The Ultimate Carry-On Packing List for Men

The Ultimate Carry-On Packing List for Men – UPDATED for 2020

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Whether you pack for a two-week vacation or a year-long backpacking trip around the world, you don’t need more than carry-on luggage. In fact, there are so many benefits to travelling light, we strongly encourage you to travel with carry-on luggage only.

How would we know? We have done both: Up until November 2015, we travelled with check-in luggage. Then, on a three week trip to Europe, we tested carry-on. And since leaving our corporate lives in 2016, we’ve been travelling with carry-on only. Having enjoyed the freedom of carry-on, we would never go back to lugging around 70-litre backpacks or monstrous trolley suitcases.

So, if you would like to give it a try, here is your ultimate carry-on packing list for men. If you’re female, we’ve got you covered too. Just head over to our Ultimate Carry-On Packing List for Women. If you love to go for a run while travelling, we even have a running gear packing list for you.

From 2019 onward, we will not only look for the most suitable gear that meets our needs and stands the test of time, we will also consider how eco-friendly and ethically a product was made. If we don’t replace an item with a more eco-friendly or ethically sourced one, we will state the reason/s. We will also link to organisations that have reviewed the sourcing practices of the manufacturers of our gear.

The list below prepares you for travel in any season and any weather. If your trip takes you into the Tropics, you won’t need a down vest or extra-warm hoodie, of course. Likewise, if you go skiing in Canada, you may need a few extra layers (but may want to leave your sandals and swimmers at home). Use common sense, and check the weather at your destination if unsure.

Countries Explored Since We Started
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Number of days on the road
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Total weight of gear I own
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Luggage and Organisation

If you don’t have carry-on luggage yet, check out our guide to find the carry-on backpack that’s right for you.

Backpack

As a guy, my requirements for my backpack were pretty basic at the time:

  • Carry-on size – Obviously.
  • Good quality – I wanted one that would last – and it has since I received it in November 2016 and it is still going strong.
  • Lots of pockets and a great organization, including a TSA friendly panel for my Microsoft Surface Pro 6.
  • A good zipper system that lets me lock it all up.

I decided to go with the Tortuga travel backpack early on. in early 2016, I’d stumbled upon their podcast and started listening to their story. At the time, they only had one version, but the next version was soon to come out, so I waited. I’m glad I did, as a lot of the issues they had initially were resolved with the V2.

That said, after three months on the road, the stitching on the shoulder straps had come apart. I contacted them about it, and the service received in getting a replacement was top notch. They now have several new versions out and more accessories, but the version I received is still going strong so why replace it?

LabelValueComment
Dimensions56cm x 36cm x 23cm / 22.0in x 14.1in x 9.0inAlways check the maximum dimensions with the airline before purchasing tickets without checked luggage
Weight1.66kg / 3.65lbsMany airlines allow you to have an additional personal item so if your carry-on bag weighs too much, grab your daypack and fill it with all the heavy items.
Volume44litres
Purchase DateOctober 2015, received replacement in November 2016
Sustainable or Ethical Policy StatementMade in ChinaAll Tortuga products are manufactured in China. According to Tortuga, the employees are paid well and treated well. The Tortuga Backpacks CEO visits the manufacturers every year for at least a week.

After some initial research, the following products are currently on my short list if I would purchase a replacement backpack:

LabelTortuga Outbreaker Backpack (45l)Aer Travel Pack 2
Dimensions56cm x 33cm x 23cm / 22inch x 14inch x 9inch55cm x 34cm x 22cm / 21.5inch x 13.5inch x 8.5inch
Weight2.31kg / 5.1lbs1.67kg / 3.7lbs
Volume45litres33litres

What makes us experts about packing lists and carry-on luggage? Check out where we have been with carry-on luggage only.

Daypack

I initially purchased a Tortuga daypack in 2015, and it lasted for an entire year travelling around the Americas. It got a lot of use, but the seams needed to be stitched up every now and then, so when we returned to New Zealand in September 2017, it was due for replacement. We purchased the Matador Daylite 16 and this lasted until June 2019. The zipper broke on it. We are pretty hard on our daypacks, obviously.

My requirements for a daypack were:

  • Ultra-light yet super strong
  • As close to 20-litre capacity as possible – our Tortuga daypack had 21-litres which worked well
  • Main compartment large enough to fit two laptop sleeves
  • Side pocket to fit our 800ml water bottle
  • Comfortable, adjustable shoulder straps and top grab handle
  • Ability to pack it up into its own pouch

So our third daypack is the Matador Freerain24 2.0. One of the best features is the waterproof fabric and water resistant zippers.

LabelValue
Dimensions50cm x 28cm x 24cm / 19.5in x 11in x 9.5in
Weight187g / 6.6oz
Volume24litres
Purchase DateJune 2019
Sustainable or Ethical Policy StatementSustainability Statement

Packing Cubes

To maximize the use of space in my backpack, I purchased the compression cubes specifically designed to fit the Tortuga Backpack V2. The set of three Tortuga Packing Cubes was bought in October 2015 directly from Tortuga and are still going strong. I have had a repair them a couple of times where a small hole has appeared, but would prefer not to change them out until I change backpacks. The large cube is 6.6 litres. The small ones are 3.3 litres each. I’d never used compression cubes before but swear by them now.

LabelValue
VolumeLarge cube: 6.6 litres, small cube: 3.3 litres
Purchase DateOctober 2015
Sustainable or Ethical Policy StatementSee Tortuga Backpack above

Want to know which laptop computer we recommend and travel with? Check out the best digital nomad and remote work laptop for 2019.

