Warning: session_start() [function.session-start]: Cannot send session cookie - headers already sent by (output started at /home/thefake/traveltrue/wp-content/themes/primepress/functions.php:16) in /home/thefake/traveltrue/wp-content/plugins/si-contact-form/si-contact-form.php on line 1997

Warning: session_start() [function.session-start]: Cannot send session cache limiter - headers already sent (output started at /home/thefake/traveltrue/wp-content/themes/primepress/functions.php:16) in /home/thefake/traveltrue/wp-content/plugins/si-contact-form/si-contact-form.php on line 1997
How To Pack To Travel The World Indefinitely | Travel True
Travel True Rotating Header Image

How To Pack To Travel The World Indefinitely

Everything I own, looking at you seductively from bed.

That is a photo of everything I own. You can count if you are the OCD type. I see around 60 things. I could be a lot more minimalist, but that would take more work on a daily basis. I could have more stuff, but I like how it all fits into my tiny backpack. I’ve wandered the world for the last year with only this, and it has been more than enough. I hiked through the snow above the arctic circle in late November and climbed mountains in the sweltering heat of central India in the summer, and this was all I needed.

And yes, that really is everything, aside from the camera I took the photo with. Which means I was completely… er… nevermind. Let’s move on, and try not to look into any reflective surfaces.

Let me break it all down for you.

Clothes

Typically, when people ask how many clothes I have, I say “about a week’s worth”. That’s true regardless of the weather, thanks to layering. Any less and laundry would get annoying, any more and it would get too heavy.

There is a miracle fabric that you will keep seeing pop up throughout, and that’s merino wool. This isn’t the scratchy, thick, overly hot wool you grew up with. This comes from high-altitude sheep in New Zealand. It’s light, soft, toasty, thin, wicks away sweat, dries quickly, and somehow never stinks. I don’t claim to fully understand the sorcery this uses, but it has invaded just about every part of my wardrobe because of how awesome it is.

Someday they'll find it, the rainbow collection (of shirts)

Shirts

Most of these are t-shirts, and half are merino wool. I could probably make due with just that half, but I like a little more variety. T-shirts can be used as an underlayer for warmth, an overlayer for style, or by themselves when it’s warm. They are very flexible and people around the world wear them, so you never have to worry about looking like a tourist.

The merino wool half of the T-shirts are Icebreaker Tech Ts and Smartwool Microweight Tees. The only real difference is that the Smartwool shirts are slightly thinner and cooler. I have worn them while rock climbing and going out dancing all night in smokey clubs. Somehow the next day when I smelled like someone emptied an ashtray into a sauna for sumo wrestlers, these shirts always smell like they were just washed. While they are more expensive than a cheap cotton T-shirt, I really can’t recommend these enough.

The other half of my T-shirts are from assorted artists that I enjoy. They are thin for very hot days and have brighter colors than merino wool shirts come in. There is also one collared shirt for when I need to dress up a little. I work from the road and have nice dinners on occasion, and it’s good to show you clean up well.

For colder weather, the trusty Icebreaker Long-sleeve Zip has always kept me ridiculously toasty. It’s trim and slick looking on its own, and it layers well. Finally, the far left shirt is also a trusty standby, essentially a thin zip-up cardigan that makes any shirt I wear it over look dapper. While I picked this up at a store in Montreal while wandering around, I’m sure you can find a similar piece to add for layering.

Hammer pants!

Legs

First off are my jeans. Since I knew I was only going to have one pair of jeans, I made sure they were good ones that fit well, looked good, and were going to last. After a lot of research, I went to Self Edge in San Francisco and tried on a bunch of jeans until I found the perfect pair. They were painfully stiff, but over the next few weeks they wore in, and now I’ve never had a more comfortable pair. I feel like they’ve grown with me, as they’ve gone on just as many adventures as I have. Every mark has a story.

Underneath are the Cloudveil Convertible Pants. I realize that convertible pants are never going to be stylish, but for the times you are hiking, rock climbing, doing yoga, or just need a cooler option with more flexibility, these work great and were the least dorky option I could find. The ability to strip them down to shorts during an unexpected long hike during a heat wave is priceless, and as shorts they act as a great pair of swim trunks. During extremely cold weather, I even wore them as an extra layer over my jeans.

As the Cloudveil Convertibles are no longer available, I’ve started trying out Outlier Climbers. They are classy enough to be dress pants, but stretchy enough to go rock climbing and do yoga in. On top of this, they are durable enough to go biking in every day for years. Honestly, they are truly amazing.

I also have one nondescript pair of black swim trunks I got in an emergency years ago when we found out our ski lodge had a hot tub. Yes, that’s an emergency. Now they act as a secondary pair of shorts and swim trunks, which is great during extended stays on beaches. (That’s the part of world travel you guys always imagine. If only.)

Snuggled up all cozy and warm

Jackets

This was the toughest part of deciding what to bring, because they take up so much space. I eventually decided to bring two coats, and I’m very glad I did. The first coat is the Arc’teryx Delta LT Fleece, which is lightweight, warm when there is no wind, and has ridiculously big pockets. Each pocket is seriously that half of the front of the coat. On mild days, it serves as a great light jacket that is form-fitting and looks great.

Stoic dreams
Left: Standing on the ocean near Luleå, Sweden. Right: In a snowstorm in Paris, France.

