York and I have officially quit our job and will be travelling the world in less than a month’s time! We bought two “Round the World Tickets” that allows us to travel from Australia to South America, Europe, Asia then back.
We also made the decision to pack all our clothes for the year in a 7kg carry-on! Now we have to pack our Antarctica weather gear as well as hot climate clothes for the Amazons jungles in one small bag. If only I didn’t book the Last-Minute Antarctica Cruise, our packing would have been a lot easier. Below is a detailed packing list for long term travel and what we going to survive on for the next year.
A Good Traveler’s Backpack.
Many good solid backpacks are designed for mountain climbing, not backpacking. The difference is that hikers’ backpacks usually have openings at the top of the bag, which makes it difficult to unpack at a hostel.
- Ideally your backpack will allow you to open up at the front like a traditional luggage for easy access.
- Have enough organizational compartments and spaces for laptop/ other electronics.
- In order to prevent shoulder injuries from heavy back-ups, it is essential to have a “hip belt” that transfers the weight of the bag to your hips.
- Able to store the back straps away and carry it like a suit-case when boarding the plane.
There are definitely more options when it comes to York’s bag as he has an average height. Initially we were planning to buy the Tortuga Backpack designed by real travelers. We really love the bag as it is packed full of really thoughtful features, however it was quite expensive as it requires to be shipped to Australia. The second runner-up bag was the Pacsafe Venturesafe 45L GII as it has all the features we wanted especially the anti-thief designs, however the bag is also quite expensive. We ended up getting Osprey Farpoint 40 as it has a good balance between the cost and the quality of the bag. It is also the only bag that comes in two sizes- S/M & M/L. The S/M size was perfect for a short girl like me.
You don’t have to travel in a carry-on size backpack if you don’t feel comfortable with it. The main why we travelling this light is because we try to avoid paying the excess baggage fees when flying budget airlines. If we were not limited to carry-on size, our choice would have been Osprey Farpoint 55, as it has a small day-pack attached to the main bag which is similar size our Osprey Farpoint 40. I think it’s probably the best value for money back-pack as you get two bags for the price of one. However after combining the two bags together, it is no longer small enough for standard airline carry-on. That is why we ended up choosing Osprey Farpoint 40.
Packing Cubes for organizations
Packing cubes are great for keeping your backpack organized and separate different types of clothes. The packing cubes that’s been recommended by a lot of travelers are Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Cube Set. Apparently they are light and can withstand long-term travel. Unfortunately I couldn’t find them in Australia. I ended up buying Ikea- Upptäcka Packing Bag which worked out perfect for me. I haven’t had the chance to test their durability though. When purchasing packing cubes it is important to get cubes of different sizes so it fits in your bag nicely like a Lego.
Base-Layers & Tops
Base layers are layers that are close to your skin and can remove any sweat you produced. The two main base-layer materials are “synthetics/ polyester” or “merino“. Each has its own advantages. Synthetics are easier to dry, however they build up body odors quicker than merino wool. Merino wools are better at regulating body temperatures and they don’t smell, so they don’t need to be washed as often. However the downside is that they are slower to dry and are significantly more expensive. Both are rather light-weight and there are materials on the market that has a mixture of both such as New Balance Men’s Performance Merino Long Sleeve Top which has 65% Merino Wool/35% Polyester. One of the brands that sells very good 100% merino gears is Ice Breaker from New Zealand.
For base-layer bottom, I choose a pair of polyester material and a pair of 100% wool material for York. As we are travelling to Antarctica it is essential to have these bottom-base layer to keep warm. The polyester material may not be as warm as 100% wool, but it will be a good alternative for sleeping in.
As for the short sleeves tops, we packed five polyester made T-Shirts for York. The reason is polyester materials are light-weight, quick dry and doesn’t retain moisture like cotton T-shirts. We particularly like New Balance Men’s Accelerate Short Sleeve Tee as it is a lot lighter than other brands we own. Almost all sports brand sell these kind of shirts but label them differently such “performance T-Shirt” or “Quick-dry T-Shirt”. They are good for travelling if they are 100% polyesters.
For underwear we were originally going to get them in quick-dry materials too, however Uniqlo boxers/ briefs were equally as good for the price you pay. So we packed 5 pairs of them into our packing cubes.
Pants and Shorts
- A pair of jeans is essential for everyday jeans despite their weight. My advice is to find a lightest pair of jeans you can find and wear them on the plane to reduce carry-on weight.