Wallet

You need something to store your cash and cards. I usually only carry notes and two cards: a credit card and my driver’s licence. Sandra carries a coin purse, so I don’t need to worry about change. My wallet had to be

  • Thin and lightweight
  • Durable
  • Waterproof.

After some research, I purchased the Dash RFID 4.0 Wallet from Dash directly in December 2015. Apart from meeting my requirements, their wallets are recyclable (at least according to their website). It looks a little worn, but has lasted pretty well over the years.

LabelValue
Dimensions7cm x 10cm x 0.5cm / 2.7in x 3.9in x 0.2in
Purchase DateDecember 2015
Sustainable or Ethical Policy StatementNothing available publicly

I purchased the Dash 4.0 Wallet at a time when minimalism and technical requirements were all I really cared about. Unfortunately, I have not been able to source a sustainability policy statement from the manufacturer of the Dash Wallet. If I were to select a new wallet, the following features would have to be considered:

  • Non-animal
  • Non-plastics
  • Made from recycled or repurposed materials.
Dash Co. RFID Slim Wallet 4.0 for Men (RFID Horizontal Black)
  • SUPER SLIM & MINIMAL - 2 1/2" x 3 1/5 x 1/8" and weighs just under an ounce. NOTE: REQUIRES 1 WEEK TO BREAK IN.
  • DURABLE RFID CONSTRUCTION - Featuring Premium Thin Saffiano Leather Canvas tested for 13.56 MHz Frequency in which our credit cards, debit cards, driver license and ID cards operate.
  • ORGANIZED - 3 compartment system will keep your cards and cash neat while protecting your identity
  • SAVES YOU TIME - Allows faster, easier front pocket access to your cards/cash
  • BACKED BY WARRANTY - We believe in our products, and you should too! Backed by a 2 Year Limited Warranty

What features of a wallet would you look out for? Let me know in the comments section below.

Shoe Bag

I only own three pairs of footwear, and the ones I’m not wearing, go into my backpack. Especially my running shoes that get smelly, so I wanted to have a bag that separates them from the other items in my backpack.

I use a Nike Shoe Bag, bought from a running sports expo years ago. It is made of tough, water-resistant fabric to keep the shoes dry and protected in any weather. If and when this dies, I’ll probably just use another compression sack such as the Exped Folding Drybag, but a smaller size.

Stuff Sack

I use a stuff sack/compression sack for a number of reasons. The first is that it holds my dirty washing. I prefer to keep my smelly and dirty clothes separate from my Packing Cubes. Secondly, I use it to store wet clothes if we head to the beach or pool for a swim and thirdly, I use it to store my Microsoft Surface Pro 6 when I need to take it in the daypack. A waterproof bag inside a waterproof bag.

My current sack is a large Exped Folding Drybag. It’s a swiss design but made in China from PU-coated nylon.

LabelValue
Dimensions42cm x 22cm / 16.5in x 8.6in
Capacity13litres
Weight55g / 1.9oz
Purchase DateMarch 2019
Sustainable or Ethical Policy StatementOur Ideas

CORDURA

CORDURA, a trademark of Invista, is an incredibly durable fabric used in high-performance gear. Invista maintains the utility and durability of their materials while working to eliminate manufacturing waste, enhancing recycling initiatives, and increasing use of recycled and renewable components.

Electronics Bag/Case

Rather than have a jumble of cables and plugs, I purchased a BUBM accessories storage case. It holds the cables and plugs in the right spot and even has room for our portable cell phone battery charger. It’s made from easy-to-clean waterproof nylon. Given that we have had it almost three years now, it has certainly proven durable, although it has started to fray a little on the inside.

Although the elastic bands and mesh pockets keep the cords, hard drives and USB drives from falling out, I still wrap the cables in velcro ties first. It fits nicely into the front pocket of my Tortuga Backpack. The biggest positive is that it stores all our cables and electronic devices in one place, so I always know where to find items.

LabelValue
Dimensions24cm x 19cm x 3cm / 9.4in x 7.5in x 1.2in
Weight209g / 7.49oz
Purchase DateJune 2016
Sustainable or Ethical Policy StatementNothing known, except that the product is made in China. Enquiries made have received no response to date.
BUBM Travel Organizer for Electronics Accessories Hard Drives (Black)
  • Made of easy-to-clean nylon. Durable, scratch-resistant and water resistant. Well-padded lining keeps the items in good condition.
  • Several elastic bands and small mesh pockets keep the cords and USB drives from falling out.
  • 2 zipper mesh pockets (7.5" x 4") can fit 2.5" portable hard drives.
  • Compact size: 10" x8" x1" / 0.46 lbs. Designed to have bulky stuff in it and still close.
  • Double zipper opening for easy and immediate access. Great organizer for office use and travel.

Do you know if what you wear is sustainably and ethically made? Not sure? Learn how to find out more about your stuff. It’s eye-opening.

Clothing and Shoes

The majority of my clothing items are predominantly made of merino wool. I’ve driven past the green fields where the sheep graze and the wool is grown, and I feel good about buying my items from Kiwi companies that embrace sustainability.

Head Gear

I’m not one to cover up my head unless it is really sunny or really cold. The two headgear items I have covered all eventualities:

  • BUFF Original Multi-Functional Headwear during summer, especially when I’m out hiking. I can also use it as a neck warmer in winter.
  • Icebreaker Pocket Hat during my morning runs whenever it gets below 6 degrees Celsius. It keeps my head nice and toasty but lets the moisture out.

