Peru is one of the most diverse lands on earth, offering mountains, jungles, deserts, and coastlines in one breathtaking package. How are you supposed to pack for all that in one carryon bag? Here’s how to pack for Peru.
I’ll write about Louise someday (she’s a super-secure anti-theft bag from Pacsafe that keeps my electronics safe) but today I want to tell you about my main squeeze, Thelma. Thelma is a 60L workhorse from Gregory that can handle everything I own and still be comfortable to carry. I can’t recommend this pack highly enough.
Gregory built the Deva for backpacking rather than travel, which suits me just fine. As far as I’m concerned, schlepping is schlepping. The finer points of the various schlepping systems are lost on me.
I’m often carrying everything I own on my back for hours, either on metro systems or walking to some weird treehouse lodging, so I appreciate a lightweight pack that can comfortably carry a heavy load. Travel packs usually have stowaway straps and more organizing features, but those things aren’t important to me. Also, I love the versatility of having a trail-ready pack for hiking use.
The Deva comes in a 60, 70, or 80-liter capacity, and also comes in three torso sizes for women of different heights. I find the 60L to be perfect for my needs. It holds everything I need with room to spare but isn’t too big for me to manage easily. Fully packed, mine weighs about 15 kilos which is within the checked bag allowance for every airline I’ve ever flown. (It is too big to carry on).
The shoulder harness and hip belt pivot automatically at each of the four attachment points, so the pack stays comfortable no matter how I move.
It comes in three torso length sizes (women-specific)
Everything is adjustable for a custom fit and to get the weight properly seated on your hips.
The shape of the lumbar curve feels great on my body.
It stays in place on my body and doesn’t chafe my hips or lower back like other packs have.
The frame is sturdy yet incredibly lightweight.
The padding is super generous, and it stays soft, cool, and comfortable.
Accessories and organization features
The hydration sleeve doubles as a removable day pack. It’s nearly weightless and surprisingly comfortable for everyday use — especially since you can convert the sleeping bag straps from the main pack into a waist strap for the daypack (It took me three years to figure this out. You are welcome.)
The custom-fitted raincover fits its own stow pocket. I use the raincover to protect the pack during air travel. With a little ingenuity, you can put it on backward to protect the straps.
The pack unzips wide open for easy access in hotels and hostels where you’re not fully unpacking.
A roomy pocket on the hipbelt holds items you want at your fingertips. The rain cover will stuff in there, too, which I find very convenient.
The outside zipper compartment is huge — I usually keep my yoga mat and sandals in it.
It has a stowable water bottle “holster” that you can actually reach while wearing the pack. (I don’t use this much because I’m checking the bag, but it’s very cool for hiking).
The top compartment has three zippered pockets, big enough to hold my fleece jacket, raincoat, hat, and all my power cords.
The compression straps snug things into place really well; my gear will fit into this 60L pack more easily than it used to fit in a 65L one. To use them, loosen all the straps before you load the pack, then pull tight to compress everything.
I especially love the wide strap across the top of the pack that securely keeps everything inside even during airport handling.
If you’re not sure of your torso size, use the Gregory fitting guide or visit an outdoor store like REI where you can try one on. But really, if you’re very short get the XS/SM, if you’re very tall, get the MED/LRG, and if you’re neither of those things, get the SM/MED.
The video below shows how to adjust the shoulder harness and other fit features to make the pack fit your body.
The first time you put the pack on, lengthen the shoulder straps while you focus on getting the load to sit on your hips.
The hip belt should sit right at the top of your pelvis (top of belt 1″ above your iliac crest) with the straps tightened snugly around your hipbones (not above them). If the belt is snug enough, the pack will stay more or less upright even with the shoulder straps fully loosened (although it will be leaning away from your body)
Pull the loose ends of the shoulder straps down and back to tighten the shoulder harness, but don’t make it super tight. You never want to feel like the weight is dangling from your shoulders or pulling them back — the shoulder straps mostly stabilize the top of the pack rather than carrying weight. They should sit naturally against your body.
Secure the chest strap to relieve any pressure on your shoulders, but don’t make it overly tight.
The small straps between your shoulder and pack are called “load lifters.” Tightening them gently and keeping the shoulder straps slightly loose ensures the load will sit on your hips. If you wanted to shift more weight to your shoulders, you would loosen the load lifters and tighten the shoulder straps. But don’t do that unless you are trying to solve a problem, like your hips are chafing.
Is the Gregory Deva 60L the right pack for you?
The Deva might be perfect for you if:
You want to carry lots of stuff in relative comfort
A well-organized and well-built pack appeals to you
You want a versatile pack you can use for hiking as well as travel
You don’t mind checking a bag
You’re hoping to find a lightweight daypack in addition to a full-size pack
You just love little matching accessories like a daypack and rain cover with their own special places to live inside the pack (I’m not gonna lie, I love this stuff).
The Deva might not be right for you if:
You want to travel with a carry-on only
You prefer the cleaner look and tuckaway straps of a travel-specific pack
You are more of a suitcase traveler. Hiking backpacks aren’t a good choice if you carry clothes that need to be neatly folded, for instance.
