Tomorrow I’ll be leaving on a new trip. After having sat tight in Budapest for about three months, it is high time to start travelling again. It’ll be a fairly short trip and not too far away: I’ll fly to Warsaw, Poland, and from there I’ll make my way overland back to the Hungarian capital. For this I’ve planned 2-3 weeks, which should give me ample time to see a bit of Poland and learn about its culture.
In my never-ending quest to optimize the configuration of my travel gear, I’ve bought two new pieces of equipment. Staying true to minimalism, each of them is supposed to reduce the amount of stuff I have, or at least not add to it.
New backpack: Quechua Forclaz 40 Air
The first item I bought is a new bakcpack: the Quechua Forclaz 40 Air. In Europe this backpack is commonly available at Decathlon (outside of Europe it may be harder to get) for around $70. This bag will replace my Cabin Max Metz, which I simply find too uncomfortable to carry around for a long time.
The Quechua barely fits within the European carry-on size limit, but if you leave the top compartment empty and pull the compression straps tight, it may go in the cabin of the plane. I’m sacrificing a few litres of packing space, but what I get in return is a nice air spacing on the back panel to keep my back cool, and a hip belt for better weight distribution. I’ll have to see how the pack works out in terms of organisation, but a zipper all the wat across the front at least ensures some easy access.
New shoes: Merrell Mix Masters 2
The second item I bought is a pair of trail running shoes: the Merrell Mix Master 2. These shoes are replacing my casual city shoes for now, which I’ve worn to the thread. But in the back of my mind I’m hoping that they will also be a good replacement for my bulky hiking boots and my normal running shoes. This may or may not be wishful thinking.
Some of the hiking I do is in pretty rough terrain with sharp rocks and snow. My hiking boots, the Hanwag Xerros (the low version of these boots, maybe no longer available) have always protected me from those things, and I don’t know if the thinner soles and upper mesh of the trail runners can accomplish the same. But the teail running shoes are a lot smaller and lighter, making it easier to take them along anywhere.
As for my running shoes: I’m an overpronator, and have always used dedicated running shoes that corrected the motion of my feet when landing (last pair were the Nike Zoom Structure Triax+ 13). Now the science behind such shoes is tenuous. Whereas your local sports store would love to make you believe that you need special shoes for this ‘condition’, some argue that overpronation is a myth. Or rather, that it exists, but that the human body is able to adapt without special shoes. Or worse, that such shoes just don’t work.
The new Merrells I bought are designed as ‘minimalist’ running shoes, which means that they somewhat resemble the feeling of running barefoot, which is supposed to strengthen your muscles. I don’t know how much is true of all these running theories, but I’ll give the new trail runners a try. If nothing works, they’ll just be my casual street shoes (the modest black colour is good for that). But in the best case scenario I can get rid of three pairs of shoes in exchange for just one. That would greatly reduce my travel load.
I’ll hope to encounter some interesting things in Poland, and to report to you, dear readers, about them in this blog. To be continued…