I’m planning on doing some long-term travel (3 months to a year), and after researching what to bring I’ve decided to share my list with anyone who might be interested. My emphasis is for items that are super small, super useful, and super lightweight. I place lightweight last, because with so few items weight is not really an issue, but size is. I have some concessions to adding climbing gear, but otherwise, this list can be used for anyone planning world travel.
My goal is to travel with as small of a kit as possible, to only bring the typical “fit under the seat” carry-on, and the “One personal item” that the airlines allow. No check-in bags that can get lost en route to Alma Ata – light and fast is my motto!
All clothing needs to be able to be washed in a sink and dried overnight on a line. Which means either synthetics, or Merino wool. Merino wool gets preference since it tends to stink less than synthetics, yet dries just as fast.
Gear such as phones, tablets and laptops need to be as small as possible, yet powerful and versatile. I am a web-guy who does photography and photo correcting so I need some compromise on size and power for my laptop. An iPhone triples as a Kindle reader, browser, and camera for both stills and video – and a phone!
What goes around
PacSafe Lifestyle 21 – Plenty of security measures built in: slash proof wire mesh embedded in the lining, locking mechanism for the zippers. I considered a 30L Osprey Porter, but because of the security features, and also because I realized I needed a slightly larger size for my climbing gear the PacSafe LS21 was the ticket! Packed, it measures 9″x14″x22 – the typical size for carryons on most of the major airlines. Because of the electronics and other stuff I carry for blogging/vlogging my smaller pack weighs about as much as the larger one. Because of this reason a roller bag makes more sense. I talked to a woman who travelled the world, and she told me she took a roller bag everywhere, even in rural parts of Africa. The short distances you might have to carry (up stairs, over mud…), it has carry handles for that reason.
Pacsafe RFID Slingsafe LX300 Anti-Theft Backpack – a smaller backpack (or front pack when moving from place to place. This holds my electronics, and what I term Essentials. The reason I call it Essentials is that the items in this bag – my Macbook Pro, my Kindle, Backup drive, et al – may not be easily replaced on the road. While it would suck to lose my big bag, clothes I can buy, climbing gear I can rent, etc. I’ve had a backpack checked at the gate, and having known a few folks who have had their luggage “misplaced,” I’ll have a little comfort knowing my essentials are still with me.
Sea to Summit Ultra-sil Day Pack 20L – Trust me, you need an additional lightweight backpack. When you do the tourist thing and are looking around at the local markets – you don’t need your hauler backpack, you just need something lightweight and collapsible. Compressed, it fits in the palm of my hand!
Petzl Sitta Harness – I decided to pack this harness. It is super light (9.5 ounces), packs super small, and because climbing is my life I’ll just feel better with my own harness.
La Sportiva Genius Rock Climbing Shoes – Awesome all-around high performance climbing shoes! Possibly the only type of climbing I’d avoid with these shoes are crack climbing, but otherwise I find myself reaching for these shoes. They are nearly comfortable, while simultaneously fitting like a glove. A foot glove! The edgeless technology takes a bit to get used to mentally versus a hard sharp edge, but once your mind wraps around that there is no edge, just a supremey sticky rounded corner – you start to love it!
I changed out my shoes for a waterproof La Sportiva model: La Sportiva Men’s Wildcat 2.0 GTX Trail Running Shoe.
It’s a waterproof (goretex) offroad trail running shoe. I decided I wanted something with a tad more support for hiking, with a sticky sole, but would also be appropriate for city sidewalks. An all-rounder. Since I was headed into the rainy season in Chile, I decided I needed something waterproof too, if I could find it. This version has Blue Frixion rubber, which has a good balance of stickiness vs durability, exactly what I was looking for! It fit the bill for a shoe I could use for appraoches for climbing, but durable enough not to be immediately worn away on the sidewalks I would mostly use it for.
Black Diamond ATC Guide – Smaller than a GriGri, in addition to belaying it can be used for multipitch and rappel.
Basically, anything that uses electricity, or is connected to something that uses electricity. So, laptop, iPhone, but also iPhone tripod, and protective cases. But not like…water bottles…get it?
Macbook Pro, 13″. I almost went with the MacBook Air, but decided on something a tad more powerful, additional weight as the compromise. I am a webguy, responsible for updating several websites, and I just need something that can do the job without fail.
iPhone 6 International version – Buy a sim card in the airport, pop it in, and you now have a phone using the local cell phone service. I decided to just keep my iPhone 6 rather than get the Plus size.
Kindle Paperwhite – Keeping for now, until I see how the iPhone 6s does as a stand-in. I do like the built in 3g. A more pleasant reading device than my iPhone.
MeritCase for the iPhone 6s – Protect your most useful tech. This is waterproof without having your iPhone in a baggy, and also has a lanyard attachment – for those times when you are taking a photo after climbing a crag. Cheaper than the Otterbox.