Here’s an in-depth video review that will introduce you to all the Gregory Deva 60L backpack features. The reviewer focuses on hiking rather than travel, but as I said, schlepping is schlepping.
I’d never heard of these bags, but I found them on Amazon and ordered them, and I’ve been using them ever since.
How Eagle Creek Pack-It Compression Sacks work
You stuff them with clothes (not too full), seal the thick double zip lock at one end, and then roll them to squeeze the air out the other end. Three one-way air valves allow air to push out of the bag, but they don’t let any air come back in. (Still don’t get it? There’s a video at the bottom of this post).
Why I love them
Who would think a giant ziplock baggie could last for six years?
I bought Eagle Creek because they had a reputation for quality, and it paid off. I’ve packed, rolled, stuffed, and unrolled these bags a hundred times now, and they’re still going strong. Honestly, after six years of hard use I would have forgiven them if they split open on a seam or started leaking — but they haven’t.
It’s incredible how much they compress my clothing. I usually keep my off-season items in the medium-sized bag, at the bottom of my pack, and my in-season clothing in the larger one, at the top of my pack.
They’re light as a feather. They keep my clothes organized and dry, and let me carry a lot more gear for all the conditions and activities I encounter. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without them.
There’s always a downside, right?
The yellow plastic doodad that helps you zip the bags comes off, and I’ve lost and found both of mine inside my pack a dozen times. Luckily, you can zip the bag without it (or share one between both bags).
Different kinds of packing require very different kinds of gear. These are perfect for the serious backpacker carrying wrinkle-resistant clothing. But I can’t recommend these if you’re carrying clothes that wrinkle. For that kind of travel, you’re probably better off with packing cubes. All the “suitcase travelers” I know rave about packing cubes, but I left my [expensive] set behind in a hostel only a few months into my journey; they’re bulky and not very useful if you’re carrying a backpack.
Bonus use: When I was in Cartagena with no air con, my computer was acting up because of the constant humidity. I started putting it to bed in a sealed Eagle Creek compression sac every night, with a couple of handfuls of rice, and that really seemed to help.
I know people are curious, and after six years on the road I’ve weeded out the things that didn’t work and narrowed it down to just the very best items. I’ve laid everything out for you in this post about my gear.
Foot problems, including plantar fasciitis pain, tarsal tunnel issues, and a stress fracture, had already ended my dance career. I was in constant pain and I couldn’t walk more than half a mile. I was afraid I would have to give up my dream of long-term travel. But Powerstep insoles have changed my life.
Powerstep Pinnacle offers just the right support and a sweet spot that massages away plantar fasciitis pain.
I pulled the insole out of my tennis shoes and popped the Powerstep Pinnacles in. They fit perfectly right away. At first, I thought the arch support was in the wrong place. It felt like a lump under my instep just in front of my heel. But it wasn’t unpleasant, so I kept wearing them.
Wow! How I crave that lump now when my feet begin to ache. Even on bad days, when I’m in pain, if I wear the Powerstep Pinnacle insoles, they massage my pain away. I’ve been able to climb mountains, go on hikes, tour cities — I even did a four-day trek to Machu Picchu wearing my insoles.
I carry one pair and move them from my hiking boots to my tennis shoes. Some days I wear sport sandals and can’t use my Pinnacles; that’s usually when my foot pain comes back.
At home, I bought several pair of cheap flat boots and I could wear them comfortably all day with the Powerstep insoles in them.
After about a year, I thought it was probably time to replace them. I decided if Powerstep Pinnacle was good, then Powerstep Pinnacle Maxx must be amazing, right? Wrong. I was so disappointed. The heel was very thick and didn’t fit in my shoes well. It made the heel end of my shoes bulge and caused my foot to sit wrong in the shoe. For me, they were was a disaster.
Right now I’m carrying the original Powerstep (bought them by mistake) and they are OK, but they don’t give me that feeling of sweet relief that I got from the Powerstep Pinnacle.
If you have plantar fasciitis pain, I can’t recommend the Powerstep Pinnacle highly enough. I was pretty much crippled, waking up in pain each day and unable to walk more than half a mile and gaining weight fast. They’ve given me back my life!
Powerstep Pinnacle Maxx: Too bulky, don’t fit in shoes well
Original Powerstep: Offers some support, helpful, may fit better in dressy shoes
Powerstep Pinnacle: Heavenly release from pain! Fit perfectly in boots, tennis shoes, hiking boots, etc.
Note: Buying the insoles through the affiliate links on this page helps to support the site, but that support has no bearing on this heartfelt recommendation.
Dealing with airline restrictions on liquids is a nuisance — but the real problem is the risk of spillage. When everything you own is packed in a bag that will be handled by airport gorillas, the idea of finding your belongings doused in foamy shampoo or slimy conditioner is horrifying.
LUSH shampoo and conditioner bars are spill-proof, worry-free, and easy to carry to the shower — even when I’m in a hostel and the shower is down the hall. But the real surprise is how happy I am with my baby-fine, stick-straight hair. It is transformed!
