What’s in my Backpack?

With a blog name like “I Backpack Canada”, it’s safe to say I’ve become somewhat of a pro at stuffing (or rolling carefully… when time permits) exactly what I need into my backpack. Throughout my travels, I’ve had many people ask me “What do you pack?”. While my packing list varies a bit depending on season, most of the things I take with me are things I’ll use everyday. With some upcoming trips planned, I figured I would take note of what exactly my process is and snap some photos along the way.

My Backpack(s)

Yes, you saw the “s” with the parenthesis’s around it. I am a two backpack type of traveler. Why you ask? Well one backpack is primarily for clothes, books, toiletries, and general “life” stuff. While the other is my daypack, perfect for camera gear, tripods, water, and a jacket.

Columbia Endura 50L Backpack

This is my big backpack. My 50 litre Columbia Endura is the perfect size for my extended travels. It allows me to carry everything I need for traveling for a handful of months at a time. It comes stock with waterproof hide-able sack, mesh infused shoulder straps, and an ergonomic and high tech spinal support system that allows you to carry your pack for hours without getting sore or a sweaty back. I tend to sweat with nearly every backpack I wear, but the folks in lab coats at Columbia have solved this dilemma. This backpack also comes camelback ready, and is fully adjustable to nearly all body shapes.

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Promaster Photography Backpack

While Lowepro’s tend to be more famous amongst traveling photographers, as a travel blogger / writer, I am confined to bringing a laptop nearly everywhere I go. Unfortunately my 13″ Macbook Pro wasn’t able to fit in any of their models so I found myself in a photography store rather than an outdoor store. Sure enough, they had these Promaster backpacks in stock that fit all my needs.

I was completely sold on the incredible amount of pockets, the hip and chest buckles for long hikes, the tripod holder and two side pockets, perfect for water bottles or another small tripod. The insides of the backpack are great as well, as they allow you to rebuild the compartments to fit your camera needs using these thick velcro and plastic pads. Best of all, the Promaster backpack comes with a laptop sleeve that comfortably fits my Macbook.

Eureka! Whipporwice 100 Sleeping Bag

Whenever I’m going to be doing any amount of camping, a good sleeping bag is a must. While there are certainly countless better sleeping bags, what I love about this one is its size. You can literally compress this bag down to the size of a football. It’s also capable of keeping you warm at temperatures as low as -8 degrees celsius.

Camera Gear

Canon EOS 60d


If there is one thing I love, it’s my new baby. For the longest time I had been borrowing my friend/room mates DSLR on account of his disinterest in using it (Thanks Justin!). It was an entry level Nikon DSLR, and while it did the job, I wanted some extra punch. I finally found the courage (and the funds) to purchase my Canon EOS 60d and have yet to look back. I’ve managed to shoot some great video and photos with it, and I’m still learning new things about it everyday.

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Canon EFS 18-200 Kit Lens


While it’s just a kit lens, I can’t say enough good things about the 18-200 for travel. A mix of wide angle and zoom makes it perfect for hauling around Canada.

Super-Takumar 1.8 55mm Lens


The hipster in me needed this lens after seeing what it was capable of doing with DSLR video. A retro lens from the 70’s, fully manual and made entirely of metal. It fits on my Canon60d with a cheap little adapter I bought off of eBay. I don’t use this lens nearly as much as the 18-200 Canon EFS, but it is incredibly fun when I do.

DSLR Accessories

I travel with a variety of DSLR accessories, including my remote switch, my Joby GorillaPod Zoom Tripod, my magnetized LCD Viewfinder Hood (great for shooting video), my charger, and of course my camera strap. I also carry around a portable hard drive to backup my photos & video to. I’ve learned the hard way that one should always backup, then backup, then backup some more. Digital files are great, but computers can’t be trusted.

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13″ Macbook Pro Retina with Magic Mouse


Yes, I am a laptop traveler. No, I haven’t always been. But now that my job depends on my connection to the rest of the world, carrying around a laptop has sort of become part of me. While I crave days and weeks away from it, I have to admit that I’ve gotten pretty good at shutting it down. By about 5:30 pm I shut down the computer, stop opening emails, and just enjoy the time off. This “always on” feeling so many small business owners and techies have has been proven to cause burnout. I’m trying my best to avoid that.

iPhone 5


As an iPhone owner, I can honestly say this thing has saved my keister are several occasions. From getting lost (thanks Google Maps), to setting Calendar entries for meetups with friends, and most importantly, when there’s no wifi network, tethering is as simple as pie. Within no time I can have my Macbook connected to the web through my iPhone and I’m able to upload photos, post blogs, or just check emails and say hello to friends. A decent phone & plan with a few gigs of data is a must in Canada. You’d be surprised how many places don’t have public wifi, or how common it is to find wifi that is complete garbage.

1 Canada Moleskin Notebook


As a writer / blogger / photographer, keeping notes is essential in making a story that is filled with facts, correct names, and describing the atmosphere of the countless locations I visit. While the notes I leave within these books are ridiculously messy, the book that houses these thoughts is something of a beauty.

