What's in your rucksack?

Posted August 29, 2011

What's in your rucksack?

Camping isn’t my thing. Never has been and never will be.

Struggling to put up a tent in lashing rain, cooking measly portions of food on a primus stove, showering in a communal bathroom or, worse still, hovering over a campsite toilet seat trying desperately not to make actual contact (eeww!!), sleeping in a field – the very thought of it all makes me shudder! But an encounter with two intrepid young female backpackers has made me think again, albeit briefly.

We were on our way to Olafsvik when we (hubby and me) stopped to give them a lift. The girls have spent the last six weeks hitchhiking their way around Iceland and sleeping in a tent. We’re on a two week luxury self-catering holiday. They’ve been everywhere; we’ve stuck close to our peninsula and the surrounding area. They’ve taken in some of the remotest places on earth, such as the Western fjords and described the experience as awesome, like being transported to another world. We’re thinking of going there but I don’t suppose we will – it’s a bit too far to schlepp to.

“Did we see the stars last night?” asked one of the girls. They were so incredibly clear; the sky was bursting with them. No, we hadn’t seen them. As the girls were taking in the glittering beauty of an expansive sky we were watching a DVD. “What a pity,” she sighed. And I could tell that she really, really meant it.
 
It all sounded so enchanting. Why had I never spent nights sleeping under the stars, in a strange and beautiful country? How could I have drifted through my youth, missing out on such life enhancing experiences?

I’ll tell you why. Because you need the constitution of a small elephant to carry a backpack! As I quickly discovered when I attempted to lift one from the boot of the car and failed. Bloody hell, I thought, what on earth have they got in there? Then it dawned on me: they are lugging around a tent, cooking utensils and equipment, sleeping bags, dried food provisions and enough clothes and footwear to last the whole trip. I looked at my own puny rucksack, packed for a day’s walking along a coastal path, and compared the contents.
 
My rucksack contains pretty much the same as my handbag but with a few added essentials for rough terrain. Most of the weight is attributable to makeup even though this has been dramatically pared down. My capsule version consists only of Dior eyeshadow, Lancôme mascara (have switched to waterproof in order to withstand any inclement weather conditions), powder compact, Clarins lipstick, Mac blusher and blusher brush for reapplication of said blusher, a hairbrush and tissues.

But I’m not all about vanity as I’ve also included practical necessities such as Versace sunglasses, a notepad and pen, a tourist map, a digital camera in a protective pink case and a purple and pink woollen hat which co-ordinates perfectly with my purple Berghaus jacket. I have also packed a sandwich and an apple but only in the event that we won’t find a café on our walking trail. So annoying when that happens, which is virtually always in Iceland.

Examining the contents of my rucksack has reinforced my initial concern that I am entirely unsuited to ‘roughing it’ in any way but I admire the girls for their adventurous spirit and fortitude. Despite hauling around their humungous backpacks for weeks on end, they were both bubbling with enthusiasm. They were also remarkably fresh faced having obviously decided to forgo makeup. Bloody hell, now that really is adventurous! 

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