The second coat is a ski jacket called the Stoic Welder Insulated Softshell. It is completely windproof, waterproof, and very warm. In cold weather, I always have this. It has plenty of discreet pockets to store things, and it is very form fitting, so you don’t look like you are wearing your dad’s XXL jacket (an affliction that affects most heavy coats). In the above pictures, I am wearing the Arc’teryx jacket underneath (it was so cold the ocean was frozen), carrying my Camera, Kindle, countless other things, and I still don’t look or feel like a pack mule. I can also take all of those out to get a nice svelt look. The green lines are vibrant, but I like that.

So fresh and so clean, clean.

Longjohns

For the cold weather, Smartwool Lightweight Bottoms are the greatest decision you will make. They are that magical merino wool I talked about earlier, so it won’t matter that they are pressed between your skin and your jeans all day, they just won’t get stinky. What they will do is keep you comfy warm while you go about your day, forgetting you even have them on. They are flexible, soft, and woven from the hairs of the gods of snuggling. Don’t forget these.

Oooooh, I'm gonna tell mom what you were looking at!

Underneath it all

That’s right, it’s time to talk about the unmentionables. For some reason, whenever I tell people I just have one small backpack, about half the time I get the response “So you only have one pair of underwear?”. Yes, yes. I’m sure you’re funny to your friends. Anyway. This stuff is small, light, and spends all day pressed against your nether regions, so don’t pick this area to skimp.

Underwear

One of the great things about culling your possessions down to just a handful of things is that you can justify making sure those are the best ever. That’s how I justified the Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer Briefs for $40 per pair. Make no mistake, I do not regret it for a second. They are by far the most comfortable, stylish, and completely awesome underwear I have ever owned, and they have all the mystical properties of merino wool I previously mentioned. If you are on the road, they are also very easy to hand-wash, and dry in minutes. This is very handy, as you always want to avoid putting wet clothes in your backpack. Unless you like the smell of mildew everywhere, that is.

I also have have a few pair of Ex-Officio Boxer Briefs, which are much more affordable and still have some of the nice qualities of merino wool. Their tagline is “28 days and they never get whiffy”, backed by all sorts of sport adventurers who’ve been given pairs to test their limits. They aren’t as silky soft and dreamy as the Icebreakers, but they do their job well, wash easily, and dry within a few hours.

Feet

I’ve always thought that you could tell a lot about someone by their socks. It’s a part of the wardrobe that often gets ignored, because people think it won’t be seen. However, as you travel you will find yourself in a lot of situations and cultures where you spend a lot of time in socked feet, and it’s good to not suddenly be wearing your lack of thoughtfulness as a badge while you are meeting new people.

My favorite socks in the world are made by V.K. Nagrani. They are a wool/cashmere blend to be extremely comfy, they come up over the calf so they never fall down during the day, and they come in a stunning variety of designs and colors. They retail for between $35 and $75 per pair at high-end stores, so these are some serious socks. There’s a secret to getting them cheaper, though, and it’s an amazing experience. In the online store is an option called “Dirty Dozen”. Get this. Within a day, a Sock Valet (yes, Sock Valet) will call you and ask you questions about your personality and wardrobe. He will then pick a selection of a dozen pairs of socks specifically tailored to you and mail them to you with a handwritten note. This somehow drops the price to less than half of their cheapest option, and you get a great selection of socks to suit your entire wardrobe, not to mention an amazing process and story. Tell them I sent you.

I also have a few pairs of Smartwool socks, which are pure merino wool. They don’t have the softness of cashmere, but they are warmer. Honestly, the men’s styles are all boring, and I typically get the women’s styles in XL. (Ooh! He wears women’s socks!) If you just want a pair or two, this is a more affordable option.

Keychain Bag

It’s not underwear, but also pictured in the upper right is the Kiva Key Chain Bag. It’s a medium-sized backpack that folds up into a tiny pouch that doesn’t take up any space. It comfortably fits a laptop and change of clothes, which is a perfect daypack for me. While it isn’t the strongest material, it is great when you don’t want to carry around a full backpack. I got it as an emergency bag for carrying unexpected cargo during flights, and I ended up using it all the time.

Step on it!

Shoes

I only have two pairs of shoes. The first is a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. These are made for high-performance running, simulating the barefoot runners of Kenya that dominate every marathon around the world. They are extremely comfortable and much better for your body than normal shoes. They also make great water shoes for rocky streams and are much better than sandals. However, they do look weird (this can be a plus or minus depending on your personality), they don’t provide warmth, and they have a nasty habit of getting stinky if you wear them too often. If you can pull them off and don’t wear them every day, they are some of the best shoes around.

Smooth criminal

The second pair was much harder to find. I wanted shoes that did everything. They had to be thick-treaded and sturdy enough to handle hiking up craggy mountains and comfortable enough to walk around on sidewalks. Unfortunately, every shoe I found that met these requirements looked like I was wearing a camping supply store on my feet. Until I found the Adidas Terrex Betas. These shoes are specifically made for adventuring, and have handled mountains in a rainstorm as easily as a corporate meeting. In an absolute pinch, they could even pull off formal. I’ve never found shoes that were this sturdy, comfortable, and fashionably flexible. They are another must have.

Warm and dry

Hat

For my entire life, I’ve avoided hats. I’ve always been of the view that you had two options when it came to hats: wearing a baseball cap and looking like a fratboy douche or wearing a fancy hat and looking like a douchey douche. Then I came across the Goorin Bros. and their Chong hat. High quality, unique without being douchey, and ear flaps that kept my ears warm during the coldest days. Suddenly the sun was out of my eyes and my hair wasn’t in my face. My eyes were opened to a whole new world, and I don’t want to go back.