LaCie Rugged Mini USB 3.0 1TB External Hard Drive – 1 TB of Memory to backup my MacBook Pro. Ruggedized – the Mac guy told me it has been driven over by a truck, and can withstand drops from 4 feet! Compatible with the Mac’s Time Machine for effortless backups. It’s one of the smallest ones I could find, and can take a beating – perfect for travel!
Silicon Power 4TB Armor A85M External Drive for Mac – While the LaCie drive will mirror what’s on my laptop, I will be offloading the picture and video files used for the videos I will be creating to this drive. While I could have just bought a 4 TB LaCie drive, I wanted something that looked different than the drive used for Mac’s Time Machine backup, something devoted to the large video files I plan on generating.
BENRO Handheld Tripod 3 in 1 Self-portrait Monopod Extendable Phone Selfie Stick with Built-in Bluetooth Remote Shutter – This both a selfie stick, as well as a short tripod (from 7″ to about 33″). Heavy duty, and has an attachable remote that syncs with your iPhone.
GripTight Micro Stand for Phones – tiniest iPhone stand available. For tabletop reviews, or for use as a viewing stand.
Anker PowerCore 13000 Portable Charger – Compact 13000mAh 2-Port Ultra Portable Phone Charger Power Bank with PowerIQ and VoltageBoost Technology for iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy – Well, whaddaya know, 2 USB ports ARE better than 1! After live testing the Powercore 5000, I realized the utility of having an extra USB port for powering up my now dead Bose headphones. No more sweet silence for me!
The form factor of being flat rather than a round tube (Anker PowerCore 5000, Ultra-Compact 5000mAh External Battery) actually took up less useful space than the tube of the Powercube 5000, as it laid flat, more like a wallet, than a, well, tube. Bonus: charges my iPhone faster and holds more charges.
Energizer Compact Charger With 4 AA NiM – I have a few battery powered items (headlamp, flashlight, et al), and so I’ll use this to recharge the rechargeable batteries. Also charges AAA.
Black Diamond Ion Headlamp This is the smallest, lightest, yet full strength headlamp I could find. Runs on two AA Lithium alkaline batteries, and has dimming, strobing, even a red night light! I have more powerful headlamps, but at 100 lumens I find myself choosing this lightweight alternative.
Cree Keychain Flashlight At 360 lumens (360!), it’s nearly 4 times as bright as my headlamp. The blinding light can be used as protective cover at night as a flash in someone eyes to momentarily blind them. But frankly, I just use it to light up the night. Several modes such as strobe, 3 different beam strengths and a “Off” lock so you don’t accidentally turn it on in your pocket. Also uses a standard AAA battery. I’ll use a rechargeable battery once the included one dies off.
Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Solar Recharging Kit Because of the size and weight of this I decided to just use rechargeable batteries with a compact charger (see above)
La Sportiva Helios 2.0 Trail Running Shoes – I originally was looking at the New Balance 630 v5 , but I nearly splatted when traversing a compacted snow area of my driveway. It was then I realized I needed something similar – lightweight, minimalistic “bare foot” running style, but something that had a better rubber/tread. After test many types of shoes I picked out the Helios 2.0 from La Sportiva. Basically, I needed an all-rounder – something that would be suitable for the city/asphalt walking, as well as a light hiker, and rockclimbing approach shoe. The tread is more of a ribbed design than the cleat design I see on some of the more aggressive trail running shoes, so it has a stable platform for the concrete jungles, but the sort of ribbed design gives it traction. The minimalistic design makes it super comfortable for the street, yet grppy enough for the trail. I think the ribbed tread will wear less than the cleat designs that are en vogue on hard surfaces, and it is super light and non-fatiguing. I highly recommend these shoes for the intrepid traveler!
Chaco Updraft Gen 2 Sandals – I remember seeing someone with a pair of these in the back of a San Francisco bus. I thought they looked cool then, and think they look cool now. Several people whose opinion I respect wear these, and swear by them. I got a pair, and I couldn’t agree more. I got the Gen 2 version of the updrafts, which are 15% lighter than the original lightweight Chaco Updraft sandal. I’m considering testing out the Xero sandals, though, as they are lighter, and more packable.
Outdoor Research Filament Jacket – The lightest down puffy made by one of the best outdoor clothing companies around: Outdoor Research. They believe in their products so much that their products are “…guaranteed forever.” Since I really don’t know where I’m going to go next, this, plus long johns and thermal longsleeved shirt will cover colder environs.
Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket – The lightest waterproof jacket I could find. Sooo light, so light!
Icebreaker Anatomics V neck tshirt – 83% Merino Wool, with a mix of 12% Nylon and 5% Spandex. High performance tshirt that dries fast after a sink wash, and stays odor free longer than synthetics. These are cut a little tighter than the Wooly T’s. In black.
Wooly Clothing V-Neck T-shirt – A little cheaper than the Icebreaker T, with a looser fit, and a different color (grey).
