January 13th, 2018
Packing light is essential, especially if you like travelling on foot. After spending a month in Warsaw in winter, I've made a few changes to my ultra-light packing list. The great thing about a packing list is that it is constantly adjusting as you learn what works and what doesn't. Like a living organism, it must evolve to cope with different environments.
I found that even in the depth of a snowy Polish winter, my thermal base layers weren't necessary, so these have gone. The swimmer's towel began to smell after a few weeks and was difficult to clean. After getting rid of it, it became obvious a towel isn't really necessary. Water evaporates on its own, but many hostels and hotels provide towels and, if not, you can dry yourself off with a tshirt. I also realised that only having one pair of jeans wasn't ideal when they became dirty, so I've added a spare.
Since I have bought a one way plane ticket, the below packing list is meant for full time travel. It is designed to fit any weather from the South East Asian hot and rainy season, all the way down to Europe in February. For more extreme cold, I'd consider thermals or a thick hoody, but I'm confident this list is enough to keep me warm.
The clothing you bring needs to be well thought out. By taking high quality, quick dry materials, you can cut it down to the bare minimum. I essentially bring two outfits: one I wear and one I pack.
The black tshirt was on my last list and has served me well. It is a simple, £10 shirt from H&M. Made of 66% polyester and 33% cotton, it is comfortable, doesn't stink and dries fast. I found I could wash this in the shower, wring it out, put it on a heater and it would be dry enough to wear within 20 minutes.
The grey tshirt is a new addition. It is 90% polyester and 10% elastine. Since it's from Mountain Warehouse, it is designed for travel. It wicks sweat, inhibiting the production of odour producing bacteria. Surprisingly, it dries slower than the H&M shirt, I think because it is thicker. Notice that they are both neutral colours so that they go with anything and it's not obvious you're wearing the same clothes everyday.
This time, I'm only bringing one thin jumper. It turns out that my Patagonia coat (below) is much warmer than I thought it would be. When I go travelling, it'll be February and we'll be coming into spring. Furthermore, my first stop is Athens, which will be upwards of 15°C. I therefore believe that this thin, 57% polyester, 37% cotton, 6% elastine jumper will be enough to keep me warm. It's a neutral blue colour and will dry quickly after washing due to its materials and thickness (or lack thereof).
This Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody is, I believe, the best coat that exists. It locks in heat, yet is breathable so can be worn in most weather. If I do end up somewhere warmer, it packs down fairly small in my bag. It's a versatile, water resistant, neutrally coloured coat, with plenty of warm pockets. This is essential for any minimalist who can afford to invest upwards of £100. Hopefully, I'll never need another jacket. I haven't tested it in heavy rain though, so I might want to throw a poncho over the top in those conditions.
As I've already mentioned, I think two is the right number of jeans. You'll always be wearing one anyway and some jeans pack up fairly small. The darker ones, from Lee, are actually really thin, despite being made of rugged, durable material. You can scrub stains off and they'll still be dry enough to wear. For a full wash and dry, you at least have something to wear while you wait.
I'm done with winter long johns. In really cold weather, they are great. However, I'm confident I'll be fine with just regular boxers. These from Under Armour (90% polyester, 10% elastine) are about the best ones you can get. They rarely stink and dry really quickly. The material is strong enough to last them being worn almost daily for years on end.
I'm convinced that the Darn Tough socks are the best on the market. They really never wear down, despite me wearing the same two pairs every day for almost a year. They are merino wool, so remain smelling fresh. They also dry quickly, although they take longer to dry than the tshirts or boxer shorts.
These black running shoes from Nike are strong and versatile. They are comfortable enough for hikes and rocky terrain, while being casual enough for inner city bars. By being black all over, they don't show dirt or stains. This is my only pair and they're on my feet at all times, freeing up space in my backpack.
My accessories are also being kept to a bare minimum. The essentials are passport, wallet and phone. I also have an adapter for chargers and a small pair of earphones. Then there's the superlight Craghoppers water bottle, plus a laptop. I previously travelled with a 15 inch from HP, which made up the bulk of my packing weight. This time, I'm switching to a Lenovo Miix 510. It's essentially a Surface Pro, with the crucial difference being I can afford it.
It's slightly heavier than a Surface, but being 12.2 inches and ultra-slim is perfect for me. It also has a really great keyboard for typing (except for that damn tiny shift key!). If I didn't need to write for income, I'd only take a phone. Laptop and tablets are really a waste of space if they aren't being used for business reasons.
So this is what all my stuff looks like packed up. The Eagle Creek Packing cube easily fits the clothes I'm not wearing along with the electronics. The fact that it's double sided really helps to keep everything organised. The red toiletry bag contains only the essentials - deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap and hair stuff.
Jack Wolfskin is underrated as a maker of backpacks. For £75, I purchased this one and it's been perfect. This 32 litre Jack Pot Deluxe comes with a concealed rain cover, a case for laptops up to 15.6 inches and plenty of space. It's been through a lot and shows no sign of wear and tear. All my stuff in here doesn't even take up half the bag, which is ideal. It means I can add a book and some food while on the road.
So this is my complete packing list. It's what I'm using right now, but it's bound to change as I learn about new products and travel to new environments. What's in your bag? Is there anything you'd add to this list, or perhaps you've spotted something I could leave behind? This works perfectly for me, but every packing list is unique.
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