Wrist Warmers

Everyone knows that the place you lose the most heat from your body is your head. Quick fact: You lose the second most heat from your wrists. People typically leave this area exposed, which just isn’t good. After a lot of research, I finally found a company in Berlin called Fortschritt that makes merino wool wrist warmers. They have a lot of styles, and the one I got is from the MAK Modern Art Museum in Vienna.

Gloves

I totally skimped out here. These are the free glove liners I got with a pair of snowboarding gloves years ago. I just wanted something small and thin to block some cold and breeze that still allowed me to handle objects freely. If I’m out in the cold for long periods, I have warm pockets.

Bandanas

I have a couple of bandanas that were given to me as gifts over the years, and they prove very useful on the road. They keep my hair out of my face on hot days and they mop up sweat when I’m doing something strenuous. They are cheap, don’t take up much space, and are more useful than you might think.

Towel

As Douglas Adams said, always know where your towel is. I’ve gotten out of the shower many times to discover the room had no towel or one that I didn’t want to touch. The MSR Ultralite Packtowl is super absorbent, dries quickly and folds up small. They come in many sizes, and I got the smallest one I could wrap around myself (which has also proven wise).

The future's so bright...

Sunglasses

Polarized lenses stop glare and are much better for your eyes than simple dark plastic. Dillon Optics took this a step further and invented cross-polarized lenses. They stop internal glare, so you don’t get a lens flare effect. They also have a satin finish that is unlike any other lens I have seen, which is pretty cool. I definitely get a lot of comments on them. Bottom line, they look great, feel great, and you see the world very crisply and clearly.

Darling it's better down where it's wetter, under the sea!

Toiletries

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to enter the exciting world of my bathroom. I know you can’t stand the tension.

Liquids

While the TSA did quietly lift the ban on liquids over 3 ounces, they aren’t the best at communicating that to every airport in the US, and there are some other countries that still check. As such, I use the Humangear GoToob to carry around my shampoo and conditioner. Most of the time I just use ones that I find there, but every now and then I spend a night in an unexpected place during a layover and I’m glad I have a backup.

I also have a small bottle of the miracle fluid that is Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap. It’s shampoo, bodywash, detergent, in a pinch it’s even toothpaste. It’s called 18-in-1 for good reason. It’s completely natural, feels and smells great, and even has entertaining crazy writing all over the bottle. This is a staple for any traveler.

Teeth

I used to be a loyalist to the Fuchs Travel Toothbrush, but it got more expensive and hard to find, so I tried a bunch of different clever travel toothbrushes, all of which were worthless. Now I use the standard travel toothbrushes you find at a grocery store. Fuchs is still a great toothbrush that I would recommend, but the difference wasn’t enough for me to spend the time or money hunting them down. I also started using a tongue cleaner some years ago when a dentist told me about all of the bacteria that sits there. The Pureline Oralcare Tongue Cleaner is the best one I’ve found. It’s durable, resilient, and effective. Use it.

Deodorant

Clearly the most pretentious part of my toiletries, I discovered this one day in Amsterdam when I found out I had left mine in a previous hotel. It was all the drugstore had, and it was so good I never want to go back. Nivea Dry Impact is effective and only has a faint fresh scent, unlike the ones in America that smell like Kool-Aid Man went swimming in the ocean. They never released this in America for some reason, so I pick it up when I’m in Europe or pay the charges to import it.

Hairbrush

Nothing special here, this is a folding hairbrush that packs up small and leaves my hair smooth and silky. Aw yeah.

Q-Tips

I’ve written about this before, but this is my Q-Tips Purse Pack. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s tough and keeps everything in place.

Beard Trimmer

I haven’t shaved in over 3 years. Sensitive skin, ingrown hairs, nicks and cuts, blech. I keep everything trim with this beard trimmer I got over 10 years ago. It looks like this is the current equivalent, but mine uses 2 AA batteries, which is much more convenient when they die halfway through your face. I hunted around to find one smaller or better, but I couldn’t find one, so it came along for the ride.

Nasaline

I have sinus issues. Sexy, right? It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then I get a sinus infection that lays me out in bed for a week unless I flush it out with a neti pot. However, neti pots are cumbersome to carry, and there is a better solution. The Nasaline is like a neti pot on steroids, a car wash for the inside of your head. It’s also thin, which means it slides into the side of my backpack easily. If this affects you, it is a godsend. Otherwise, stop thinking about my snot.

Rock a bye, toots.

Sleepytime

Sleep on the road is essential, and these things help me get a full night of it so I can be ready to adventure the next day.

Sleeping Bag

The Sea To Summit Silk Mummy Liner is roomy and comfortable, keeps you 10° warmer, and rolls up to the size of your fist. There have been nights when the temperature suddenly dropped enough to wake me up, and this kept me warm enough to sleep. It’s only 10 degrees, so it’s not a miracle fabric, but it sure helps and it feels luxurious. There have been many times where I’ve been extremely grateful to have this while crashing on a friend’s couch.

Eyemask and Earplugs

Years ago, a friend told me that she got much better sleep in complete darkness. I decided to try it out with a sleep mask, and the difference was huge. The next day I felt rested and energetic, and ever since I’ve always tried to sleep in darkness. When traveling, there are times you don’t have control over the light levels in the room, and the Dream Essentials Eyemask has saved my sleep each time. Honestly, there are many eyemasks that will work well, you just need to make sure they block out all light. This one does, and it folds up into a tiny pouch for travel, so you can keep it in your pocket when you travel. It even comes with free earplugs, which are a great bonus.