And while not specifically head gear, I purchased the Buff Heavyweight Merino Wool Tubular Cloth in 2019 knowing that we were hading to Iceland.

 

Icebreaker Merino Adult Pocket Hat, One Size, Lotus/Arctic Teal Stripe
  • WOOL POCKET BEANIE: Keep your head covered with this wool hat that fits in any pocket for days on the mountain or cold days in the city and features a reversible, two-color design for long-lasting style.
  • MERINO WOOL HEAD WARMER BEANIE: The versatile skull cap beanie folds really small in order to fit in pants and jacket pockets. Made of lightweight 100% merino wool.
  • MERINO WOOL LAYERS: Stay warm from head to toe in Icebreaker outdoor clothing gear. Keep heads covered on the mountains, slopes, trials & lakeside with wool beanies, balaclavas, scarves, chutes & headbands.
  • WOOL & CASUAL: Whether skiing, camping, hiking or daily wear, Ice Breaker provides clothes for men, women & children - keeping the family covered in jackets, beanies, scarves, sweaters, pants, leggings, underwear & more wool clothing.
  • ICEBREAKER LONGEVITY: We use 85% merino wool & less synthetic material than the traditional outdoor standard. With multi-purpose & timeless clothing our natural alternative to synthetics enhances the relationship between people & nature.

Base Layer

I have two Nike Core Compression sleeveless tops that I use as a base layer when the temperature drops below 3 or 4 degrees Celsius. They use a moisture-wicking fabric, are made from 92% polyester and 8% spandex, and keep me dry and comfortable. I bought them at a Nike Factory Store in September 2016. Given that I am moving away from the Nike brand, I would probably change to the Icebreaker Men’s Anatomica Tank when I need to replace them.

Sale
Nike Pro Men's Sleeveless Training Top (Black/White, Medium)
  • Crew neck, sleeveless top
  • Fitted design enhances range of motion
  • Nike Pro fabric with sweat-wicking technology
  • Mesh fabric improves ventilation
  • Flatlock seams eliminate irritation

What can I carry onto an aeroplane?

The list of items you can take with you on a flight is determined by the Transport Security Administration in USA and by their equivalent government bodies around the world:

When you plan ahead and pack properly, this can help with the screening process through airport security and help make your travel experience more bearable.

Short Sleeve Shirts

I travel with three t-shirts, both Icebreaker Anatomica Rib Short Sleeve Crewe purchased for NZD79.96 each from the Icebreaker Online Store in October 2018.

The t-shirts consist of 86% Merino Wool, 12% Nylon, and 2% Lycra. And thanks to the merino component, I can wear them three to four days in a row without smelling, even in a tropical climate. No cotton or polyester shirt would last that long.

Icebreaker Merino Men's Anatomica Rib Short Sleeve Crewe Underwear, Gritstone Heather, Medium
  • Corespun fabric for enhanced durability
  • Rib fabric with lycra content for stretch and mobility
  • Latlock seams prevent chafing
  • Dropped front and back hem for added coverage

Long Sleeve Shirts

For cooler weather, I have two Icebreaker Tech Lite long sleeve crew shirts purchased from Icebreaker in December 2017.

Sale
Icebreaker Merino Men's Mens Tech Lite Ls Crewe, Black, M
  • Updated fit
  • Ultimate adventure tee
  • Corespun fabric for enhanced durability
  • Lightweight comfort
  • Offset shoulder seams prevent pack rub

Underwear

How many pairs of underwear do you think you need? I started our journey with 5, but have since increased it to 7 pairs. This way, we only need to wash once a week.

All of them are ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sports Mesh Boxer Briefs bought in July 2015 and in September 2017, respectively. I chose ExOfficio based on the overwhelming consensus on various travel forums, and I am very happy with them.

ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Mesh 3 Inch Boxer Brief (L - Black/Royal)
  • Ultralight mesh is breathable and quick drying, keeping you cool
  • Ergonomic flyless panel constructed from classic diamond weave mesh fabric for support
  • Silvadur antimicrobial treatment reduces odor in fabric
  • Snug active fit and lower rise are ideal for high energy activities
  • Contrast flatlock seams and smooth waistband prevent chafing

Long Pants

I wear shorts as much as I can, but when it is too cold, I have two lightweight pairs of long pants. Both are black so that my wardrobe matches: black pants with a coloured top.

I went with black Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Pants, one pair purchased in October 2017, the other pair purchased in January 2019. They look smart enough, don’t have zip half legs (which really make you stand out as a tourist) but do have a left zip pocket to keep your wallet safe. The 100% ripstop fabric dries quickly.

Both pants were made in Bangladesh factory 40313. You can see exactly where in the Columbia Transparency Map.

Columbia Men’s Men's Silver Ridge Cargo Pant , Collegiate Navy, 34x32
  • CLASSIC CARGO SILHOUETTE: These lightweight and comfortable men’s cargo pants are perfect for hiking, fishing, travel, or your favorite outdoor pursuit. They feature a classic cargo silhouette with straight leg design for lightweight performance.
  • COMFORTABLE AND RUGGED CARGO PANTS: The Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Pants have been designed with a classic fit for the ultimate in comfortability while you're staying active outdoors.
  • DESIGNED WITH ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: These men’s cargo pants feature Columbia’s unique Omni-Shade UPF 50 fabric for maximum protection against the sun, and Omni-Wick technology that pulls moisture away to keep you cool and dry.
  • HANDY FEATURES: This men’s durable cargo pant features one zip-closure security pocket, side pockets with hook and loop closure, and mesh pocket bags for ultimate convenience and efficiency.
  • OMNI-WICK: The ultimate moisture management technology for the outdoors. Omni-Wick quickly moves moisture from the skin into the fabric where it spreads across the surface to quickly evaporate—keeping you cool and your clothing dry.

