Whether you are packing for a 2-week vacation or year-long trip, my minimalist carry-on packing list for men prepares you for any weather.

Minimalist Travel Wardrobe and Carry-On Packing List For Men

Paul Ryken Last Updated: Friday 19 June 2020 Take the right gear Leave a Comment

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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. There are so many benefits to travelling light, I strongly encourage you to travel with carry-on luggage only.

How would I know? I have done both: Up until 2015, I travelled with check-in luggage. Then, on a three week trip to Europe, I tested carry-on. And since leaving our corporate lives in 2016, I’ve been travelling with carry-on only. Having enjoyed the freedom of carry-on, I 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, Sandra has got you covered too. Just head over to our Minimalist carry-on packing list for female travelers. If you love to go for a run while travelling, I even have a running gear packing list for you.

Since 2019, I’ve not only looked for the most suitable gear that meets our needs and stands the test of time, but I’ve also considered how eco-friendly and ethically a product was made. If I don’t replace an item with a more eco-friendly or ethically sourced one, I include the reason. I have also linked 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 I Started
Number of days on the road
Total weight of gear I own
< 0 kg

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.


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
  • Lots of pockets and great organization, including a TSA friendly pouch 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 only two months on the road, the stitching on the shoulder straps of my original Tortuga pack had come apart. I contacted them about it, and received a replacement pack in no time. Tortuga now have several new versions out and more accessories, but the version I received in November 2016 is still going strong, so why replace it?

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.
Volume44litresFitting all my stuff perfectly. I wouldn’t want to go lower.
Purchase DateNovember 2016My original Tortuga pack was replaced by Tortuga, as seems had come apart after only two months of using it.
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.

The Tortuga I have is no longer being sold. However, I have had such a good experience with Tortuga (the pack and the company), I’d likely buy one of their newer models if and when it comes to the point I have to replace mine. The Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack (45l) looks like a contender.

LabelTortuga Outbreaker Backpack (45l)
Dimensions56cm x 33cm x 23cm / 22inch x 14inch x 9inch
Weight2.31kg / 5.1lbs

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


Sandra and I share a daypack. We 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 then purchased the Matador Daylite 16 and this lasted until June 2019 when its main zipper broke. So, we started looking for our third daypack in as many years – still adhering to the same requirements:

  • Ultra-light yet super strong
  • Waterproof or at least water repellent
  • 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
  • Deep side pocket/s to fit our 800ml water bottle
  • Comfortable, adjustable shoulder straps and top grab handle
  • Ability to pack it up into its own pouch.

Our research led us to the Matador Freerain24.

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

Packing Cubes

To maximize the use of space in my backpack, I purchased the packing cubes specifically designed to fit the Tortuga Backpack V2 in October 2015 (directly from Tortuga), and they are still going strong.

I’ve had to repair a few tiny holes over time, 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 packing cubes before but swear by them now.

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 I recommend and travel with? Check out the best digital nomad and business travel laptop.


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.

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, I’d add the following features to my list above:

  • Vegan
  • No plastics
  • Made from recycled or re-purposed materials.
Dash Co. RFID Slim Wallet 4.0 for Men
  • ★ 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.

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 when I 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 carry it in our daypack in pouring rain. A waterproof bag inside a waterproof bag – just to be on the safe side.

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

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

Shoe Bag

I only own three pairs of footwear, and the ones I’m not wearing, go into my backpack. Especially my running shoes 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.


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 I’ve now had it for almost three years, it certainly has proven durable, although the seems have 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.

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 in New Zealand where the sheep graze and the wool is grown, and I feel good about buying my items from Kiwi companies that embrace sustainability.

Head and Neck Cover

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

  • BUFF Original Multi-Functional head wear 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.

I also purchased the Buff Heavyweight Merino Wool Tubular Cloth in 2019 to cover my neck in freezing temperatures, knowing that I was heading 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.