ExOfficio Geo Trek’r longsleeved collared shirt (White) – I like the stealth zippered pocket on the front with the side entry. I’m convinced that real-life James Bond’s and Indiana Jones types would approve of the ExOfficio branded clothing. Most are light, vented and have sun protection built in.
Kuhn hooded shirt – ‘Cause you need to have a 2nd shirt. This is blue with a hood, for a slightly different, more casual longsleeved look than the ExOficio Longsleeved shirt above.
PrAna Stretch Zion Pant – I like these. I’m interested in trying the Brion version, but can’t seem to find those. This, though, is one of my go to walking/climbing/cocktail hour allrounders. The rule is to have 2 pants – one a light color, and one dark. This is the light colored one, in Ginger (burnt orange basically).
Kuhl Renegade Pants – These are my one concession to zipoff pants. I do not like the look of the typical zipoff pants, I think they scream “tourist,” but it’s hard to argue against their utility to convert to shorts when the going gets hot. It also doubles the pants selection without increasing the weight. These are the only zipoffs I’d wear as they don’t scream “zipoff,” especially in the darker “carbon” color. Instead of the flap, it looks like a bead above the knee. Combined with the contrast stitching of Kuhl clothing the line lends itself to the overall styling – and so the zipoff goes unnoticed. I used these pants in both a yoga class as well as the local coffeeshop just after without a pause. In the heat of a packed yoga room I felt I could have zipped the ends off mid class with hardly any effort at all.
Manduka The Homme Redux Shorts – shorts that double as swim shorts.
1 swimming trunk and one black knee length short – So 3 shorts, and one of my pants is a zipoff.
Smartwool Merino 150 Pattern Boxer Brief – (5) I like the smartwool products, all the way to my skivvies.
Smartwool Socks (4) – Best travel socks. Period.
Keep it clean
Travelon Laundry Sheets – Tiny package, with 50 laundry strips.
Dr Bronner’s lavender soap (4 oz) – Closest thing to a universal soap that I use for my showers, but can be used to wash clothes in a pinch.
Wilderness Wipes – When a shower is not nearby, these will do the trick.
Do it best, 5″ rubber stopper – portable washing machine (sink). Got this idea from the Digital Nomad.
REI Quick Dry Towel (Large)
Humangear GoTube – For the liquids, 3 oz is one ounce less than the 4 oz airline limit for liquids. Has suction cups built into the sides for sticking to the side of your shower stall, and leakproof screw tops. I use one for Shampoo/conditioner combo, and one for Dr. Bronner’s Lavender soap.
Sawyer Mini water purifier – The Sawyer mini water purifier also includes a collapsible rollup bottle – and now your hydrating! Pure filtered water in a tiny package!
Aerolatte to go – I use this to whip up my bulletproof coffee (it’s the little things). It can also aerate eggs for making fluffy omelettes as well as mix the occasional protein drink. I chose the Aerolatte over the competition because of its good reviews, and plastic travel case.
Cocoon RipStop Silk TravelSheet – You never know really when the last time the sheets have been washed, or when the bed bugs are biting. This gives some peace of mind.
Sea to Summit Ultra-sil Dry sack and Compression Bag (4) – I use 4 of these, 3 for my clothes, and the 4th for other compressible items, such as my towel, and my climbing harness. Clothes are the biggest space suckers. I use 4 XS instead of a larger compression bag because when you compress these, the bigger ones will have a circumference that will make the width of your bag exceed the 9″ width airline requirement. If you use 4, then they can individually only have (at most) 9″ width.
I organize my clothing with the Eagle Creek Packing Cubes first, then stuff those into the 4 compression bags. Keeps me under the carryon size limit!
One of the 4 compression bags is slightly larger Small bag, that can double as a clothing washer. Fill with water, toss some laundry soap, and start squishing!
Packsafe RFIDsafe V100 Anti-theft Blocking Bifold wallet – with a connecting lanyard that is slash proof.
Kikkerland UL03-A Universal Travel Adapter – Nifty device for when you need to power up using unfamiliar outlets. Smallest universal plug adapter I could find!
JOOMFEEN Worldwide All in One Universal Power Converters – After additional testing, I decided to replace the Kikkerland UL03-A Universal Travel Adapter with something that also had USB charging ports. This one can not only convert power worldwide, it also has 2 USB ports in the same size as the Kikkerland Adapter. #winning
Steripen – Sterilize the waters!
Forge TSA Locks 2 Pack – Lock it up like Lohan!
All the above fit into both my PacSafe bags, with a little room to spare. I think, with the occasional fine-tuning and local additions that this kit can stand for a year’s travel, and possibly more in most environments a traveller may find themselves in. I’ll update this list as the travel miles rack up.
But what, pray tell, is the weight?
Answer: The large backpack is 20 lbs, the small pack is 15 lbs.
Many of the linked products are my affiliate links, but rest assured I only link to what I actually use and admire. I receive a small compensation when you click the links and purchase a product, but I would not recommend a product solely for that reason – only products that I enjoy and find useful.
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