Kicking Excessive Packing to the Curb. Photo By Evan Finn.
For the past month I was in Southeast Asia, traveling through Cambodia and Thailand. If you’ve followed this blog at all you’ve probably seen some of the photographs I’ve been posting. Most likely what you haven’t seen is what I actually packed.
One of my major goals for this trip was to pack ultralight, which basically means my entire month of traveling was going to fit into a bag less than 30 liters. To put that into perspective, my entire life for a month fit into a bag smaller than most backpacks college students use. I did my research but this ended up being a pretty extreme test, even for a minimalist like myself.
However, it was an incredibly satisfying and enjoyable experience. Most backpackers I met had my size bag as their second bag, which they would wear on their front, as they lugged the 70 liter monstrosity on their back. Packing light has many advantages; I never needed to check my bag, nor part with it on the bus or ferries I would go on. Packing up and leaving locations was always quick and hunting around for hostels was never a process that resulted in back strain.
A key aspect to ultralight packing is realizing that, if you truly need something in the country you are going to, you will be able to purchase it there. I felt no need to bring an umbrella because, if necessary I would purchase it there. In fact there were a few items, like sleeveless shirts and sunglasses that I explicitly decided to wait until getting to Southeast Asia to purchase. They were much cheaper and ended up being nice souvenirs. Versatility is also important in this list-almost everything served multiple functions and everything matched with everything else.
I’ll include the full packing list below, but I want to highlight a few items that turned out to be the ultralight packing all-stars. These were probably the most useful items I brought and I highly recommend anyone who enjoys travel to purchase them. I used these items on a daily, or near daily, basis and my trip was made much easier by their presence.
PrAna Zion Stretch Pants (link): Man did I do my research on a pair of pants to bring. I committed to only brining one and this is the pair. I can confidently say I will always own a pair of these for the rest of my life. They are thin, light, quick-drying, and moisture wicking-you will simply never sweat in these pants, even in the tropics. They also have a variety of pockets (including one hidden, zipper pocket; perfect for passports and cash). One of my favorite features of these pants are the snaps to allow you to roll up the pants past your ankles-a huge benefit in warm climates. You can easily dress these up or down. This is possibly my favorite and most versatile piece of clothing I brought.
ExOfficio Briefs (link): This should come as no surprise to frequent travelers-ExOfficio has always been the golden standard in travel underwear. They are incredibly comfortable, anti-microbial, and quick-drying. If you are ultralight packing, you are probably doing the ‘wash and wear’ philosophy; wash one pair while you wear the other pair. I only brought two pairs of underwear with me and I never felt I needed an extra pair. Get these.
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack (link): This was a critical purchase. Its a zippered daypack (traditional two strap backpack style) that compresses into a draw string bag smaller than your fist. I used this daily exploring the islands and cities I was in. Its extremely strong and pretty roomy-at various times it held my laptop, camera, multiple towels, changes of clothes, and more. Having a second, collapsable daypack was necessary.
There are also two major changes I’ll make the next time I head over to Southeast Asia. First of all, I won’t bring my Kindle. I love the Kindle at home but I don’t need my entire library on the road. What I need is a paperback book that I won’t feel hesitant about bringing to the beach. Secondly, I will get a more durable wallet-sized waterproof bag that could hold a phone and cash. I kept using a small ziplock and after a couple weeks it started to develop tears. aLOKSAK is a great brand for this and I plan on purchasing some in the future.
Full packing list below (with some commentary). All items are linked to product pages.
- PrAna Stretch Zion pants
- Lululemon Kahuna shorts (used for exploring, working out)
- PrAna Linear shorts (exploring, swimming, working out)
- American Apparel Polyester Micro-Fiber Board Short (sleeping, exploring, swimming, working out)
- 2 Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Short Sleeves
- 2 Sleeveless shirts, purchased in Southeast Asia
- Columbia Silver Ridge Shirt (anti-microbial, quick-dry, and roll up sleeves that could be buttoned up, could easily be dressed up or down)
- Marmot Precip Rain Jacket
- 2 ExOfficio briefs
- 1 pair of quick dry ankle socks
- Keen Turia Water Shoes (these were awesome, shoes that could be easily be worn to the beach, on a hike, or at a nice dinner. I got the ones that were enclosed with mesh.)
- Flip Flops
- 2 bandanas (more useful than a hat in my opinion)
Living On The Road: