What to pack for a month-long backpacking trip to Europe

His and hers Osprey 46 liter backpacks. Photo by Clay Duda.
His and hers Osprey 46-liter backpacks mostly ready for a four-week trip to Europe.

My wife and I are leaving for a month-long backpacking trip across Europe in just two days. We’ve never really done any long-term traveling before, so we read dozens if not hundreds of articles, blogs, and books gearing up for this trip. Aside from figuring out the obvious like where to go and what to see, we spent considerable time researching what necessities we should carry in the 46-liter Osprey backpacks we’ll be toting along for the trip. Here’s what we’re taking:

Two months, 15,000+ miles — Part 2: Backpacking Europe

NOTE: This is part 2 of a two-part series outlining travel plans for the summer of 2015. First we moved our lives across the United States. Now comes Part 2: Backpacking Europe. Check back for updates.

I’ve got at least another month before I need to act like an adult again. Before starting a new job in mid-July, my wife and I hope to make the most of this adult summer vacation and cover some ground. By my calculations we’ll transverse more than 15,500 miles over the course of 60 days, from trucking our meager belongings back across the U.S. to spending a month backpacking around Europe. Here are plans for the second leg of that journey, playing dumb American tourists as we wander around foreign lands.

Dispatches: Trucking from Redding, CA to Knoxville, TN

Red Cliffs at Red Rock Canyon State Park (California). Photo by Clay Duda.
Our Penske Big Bird in front of the Red Cliffs at Red Rock Canyon State Park in Cantil, CA.

It was a grueling six-day journey to pack all of our earthly belongings across the United States from Redding, California to our soon-to-be new home in Knoxville, Tennessee, but by some miracle of fortitude my wife and I managed to survive the roughly 2,700-mile trek. We lost four tires on the Penske Big Bird moving truck along the way and — while we aimed to just spend eight hours on the road each day — some days the sun beat us to our destination as our trip ran long. (See our full trip itinerary)

Inevitably the days start to blur together when you’re punching the pedal for 500+ miles every day, so I decided to keep notes each night (or most nights, at least) during our travels. Looking back it’s a great experience to remember, but at the moment you couldn’t pay me to be stuck again in that 16-foot box truck in the middle-of-nowhere Texas. These are dispatches from our misadventures and ultimate salvation, from camping on the road back east and some of the sights we’ve seen along the way.

Two months, 15,000+ miles — Part 1: The United States

NOTE: This is part 1 of a two-part series outlining travel plans for the summer of 2015. First we move across country, then comes Part 2: Backpacking Europe. Check back for updates.

I’ve got a two month window before I need to act like an adult again. Before starting a new job in mid-July, my wife and I hope to make the most of this adult summer vacation and cover some ground. By my calculations we’ll transverse more than 15,500 miles over the course of 60 days, from trucking our meager belongings back across the U.S. to spending a month backpacking around Europe. Here are plans for the first leg of that journey, driving California to Tennessee.

One last hurrah at Burney Falls

Burney Falls. Photo by Clay Duda.

My wife and I are moving to Tennessee in two weeks. More on that soon, but before we truck our stuff back out of Northern California we knew we had to have one last hurrah with some close friends out of Reno. So Friday night after work we headed for Burney Falls. It’s a place President Theodore Roosevelt once called “the Eighth Wonder of the World,” and I can see why.

Where the Sacramento River bends

Melissa and Peaches on the Sacramento River near Red Bluff, CA. Photo by Clay Duda.

It’s finally started feeling a bit like winter here in Northern California, and it only took until April to get here. Recent storms left a smattering of snow on mountain peaks around the North Valley and brought in a wave of cooler temperatures.

Hoping not to freeze our asses off overnight, wifey and I turned to the valley floor for a weekend hike-in get away. (Ok, I consider it a get away, she considers it a long walk that will keep the hubs happy and hopefully amount to some quality time. I can live with that.)

Review: Super-light Hikpro foldable travel/backpacking book bag

The super compact Hikpro daypack in all its sexy backpacking glory.  Photo by Clay Duda.
The super compact Hikpro daypack in all its sexy backpacking glory. Copco coffee cup and thrift store table cloth not included.

This is a first. I think. I’ve written a lot over the years, so there’s a chance I’m just forgetting something, but I’m pretty sure this is my first ever official product review — not counting book or movie reviews, of course.

In some ways this little Hikpro backpack drove me to do it. Long story short, I love this thing. It does everything the Hikpro marketing folks say it’ll do, and it’s cheap. That’s about all I could ask for.

Out to pasture on Table Mountain

Cows at Table Mountain. Photo by Clay Duda.
I’m still not sure if it were the cows or the people put out to pasture at Table Mountain. Probably both.

If you’re trying to make it to the waterfalls on Table Mountain you may want to stick to the trails.

That sounds like a “no shit” piece of advice, but it’s easier said than done inside the expanses of the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve near Oroville, California. The roughly 3,300-acre refuge maintained by the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife does have some trail segments, but many cut through ravines and other passes before fading away into open grassland and pastures in the Sierra foothills.

Butte Lake to Cinder Cone

Clay Duda on top of Cinder Cone.
Selfie! That’s me on top of Cinder Cone in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Butte Lake and “The Fantastic Lava Beds” can be seen in the background.

Treks into the woods are often hallmarked by the animals you encounter, from a majestic buck strolling along a ridge line at sunset to a mama black bear and her cub rambling down to the lake’s edge. But I’ll always remember this recent trek into a remote stretch of the Sierra Nevada Cascade Range for the animals we didn’t see.