Nike Pro Men's Sleeveless Training Top (Black/White, Medium)
  • Dri-FIT Technology helps keep you dry and comfortable
  • Sleeveless, ergonomic design for mobility
  • Mesh sections improve airflow
  • Flat seams feel smooth against your skin

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, all are 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 could 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 Oasis Long Sleeve Crewe Shirts purchased from Icebreaker in December 2017.

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


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, I 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.

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 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
  • 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.
  • OMNI-SHADE: Be safe and protected. Omni-Shade blocks UVA and UVB rays to help prevent sunburns and long-term skin damage. The tight weave construction with UV absorbent yarns block the full spectrum of harmful UV rays.
  • ALL WEATHER PANTS: These hard working pants are versatile, durable, and truly protective – engineered to keep you comfortable from sunup to sundown.
  • STRAIGHT LEG — CLASSIC FIT: With a regular fit these pants have a straight leg cut, and articulated knees made from 100% ripstop nylon for ultimate comfort during active outdoor adventures.
  • HANDY FEATURES: Exterior adjustable belt with partial elastic at the waist, plus pockets galore, including two front and two tabbed back pockets, two large cargo pockets, and a zippered security pocket — all keeping your necessities handy and secure.


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 I travelled around the Americas, but over time they showed stains despite regular washing.

Columbia Men's Silver Ridge Cargo Short, Fossil, 34x10
  • ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Columbia's Silver Ridge Cargo Short features our signature UPF 50 fabric for protection against harmful UVA and UVA rays as well as breathable, wicking fabric that pulls moisture away to keep you cool and dry.
  • 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 security.
  • ADJUSTABLE FEATURES: A partial elastic waist and gusset detail provide the active man with ultimate comfort during anything from bouldering to rafting.
  • CLASSIC FIT: This cargo short is crafted of a classic fit for ultimate comfortability while active days outside.
  • OMNI-SHADE: Be safe and protected. Omni-Shade blocks UVA and UVB rays to help prevent sunburns and long-term skin damage. The tight weave construction with UV absorbent yarns block the full spectrum of harmful UV rays.


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.


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 colorful jungle pattern.

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


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 owned Icebreaker branded socks, but a friend put me onto Smartwool socks in 2019. Both are made of Merino, but I reckon the Smartwool 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 Ultra Light Crew Medium Gray LG (Men's Shoe 9-11.5)
  • 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.

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. I ended up purchasing a Macpac Brunner 390 Jacket in November 2018.

Macpac was originally a New Zealand company, and I really like supporting local brands, but 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 several 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 lasted really well. Over the years, I have maintained its water-repellent properties by treating it with waterproofing spray.

In November 2019, I 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 PFC-free EvoDry technology
  • Marmot warrants every product they make to be free of manufacturer defects for life.
Marmot Eclipse Jacket - Denim - Medium
  • 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


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. So, don’t skimp on shoes! Especially if you only own one regular pair, as I do. During the winter months, when I am hiking and on travel days (no matter how hot it is), I wear the same pair of shoes. As such they get a lot of use.

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

  • Be comfortable, lightweight yet sturdy, and 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 equivalent female version.

Salomon Men's X Ultra 3 LTR GTX Hiking Shoes, PHANTOM/Magnet/Quiet Shade, 11
  • WATERPROOF HIKING SHOES: Whether you are hitting the trails or looking for a solid work shoe, these extra-durable, waterproof hiking shoes are designed for maximum traction on all terrains.
  • A BETTER WAY DOWN: Designed with Descent Control Technology, the X Ultra 3 GORE-TEX hiking shoe efficiently tackles technical hikes & really shines during tough descents, even in wet conditions.
  • ADVENTURE AWAITS: Whether you love a local day hike or hitting the trails for a multi-day adventure, Salomon makes innovative hiking & backpacking shoes & boots for men & women to help you go the distance.
  • TIME TO PLAY: Whether you are into trail running, hiking, backpacking, or mountaineering, Salomon has shoes & gear for kids, men & women to help you conquer a new distance, personal record, or event!
  • SINCE 1947 Salomon has used our passion for outdoor sports & innovation to create progressive gear. Our road & trail running shoes, hiking sneakers, boots, & water shoes help make any path your own.


