My Life’s Possessions In A Backpack

I meet many travellers who fit all over the spectrum of backpack sizes: from those who travel super light with barely anything more than a 30L backpack and a tiny bedroll to those who carry nearly their own weight in clothes. I fit somewhere in the middle, of course I am carrying everything I own in this world with me – all of my life’s possessions in a backpack.

Do I need it? Do I really need it? Will I die without it?

My Elimination Method

I ask myself three questions: Do I need it? Do I really need it? Will I die without it?

If I answer these questions truthfully, then I’m able to start shedding things from life that only just add weight to what I am carrying.

Then, I repeat my mantra: Live a life asset-light. Live a life asset-light.

The Essentials

Clothes, toiletries and my gadgets. That’s all. These are the things to keep me warm, the things to keep me clean, and the things to keep me entertained and connected.

Will It Fit?

Think small. The smaller you fold or roll your clothes, the more space you can have. But that’s not always an advantage! More space means you can fit more in – be careful with this and be true to yourself : Do I need it? Do I really need it? Will I die without it?

My Gadgets

With electronic devices comes the need for charging accessories, which takes space and adds more weight. A laptop charger for example is nearly 200g on its own! Try to combine charging accessories. For example, you can charge your phone and your portable charger with the same wall plug.

The Bag

This one is important, no matter how light or how heavy you pack. A backpack with a waist belt is best to help you to support and distribute the weight efficiently while you carry it. If you can adjust the height of the straps, that’s even better! Try on the backpack at the store before you commit to the purchase, you might save a few dollars, but will you save your spine?

The Daypack

The unmistakable front bag that identifies the wearer as a backpacker. Yes, you look funny, but unless you can get the contents of your daypack into your backpack, then wearing it on the front is inevitable.

What’s in my daypack? I keep my important documents, water bottle, snacks and small items in there. The things I think I might need immediate access to during my travel on a particular day will go straight into the front pack – laptop and headphones go in there during flights and bus/train trips.

Are Sleeping Bags Necessary?

Nope, not really. I’ve done couchsurfing without a sleeping bag and the hosts have graciously offered clean sheets and a blanket for me. Even hostels will provide sheets and a blanket if you need it.

Unless you plan on being away from civilisation for a period of time (like hiking and camping), then its best to leave your sleeping bag at home. If you insist on bringing it, find one that is lightweight but can keep you warm at 5 degrees (Celsius) or less.

Hiking Boots

Hmm, tough one. I see lots of travellers with hiking boots – its an unmistakable identifier of a backpacker. BUT, the benefits are minimal I think. Unless your boots have ankle support, then they are not really that great for day-to-day wear, and only when you are carrying your backpack. For practical reasons, hiking in nature where the paths are unsealed is the ideal environment for hiking boots – else your normal running shoes are fine (and they look slightly better for day-to-day wear).

How Many Socks and Undies Do I Need?

I think pack as many as you can fit/carry. Unless you are washing your clothes yourself (in the sink or shower) then you’ll be changing these everyday (I hope!).


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