Neck Pillow

For the times I’ve had a middle seat and needed to sleep, I got the Samsonite Inflatable Neck Pillow. It folds up into a little pouch and keeps me from waking up drooling on my neighbor’s shoulder. I was very happy about this when I got it, but I’ve honestly only used it twice. I enjoyed it both times, but I don’t feel like it’s earning its keep. The only reason I still have it is because I keep it in a side mesh pocket, where it doesn’t take up any valuable space. I may ditch it soon.

You've gotta know when to hold 'em...

Entertainment

I love games. They are fun, keep your mind sharp, and are a great ice breaker for meeting new people, especially on long train rides or nights in a new place. Card games are tiny and infinitely replayable. I’ve already written a full article about how awesome Monopoly Deal is, and I’ve played it countless times in the year since. It’s easy for anyone to understand, and fun to watch people develop their own strategies.

Honestly, games are just a reason for people to gather around and have fun while they get to know each other, so I also carry a pack of Bicycle cards. Most people have a game that they know and love, and it’s fun to learn these new games. The pack I have now was given to me by a magician friend who taught me that Bicycle makes the best quality cards by far, as they have the patent. After using them for a year now, I have to agree.

Electronics

Alright all you gadget fiends, it’s time to dig into the the technology. I don’t have a ton, so what I do have is deemed essential.

Whatcha gonna do with all that book?

Kindle

I’ve already written an article about the Kindle, so I will keep this brief. You can keep an entire library of books in this little device that is smaller than a paperback. I have tons of books in mine and I haven’t come close to filling it. You get free high-speed internet anywhere in the world that gets a cel phone signal. Based on those two factors alone, this baby is cheap. I always carry it around in my jacket in case I want to sit down and read for a while. I’ve quickly checked my email lying in a hammock on the coast of Thailand before getting back into my book. This improves your quality of life so much that it’s a necessity.

Why hello there, sexy thing.

13″ Macbook

I’m not going to battle PC vs Mac here. You know and love your operating system and should stick with it. I switched from Windows to Mac in ’92 when I was but a wee dorky lad and I’ve never looked back. I got this puppy on the day it became available 3 years ago. I’ve since upgraded to a 500GB Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid HD (the blazing speed of an SSD and the massive capacity of a disk!) and 5GB of RAM. I edit video and huge RAW photos regularly (and professionally) while surfing the net and this never skips a beat. It’s held up to some severe beatings by overzealous “security agents” while traveling, and acts like nothing happened. It even has a moustache (with a moustache). It’s okay if yours isn’t this manly.

They don’t make this version anymore, but you can still pick up the MacBook Air.

With the fly shutter

Camera

I wrote about the Olympus E-P1 over a year ago, and everything holds true. It is a professional quality DSLR packed into a pocket-size shell. I definitely recommend the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 lens. It gives you the coveted Leica look in a tiny little pancake lens (They bought Leica and use their glass). I’ve carried this camera with me everywhere, and every picture in my Flickr was taken with it. The metal case has saved me numerous times when I was running full speed and watched it fly out of my hands onto the pavement. There’s barely a scratch on it, and it still works like new. They have come out with many new models since this one, and the E-P3 was just announced. However, the E-P1 still outsells them all, and with good reason.

I also carry the charger and a spare battery, which has saved me a few times when my battery happened to run out in the middle of something I was taking a lot of photos or video of. It doesn’t take up any more space (it stays in the charger) and the peace of mind it provides is priceless.

In the year since I recommended this, I know a lot of people who have gotten this camera, and they have all been extremely happy with it. It’s nice knowing I can make such a good effect on the world. A great camera won’t make you a great photographer, but a bad camera can make you a worse photographer. Why not lean toward great?

My, what spacious digs you have!

Hard Drive

Always keep a backup of your important information. Not everything can fit on my laptop’s drive, so this also works as a place to offload information I don’t use often. After a lot of research (due to a lot of experience with different manufacturers, there are very few companies I trust to make drives that don’t fail), the Western Digital Elements Portable 2TB came out on top. It is the smallest portable HD in physical size, and the largest in terms of capacity. Of all the drives I have had fail on me in the past, none have been WD. The only other company I can say this about is Seagate, which I also trust. Unfortunately, they aren’t as competitive in the portable market. The only downside of this drive is that it comes with custom software that is worthless and can’t be deleted from the drive. Just ignore the software, and don’t install it on your computer. Then everything is smooth and peachy.

Houston, we have a problem.

USB Drive

Until computers can wirelessly talk to each other with ease, these are a necessity for sharing large files with friends. Why not do it with some personality? Mimobot makes lots of licensed characters, from Star Wars to Batman, and lots of originals. Cosmobot is the one that spoke to me, and I got the 8GB version. It has served me well both storing information and starting conversations with the person I’m sharing with.

Don't let the beat.... drop.

Jambox

I never was the kind of person to get speakers for my computer. I always wore headphones or dealt with the quiet tinny speakers they squeeze into laptops. Portable speakers were always bulky and never sounded much better. At the South by Southwest festival this year, someone brought a Jambox and it blew my mind. It is seriously loud, has great quality sound, and plenty of bass. It’s well-designed, small, and connects by bluetooth to be completely wireless. It fills large rooms with music, and I’ve even brought it out to the park with friends where all it takes to switch the DJ is syncing your iPhone or iPod directly to it, like magic.

I had considered portable speakers a lost cause and never thought I would recommend one, but these are gold. If you want great speakers in a small, beautiful package, get one of these now. I made room for it in my backpack and every time I want to watch a movie with friends, I’m happy everyone doesn’t have to huddle in close to listen.