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 a minimal heel to toe height difference.

I initially purchased the Xero Cloud sandals in August 2015. They were 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.


Toiletry Bag

We’ve done quite a bit of research and have found that the Sea to Summit Travelling Light Hanging Toiletry Bag is the best light-weight, multi-pocket toiletry bag on the market. Sandra has a larger version, but the small size suits my needs. The toiletry bag is made out of the same material as our day pack.

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

Toiletry Items

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.

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



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 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 enough 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 prescription sunglasses with transition lenses. Admittedly, they are not cheap, but I have had them now for four years, and I can not recommend them highly enough.

Rudy Project New 2019 Rydon - Frame: Matte Black Lens: Smoke Black
  • 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. I 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)


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.

Design Go Go Travel Clothes Line, White, One Size
  • Pegless travel clothes line
  • Use with hook or suction cups
  • Country Of Origin : China
  • Package Dimensions : 3.5" L x 5.67" W x 0.79" H


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


My recommendation

Music and listening to podcasts while I 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 very basic Panasonic RP-HS34-K Headphones for a few years and was 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 several features I was looking for:

  • Waterproof and comes with a 3-year warranty against sweat damage
  • Long lasting battery – more than four hours of playtime, 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 I have been apprehensive about them falling out while I run. But they come with 8 different sized covers to test out in your ears, ensuring a snug fit and 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
  • Take work calls from home – Incredible 4-microphone technology offers best-in-class call performance, with up to 15 hours of battery for maximum productivity— even when you’re working or learning from home on your smartphone.


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. I didn’t use it for months (our phone torches were sufficient), so I decided to sell it.

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

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


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. 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 can charge them at the same time. Also, 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 I prefer an all-in-one option. I 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, I purchased the Pac2Go Universal Travel Adapter, and I can 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.

I 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.

I GO 85 Pieces Hard Shell Mini Compact First Aid Kit, Small Personal Emergency Survival Kit for Travel Hiking Camping Backpacking Hunting Marine Car
  • ✔【Essential Preparedness Kit】: Contains 85 essential first aid supplies for treating common cuts, scrapes, minor aches and injuries, will prepare you for any potential emergency at home, in the office or on the go
  • ✔【Safety Medical Kit】: Safety approved, 85 pieces of comprehensive first aid treatment products are manufactured in modern safety approved facilities, exceeding safety standards for adults and kids in all kinds of emergencies
  • ✔【Organization Survival Pouch】: Clear mesh lining and two-way full open zippers in water-resistant EVA pouch, I Go 1st aid kit provides you an organization and quick access to first aid supplies in an emergency
  • ✔【Portable Safety Kit】: Size 6" x 4.3"x 2.4", weighing only 0.56 pounds, small and lightweight, I GO safety kit is in proper size for fitting nicely into your pocket, backpack, boat, vehicle compartment or desk drawer
  • ✔【General Purpose Medkit】: Each medkit comes with an aluminum carabiner, which allows you to hang the kit in various places for immediate retrieval in outdoor activities like camping, hiking, backpacking, boating, cycling, fishing and sports

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 laptop computer for digital nomads, as again, these assets differ pending occupation.

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 Oasis Long Sleeve Crewe Shirt2
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 traveled with carry-on luggage only? What is missing in the above list that you found useful? Please leave a comment.

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Whether you're planning a two-week vacation or a year-long backpacking trip around the world, my ultimate carry-on packing list for men prepares you for any season and any weather.
Whether you're planning a two-week vacation or a year-long backpacking trip around the world, my ultimate carry-on packing list for men prepares you for any season and any weather.
Whether you're planning a two-week vacation or a year-long backpacking trip around the world, my ultimate carry-on packing list for men prepares you for any season and any weather.

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