Shorts

For the shorts, I have two pairs of matching black Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts purchased in September 2017. I had used the same ones in a lighter colour when we travelled around the Americas, but over time they showed stains despite regular washing.

Sale
Columbia Men's Silver Ridge Cargo Short, Fossil, 34x10
  • ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Columbia's Silver Ridge Cargo Short features Omni-Shade UPF 50 fabric for maxium protection against the sun and Omni-Wick technology that pulls moisture away to keep you cool and dry during warm days outside.
  • HANDY FEATURES: This men's durable short features one zip-closure security pocket, side pockets with hook and loop closure, and mesh pocket bags for ultimate convenience and efficiency.
  • ADJUSTABLE FEATURES: This men's cargo short features a partial elastic waist and gusset detail for the ultimate comfort during active days.
  • CLASSIC FIT: This cargo short is crafted of a classic fit for ultimate comfortability while active days outside.
  • Columbia's men's Silver Ridge Cargo Short features sun protection and quick-wicking fabric with multiple pockets, making them the perfect for active days in the sun.

Swimwear

Swimwear is like a jacket – the good ones last for years. I bought my Maki del Caribe beach shorts in 2012 from a shop in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, and they’ve still got a few years in them. Can’t seem to find them online.

Sleepwear

According to Men’s Health, the majority (52 per cent) of Americans sleep partially clothed and 31 per cent sleep fully clothed. While I’m not American, I belong to the majority. I sleep in a pair of boxer shorts year-round. While the pair I own come from a local New Zealand retail store and are made of cotton, there is nothing fancy about them, apart from their colourful jungle pattern.

Next time I buy a pair of boxer shorts as my sleeping attire, I’ll definitely be reviewing these sustainable and ethical underwear brands.

Socks

As I only have space for a maximum of four pairs of socks (not including running socks), I wear them regularly, and they seem to last about a year.

For years, I only owne Icebreaker branded socks, but a friend put me onto Smartwool socks in 2019. Both are made of Merino, but I reckon the Smarkwool ones are more comfortable and last longer.

I now own two pairs of SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light Mini Socks and two pairs of SmartWool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew socks.

Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks - Men’s Ultra Wool Performance Sock
  • WARM INSULATION: Experience durability at its peak with the Smartwool Men’s PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks. These socks are built for performance in the highest degree, making them ready for any adventure on your list.
  • COMFORTABLE FIT: The Men’s PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks feature a 4 Degree Elite Fit System for a dialed, performance-oriented fit with a flex zone at the ankle joint and Virtually Seamless toe for enhanced comfort.
  • DURABLE YET BREATHABLE: The Men’s PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks are designed with Indestructawool technology for exceptional durability and comfort. The body-mapped mesh zones featured on these socks offer added breathability for all-day wear.
  • LIGHT CUSHION: The lightly cushioned bottom on the Men’s PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks allows you to wear these performance socks on various trails and road terrains without discomfort. Whether you are biking, running, skiing, or hiking, these socks will provide you with padded comfort during any season.
  • CARE INSTRUCTIONS: Comprised of 49% Merino Wool, 46% Nylon, and 5% Elastane, the Men’s PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks should be machine washed inside out in warm water and tumble dried on low. These socks should not be bleached, ironed, or dry cleaned.
Smartwool Men's PhD Outdoor Approach Mini Socks (Black) X-Large
  • Virtually Seamless toe
  • Targeted cushioning provides extra protection for ankles.
  • 3.75" overall height
  • Style: SW001203
  • Machine Wash Warm Gentle Cycle. Do Not Bleach. Tumble Dry Low. Do Not Iron. Do Not Dry Clean.

Outer Layer

My original mid layer was the Icebreaker Original Long Sleeve Half Zip Top, purchased in October 2016. It had a zippered chest pocket and an adjustable hood and was made of 100% merino.

By October 2018, I’d worn it and washed it so much that it was getting threadbare. Although I have been a loyal customer to the Icebreaker brand for years, when I went to review my options for a heavy mid-layer top at Icebreaker, I was disappointed with the lack of choice, the weight, the colours and the price. So as a change I purchase the Macpac Brunner 390 Jacket in November 2018.

And while Macpac was originally a New Zealand and I really like supporting local brands, they are now owned by the Australian company Super Retail Group.

Rain Jacket

Given this was to be my only jacket, it had to meet a number of requirements:

  • Be ultra-lightweight and waterproof
  • Long enough to cover (most of) my butt
  • Have adjustable cuffs
  • Look good – Some raincoats look like you have a sack on
  • Be of good quality

After quite a bit of research, I originally purchased the Marmot Nano AS Jacket in May 2016 and it lhad lasted really well. Over the years, we have maintained the waterproofness of the jacket by treating it with waterproofing spray. Unfortunately, this product is no longer available in major retails stores, however, you may find it in surplus or clearance sales.

