For the pack, I should think something with 4,000 to 5,000 cubic inches would be fine. Because your pack will be such a part of this trip, I'd get a true backpacking pack rather than a travel pack (pack along a light duffel that the backpack can go in, if need be, for checking as luggage on planes or trains). Gregory's 4,700-cubic-inch Forester ($239; www.gregorypacks.com) is one good choicenot too big, good suspension, sturdy construction. Mountainsmith's Terra ($260; www.mountainsmith.com) is about the same size, differing mainly in its organizational approach (it has more outside pockets). Dana Design's Glacier ($299; www.danadesign.com) would be a high-end choice in this category, a little bigger and perhaps more rugged than the Forester or Terra.
For a tent, my first choice would be Mountain Hardwear's Waypoint 1 ($195; www.mountainhardwear.com), a two-pound waif that's adequately roomy and easy to pitch. I'd also take a look at Sierra Designs' Clip Flashlight ($169; www.sierradesigns.com), a classic lightweight two-person tent that might give you some much-appreciated extra room. And at less than four pounds, it's still packable for a solo hiker.
In sleeping bags, I'd suggest something in the 30- to 35-degree comfort range. The big choice here distills to down or synthetic fill. Down is more comfortable and slightly lighter; synthetics will dry faster if they get wet, plus they cost less. REI's Nooksack UL +35 ($159; www.rei.com) would be a good choice in a synthetic. It uses Primaloft as a fill, a material that's my favorite synthetic for its softness. In down, I remain a huge fan of the Marmot Arroyo ($259; www.marmot.com) a lightweight one-pound 14-ounce bag that's rated to 30 degrees.
Bon voyage! Give a thought to us poor sods who will be slugging away at our daily jobs while you munch roasted chestnuts on the Spanish Steps in Rome. Come to think of it, I hate you.
For more travel-specific advice, check out "The Essential Traveler" in Outside's 2004 Buyer's Guide.
Support Outside Online
Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.