- 2 pairs of convertible light-weight trekking pants. This saves you the hassle of bringing extra shorts. Try Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pant, which is one thing York can’t travel without now.
- 1 pair of Rip Curl Men’s Boardwalk Short for beach wear.
The primary purpose of a mid layer is insulation, it suppose to trap as much body heat as possible. It is acceptable to wear more than one mid layer to keep yourself warm. Since we will be going to Antarctica, we packed two types of mid layer- a fleece and a down jacket.
Fleece is made of synthetic fibers which are quick dry and retains some insulation even when wet as the material repels small amount of water. The thicker the fleece the more wind-resistant they are, however the thicker the fleece the size and weight increases too so you have to compromise. Fleece is the cheapest mid-layer and I love its versatility when dressing casual!
A packable down jacket is essential for travelling light in winter as they are very warm and light-weight. “Down” is a type of fine feather which has strong insulating properties. A good down jacket can be quite expensive.There are 3 different ways to assess the quality of a down jacket:
- A good down jacket may contain 95% down, 5% feather. Where as cheaper down jacket may only contain 80% down and 20% feather.
- The “Fill Power” is a technical measurement to measure how much space it fills with a given weight, obviously the more the better and lighter the jacket is. You will need to be looking at least 600 fill power in a down jacket for it to be acceptable for cold weather.
- The type of feather used in a down jacket: goose is the superior option.
The Down Jacket we got for York is from New Zealand’ leading outdoor brand Macpac- Uber Light Down Jacket Mens which has fill power of 650. But if you really want to choose the most value for money down jacket, Uniqlo Down Jackets are the way to go! It’s 90% down and 10% feather with a fill power of more than 640 and usually under USD$100. However if you are looking for a good down Jacket, Berghaus Men’s Ilam Down Jacket is often rated quite high for its 850 fill power.
One of the disadvantages of down jacket is that once it gets wet, it looses its insulation ability and that is why it is important to wear a waterproof layer over them.
The third layer to keep yourself warm in cold weather is the outer layer. Outer layer needs to be windproof or waterproof to keep your inner layers dry, especially if you are wearing a down jacket.
Waterproof Jackets & Pants
There are many different types of waterproof jackets. It is important to look at waterproof ratings (mm) and breath-ability when purchasing. Can read more on “Waterproof Ratings and Breathability Guide” which I found to be very useful. Often the breath-ability of a jacket decreases as waterproof rating increases, it is important to get a garment that is well balanced.
|Waterproof Rating (mm)||Resistance provided||What it can withstand|
|0-5,000 mm||No resistance to some resistance to moisture||Light rain, dry snow, no pressure|
|6,000-10,000 mm||Rainproof and waterproof under light pressure||Light rain, average snow, light pressure|
|11,000-15,000 mm||Rainproof and waterproof except under high pressure||Moderate rain, average snow, light pressure|
|16,000-20,000 mm||Rainproof and waterproof under high pressure||Heavy rain, wet snow, some pressure|
|20,000 mm+||Rainproof and waterproof under very high pressure||Heavy rain, wet snow, high pressure|
Personally I would get a garment that has GORE-TEX® treatment if you have the budget as it is rated to be one of the top waterproof membrane on the market. There are also other brands that sells waterproof members under trade names, it is advisable to do your research prior to purchasing.
We particularly like Marmot’s Precip Range, such as Marmot Men’s Precip Jacket and Marmot Women’s Precip Jacket as they are light-weight with 10000 mm waterproof-ness and can be easily stored away while maintaining a good balance of breath-ability. For York’s jacket we ended up getting him Kathmandu’s Altum Men’s GORE-TEX® 2 Layer Waterproof Jacket as it was on special.
York’s sister told us we must have a good pair of waterproof pants when visiting Antarctica. As they will keep your bottom half dry and trap body heat. It is advisable to have at least 5000 mm waterproof rating on those pants. Again I really like Marmot Men’s Precip Pant and Marmot Womens PreCip Full Zip Pant range as they are very company and light.
As we will be doing numerous hikes during our journey. We decided to buy Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoes for York. The main differences between hiking shoes and hiking boots is that hiking boots offers more ankle support, however the downside is the weight. Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoes in black was a good balance and it looks nice even wearing it in city.
We also prepared a pair of light-weight sandals for beach wear and shared bathroom in hostels. Originally we were going to choose a pair of hiking sandals such as Columbia Men’s Techsun Sandal (it was the lightest hiking sandal we could find), however at the end we decided to buy Teva Men’s Original Universal Sandal instead. Even though it wasn’t made for hiking, we figured York probably only wear them at night so it should be good enough.
