May 26th, 2020
Disclaimer: I have not been paid for mentioning any brands, these are genuinely my clothes. The prices given are based on what I paid and should be taken as a rough guideline only.
Travelling and minimalism go hand in hand. Less luggage means freedom and mobility, so the more you can go without, the better. I feel like I have perfected my packing list, but the ultimate test is can you pack light during cold, winter months?
This winter, I'll be heading to Eastern Europe. This list contains enough clothes to keep you warm down to around -10ºC (14ºF) and it all fits into a carry-on.
I have also ensured that I will be wearing clean clothes everyday and clothes that I know look good on me. Most of this stuff is pretty cheap, brought from normal high street stores or online, but with a focus on material (avoid cotton!). Let's go through the list and explain how to make each item work for indefinite travel in relatively cold places.
We start with the basics: jeans and tshirts. For hotter climates you can get away with a pair of swimming shorts which can be washed and dried quickly. However, for the cold I want to be wearing jeans everyday. These jeans are by Lee as part of their "Durabilt" range. I got them for £40 ($53) on sale so they're not overly expensive, but they were definitely built to last. At 71% cotton and the rest elastine, they are the only item on my list with a heavy cotton content.
However, since they are dark and durable, you can easily go two weeks or more between washes. Ideally, I would sink wash these and find a heater to put them on to dry overnight. Otherwise, I'd use the hostel's washing machine and drier and just wear my leggings while I wait for them to be done. It wouldn't be crazy to add a pair of shorts to wear while they wash or another pair of jeans entirely to stretch out how long you need to wait before finding a laundrette.
The thinking behind the tshirts is the exact reverse. While these will easily go a week before they start to smell, they are easy to handwash and dry overnight. They are a third cotton and two thirds polyester. I've tested these against a (much more expensive) Icebreaker Merino wool tshirt and they fit better, last longer and even dry quicker. All for just £9.99 ($13).
I've worn just these same two H&M tshirts for the last six months, but no one's really noticed since they are dark, neutral colours. I wash them whenever I feel like and they dry really quickly. They are thin and lightweight, so take up no space in your bag. I honestly don't know of a better travelling tshirt. Even if you get a bit sweaty, leave them to air out overnight and they'll be fine to wear again.
Now, underwear is a little more tricky. While many minimalists believe in the power of going commando, I find a good pair of underwear keeps your jeans cleaner for longer. I have gone for one pair of Under Armour boxers (around £10 or $13) and a high quality pair of North Face thermal base layer tights (£35/$46).
While they're not the cheapest underwear available, they're still a fairly cheap option compared to other brands. The boxer shorts are made for sport, which means that after a day of light exercise, they will still smell fresh. If you find the idea of wearing the same boxers more than once without washing disgusting, simply give them a soak in the sink or shower before bed with a bit of soap and they'll be clean and dry by morning.
They are 90% polyester and 10% elastine, so they behave completely differently to standard cotton boxers. As they air out, the materials stop the spread of odour-causing microbes, so if the worst comes to the worst, they can be reworn several days in a row.
The leggings are of a similar, elastine material, with FlashDry technology (whatever that is). They will protect your jeans even better than boxers and are incredibly comfortable. Once again made for athletes, they wick away sweat to prevent odour. They can be extremely warm when the temperature drops, but aren't too hot if you are exercising, so really they are the best for versatility. They take a little longer to dry than the boxer shorts, but still dry pretty fast especially if you can find a radiator to put them on.
When it comes to anti-microbial materials, most travellers recommend merino wool. However, merino wool often isn't durable and with socks, durability is key. If you are only switching between two pairs, then that's a lot of usage. That's why I'm so glad I discovered these Darn Tough socks (that's the brand). They cost around £17 ($22) a pair, but if you only have two it's definitely worth it.
These are 61% merino wool, but combined with 36% nylon and 3% lycra spandex, which I guess gives it that robust feel. I've been using just two pairs of these for the last six months and they are showing no signs of wear or tear. They are quite thick with a lot of padding, which is perfect for the cold weather. However, they don't dry as quickly as the underwear so bear that in mind.
While the material does a good job of preventing odour, I find my feet sweat quite a lot and so I do wash them every single day. However, if for some reason I cannot wash them, they're usually okay to wear two days running.
Continue to part 2
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