In November 2019, we started researching jackets again, but the list of requirements had grown:

  • Needed to be PFC-free
  • Machine washable
  • 100% Seam Taped
  • Attached Adjustable Hood
  • Zippered Hand Pockets
  • Angel-Wing Movement
  • Preferred maximum weight of 450g
  • Waterproofness: JIS L-1092: 20,000 mm
  • Breathability: 3 to 4 Hohenstein RET

I settled on the Marmot Eclipse Jacket. It had several major selling points including:

  • Uses EvoDry technology
  • Marmot warranty every product they make to be free of manufacturer defects for life.
Sale
Marmot Eclipse Jacket for Men Denim
  • Main materials: Membrain Eco 2.5 Lamination 100% Recycled Nylon Solution Dyed Plainweave 3.4 oz/ yd
  • Marmot MemBrain Eco Waterproof/Breathable Fabric
  • 100% Seam Taped
  • Attached Hood with Peripheral Cord Adjustment
  • PitZips with PFC-Free Water Resistant Zippers

Shoes

A good pair of shoes can improve your quality of life, prevent injuries and help change the foot shape to support bone and muscle growth. Why would you skimp on the best shoes? Especially if you only own one regular pair as I do. During winter months, when I am hiking and during travel days (no matter how hot it is), I wear my shoes. As such they get a lot of use.

So, my (normal) shoes needed to be multi-functional:

  • Be comfortable, lightweight yet sturdy, waterproof yet breathable for hours of sightseeing, bushwalking and hiking in any climate and weather;
  • Look nice enough to wear in a (fancy) restaurant
  • Low cut design (rather than boots)
  • Rubber toe-caps (for extra protection)
  • Easy to clean.

I purchased my first pair of Salomon Men’s X Ultra LTR GTX Hiking Shoes in December 2015. While the tread wore out at the back eventually, I wore them (almost) every day for two years. I was very happy with my choice, so happy in fact that I bought my second pair in November 2017 and my third pair in September 2019. They must be good. Sandra and I both swear by our shoes. She has the equavilent female version.

Salomon Men's X Ultra 3 LTR GTX Hiking Shoes, PHANTOM/Magnet/Quiet Shade, 11
  • With the proven fit of X-Ultra and XA Pro, X ULTRA 3 LTR GTX delivers instant comfort for every foot. And Quicklace ensures foothold with fast adjustment. 
  • A full grain leather upper is very soft and supple and offers a rich look. Laser engraving on the lateral side of the foot ramps up the style detail. 
  • Full grain leather is ultra durable. It keeps getting better with age. 
  • Salomon 2 year limited warranty

Sandals

In addition to my shoes, I needed a pair of footwear for warmer climates (and the beach) and to protect my feet from athlete’s foot when using communal showers. I was looking for something lightweight with minimal heal to the toe height difference.

I initially purchased the Xero Cloud sandals in August 2015. They were definitely minimalist, but I ended up constantly (re-)adjusting the straps. Still, I liked the concept of the Xero footwear and replaced my original sandals with the Xero Z-Trek in September 2017. And I have been very happy with them.

Accessories and Toiletries

Sunglasses

While not a mandatory item, good sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, keep flying bugs out of your eyes, and prevent squinting.

What to look out for

Fit – The temple arms should not be too tight (to cause you headaches) or too loose (to fall off your head when you tip it forward)

Adjustable nose piece – You should be able to adjust your sunglasses two-dimensionally: (1) to the width of your nose and (2) closer or further away from your face

Soft edges – This is especially important for the parts that actually touch your face/head, such as the temple arms and nose piece

Wrap around style – Sports sunglasses, by their very nature, wrap around the head more than conventional glasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays entering from the sides

Frame material – Needs to be flexible yet strong to handle the knocks and not break easily

Lightweight – Look for the lightest glasses you can find (ideally under 30 grams).

Safe lenses – The better sports sunglasses have thicker lenses that offer impact resistance against anything that may hit the lens (branches, stones, etc), with the best sports sunglass lenses being made of 2mm thick polycarbonate

Lens coating – Good lenses have options such as hydrophobic coatings (which shed sweat and water) or anti-fog coatings

My recommendation

I use Rudy Project Rydon Sunglasses. These glasses have transition lenses with my prescription. Admittedly, they are not cheap but have had them now for four years, I can not recommend them highly enough.

RUDY PROJECT 2019 Rydon Sports Cycling Sunglasses - Matte Black Frame - Smoke Black Lens
  • Performance cycling glasses combining performance, versatility, comfort and style.
  • Lenses with RP D Centered Optics reduce glare and ensure visual clarity without distortion.
  • Adjustable anti-slip nosepads for proper face fit.
  • Fully adjustable, anti-slip temple tips for comfort and fit.
  • Total comfort fit with infinite adjustability for sport use.

Eating Utensil

The Spork. What an amazing invention. Except when it is plastic. And when it snaps. An now own a trusty Light my Fire Titanium Spork. It hasn’t let me down.

Light my Fire Titanium Spork
  • 100% Titanium spork, spoon-fork-knife combo with serrated edge on side of fork
  • Durable, lightweight, Heat resistant (melting point 2, 372 F/1, 300 C), non-corrosive and non-magnetic
  • Polished Titanium surfaces produces no metallic taste; middle is slightly textured for an anti-slip grip
  • Hypoallergenic, non-toxic and is biocompatible with human skin; dishwasher safe
  • Length: 6.75 inches (17 cm); thickness: 0.04 inches (1 mm); weight: 0.7 oz. (20 g)

Clothesline

It could just as easily be a piece of string, but by having a designed item, I forgo the pegs. I don’t use the GoTravel Pegless Washing Line often, but it is super convenient to have along for the trip. It is normally stored in my toiletry bag. I’ve had mine for a few years so can’t remember where I purchased it from or for how much.

Design Go Go Travel Clothes Line, White, One Size
  • Pegless travel clothes line
  • Use with hook or suction cups

Headphones

I run in unfamiliar places all the time, but 99% of the time, I wear headphones to listen to podcasts during my runs. I don’t have the sound too loud so that I can still hear any noise around me.

