker tank, LS Columbia button-up shirt
    - Prana Halle pants, Columbia skort
    - 4x underwear (Exofficio & Icebreaker), Sports bra, 2x Smartwool hide-and-seek socks, Smartwool hiking socks
    - Arcteryx dress (I use this as a nightgown)
    - Ibex Shak Spire hoodie, Prana Inabel jacket, Arcteryx Sinsola hat (it's hiding, but it's there!)
    - Prana swimsuit
    - Prana headband and jewelry (in Wasabi pouch)
    - Keen sandals, Yosi Samra flats

    In the 3DCOC & small Sea to Summit Stuff Sack:
    - Shampoo bar & Jojoba oil (I use this as a conditioner)
    - Dr. Bronners for laundry
    - Deodorant crystal
    - Day cream & night cream
    - BB Cream, eye shadow, lip crayon, Aroamas perfume stick
    - Sunscreen stick
    - Floss, q-tips
    - Salux cloth, face scrubber
    - Hairbrush, tweezers, nail clippers
    - Sonicare toothbrush and charging case

    - 2 Folding clothes hangers, lint roller, and Scrubba wash bag
    - Silk sleeping bag liner and TWIN SIZE DOWN BLANKET!!!
    - 2 S2S pocket towels (small and x-large)
    - First aid / general wellness items (insect repellent, eyeglasses repair, Emergen-C...the usual!) in EC small zip pouch
    - REI Flash 18 pack
    - Small dry bag with eTrex 20 GPS, headlamp, Hydropak Seeker 3L bottle, and a few s-biners
    - Jackery power brick and assorted cables (in mesh pouch)
    - Small pouch with various beverages, including my beloved green tea latte mix and some Coco Hydro, which I first heard about here (thanks @Darcy!)
    - Hiking snacks - Tanka bars, Picky bar, Honey Stingers
    - Assorted card games in EC medium pouch (Fluxx, Hanabi, Iota, Kittens in a Blender, Exploding Kittens)

    With packing cubes, all things are possible. I hope to pick up some Aether cubes next time I'm in Seattle.

    Click image for larger version

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    Everything sort of "files" into this bag - I put the purple EC C/D cube, the smaller compression cube, the Flash, and the pouch full of card games inside the larger green cube. The smaller green cube with the shoes in it is at the bottom of the bag, and the small EC pouch with the first aid stuff fits into the pocket in the interior of the bag.

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    The blanket is in the Size 4 Solar stuff sack and is squashed on top of the cubes. The toiletries are in the "water bottle" side pocket, dry bag with GPS/headlamp/water bottle and power brick are in the other side pocket. Snacks and other miscellany are in the UMP, The bag is stuffed to the gills, but still maintains a sleek profile.

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    I'm using a SSB as my personal carry on, with my Side Effect, Kindle, 16 oz Hydro Flask, noise-cancelling headphones, and pillow. The SA/SE/SSB combo is so versatile, and the SA in particular turns heads everywhere I go.
    Current Everyday Carry: S19 in Cloud/Island, 15C Cache, SE in Wasabi, SC in Fjord; Cubelets in Dawn, Canyon, and Grass, COW in Original Halcyon
    Current Travel Carry: A30 in Original Halcyon/Ultraviolet, DLBP in Nordic, PCSB in Sitka, Large TT in Sitka, SSK in Wasabi, 3DOC in Solar


      Holy cow, Kieri, I'm AMAZED at what you fit in there! It looks like about double what I test packed, although I was partly aiming more for lightness in weight n seeing how much I could actually fit in because too much load means I'll fall over backwards. :D
      Rambling On. . . . .


        It's actually not too bad - with no laptop and mostly "dry" toiletries, the bag clocks in at about 16 #. (I should add that I'm not a tiny person - all of those clothes are size L and I wear size 10 shoes.)

        This is sort of a special trip - since I'll be with my family in a campsite that I know, I know where I'm going to have pain points - hence the blanket and sheet, power brick, clothes hangers, and games. A "normal" trip for me would be even simpler.
        Current Everyday Carry: S19 in Cloud/Island, 15C Cache, SE in Wasabi, SC in Fjord; Cubelets in Dawn, Canyon, and Grass, COW in Original Halcyon
        Current Travel Carry: A30 in Original Halcyon/Ultraviolet, DLBP in Nordic, PCSB in Sitka, Large TT in Sitka, SSK in Wasabi, 3DOC in Solar