Packing light for a cold trip

I’m a proud packer, but until now my longer trips have either been in warm places, or to countries where I planned to be very stationary (and didn’t care if I looked like a 20-something grungy backpacker, because that’s what I was). Flimsy skirts and tank tops were the norm. My task this time around, however, is to maintain my packing pride while making sure I stay warm and manage to look somewhat professional.

I’m heading out for a three-month trip to China, where I probably won’t wear my swimsuit or flip-flops one time. I’m going to use Kunming as my base, and that city is at 6000 feet elevation. I hope to do a some trekking while I’m there, so a bit of gear will be necessary.

First, I need to choose my luggage. Instead of my fabulous Eagle Creek Switchback, I’ll cram my Marmot Diva 36L with all my stuff. It’s not as convenient for travel, but it’s a great pack for trekking. Next, I decided to bring my light down sleeping bag (rather than my thick synthetic bag, or nothing at all). It should be sufficient for sleeping in huts and will also be my bedding when I get an apartment.

Finally, the hard part: shoes and clothes. My running shoes will double as trekking shoes and, well, running shoes, while a pair of red Keen Mary Janes will fill in all the other shoe duties. Hopefully I won’t have to get fancy. As for clothes, I’m bringing stuff I would normally never dream of packing: jeans, cords, long underwear. No light cotton pants and only one strappy tank top (a girl needs to go out every now and then). One fleece pullover, several long sleeve shirts and a few t-shirts. My packing pile is growing, but overflow will get discarded and my Eagle Creek packing cubes will tidy the rest.