So if you are one of the 61% of runners listening to something during your run (according to a Runner’s World survey) you will also need to include headphones or earbuds in your packing list.

What to look out for

  • Fit on, over or in your ear
  • Connection
  • Water resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Sound quality
  • Easy to control the sound or track

Reviews

My recommendation

Music and listening to podcasts while we travel around is critical to me. After years of using the standard corded Apple EarPods with 3.5 mm Headphone Plug, I researched the best exercise-based, waterproof, long life earbuds I could find.

I used to use a very basic Panasonic RP-HS34-K Headphones, and were happy with them, even though they don’t have controls for volume or a mic. In November 2018, I purchased the Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless Earbud. They were quite pricey, but included a number of features I was looking for:

  • Waterproof and comes with a 3-year warranty against sweat damage
  • Long lasting battery – more than four hours of play time, coupled with a portable charging case that means I have a total thirteen hours of power at my disposal.
  • Microphone – there are two microphones in each earbud, apparently designed to ensure only my voice is heard clearly and that there is no distraction from my environment.
  • Don’t fall out of my ears while I run. This is the first pair of non-over the ear headphones/earbuds so have been apprehensive about them falling out while I run. Luckily they come with 8 different sized covers to test out in my ears. This ensures a snug fit but also the removal of outside noise.
Jabra Elite Active 65t Earbuds – True Wireless Earbuds with Charging Case, Copper Black – Bluetooth Earbuds with a Secure Fit and Superior Sound, Long Battery Life and More
  • TRUE WIRELESS EARBUDS FOR AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE Wherever your day takes you, whatever your activity, it won’t get in the way of enjoying sports, music and calls; The Elite Active 65t are secure fitting earbuds that provide dependable in ear stability
  • PERSONALIZE YOUR SOUND : Whether you’re using these as Apple earbuds, Samsung earbuds or more, you can listen to your music the way you want to hear it, by personalizing your sound on the Jabra Sound+ app. Earbuds are Apple and Android compatible
  • NO AUDIO DROPOUTS With Jabra’s 3rd generation true wireless stability, you can take calls and listen to music without worry about audio dropouts; And there are no pesky wires getting in the way of your workout
  • UP TO 15 HOURS OF USE With up to 5 hours of battery on a single charge, and up to 15 hours in total with the included pocket friendly charging case, your listening needs are met from the start of the day, to its end with these earbuds
  • 2 YEAR WARRANTY : These sports earbuds are IP56 rated with a 2 year warranty against sweat and dust (registration required with the Jabra Sound+ app)

Headlamp

My requirements for a torch or headlamp were pretty basic: I needed something with a bright light. After researching it a bit, I refined and added to these requirements as follows:

  • An output of a minimum of 300 lumens
  • Lightweight and small, yet sturdy
  • Water resistance to IPX7
  • Economic to run

My initial purchase was a Fenix PD35 TAC 1000 Lumen CREE XP-L LED Tactical Flashlight that I bought in December 2015. We didn’t use it for months (our phone torches were sufficient), so I decided to sell it.

After I had sold it, we did need a torch several times – mostly in badly lit caves where our phone torches were just not strong enough. We also realized we needed something hands-free (caves can get very slippery), so I ended up buying a Black Diamond Storm Headlamp in September 2017.

Sale
Black Diamond Storm 375 Headlamp Black One Size
  • Settings feature proximity and distance modes, dimming, strobe, and red night-vision lock mode. Red night-vision mode includes proximity and strobe settings, and is activated without the need of cycling through the white mode. IPX 67 rating is waterproof and dustproof, allowing for completely immersion for up to an hour and a half. Press and hold both buttons for three seconds to lock the headlamp. Repeat again to unlock. LED battery level indicator on the left. Specification:• Lumens
  • For adventures that require the highest possible capabilities, the Black Diamond Storm 375 Headlamp is a powerful and robust workhorse that delivers light exactly when you need it.
  • Compact, low-profile design with tiltable housing.
  • PowerTap functionality allows the user to tap the right side of the unit to instantly transition to full power.
  • Brightness Memory allows the last used brightness setting to be used when turned back on.

Luggage Locks

Being able to lock my backpack is a peace of mind thing. Leaving it at our accommodation, someone could easily steal the whole thing or use a sharp knife to cut it open. If they do that, so be it. What I own can be replaced. That said, I use three TSA-approved Samsonite Luggage 3 Dial Travel Sentry Combo Locks as a deterrent. I bought mine in September 2014.

Samsonite Luggage 3 Dial Travel Sentry Combo Lock, Pagoda Blue, One Size
  • Constructed of sturdy zinc alloy to withstand of travel
  • Indicator ring lets you know a tsa agent has opened your checked baggage for inspection
  • Triple-dial mechandism sets and re-sets with hundreads of possible combinations for added protection
  • Distinct design and color make luggage easier to identify
  • Accepted and recognized by the tsa

Towel

My towel also needs to be multi-purpose: To dry me, to be used as a wraparound when going to and from the (communal) bathroom, to be used as a blanket for the beach.

Apart from my sleepwear, my Hammamas towel is the only cotton item I own. In fact, it is 100% pure premium Turkish cotton, which means it is of the highest quality and is both durable and soft. And the more I wash it, the softer it gets! The towel is super absorbent and dries in a flash compared to traditional towels. Importantly, it folds down to nothing, making it easy to carry in my luggage.

So what does it all cost, you ask? If I had to buy all these items at today’s price, the cost would be USD4,512. It’s important to know the replacement value of your gear to determine your insurance needs.

