How to Pack Light (1)

I have been to roughly 50 countries now and I often being asked about this question when people see I travel only with my 30L Osprey backpack. It’s a fair question and it is the result of iterative optimization. It’s not for everyone since everyone’s situation is different. I can clearly see the limitation and take it as a grain of salt to understand that it is optimized for a single male at age 30 ish, travelling to the places where temperature is above zero celcius and mainly battle-tested in Asia, North America, Middle-East and Europe.

First of all, I would list the reasons for travelling light. A few bullet points,

  1. No check-in luggage therefore for some of the airline you could do web check-in and skip the counter step. Save your time at the airport. Also, you could save the time of waiting at the luggage carousel.
  2. No check-in luggage means you risk no chance of losing your check-in luggage, or it is delayed and sent to the wrong place.
  3. Since you travel light then you have more negotiation advantage to those greedy taxi drivers trying to rip you off. You could just walk 1km from the bus stations or airport to hail other taxi. Or even better, it is only 15 mins of walk to the city center you could just simply walk.
  4. Sometimes there is a gap between your hotel checkout time and your intet-city bus time. You could just carry your bag with you instead leaven your luggage at the hotel after checking out. No need to go back and pick up your luggage and add more risk factors on transportation.

There are also a few downside as well.

  1. Since only cabin bag you could not carry scissors and razors etc. Also the total amount of liquid is also restricted by flight rule. Fingernail clip is alright though.
  2. The room for souvenir would be limited.

With the above goods and bads said, let’s start by introducingy bag. It’s 30L Osprey Comet.

Before digging into the individual items, I would like to address the rule of packing. That is Modulization with displine. You need to categorize your belongings into groups and keep them in smaller bags. Like electronics and batteries in one bag. Socks and undies in another etc. Also, you have to follow the discipline during your trip, whenever you take out some stuffs from the bag, you have to put them back to their original place, so that you could minimize your chance of leaving your belongings behind. Every time I lose some of my belongings, I broke the rule.

To secure my bag, I would carry two padlocks with me. I could use them for the hostel’s lockers in case they charge you on padlocks. Note that choose the one with wire steel, since you wouldn’t know what the hole looks like for the closet. And use password padlock so you don’t have to worry about losing the key

Just secure your bag with padlock with play as a signal that you are prepared a traveller so that pick pocketer would choose an easier target. Even if a simple padlock is not that secure in the eye of a skilled locksmith (or they could simply destroy your bag), it shows as a security theater.

Next I would like to talk about the clothes. How to minimize the weights while keep yourself warm. The simple rule of clothing is to make it multi-layer: Putting more on when it’s freezing and taking the outer layer off when it is warm. To cope with windy and drizzling rain, I bought the NorthFace shell. It doesn’t keep you warm but necessary when it’s windy and rainy.

The shell is very light weight and you could fold it up and stuck it into the bag. However, you also need a layer to keep yourself warm, where I chose Uniqlo’s ultra-light down. You could also fold it as well and good for temperature above single digit.

For temperature on mid-teen, I could basically handle it by my Route-8 base layer, it’s designed for hikers and it could handle to about 11–12 celcius in unwindy circumstances.

For the clothes with direct contact to the body, I chose Uniqlo’s dry-fit. Since it’s the inner most layer, in most of the cases you only need to change this layer. And it is easy to dry up overnight. All you have to do is just put around three of them in your luggage and it’s enough for your long term traveling.

For pants, the inner layer I also chose Route-8 in case the temperature is pretty low. With Merrell’s Zip-off trousers. You could simply turn it into shorts if it is hot, or while you sleep. The material is quite comfortable so you could use it as pajama and therefore you don’t need extra set of pants.

I use Merrell’s hiking shoes as well. Sometimes you have light hiking in your trip, and it could handle well muddy roads and lightly raining. The downside is that it is not that comfortable as running shoes. You might want to take it off while you are on long distance bus ride.

To be continued.