This July we celebrated our 10th year of creating lifelong companions for conscious travellers. This got us thinking about all the journeys our bags have experienced over this time, mapped out by our global community. We wanted to learn more, so we’ve re-connected with some familiar faces to discover the stories they’ve collected with their bag by their side.
We caught up with artist and photographer Simon Bray to find out how his Miles the Duffle Bag 40L helps him travel more mindfully.
Words & Photography by Simon Bray | @simonbray
One of my favourite things about getting ready for a journey is to get everything I need into one bag. Even when my mum used to help me pack up stuff for school trips or scout camps, it felt essential to get everything into one pack that I could carry on my back. Maybe it’s a desire for that feeling of self-sufficiency, everything I need in one place and ready to go. As a kid, I never quite managed it, there was always something that had to be carried in a plastic carrier bag, usually my clunky walking boots that were ‘too mucky’ to go in with all those clean clothes. Well, not anymore, now I’ve got Miles! 40L of space protected by tough canvas for everything I need; pack on my back, hands-free and ready for adventure.
If I’m going anyway for more than a couple of nights, Miles comes with me. Three weeks backpacking across Rajasthan, trips to Iceland, New York, exploring in the Lake District, holidays on Lake Garda, or to see family in Cornwall. Each time, everything fits in this one pack, space for clothes, boots (because I pack my own bag now, my boots get slotted into the compartment at the bottom of the bag, no plastic bags needed), camera gear (with some help from my Millican Camera Insert), laptop, books and a great top pouch for all those things you need quickly, like your wallet, passport and keys.
As a photographer, it’s really important to not have to worry about carrying extra items with my hands. With Miles on my back and my camera over my shoulder, I can snap away without having to think about it.
For the India trip, I tried to pack light, it was going to be hot. We could wash clothes at the hostels, so I only took my more portable rangefinder camera, a pair of sandals on my feet and a range of medicines - just in case. I’m glad I did, because on the first day, somehow, I was invited (coaxed) into my tuk-tuk driver’s uncle’s textile shop (house) - they closed the door behind me, sat me down and it became quickly apparent that leaving without making a purchase wasn’t an option. I like wearing my tailored suit from Jaipur, but every time I do I remember having to carry it on my back across Rajasthan for 3 weeks, my embarrassment saved only by the fact that Miles had enough space to bear the burden.
In fact, over the past 3 years, Miles has taken a bit of a battering, being chucked around on trains, planes, into car boots, but without showing any signs of giving in.
Just a few scuffs and that pleasant weathering that your favourite possessions gather - the ones you know you can rely on and will accompany you on so many more journeys in the future.
I’ve not got any trips lined up for the moment, the arrival of my baby girl, Ottilie, in August, has taken my attention for now. But I’m hoping it won’t be too long before she’ll want to come along on some adventures with Daddy - in fact, she would probably fit in Miles with space for a few essentials, although I’m not sure my wife or the baby would be too happy about that. Regardless of where we’re heading, Miles will come with us again; everything I need on my back, hands-free, ready for adventure. Any suggestions of great locations to explore with a 3-month-old?