Just the two of us, you and I.

iPhone / iPod

Yes, I like Apple products. They just work and slide into the background so I can focus on what I’m doing instead of trying to get them to work. I have an unlocked iPhone for all of my calls and I have a collection of SIM cards from around the world that I use in it. Having such a wealth of apps available, from converting currency to checking flights to learning new languages to playing games with friends, it is amazing. But honestly, I don’t need to tell you this. You either have one, want one, or would never consider switching based on some principle you hold dear. Mine has become an indispensable travel tool, and I can’t recommend it enough. The case on mine is a satin-finish red one I picked up for under a dollar in Malaysia.

So why the additional iPod Touch? It’s an older one that I got for next to nothing. It holds enough video and music to get me through a long flight without having to worry about having a charge in my phone when we land and I need to meet up with a friend. I turn off my phone during the flight and this becomes my entertainment center. It also has wifi, and can act as a secondary computer for a friend who doesn’t have theirs. This isn’t justifiable for everyone, but I happened upon it and it’s proven very valuable during my travels.

mCHKmCHK

Headphones

For the last few years I’ve used JVC HAFX headphones. They are cheap, comfortable, and have sound that rivals $100 headphones. Unfortunately, they only last about a year before the rubber starts falling apart. It takes a lot of $12 headphones to equal one pair of $100 headphones, though, so I kept buying them. Unfortunately my last pair died while I was in India, and I needed new headphones. I picked up these Dexim Stentor earbuds in the meantime. So far they seem like they have a great build quality, a cord that refuses to tangle, and bass levels that are ridiculous. I set my EQ to “Bass Reducer” and went on my way.

What I look for in headphones (aside from sound quality) is how well it blocks outside sound. I want a specific level, quiet enough that I can sleep without hearing the drone of the airplane, but loud enough that I can hear someone yelling at me on the street while I’m wearing them. You know, because I am about to run into traffic or an open pit.

More than meets the eye!

Universal Plug Adapter

This little piece of electronics is one of the coolest things I’ve seen. The APC INPA acts like a transformer, assembling a few different ways to convert literally any plug into any other plug. I have yet to find a combination this does not convert between. On top of that, it is the smallest adapter on the market. There have been so many times I was glad to have this when I had an unexpected layover in a random country and was the only person who could use the outlets.

Unfortunately, it’s been discontinued. Fortunately, however, another company has started making something almost identical, and it’s much less expensive. The Kikkerland UL03-A is basically the same thing in brighter colors at half the price. Highly recommended.

And one backpack to hold them all...

Backpack

For the grand finale, this is the tiny backpack everything goes in, the Deuter Futura 32. In fact, this is a picture of the backpack full of everything listed above, and sometimes I even forget when I’m wearing it this full, thanks to the shape that keeps the weight in the right places. It comes to ever so slightly above my shoulders and just looks like a normal daypack. There are lots of pockets and places to store things so they are easy to access (note the top and bottom entry), and you can even open the inside up into one big compartment to fit large things. It has a sleeve for your laptop, side mesh pockets for easy access, and it even has a built-in rain cover to keep it safe and dry.

The best thing about the Futura line is the frame. It’s small and gives a slight curve to the inside of the bag so a mesh rests against your back, not the bag. When you are carrying everything through the heat, this keeps you cool and makes sure you don’t arrive with a sweaty back. Brilliant, and I haven’t seen anything like it elsewhere.

For the last year, this is all I’ve owned. Some things have been added and others have been discarded, but this is what made the cut. I put stuff through pretty rough torture while I own it, thanks to constantly throwing myself into new situations. I put a lot of stock into this stuff, and I’m happy to recommend all of it.

Related posts:

31 Comments

  1. Qathi Hart says:

    ;-) It’s good to see you made room for a tongue scraper.

  2. Chris Dame says:

    It’s the details that make everything pleasant.

  3. Chris Dame says:

    If I get enough requests for this, definitely. It’s fairly easy, and it only takes about 5 minutes now. I have had a year of practice, though.

  4. Eric Niebler says:

    You need to replace that trimmer with this. Got it a month ago. LOVE it. Tiny. Powerful. Runs on a single AA battery.

    Wahl Peanut Trimmer

    But ditch the recharger it comes with and get the Eneloop AA/AAA batteries w/ charger.

  5. Chris Dame says:

    It certainly looks like it’s smaller, but with the separate cutting guides it seems like a wash and slightly harder to handle. I’ll check it out, though, especially the eneloop. I’ve been waiting to get to Japan to get the 2AA in-line USB charger, which looks perfect.

    Also, the second image for the Wahl? Awesome.

  6. elai says:

    I found this travel toothbrush for a buck at target. It doesn’t get disgusting like those toothbrush in a box types, folds nicely and works great. I love it!

    Colgate Travel Toothbrush

  7. Chris Dame says:

    I actually tried that one in my frenzy of different toothbrushes. It seemed very clever, but the folding mechanism always dug into my hand when I was brushing. I’m currently using a simple little “slim” toothbrush with rounded corners. No chance of that happening.

    When it comes down to it, use what works best for you.

  8. Patrick Hickey says:

    You pack very simular to me. Even the Nivea deodorant ha, which I discovered in Bali. No such trouble getting my hands on it as you, as I’m based in the Netherlands.

    Must check out the Adidas Terrex Betas you have. I have a pair of Caterpillar Freestand trainers that perform the same dual function but sadly after 4+ years of use they are starting to show there age. Think I will just buy the same again.