Lovin’ the Lush hair products!
I am so happy with my hair these days! (I have never used all those words together in a sentence in my life). I finger comb it and let it air-dry most days, and it comes out full, silky-soft, and with a hint of natural wave I never knew it had before. I no longer feel like I need any products to make my hair manageable other than a little spritz of salt water. I’ve left my travel curling iron behind, and soon I will drop the styling product and blow dryer I’ve been carrying around. I honestly don’t need them anymore.
These Humangear GoTubbs work so much better for me than the LUSH tins. They pop open one-handed, don’t leak, and don’t dent when dropped. Translucent lids and color coding make it way easier to grab the right product in the shower. The plastic is less environmentally sound than LUSH’s tin option, but these work way better. The “medium” size is a perfect fit for standard-size LUSH shampoo bars like Godiva, and Seanik,and I’m able to force the conditioner bars in there as well with a bit of determination. I also use these for bobby pins, pills, and several other small items in my travel bag.
The Winning LUSH Products
I didn’t find the perfect products for my hair right away, and YMMV unless you have the same hair as me. But these two products are perfect for me, and all I use at the moment.
Solid Shampoo Bar: Seanik
I’m on my third bar now (the first two each lasted more than four months). It seems impossible, but stroking it over my scalp three times— like Fonzie’s comb, side, side, middle— gives me enough for a rich lather. The sea salt in the bar is supposed to add body and volume. Seems to be working for me, better than any product I’ve ever tried. The scent isn’t strong, but it smells of sea breezes without the fish.
Solid Shampoo Bar: Honey I Washed My Hair
I didn’t try this for a long time because I just hate the name so much. But now I’m an addict. As much as I love Seanik, it is a little drying to my hair. This Honey bar lathers just as well, makes my hair feel clean and soft, and also feels moisturizing to my hair and scalp. The scent is really mild and pleasant, too.
Jungle Solid Conditioner Bar
It took longer to sell me on LUSHconditioner bars, but now that I’m used to it, I love it. I stroke this down the length of my hair four or five times, then work it through the ends. It disappears. I have to trust that there’s any product at all going onto my hair because I can’t feel it. But after I rinse and dry, my hair feels incredibly soft and smells mildly herbal.
I’m not alone in this. The most frequent complaint about conditioners on the Lush website is that people don’t think they’re getting any product on their hair — and yet they say their hair comes out soft, full, fluffy, and manageable. I think people are looking for that handful of goo they get with liquid conditioners; this isn’t like that at all. But it works. Trust the results. This is a great product for fine hair.
Godiva Shampoo/Conditioner Bar
Godiva is great if you only have room to carry one bar, because it’s shampoo and conditioner in one product. The smell is super strong and I hated it at first, but I ultimately grew to crave it, and now I’ve made room in my pack for a Godiva just for the smell.
The jasmine fragrance scents the entire bathroom, even when the bar is dry, and I can smell it on my hair all day. However, Godiva has a tendency to melt and get gummy if you don’t keep it immaculately dry, and it doesn’t last as long as the Seanik/Jungle combo. I also feel like shampoo/conditioner combos don’t get my hair quite as clean as separate products. But the smell… and it leaves my hair super shiny and soft.
The Ones I Left Behind
Big Solid Conditioner Bar
I’m not sure I gave this product a fair chance. It was my first conditioner bar, and I never felt like I was getting enough product on my hair. I alternated it with liquid conditioners because I just didn’t trust it. Now I know that a little bit does the trick, I’d like to give it another shot.
I’ve learned that you have to evaluate a LUSH conditioner by the way it affects your hair, not what your experience in the shower is like. But it was a big chunk of stuff, didn’t fit in a case or tin, and became a mess inside a plastic baggie. I left it behind somewhere in South America, and wouldn’t have tried a solid conditioner again if I hadn’t received the Jungle bar for Christmas. Moral of the story: Conditioner bars don’t give you that handful of slimy goo you’re used to, but that doesn’t mean they’re not working. Give it a chance.
Update: I did give the Big bar another chance. I liked it better the second time, but it doesn’t leave my hair nearly as soft and full as Jungle does.
Rose Jam Shampoo Bar
Rose Jam smells like heaven, but it didn’t do much for my hair and crumbled to dust even though I treated it very gently. I can’t recommend this one for anybody unless they fix the formula so it holds together better.
Other LUSH Products For Travelers
I also carry & use LUSH’s Silky Underwear Dusting Powder, which contains grated cocoa butter & fresh jasmine. I’m addicted to the smell. I use it in hot countries to prevent chafing & sweating, and sprinkle it in my shoes periodically and on my sheets when I’m feeling indulgent. It’s expensive but lasts forever. The only downside is the lid tends to pop open on flights, so I have to keep it in a ziplock baggie.
I love the Hottie Massage Barwhich smells like vanilla and black pepper, and the dreamy, floral-scented Shades of Earl Grey massage bar. These are great for massage — especially if you’re traveling with a friend. They are also the perfect spillproof moisturizers.