Since I just did a backpacking trip in March, the frustrations I had with it are still fresh. Namely, the organization - or lack thereof. Sure I would plan ahead and try to pack things in the order that I thought I would need them for the following day or two. But no matter how carefully I folded and stacked everything into my pack, when I opened it later it would inevitably become a tangled web of cloth, buttons and zippers with arm sleeves indecipherably intertwined around pants legs and underwear and bikinis nestling themselves into every nook and cranny. And of course the thing I needed was almost always at the bottom and I'd have to dive into my bag and start flinging fabric every which way like a dog going to retrieve a bone that he had buried earlier.
Nope. Can't do that for six months because I would go insane or naked (after I chuck the whole disheveled bag of clothes off a cliff or something) or both so it was REI (or Recreation Equipment Inc) to the rescue. I highly recommend them for all your hiking/camping/traveling/other outdoor needs. They're a co-op so if you become a member, you get to vote for their board members and you get a dividend back at the end of the year based on what you bought. I bought a North Face backpack there a few years ago and after a year and a half, the main zipper broke right before I was supposed to go to Africa. I got it repaired at a local shoe/clothing repair shop but then the zipper broke again as soon as I got back from that trip. So, I took it an REI and showed them and they took it back no questions asked and I got to pick out a brand new North Face backpack for free. Seriously, they're awesome.
Anyways, they have a great assortment of lightweight, waterproof and rip-resistant organizers that will satisfy even the most OCD traveler. Here's what I bought (click for more info):
You might notice there's a rainbow of colors going on here and that's because (1) I just like pretty colors and (2) color coded packing. Shirts in the Orange Specter Folder, pants in the Blue Specter Folder, undies and socks in the Green Quarter Cube, Yoga wear in the Red Half Cube, Toiletries in the Green Wallaby and meds/first aid stuff in the Blue Wallaby. And then there's the Bamboo Utensil Set complete with chopsticks for eating on the plane and eating out.
Another rookie mistake I made was bringing a big, fluffy terry towel. It took up so much room in my pack and took forever to dry. So I bought some super thin, lightweight, quick-dry towels from REI as well. I probably don't absolutely need this many but all of them combined don't take up as much room as that one traditional towel did. The texture is a little weird and takes some getting used to but this is a case of function over feeling. I also figured out the XL towels are not only good for drying off after a shower but also work decently for covering your mat during particularly sweaty yoga sessions.
Of course all of this can add up pretty quick but I had a decent dividend amount, a 20% off coupon and free shipping so it significantly reduced the cost.