Cards on the table time. I hate packing. It’s stressful, anxiety-inducing, and no matter how much time I give myself to do it, it somehow always results in a mad panic where I’m stumbling out of the door with pants and socks falling from a zip that I can’t quite get closed because I’ve stuffed one too many items in yet again. What I’m saying here is that if packing leapt from a sinking ship and needed me to desperately throw it a life-jacket, I think I’d hesitate.
Numerous people have told me about various different systems they implement to make packing easier. You should write a check-list beforehand. You should put all your clothes in a bin-bag and then suck all the air out with a vacuum cleaner to save on space – a method which does admittedly help with space, but that also seems to crease up all your clothes in the process. Do this. Do that. Do this again.
I’ve tried a whole mixture of recommended approaches over the years but always seem to fall back into my old, chaotic, habits.
"...a variety of different sized bags that fit neatly inside your main bag like their part of some alternative, and yet perfectly played, game of Tetris."
When Will Renwick of Outdoors Magic chucked me an Eagle Creek bag and a heap of ‘Packing Organisers’ just before Christmas, I wrestled with my own cynicism and hoped that finally I had found a solution to my luggage managing woes. The packing organisers, part of the Pack-It Specter System™, are a variety of different sized bags that fit neatly inside your main bag like they're part of some alternative, and yet perfectly played, game of Tetris.
What with it being a few days before crimbo, and me going to Skye for the whole week, I need to find a way to not only pack all my outdoor walking gear, clothes, and DSLR camera into this bag; I also need to find room for all the wrapped presents I want to take with me. The pressure on Eagle Creek and my collection of Pack-It System™ organisers to deliver then is absolutely huge. An entire season of festive goodwill hangs in the balance. Will their products help me to finally become a master of packing, or will Christmas be cancelled?
The bag itself is an Eagle Creek ‘Load Hauler Expandable’ duffel bag in ‘Smoky Blue’. It has a reassuringly solid and durable feel to it, and provides the user with a variety of highly comfortable carrying options (including backpack). The option to expand the bag’s packing space with a simple zip mechanism means I’m already off to a good start in my bid to get everything I want to take with me to Skye successfully packed.
However, as good as the bag seems on first impression there’s only so much it can do by itself that’ll aid me in my quest to become mildly competent at packing. That’s where the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter System™ comes in.
"After what feels like a disorientingly efficient packing experience, I look down and see one of the most well-organised things I’ve ever been involved with."
The first thing to say about these organiser bags is how lightweight they are. Worried that adding so many bags to the inside of a bag was just going to be a one-way ticket to having a very heavy bag, I’m glad to say that I couldn’t have been more wrong. The organisers, made of made of 30 denier ripstop silnylon combine feathery lightness with a tangible sense of toughness.
As I’m doing my packing, I find that it’s the little things about these packing aids that really stand out. For example, one of the cubes comes with two unique compartments – each with their own set of zips. Stuffing underwear into one of the compartments, I’m struck by the realisation that the other compartment in this item is an ideal place to store underwear after its been worn. The middle panel not only acts as a barrier between items in both compartments, but also stretches to cope with whichever compartment has more stuff in it.
Another notable item in the Pack-It Specter System™ range is the ‘Garment Folder’ bag. Looking ever so slightly like one of those book bags you had at primary school, I find out that the Garment Folder is an excellent place to store my shirts. Compressing the folded clothing down, without creasing it, I’m delighted to see that there’s more than enough room in the bag for my laptop as well.
After what feels like a disorientingly efficient packing experience, I look down and see one of the most well-organised things I’ve ever been involved with. To anyone else, it would no doubt just look like a methodically-packed bag. But to me, it looks like a real achievement. I’ve entered the world of packing-competency, and all I needed to do it was a collection of nifty bag-packing organisers from Eagle Creek.
BTW. While on Skye, I took the duffel bag out on some properly nice coastal walks near Staffin and up on the Quiraing. Using it as a backpack for day hikes, the bag felt easy on the spine and generally did a superb job.