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  1. #1
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    0 Thread(s)

    A Hero's Journey -- the beginning

    The Hero's Journey is my second TB bag since being introduced to the habit by a colleague. I'm not sure my bank balance thanks him... My first bag is a SA -- I love the flexibility of being able to use it as my only bag for an extended trip, moving from travel bag to day bag to laptop bag as required. However, while I wouldn't try to use the SA for full-on hiking, I do miss a load-bearing waist strap and would sometimes like to be able to squeeze in a bit more clothing for cold climates, or plan a full day's walking while hauling along the pile of tech gadgets I need for the rest of a trip.

    Both these needs were brought into sharper focus when I was asked if I'd be interested in returning to Antarctica to help move a research station. The trip will involve 4 months away down South. All the specialist gear is provided, but I still need to take my own personal clothing and equipment, and be prepared to tote it through airports, throw it into small planes, "commute" on a skidoo with a day pack, live in temporary huts, and even camp. I'm also hoping to fit in some personal one-bag travel in South America on the way back home. This means I'm asking quite a lot of a single bag! Happily, the HJ was announced at about the same time, and I've been following it closely since. I finally have my hands on one (thanks to Kat at TB for going above and beyond to find me the very last black halcyon bag!) so how does it stack up?

    It's abundantly clear that a lot of though has gone into making this bag as flexible as possible. Is it as good as a dedicated hiking pack for a long-term trip where you're camping, hauling a heavy load, and not doing much else? No. But I'm not going to be doing that -- flexibility is more valuable to me, and the HJ has that in spades.

    Let's start with the top section. The two modes of carry make this very handy for "commuting" and as a day bag, and it swallows a surprising amount of gear -- especially in shoulder-bag mode. I was concerned about it taking my laptop (a 12" Macbook) but everything fits nicely. To illustrate, lets have some gear photos!

    The top bag ready to go:
    A Hero's Journey -- the beginning-img_2410-jpg

    The small pocket will easily fit a 12" Macbook in a vertical cache, plus a 9.7" iPad Pro in an EC sleeve.
    A Hero's Journey -- the beginning-img_2411-jpg

    The Macbook in a hard case, with plenty of room to spare:
    A Hero's Journey -- the beginning-img_2412-jpg

    A Hero's Journey -- the beginning-img_2415-jpg

    All of this fits in the top bag, with a little room to spare:

    * 12" Macbook in cache
    * 9.7" iPad Pro
    * Side Effect
    * EC quarter cube with a ridiculous quantity of cables / adaptors / etc.
    * Bose headphones
    * Roost laptop stand
    * Cheap padded case containing Apple keyboard, trackpad, and mouse.
    * Large USB battery pack (capable of charging the laptop.)

    The bag is almost as spacious in rucksack mode -- I had to leave out either the quarter cube or the SE, but managed to just about squeeze everything else in.

  2. #2
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    0 Thread(s)

    Main bag first pack

    Today I've been experimenting with approaches to packing the main bag. The first surprise has been just how much room there is! For someone who's used to squeezing everything into the SA or a Timbuk2 aviator the HJ is huge. Vast. Cavernous. I'm still not quite sure what to do with it all. One benefit of all the extra space is increased flexibility. I don't have to cram something into every last corner to fit everything in; the bag isn't bulging at the seams; and there's space for me to change the packing approach on the fly to emphasise the accessibility or protection of certain items for different circumstances -- rather than everything having to fit in just so or not at all.

    Despite the space, I don't want the bag to be too heavy. Ideally, I'd like to have a configuration where I can get the main bag under 7kg if required by the airline, by distributing weight between the two bags and my jacket pockets. I'd also like to keep the top bag inside the main bag for most of the time. I'm not a fan of bags that scream "traveller" wherever you go, and although the HJ has significantly less "stealth factor" than, say, the SA simply by nature of its style and construction I still prefer to minimise the visual impact. For me, having part of the bag extend above the shoulder is a major difference between "huge hiking / RTW touring bag" and "just another rucksack, nothing special here." So the top bag will be living inside, making the bag look a lot smaller while still giving me the option to evict it to the top should I temporarily need some extra capacity. The same applies to my side pocket. The one downside of this approach is that it leaves the top of the bag looking unfinished for most of the time. I don't have long hair or wear a scarf, but suspect that if I did either would be at risk of getting caught in the exposed zip. It's also a clear pointer that the bag is part of a larger whole, which reduced some of the advantages of putting the top pack inside. I'd love to see a "finishing panel" for the top, that would use the zip and cover the top handle, perhaps including a pouch -- the included organiser pouch would be the perfect size.

    Anyway, on to some more gear pics! This is still a very early pack, and I'm sure it will change over the coming weeks before I head South.

    A Hero's Journey -- the beginning-img_2419-jpg

    Main compartment

    • The top bag sits at the bottom of the main compartment, and contains the laptop / ipad / keyboard / etc
    • On top of the top bag and almost perfectly sized to cover it is an EC cube containing clothing
    • Stacked at the top of the main compartment like books are:
      • Noise-cancelling headphones
      • 3DOC
      • EC quarter cube with chargers / leads / etc
      • Sunglasses and binoculars
      • Side effect

    Bottom compartment

    • 2 x EC quarter cubes containing rolled shirts and underwear
    • Silk sleeping bag liner
    • Lightweight waterproof in a blue EC stuff sack
    • (hidden under side pouch) barefoot shoes
    • Side pouch containing
      • Fleece
      • Gloves
      • Merino buff

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