Portable Charger

A smartphone battery never lasts as long as you want it to when you are travelling. Especially when you use it as your GPS, your camera, your music or podcast streaming device as well as your normal communications device. So a portable charger is a must. Something that will hold at least 2 full charges for your smartphone or tablet and be able to charge them at the same time. In addition, the charging ports need to have 2 amp output for tablets and 1 amp output for smartphones.

You want it to have great power storage, but you don’t want to carry around a brick, so what is the compromise? I went with the mid-sized high capacity Anker PowerCore 13000mAh Power Bank. It fits snugly into a zipper pocket of my BUBM Cable Bag.

Anker PowerCore 13000 C (USB-C Input only), Compact 13000mAh 2-Port Ultra Portable Phone Charger, Power Bank with PowerIQ and VoltageBoost Technology, for iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and More
  • The Anker Advantage: Join the 50 million+ powered by our leading technology.
  • USB-C Power: Identical power and size to PowerCore 13000, now with USB-C input.
  • Light and Compact: A super-high 13000 mAh capacity with two high-speed USB output ports is all contained in a portable charger smaller than a wallet.
  • High-Speed Charging: PowerIQ and VoltageBoost combine to deliver a max speed charge to any device (up to 3A - Qualcomm Quick Charge not supported). Input: 5V / 2A.
  • What You Get: Anker PowerCore 13000 C Portable Charger, USB to USB-C cable, 60cm Micro USB cable, travel pouch, welcome guide, our worry-free 18-month warranty and friendly customer service.

Universal Travel Adapter

Have you ever travelled to a foreign country and realised only upon arrival that they have a different plug pin configuration or current supply? Well, you only do it once…

When you research for a universal travel adapter, ensure you can use it in every country you wish to visit. There are several available with separate parts, but we prefer an all-in-one option. We also need to ensure it could fit nicely in our backpacks, so size and weight were critical.

After much research on the topic in mid-2018, we purchased the Pac2Go Universal Travel Adapter. So far, we have liked it and would recommend it.

Pac2Go Universal Travel Adapter with Dual USB Charger - All-in-One Surge/Spike Protected Electrical Plug with Fast Charging USB Ports, International Power Socket works in 192 Countries - 2XUSB
  • The days of the bulky heavy electric converters are over! Slide out world travel plugs for US, EU, UK and AU with an 8 hole input socket compatible with every international standard 2 and 3 prong plug. The perfect worldwide traveling companion for men or women. Almost complete global coverage. At home in cities like London, Paris, Singapore or Dubai as well as the European, African, American or Asia back roads. Call 719 822-2001 or email [email protected] to verify your specific travel needs.
  • Simultaneously charge up to three devices quickly with quad 2.5 Amp USB ports and the global electrical socket. Smart IC matches the high tech accessories current. Built-in overcharge protection for USB devices. The ideal rapid travel wall charger for an Apple iPhone, Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy, LG, Motorola Moto, Android smartphone or Qualcomm based cell phone; Apple iPad, Amazon Fire or Kindle, Galaxy Tab S3 tablet; GoPro Hero and Nikon camera; and Apple iPod or Sony Walkman mp3 players.
  • AC voltage from 100 through 250 Volts, 1500 Watts max at 250 Volts with a built-in 6 Amp safety fuse with spare fuse just in case. Spike and surge protection circuitry safeguards your devices. Worry-free charging for your Apple MacBook, Google Chromebook, Microsoft Surface, HP, Dell, Acer or Lenovo laptop. Ideal for dual voltage appliances like a hair dryer less than 1200 watts, curling iron, flat iron or straightener. No need for a converter or transformer. A sensible protector of electronics.
  • Ergonomic black rubberized oil surface and safety shutter prevents external shock and short circuit. Single piece construction in a compact size and convenient carrying case make it a necessity for foreign or domestic travel. The blue light indicates power and provides a night light. Why purchase even a single multi set individual type adaptors combo kit when you can make your travel bag lighter and less cluttered with just one portable Pac2Go Universal Travel Adapter for your overseas trip?
  • FCC CE RoHS SGS certified and backed with an 18-month guarantee. We promise THE BEST customer service before or after the sale. If you have any problem contact us and we will work with you to resolve the issue guaranteed. Our knowledgeable customer service is based in the USA. Call or email us at 719 822-2001 or support pac2go.com.

Water Bottle

When we lived in Sydney several years ago, we owned several water bottles – all from the same company – Klean Kanteen.

We kept one for our travel – the Klean Kanteen 800ml / 27 oz Water Bottle – so when we needed another one, it was a no-brainer to continue with this environmentally-friendly alternative that saves money and the planet.

We really like them because they are designed to last a lifetime, the wide mouth allows for easy cleaning and 800ml / 27 oz fit our backpack side pockets perfectly.

Klean Kanteen Wide Water Bottle with Stainless Loop Cap (Brushed Stainless Single Wall, 27-Ounce)
  • Durable and High Quality Food Grade 18/8 Stainless Steel Construction
  • Comes with BPA-free Polypropylene #5 cap with Stainless Steel bottom to create an all-stainless interior
  • Large 2.125 inch (54 millimeter) opening fits ice, easy to fill and pour; Compatible with all Klean Kanteen Wide caps
  • Easy to clean electropolished interior doesn't retain or impart flavors
  • Backed by the Klean Kanteen Strong as Steel Guarantee

First Aid Kit

I have a compact first aid kit the size of my fist which contains the following:

  • Adhesive Plaster Standard x 10
  • Adhesive Tap (roll)
  • Bandage Elastic
  • Bandage Conforming x 2
  • Content List
  • CPR Face Shield
  • Eye Pad
  • Gloves Disposable x 2
  • Non-woven Swab
  • Notepad and Pencil
  • Safety Pins x 4
  • Tweezer
  • Wipes Cleansing x 2

A first aid kit is not essential but handy if you’re out on a day trip and got a blister or cut your finger preparing a meal.