    When it comes to the backpack I have a very different selection. I use a Northface Base Camp Duffel.

    The large size is 90L but with 4 compression straps it can be half that. The ability to make the bag bigger or smaller is great for me as I need to carry all my camping gear sometimes on extended overland trips. Tent and rollmat fit comfortably on the sides sleeping bag inside. The only issue I had with the bag was that it had no waist strap but I found one made by BOBLBEE, S/M size that works perfectly. Now I have the perfect multifunction bag. It weighs 2.1kg including a small lock and large Deuter rain cover.

    I’ve had other backpacks but the single opening gives me instant access to everything. I guess it comes down to organising your gear and after a while you know where everything lives.

    I don’t see any charging cables in you photos, I use USB for everything possible. I have a APC plug adapter, a Mili dual USB Universal Charger and USB cables for my Ipod and phone. I also found the PowerGen battery charger that can charge my Camera battery via USB. Joy.

    Happy travels

  9. Chris Dame says:

    Ha, that’s hilarious that you use the same deodorant. It makes sense, since you live where I discovered it. I may have you pick me up some next time I head through your country. ;)

    Definitely check out the shoes. They still amaze meat how well they hold up after all I’ve put them through. I couldn’t imagine having a bag as big as yours. It’s over 3 times as big! However, I don’t use mine to go camping. I do have doubts that you an instantly access things buried at the bottom of your bag with only one opening, though.

    You are dead on with the cables. I only have 2 things that don’t charge via USB. My laptop (which serves as USB hub for everything else) and my camera battery. Now that you mention it, I should see if some makes a converter for USB to the standard 8-shaped plug my battery charger uses. Thanks!

  10. Patrick Hickey says:

    The ‘PowerGen Rapid smart charger‘ charges camera/phone batteries via USB or can be pluged into a wall socket. Quite well built too. I got this http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B000TFVFGE/ref=oss_product to go with it so I can use a short cable I have for my Hardrive instead of the bulky one powergen provide to charge.

    As for the bag the opening is a flap approx 26cm x 47cm so when you put your bag down and unzip the flap you can see almost the entire contents of the bag. A little organisation and it all stays in its place. No diging required. That is one of the main reasons I don’t like regular backpacks, not enough access…

    As for the size it’s not 32Lt but I find when you tighten the 4 side straps, as I normally have it becomes very compact and doesn’t stick out that much. So probably more like a 45/50lt bag just flatter and more rectangular in shape if you organise your gear. I try to travel light so its usually not to heavy but camping gear is bulky so sometimes the extra room is required. Other regular backpacks that offer this much space would weigh 3 or 4 kg.

    I overlanded and camped out of this bag for 14months straight. The fact that it is versatile and hasn’t let me down is probably why I’ve become attached to it. That’s probably true of any gear that serves you well.

    It will come on my next overland trip, Africa here I come

  11. Chris Dame says:

    Those chargers look quite handy, but unfortunately they don’t charge my camera’s battery. I don’t know what it’s called, but if there were a converter from this kind of standard 8-shaped connector to USB, that would be perfect.

    8 shaped plug

    My bag is mostly empty and I probably could have gone smaller, but I also like the ability to expand when I’m carrying something big, like a gift for my next host. That’s nice that the bag opens up entirely. I used to have a bag like that and it was great. It acts as a dresser when you lay it on the bed, less packing to do. Now I do a little more packing, put it takes less space. Maybe I should do that article on how I pack…

    Everyone has a technique, and when you learn yours, it’s pointless to change. I have things hidden away in all of my bag’s little pockets that nobody else could find, but I can get everything within seconds. I’m glad your bag works perfectly for you, and enjoy Africa!

  12. Patrick Hickey says:

    Is that so you can charge your computer via USB? Ahh that would be great. Have searched from time to time for something of this nature. No success yet… Someone needs to make a cable, USB on one end and 19v 2.1A out the other. But I think it would be just as heavy as the original charger… I left the computer at ‘Home’ for 7/8 months on a previous trip. Its good to go offline sometimes.

    I could probably improve my packing technique and have a smaller bag so would love to see how you do it. Curious, how much does your pack weigh?

    Great list by the way and blog too, thanks for sharing.

  13. Chris Dame says:

    It would be so I can charge my camera battery via USB. It’s the only thing (besides my computer) that cannot. I agree about going offline, however this isn’t my vacation, it’s my life. That little computer is how I earn my living. A 7-8 month vacation sounds great.

    My bag weighs about 16kg when it’s fully loaded. I honestly sometimes forget I’m wearing it.

    Thank you for commenting. It’s great to go deeper into these choices with someone else making these decisions.

  14. Regan says:

    Great website. Very detailed breakdown of what you bring with you when you travel. And humorous too!

    Anyway…I plan to do some extensive travel as well. I have a similar packing list. I am a mac head too. Instead of the macbook tho, i have a macbook air and an ipad. And instead of the Olympus EP1 i have a canon T3i and a 28mm prime.

    I noticed your backpack is 32L. Wow. Cant believe you get all your stuff in there. Do you ever have to check it? Or can you always bring it as carry on without a problem? This is my main dilema. I was going to get a 50 or 60L Osprey Atmos or Aether backpack. But will definitaly have to check it. And Id have an ultra small day pack to put my macbook and camera in for carry on.

    Id like to travel light. Even tho I am going to travel for months at a time thru asia and also Europe at different times. I will be staying in hotels, hostels and even camp once and awhile.