1 Canadian Lonely Planet


Despite what others may say, I personally think guidebooks are great! I take one with me nearly every time I travel. They can be a bit bulky, but if I’m ever feeling lost, or am in a place I know nearly nothing about, a quick flip through the pages of old LP fixes me up in a heartbeat. While I don’t recommend following any guidebook to a tee (after all, getting lost is half the fun), they are a great help when you’re in a bind.

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1 Passport

I carry mine nearly everywhere I go. You never know when a seat sale is going to pop up, or maybe you met someone who wants to check out Alaska. Having your passport with you can save you loads of headaches. Plus it can act as a second form of ID should you ever be carded at the bar. Apparently Saskatchewan ID’s are most often faked in other provinces due to so few people knowing what they look like. This has led me to several games of “20 Questions” with Bouncers.

Backpacker Clothes

3 Pairs of Pants

Yes, I travel with three pairs of pants. No, I do not mean underwear… nice try European English Readers. I mean two legged, colder kind of day, roll ‘em up if you really need to, pants. One casual pair, good for a cold day of hiking, and one quasi-business casual pair, great for a night out. The last pair is usually just a normal pair of denim jeans. Because jeans are awesome.

Columbia Omnidry Rain Jacket


Staying dry and looking good in the rain is almost too easy with this fine piece of outerwear. The Columbia Omni Dry Rain jacket is packed full of futuristic materials that keep water off you. It’s ventilation is great for warm days, but it truly shines on the cold, wet days of Canada. Best of all, it’s incredibly light and packs away quite nicely. I’ll be using this well into the beginning of Canada’s winter.

Cheap Flip Flops

Hiking and outdoor adventures is great, but sometimes a guy’s just gotta relax on a beach with some friends. Queue the flip flops! They also serve another purpose, foot fungus! Hostels are normally quite clean, but start sharing showers with 6 – 8 dorm mates and you increase the chance of growing some serious grossness all over your feet. As they say, safety first, then team work.

Columbia Water / Hiking Shoes


When I travel anywhere, I tend to look for at least one good hike. That could be in a city park, a national park, or just outside in the great outdoors. Having a good pair of trusty shoes that are going to give you ample support, and keep you from slipping on wet rocks can be a lifesaver. My Columbia Water / Hiking shoes are superb for all of this, and they have the added bonus of being a water shoe. If a foot takes an accidental dip into water, the water immediately pours out of these expertly designed holes, leaving you with considerably less “squishy” feet.

1 Bunnyhug

What is a bunny hug? Only the comfiest form of clothing you can find, next to fresh-out-of-the-dryer underwear. A bunny hug is a hoodie. Just a run of the mill jumper with a hood attached. Why not call it a hoodie then? Because I’m from Saskatchewan, and for whatever reason, that is the name for a hoodie where I come from.

3 Pairs of Shorts

While Canada is known to many as a country that is in a constant state of frigid temperatures, that isn’t the case in the summer. Canadian summer temperatures can get up to 35 degrees celsius and even higher in some parts! Having something a little more suited for warm weather is a must. Ensure 1 of those pairs of shorts are of the swimming variety, as Canada is home to countless beaches, lakes, rivers, and ponds, perfect for cooling off.

3-4 Tee-shirts

Lounging around, warm days, or just to layer under clothes, a good plain Tee can set the tempo for the day.

2 Long Sleeves

A man’s got to have a collared shirt, in the off chance that you end up in a fancy unplanned situation. Perhaps it’s a hot date, or a random dinner with friends. The other long sleeve can just be a long-sleeve tee.

8-10 pairs of underwear

The longer I can go without having to do laundry the better, hence the large number of gitch. Boxers or briefs you may be wondering? I choose boxer briefs. Because support.

8-10 pairs of socks

If I could never wear socks again in my life, I would. Unfortunately, for the sake of all people within sniffing distance, socks inside of shoes is a must.

1 towel

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy says: “Any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.” Always pack a towel. I prefer the futuristic wicking towels because they pack great. Although I should mention they’re not the most comfy things to rub all over the bod. Sadly, sometimes space > comfort. So when given the option to use a hostel or hotels towel, I’d recommend taking a day off ol’ Scratchy McGee.

Odds & Ends

  • Lock
  • Headlamp
  • Tylenol + Vitamins
  • 1 Pack of Cards
  • Sunglasses
  • Batman USB
  • Pens
  • Pocket knife
  • Toiletries (tooth brush, tooth paste, pit stick, etc)

This is my backpack in a nutshell. It will vary quite a bit depending on seasons and what I’ve got planned, such as hosteling or camping. There are countless awesome products out there dedicated to backpackers, campers, hostellers, and yes, even the flashpackers. I tend to try to keep it all to a bare minimum. There’ll always be someone who can pack lighter, live with lesser. If I ever need to lighten my load, storage is usually readily available in any town or city. My reasoning for bringing what I feel is a good amount of stuff is that when I’m on the road for several weeks up to a few months, sometimes spoiling yourself can make you feel a bit more at home. Even when the bed is not yours, and you don’t know anybody in the city or area you’re visiting. Packing isn’t a science, but having a few loose ideas can help ensure you’re prepared for just about anything the world can throw at you.

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