Sale
I GO Compact First Aid Kit - Hard Shell Case for Hiking, Camping, Travel, Car - 85 Pieces
  • ECONOMICAL VALUE: I Go first aid kit comes with 85 medical grade items in a compact, flexible, durable design (size 6" x 4.3"x 2.4" ), weighing only 0.56 pounds.
  • FDA APPROVED: I Go first aid kit manufactured with quality approved by FDA. Used by nurses, hospitals and doctors.
  • MULTIPURPOSE: I Go first aid kit is great for home, workplace, schools, infants, kids, but also suitable for outdoor travel activities like camping, hiking, hunting, backpacking, sports, boats, car or bug out bag. Be prepared for disasters, like earthquakes,tornadoes,flooding,or hurricane relief.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT with upgraded Items (based on customers' feedback): Some people said tapes are too small, you can aslo use elastic bandage according to different situation! ABD PAD: High absorption of wound pad is best for stopping bleeding. See the full list of contents in the product picture section and product description below.
  • CUSTOMER SERVICE: If you are not completely satisfied with the quality of your first aid kit survival bag, or if your kit gets damaged in shipping, your kit will be replaced.

Coconut Matter’s Mood deodorant is free of both: harmful ingredients and plastic. But does it work? We put it to the test.

Toiletry Bag

There is only one lightweight, multi-pocket, toiletry bag that I could recommend – the Sea to Summit Travelling Light Hanging Toiletry Bag. This is by far the best (small size) toiletry bag on the market.

Sea to Summit Travelling Light Hanging Toiletry Bag, Black, Small
  • Best Use: versatile, low profile hanging toiletry bag for organized travel
  • Size: 3 Liter total volume for compact travel; Size: 9 x 6 x 3 in
  • Pockets: 1 Large main, 1 inside divider, 2 inside zippered, 1 exterior zippered
  • Materials: water-resistant Ultra-Sil CORDURA nylon fabric, stretch mesh fabric, & durable zippers
  • Features: Stowable hanging hook, detachable/shatterproof mirror, carrying handle

Toiletries

Apart from my nose hair trimmer, everything else in my toiletry bag is a consumable:

That’s it!

‘A nose hair trimmer? WTF?’ you might ask. I don’t have much body hair, thankfully. But as I am getting older, hair suddenly grows where it didn’t grow before. So, I purchased the Groom Mate Platinum XL Plus Nose Hair Trimmer in May 2016. It’s non-electric and doesn’t hurt when you operate it correctly. It works like a charm on nose hair, ear hair and eyebrows but don’t try it on anything else. Trust me.

Packing List Summary

Below does not include my running gear for travelers. Not everyone runs, so it was not appropriate to list them here. It also does not include the business assets for us digital nomads, as again, these assets differ pending occupation.

ItemRecommendationQuantity
Travel BackpackTortuga Travel Backpack v21
Packing CubesTortuga Packing Cubes1
DaypackMatador Freerain24 2.01
Toiletry BagSea to Summit Travelling Light Hanging Toiletry Bag1
Electronics Carry CaseBUBM Accessories Storage Carry Case Organiser Bag1
WalletDash RFID 4.0 Wallet1
Stuff SackExped Folding Drybag1
Shoe BagNike Shoe Bag1
HeadwearBUFF Original Multi-Functional Headwear

Icebreaker Pocket Hat

Buff Heavyweight Merino Wool Tubular Cloth
1 each
Base layerNike Core Compression sleeveless tops2
Shirts - long sleevedIcebreaker Tech Lite long sleeve crew shirts2
Shirts - short sleevedIcebreaker Anatomica Rib Short Sleeve Crewe2
Outer layerMacpac Brunner 390 jacket1
Rain JacketMarmot Eclipse Jacket1
UnderwearExOfficio Give-N-Go Sports Mesh 3″ Boxer Briefs7
PantsColumbia Silver Ridge Cargo Pants2
ShortsColumbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts2
SwimwearMaki del Caribe beach shorts1
SleepwearSustainable and ethical underwear brands1
SocksSmartWool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew Socks

SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light Mini Socks
2 pairs each
ShoesSalomon X Ultra LTR GTX Hiking Shoes1 pair
SandelsXero Z-trek sandels1 pair
Eating UtensilLight my Fire Titanium Spork1
ClotheslineGoTravel Pegless Washing Line1
Combination LockSamsonite Luggage 3 Dial Travel Sentry Combo Locks3
EarbudsJabra Elite Sport True Wireless Earbud1
HeadlampBlack Diamond Storm Headlamp1
Portable Battery ChargerAnker PowerCore 13000 Phone Charger Power Bank1
Nose Hair TrimmerGroom Mate Platinum XL Plus Nose Hair Trimmer1
TowelHammamas towel1
Universal Travel AdapterPac2Go Universal Travel Adapter1
Water BottleKlean Kanteen Wide Mouth Single Wall Stainless Steel Water Bottle1

Have you travelled with carry-on luggage only? What is missing in the above list that you found useful? Please leave a comment or send us an email.

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The Ultimate Carry-On Packing List for Men
The Ultimate Carry-On Packing List for Men
The Ultimate Carry-On Packing List for Men

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