    Most airlines have a strict carry on limit now of 22″x14″x9″ which even modest daypacks might have a problem conforming to. That is why i am thinking a medium sized 50 to 60L size might be better. It will be big enough to carry my stuff when travelling, plus a daypack inside for those times that i settle in one location, and i want to just carry my camera and laptop with me and leave my big pack in a hotel.

    Anyway…i was wondering what your opinion was on this two backpack system to cover ones bases. Also if you always are able to carry your fully packed 32L as carry on.

    Thanks!

  15. Chris Dame says:

    Thanks, Regan! Glad to hear the article is helpful.

    I have had to check my bag a couple of times, but never because of size. Iceland Air has a weight limit of 11kg, which I was over. I’ve flown on jumbo jets and tiny prop planes, and I’ve never had any issues fitting it into the overhead.

    I honestly can’t recommend using a smaller backpack enough. All the stuff you think you need? You will have a much worse time because you have to carry it around everywhere.

    Follow this rule:

    Pack half the stuff and bring twice the money.

    You will quickly find out that you didn’t actually need all the stuff you thought you did, and the money you saved buying stuff can be used for experiences.

    The two bag system has worked well for me. You can see my second bag in the underwear section of the article. Intuitive, I know.

  16. Azur says:

    Funny how much long term travelers gear starts to resemble each other after a while. :)
    But few ideas from my point of view:
    Since winter jacket and fleece take so much space, pack them into vacuum bags when you are not using them. You will get more free space if you compress them while weight will remain the same. Fleece will compress really well. Compressed sack offers rigidity which will help with backpacks structure as well.
    Additionally, if you pack all your clothes in vacuum bags or packing cubes the packing/unpacking becomes so much easier and simpler. And if you want to find something, you can get to it really quickly.

    I don’t know how big of a fan you are about VFF looks but if you have them just for the barefeet running, then you can get Nike Free’s which will do the same, and if you get them all black, can double as a more upscale shoe too sometimes. Multi-functional gear is essential for light travel.
    I never check bags so I have to be a bit more careful about the weight(spending 370 grams on speakers seems such a luxury, lol)

  17. Azur says:

    Also, now I have a sudden desire to change all my socks to cool stripy ones. :)

  18. Chris Dame says:

    Hey Azur!

    I completely agree with what you said about compression bags and packing cubes. I actually use them for packing and as makeshift dressers wherever I’m staying. They are indispensable. Perhaps I should make that how to video on packing.

    I like Nike Frees, but they are far too big to be a secondary pair of shoes, and too flimsy to be a main pair of shoes. I have friends that like them, but they fall apart every 6 months. I really wish they would bring back the city knife, as it was the perfect travel shoe.

    http://www.traveltrue.net/2010/06/always-carry-a-city-knife/

    Definitely go for the colorful socks. You won’t regret it!

  19. Gail says:

    The solution to stinky vibram toe-shoes that you can only wear for one day in a row, is toe-socks.

    !!!

    I know, I know, it’s that moment where you’re hit with the ridiculous mind-searing obviousness of it, right?
    Obviously not for when you’re walking in water, but luckily that helps the stink situation anyway.

  20. Carmen Miranda-Jones says:

    Unintentionally came into your blog. Love-loved it! I am not a great traveler like you (on my bucket list -waiting to get courage to travel alone, though) BUT when I do (4-6 x a year) I’m a horrible packer. You (and followers) R a Master at it. Great tips. Will love to see your actual-packing video. Notify me when you do. Happy Valentine Day tomorrow.

  21. Dude Abroad says:

    Great site. Like others, I am particularly impressed with your ability to travel round the world with only a 32L backpack.

    I really want to give ultra light travel a go, but I would have to seriously downsize from my 60L! The thing is, I really like to pitch a tent instead of always staying in a hostel or hotel. I find it more exciting.

    I’d also have to do away with some lenses and camera equipment too. Really go zen. I was even thinking of 86ing my DSLR altogether, and just bringing my iphone which now has an 8 mega pixel camera. I could shoot pics and video with it and edit it on an ipad instead of the bulkier macbook.

    I am a big guy, 6’4″ and 220lbs…so even minimal clothing takes up more room than the average person.

    So perhaps a 32L pack would be too small for me. I dunno. I would love the freedom of not having to check my baggage on planes however. Whats the largest size that most airlines would consider carry on? I was looking at an Osprey Kestrel 38L or an Osprey Talon 44L . Are they too big for carry on? Just right?

    Thanks for any advice.

  22. Chris Dame says:

    Hey Dude,

    It’s very possible to go ultralight and go camping. The campers are the first people who started the ultralight concept! I have a friend who travels around the world with an even smaller backpack and camps everywhere. He downsized from my MacBook to a netbook (you have an iPad, which is even smaller), brings less clothes and extras (like my speaker and only one big coat with a thin rain liner), but also packs in a tent and a cot that lets him sleep anywhere comfortably, which doesn’t take up much space. Waterproof toiletry bags can be inflated to make comfy pillows at night. I prefer sleeping in hostels in cities, but my plan is modified from those who use this tactic to camp. It’s very possible, and much more enjoyable when you aren’t carrying around so much weight and a giant punching bag everywhere. I guarantee your clothes don’t take up -that- much more room, especially if you plan them right. Maybe a few ounces.

    You are definitely right about having to give up all of the extra camera equipment, though. I am a professional photographer, and I only have that one tiny lens. It’s prime, which means my pictures are sharp, and I’ve learned to use it like an extension of myself. Instead of clumsily switching between five pound lenses while a moment passes, I just whip the camera out of my pocket, take the picture, and slide it back in before anyone even cares. Your idea of using just an iPhone is great, though, especially now that they shoot full HD video.

