I don't take a lot of clothing. I'm not very girly and prefer practicality and comfort over style, especially when I travel. If I'm planning on climbing a couple of thousand metres vertically I don't want anything unnecessary in the backpack. Clothes that won't stink after a few hot sweaty days on the trail mean I've pretty well converted to merino tops and high tech pants, with a silk skirt thrown in because it weighs next to nothing. I usually travel with a sarong, but since I'm going to Java, I'll just buy one there.
One item of clothing I've found absolutely necessary is a warm jacket. Icy aircon on buses, summits over 2000mASL, wet windy weather, and we aren't even out of the tropics! My jacket may well spend a lot of time stuffed into the top of my pack, but the times when it's chilly I've been eternally grateful for its presence.
This time I'm taking a padded vest instead of my usual fleece jacket. It will keep my core just as warm, but it doubles as my "get out of jail free" card. Or rather, my seven kilo challenge winning card!
Introducing the Stuffa vest, a cannily designed padded vest that has pockets for storing lots of stuff so you can wear your luggage and beat the weight limit. I chose this vest over some other vests and jackets designed for the same job. It isn't the cheapest option, but I wanted something that was useful beyond just getting me through the airport. The fact that I can substitute out my jacket for the vest, and it looks fine to wear when filled up, means I don't have to look even more like a dorky tourist than I already do. My only gripe is that it weighs more than my fleece jacket, as it isn't filled with down. That would definitely be an improvement on it's current design.
The vest really does look OK fully loaded, which for me is a travel towel, sleep sheet, 2 pairs of socks, knickers, bikini, 3 shirts, one pair of trousers and some miscellaneous stuff like cables and camera filters. I'll be wearing another shirt and trousers, plus knickers and bra, socks and hiking boots. I can buy plastic sandals or flip-flops in Java at any market, and a sun hat.
I've a natty solution to the fact that my arms just might get a little cold on summits with only a thin long sleeved shirt covering them. Rather than have to pack a full fleece or thermals, I remembered that I have some sleeves that I use for cycling. High tech, light, perfect.
In the pockets of my trousers I'll carry my purse and passport, the hard drives with their cables, my iPhone and the Kindle.
Finally: toiletries. Please, if you don't like getting personal, skip this paragraph. I'm not very girly. No cosmetics, no hairdryers or eyelash curlers, but definitely a pair of tweezers. I carry a toothbrush, 30+SPF face sunscreen, a small tube of toothpaste, deodorant, a hair comb now my hair is longer, a face washer and Diva cup. I usually buy shampoo when I get there but I'm taking some solid shampoo from Lush on this trip - big shout out to Lauren at Never Ending Footsteps for that recommendation. Because I'm the depilating kind I don't need a razor, preferring to pay for a waxing in a salon as it's much cheaper than back home. The Diva cup is a cinch to use, as there's always water on hand in your cubicle to wash it out, but menopause would be even better. I'm also taking a Pstyle, so I can pee standing up. And a tube of heavy duty DEET. There's still malaria in Ujung Kulon National Park. Weight of all the above: 420g
So, where does that get me?
Well it's been really tough, because I've added another filter to my camera gear, and am packing lightweight trekking poles and a water bladder, all extra weight that pushes me over the line. But with filling the vest and trousers I should get by, as long as they don't include my camera bag in the included weight. If so I'm stuffed! The Air Asia site definitely says one main bag weighing 7kg AND a handbag or laptop bag.
Totals at this point:
Backpack packed: 7kg
Camera bag loaded: 2.5kg
Vest loaded: 2.7kg (including vest)
Trousers loaded: 1kg (not including trousers)
The Seven Kg Challenge appears to be done and dusted!!
Only there's another little problem called space............