Photo courtesy of The Lost Girls

What's in Your Backpack, The Lost Girls?

by I. Bohrer Oct 14, 2011
Amanda Pressner is co-author of “The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World”, and executive editor of the woman’s travel website

Recently, she invited Matador to check out the contents of her backpack rolling duffel heading down to Puerto Rico for a reunion adventure with her fellow Lost Girls, Jen and Holly.

Amanda’s words below:

How did three Lost Girls—none of us exactly minimalists by nature—manage to cram a year’s worth of stuff into a backpack for a round-the-world adventure?

The simple answer: We didn’t.

In fact, we figured out almost immediately that if we didn’t want to pay a small fortune in excess baggage fees (or look as hilariously conspicuous as one over-prepared Travel + Leisure editor), we’d need to seriously pare down our stuff.

Here are some items that enabled us to travel light without (totally) sacrificing our style.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes

The ultra-lightweight mesh packing accessories from Eagle Creek function as “portable drawers” simultaneously helping us to transport at least twice as many tanks, shorts, jeans and lightweight sweaters as any guidebook would recommend in half the space.

They allow us to keep like-items together and locate specific pieces quickly—no more digging around in the bottomless depths of a backpack searching for that one last clean t-shirt or pair of socks.

Canon G12

While we love the robust set of features and ultra-high resolution shots delivered by the latest crops of digital SLRs cameras, we’re less enthused about lugging around heavy bulky photo equipment on trips.

Enter the Canon Powershot G12, the most updated version of the company’s wildly popular G series.

Designed for advance amateurs, this lightweight compact camera gives us full manual control of our shots (an absolute requirement), provides a bright 2.8 inch LCD screen and optical viewfinder, and takes 720p HD Video with stereo sound.

The best part: Its only 12.4 ounces so it’s light enough to take with us in every situation.

Smartwool Layers

When you’re trying to pack efficiently, every piece of clothing should serve at least one other purpose (sarong = scarf + shoulder wrap + beach cover-up) and even your most utilitarian items should still be cute enough to wear out on the town.

That’s why we’re totally into the super-soft, ultra-breathable merino layering pieces from Smart Wool.

Every piece, from their against-the-skin tanks to sweaters to have been designed to fit and emphasize the curves on a woman’s frame and are released in of-the-moment colors that we’d actually want to be seen in.

Those dingy hued quick dry tops we brought on the original RTW trip? Never again.

OTBT Jefferson Motorcycle Boot

Predictably, the hardest thing for us to pare down before a getaway is our shoe wardrobe.

That’s because finding a pair that you can trek in all day and still wear out at night is a major challenge for us. Well it may be tough, but not impossible: OTBT (Off the Beaten Track) makes an entire line of shoes—each named for a US city or town—that were specifically designed to tackle this wardrobe issue.

Their boots, sandals and flats are ultra-chic, incredibly comfortable and coordinate well with pretty much anything we could think to toss in a suitcase or backpack.

And the best part: They slip on and off quickly so there’s no hold-up when going through security.

Horny Toad’s Three-Way Little Black Dress

Let’s be honest: Most convertible multi-function clothes may be somewhat practical but who really feels truly amazing wearing nylon zip-off pants?

There are a few wearable exceptions to this rule however, including the 3-in-1 Panoply Dress from adventure outfitter Horny Toad.

This ultra-lightweight piece has two layers that can be worn separately or together to create three distinct looks. It’s literally polished enough to go from the office to the plane to your next destination, all without looking floppy or getting wrinkled in transit.

Neutrogena Ultimate Sport Face Sunblock Lotion, SPF 70

If there’s one thing we never ever forget to pack even on the shortest trip, it’s sunscreen.

And not any old bargain SPF, but the broad-spectrum kind that shields against UVA (the kind that causes skin cancer and aging) and UVB (the kind that causes sunburns and skin cancer).

This ultra-light, water-resistant block from Neutrogena does both and lasts so long that that the last time I went surfing with my fellow Lost Girls, I forgot to apply it completely, and it still managed to keep me from getting scorched by the sun. 

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