I’ve been busy lately planning an upcoming trip. I’m not going to give away any details about our destination just yet, but in addition to going where we’ve never gone before, we’re going to be doing it with carry-on luggage only. I’ve always been pretty good at packing light. I proved that in early 2008 when we left for a full year in Japan with less than what was, at that time, the allowable limit on a plane. This trip, however, is going to take packing light to a whole new level. Three and a half weeks with one teeny, tiny suitcase each!
Though we don’t depart for almost two months, I’m already thinking about what will go into those suitcases. Traveling in the spring, we need to be prepared for varying weather conditions. One of the keys to packing light and yet being prepared for changeable weather has always been layers. Richard, in particular, likes to wear a fleece vest when he’s feeling chilly, but they’re very bulky to pack. The answer? An ultra light down vest from Uniqlo for each of us.
I don’t really like ordering clothing online. I prefer to see, touch, and try on before I buy, but the closest Uniqlo store is 1300 km away in Vancouver, BC. Since we won’t be there before our big trip, ordering online was our only option. The process was simple and efficient with the package arriving in the mail just eight days after I placed the order. Unfortunately, however, in spite of the fact that we tried to make sense of the online size charts, Richard’s vest was too small and will need to be returned. While shipping was free and Uniqlo provided a prepaid shipping label for returns, they will deduct a substantial shipping charge from our refund. Uniqlo Canada doesn’t currently offer exchanges for online purchases, so I’ll have to reorder. Unfortunately, the vests were on sale when I initially ordered them, but aren’t any longer. I love Uniqlo clothing, but I do think that their customer service (at least in Canada) could use some improvement.
In spite of the frustration and extra expense of securing the right size, I think the vests will serve us well. Thin and incredibly lightweight, each comes with it’s own little stuff-sack made of the same water-repellent material as the outer shell. Once in the sack it’s about the size of a 1-litre water bottle and is by no means fully compressed when stored this way. It will easily pop into a day pack or fit amongst the other items in our luggage and add almost nothing to the weight. There’s even a little loop inside the front of the vest to attach the carrying pouch to so it doesn’t get lost.
The vest has zippered pockets in front as well as two inner pockets. There are a vast array of colours to choose from for both men and women. I chose navy, while Richard’s will be dark grey, both neutrals that will coordinate well with most of what we carry in those tiny suitcases. Do remember if you decide to order one that they fit a bit small.
Stay tuned for more about our upcoming trip and more packing tips in the weeks ahead!