Accessories to keep warm
- It is important to keep your head warm with a beanie. Berghaus Men’s Spectrum Beanie are affordable and light-weight. It comes in two sizes which is great if men with larger head.
- Hiking socks are crucial to keep your feet padded. Recommend socks such as Thorlo Men’s Coolmax Lt Hiker Crew Sock or similar.
- Recently discovered these fleece made Fuji Convertible Gloves. By being convertible it allows you to keep your hands warm and use your fingers if you need to use technologies.
- Scarfs are required to keep your neck warm, we planned to buy
These days a large amount of our luggage space is dedicated to technology products. I must say about 1-2 kg of our luggage weight is given to them. As we will be travelling for a year and will be keeping up a blog, we have to purchase a laptop to use on the road. Ideally the best travel laptop would be Apple MacBook Air 13-inch Laptop. It is light and has high processing speed, great for the road. However due to our budget and neither of us are Mac users, we got ASUS X205TA 11.6 Inch Laptop instead. It is a budget laptop however the weight is just under 1 kg and we particularly like the charger that’s similar size to a credit card.
We also bought a new Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV for this trip. I used to have a Sony Mirrorless camera, despite its image quality and ability to change lenses, we decided it will be easier to carry a pocket camera for our trip. This Sony RX100 IV camera takes amazing photos, many professional photographers choose this camera for everyday use as it’s been the best pocket camera for the past 2 years. We also bought Nikon COOLPIX S33 Waterproof Digital Camera for snorkeling use, originally I wanted Olympus TG-4 16 MP Waterproof Digital Camera as it has better image quality, however we weighed up the cost and the amount of time we going to be using waterproof cameras and decided Nikon COOLPIX S33 Waterproof Digital Camera was more suitable for us.
I also bought a JOBY GorillaPod for stabilizing my camera to take a long aperture photo. Finally We have a power point converter and extension cord to charge all our electronics
- Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Trekking Umbrella: Lightest trekking umbrella that weighs only 240g and has UV protection.
- Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack: The lightest fold-able day pack on market weighing only 68g, they are not for long term travelling but it is good enough for city day trips.
- Pacsafe Retractasafe 100 TSA Lock: One of the pros about retractable lock is that you can wrap your bag around somewhere secure in the hotel to prevent the theft from taking the whole thing (eg. toilet bowl).
- ProSafe 620 TSA-Accepted Luggage Lock: To lock the zips of the backpack. TSA Approved in case we do decide not to carry our luggage onto the flight.
- Travel Neck Passport Wallet: To hide our passport away, although I do find them a bit annoying.
- Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sack: If we were to do water activities, we can secure our electronics and passports in here and carry it in day pack with us while keeping it dry.
- Pacsafe RFID Safe V125 Anti-Theft Wallet: We really like Pacsafe products.
- Travel clothes lines are great for washing clothes in your hotel.
- Microfiber Towels have 3 advantages: quick dry, light and inexpensive.
- The headlight we choose was Petzl – TIKKINA 60 Lumens. It was well-priced bright enough for our requirements (such as going to toilet at night). Some headlights are quite expensive as they are designed to cycle at night which we are not planning to.
Packing List for Long Term Travel
- 1 x Jeans
- 2 x Convertible pants
- 1 x Swimwear
- 2 x Long sleeves base layer (Polyester or 100% Merino)
- 5 x Performance Short Sleeves (Polyester)
- 5 x Under wears
- 2 x Base-layer pants (Polyester or 100% Merino Wool)
- 1 x Fleece Jacket
- 1 x Down Jacket
- 1 x Waterproof Jacket
- 1 x Waterproof Pants
- 4 x Hiking Socks
- 1 x Trekking / Hiking Shoes
- 1 x Sandals
- 1 x Beanie
- 1 x Convertible Gloves
- 1 x Scarf
- 1 x Packable Day Pack
- 2 x Locks (One of bag, one for lockers)
- 1 x Clothing Line (optional)
- 1 x Dry Sac
- 1 x Universal adapter & extension cord
- 1 x Head Light (optional)
- 1 x Safety Wallet
- 1 x Light weight umbrella (optional)
- 1 x Camera
- 1 x Laptop (optional)
Don’t forget to pack medical kit and toiletries. Hopefully this can be a good baseline for your packing list for long term travel..