    I can tell you that the 32L I have is pretty much the maximum for carry-on, and there have been a couple of extremely small planes where I’ve had to check it. It carries on about 98% of the time, though, and I always smile as I pass the people with rollerbags having to check them at the gate. I would say anything above 32L would not carry on.

    Good luck, and I hope to hear about your adventures!

  23. Patrick Hickey says:

    @Chris,
    You were/are looking for a USB charger for your camera battery. I picked this up at at trade show in Germany a few weeks ago. http://www.pixo.de/p/products_cusb.html

    It’s the Pixo C-USB. It charges 3.6-3.7V and 7.2-7.4V. Works great and charges my 7.2v camera battery no prob. Cant really say about long term reliability as I have only had it a short time. Seen a wide range of prices for it online. Think the best i’ve seen is under 15 euro on Amazon.de.

    @Dude Abroad
    Just on carryon luggage her in Europe anyway the max allowed i’ve seen is 10kg some used to be 7.5kg. Have had my carryon weighed quite often lately. In particular Ryanair do it just before you get on the plane. Never over weight but it’s not just about size. And they will charge you a silly amount to check it at that stage.

    Do love to just have carry on though. It makes flying so much easier. if I’m only going for a week or two somewhere under 10 kg is loads. Usually 7kg is all I bring. 10kg would just be 3kg of extra stuff I probably won’t use. Just have to keep the liquids below 100ml each and leave the sharps at home. Happy travels

  24. Chris Dame says:

    Patrick,

    That charger does look very useful, but I wish there were more pictures so I could understand how it worked. Right now I have no idea how a battery fits in there to charge.

    And tomorrow I’m off again for a few weeks. Time to brush off those packing skills again!

  25. Patrick Hickey says:

    Chris,

    Just uses a regular USB cable pluged in the top. Like one you use for a portable harddrive or to charge some phones. Then you can plug it in to your computer, portable power pack, ect. basically anything with a usb output. The batteries can fit in from the left or right or from the top. Best to look at the manual available on the link in my last post.

    Agree not many pics on the website but it basically can charge almost any battery via USB. It has metal pins that you move to make contact with + – on the battery. There are other chargers for AC/DC out there but they don’t allow me to charge a battery when not in a car (12v) or have a socket available. I do a lot of camping and the odd time I don’t see a regular power source for more than a week. With this charger I can use a portable power pack like the Brunton inspire to recharge my camera battery in-between.

    Also recharges AA and AAA which is useful for my head torch. I like that it serves many purposes.

    My travel charging kit is an APC plug adapter, a Mili 2.1A universal charger, the Pixo C-usb and a few short cables. This can charge everything I regularly carry via usb or the batteries they use. This is the only charger I have seen that can charge my 7.2v camera battery via USB and his gives me a lot more options and less bulk. I had a similar charger the ‘PowerGen Rapid smart charger‘ but this does not charge the 7.2v battery of my current camera.

    I always look to lighten the load where possible and think these 3 products + cables are still to much. But suppose I wouldn’t be without my camera, phone and ipod touch.

    Have a great trip. Need to brush off my packing skills too. Road trip in lest than 3 weeks.

  26. S. says:

    Hi Chris,
    There is no mention of a rain jacket. Do you find that you don’t need one? Umbrella? Any thoughts?

    Thank you!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’1954593557 which is not a hashcash value.

  27. Chris Dame says:

    Hi S,

    There actually is mention of it. My softshell is completely waterproof and windproof. It has a hood, which means I generally don’t need an umbrella, either.

    Cheers!

  28. Kai Mantsch says:

    Me too. http://mytimeasahuman.com/everything-i-own-weighs-less-than-your-shoes/640

    I seem to have a lot fewer clothes than you’ve chosen to take. I’m amazed you fit all of that (and the jeans) in your bag although i admit I do have a fair bit of extra space in my North Face Recon (32L).

    My question is this: how often do you really use that mummy liner? I thought about getting one and all of the people who have been willing to wash sheets for me actually got upset that I was trying to make their lives easier. Trying to decide if I return the liner or not. Thoughts?

  29. Chris Dame says:

    Kai, you do seem to have quite a bit less clothes than me. I’m also guessing you don’t go places as cold as me. I spent one winter above the arctic circle, and I’m currently in Mongolia, where it’s scheduled to hit 50 below this winter. It’s good to have variety for these times, so I’m not wearing everything at once all the time. Thankfully, it all seems to fit, just barely.

    I have only used the mummy liner a handful of times, maybe a total of three weeks out of the year. I can say that each time it has been the difference between shivering at night and sleeping comfortably. It more than earns its fist-sized space in my bag. I honestly don’t know what’s up with whomever you crashed with, but it’s been most useful for me in hostels and friends’ houses who don’t normally have guests. I’ve been very thankful when they ran out of sheets and I was still cold.

    I hope your travels go well!

  30. [...] world with a change of underwear and a fleece is the privilege of able-bods. I would basically fill travel blogger Chris Dame’s tiny 32L round-the-world travel backpack with the tough, secure pack that houses my medication, the subset of medical records I need each [...]

  31. [...] As I’ve written about before, most of my clothes are merino wool already, which comes in very useful here. Wool underwear, wool leggings, a wool t-shirt, and wool socks make up my first layer. So far, nothing new. [...]

Leave a Reply