My bag is packed. I can confess though, it was packed 6 days early. There’s a certain satisfaction that the tough bit (the packing) is done now.

If you haven’t attempted to pack everything you’re likely to need for a year in a rucksack before, try it. For a first timer like me, I can tell you, it’s not easy. I think people confuse the stress and emotion of the “leaving”, with that of the “packing”. Do it early, and it’s much much easier.

How heavy is my stuff?

Main Pack – 11kg
Day Sack – 4kg

Here’s a breakdown of the kit I’ve packed. I’ll skim over the technology stuff, because I covered that in more detail a couple of weeks go in Technology Gear Preparation. I mark those down as (T).


The Rucksack

Osprey farpoint 70

I’m taking a Osprey Farpoint 70 rucksack as my only luggage. The rucksack is split into two packs, which combine to make 70L. Main pack is 55L and day pack is 15L.

In terms of the features of the main pack that go above and beyond the usual packs – it opens out flat like a suitcase (so you can get to everything quickly and easily), lockable zip (in case you need to leave it somewhere less secure), comes with a cover for hiding away all the straps (so it goes with the usual luggage on a plane), clips to hook on the day pack to the front or the back of the sack (better for balance with your back).

In terms of the day sack, it has inner padding for a laptop/kindle with a release clip (so it can’t be lifted out easily), outside netting (for holding bottles of water), chest straps (when you’re doing something active and need the pack tight on your body).


Clothes – Bottoms

Clothes bottoms

2 x Light Chinos Evenings, leech protection or embassy visits
1 x 3/4 Length Trousers Something for warm weather, but enough coverage for temple/religious places
1 x Hiking Shorts Light and waterproof
1 x Board Shorts Zipped pocket in case you need to carry key or a few coins
1 x Sports/Running Shorts Lined so can double up as a 2nd pair of swim shorts
1 x Cotton Shorts Smart and comfortable for bus/train/plane journeys


Clothes – Tops

Clothes tops

2 x Vests  
4 x T-Shirts
2 x Cotton Shirts One with arms that roll and button up
1 x Cardigan  
1 x Light Jumper Arms that roll and button up


Clothes – Underwear/Shoes

Clothes underwear shoes

6 x Underwear (not shown)  
1 x Long Socks For protection on forest/jungle hikes
2 x Sports Ankle Socks Padded heel and toes for active tasks
4 x Footsie Slip On Socks Act as a liner for the loafers (below)
Cream Loafers For evening/smarter occasions
Vivo Barefoot Evo II Running Shoes Barefoot shoes for hiking/running/day-trips. These are the off road variety, so they’ve got good treads
Sandals For beach, showers and hot weather


Toiletries & First Aid



Main Wash Bag

Kathmandu Kit Bag Delux Wash Bag Hangable, detachable mirror (although I managed to smash mine on my first mini trip I used it for)
Toothbrush + Cover  
Face Scrub  
Shower Gel  
Shaving Serum/Gel  
Eau de Toilette  
Suncream Aloe Up make a great non-greasy one for face/ears and the SPF 25 lip balm ones too
Nail Clippers  
Tweezers a.k.a. tick removers too
Interdental Brush  



I’ll keep these spars in a separate dry sack, so I can easily separate this from daily use toiletries when I arrive somewhere new.

Deet 55 Mosquito Spray From what I’ve read, you need a strong one for Asia, but anything over 55 is somewhat overkill.
Spare Razorblades  
Eye Drops  
Tea Tree Oil Natural antiseptic


First Aid Kit

I took the best from a Gelert Travel First Aid Kitand bought the medication from the local supermarket. With the medication, I kept all the instructions/paperwork in case people want a little more proof that the tablets aren’t unknown substances and because I couldn’t remember when/how to take them all.

Contact Lenses Daily disposable (50 days)
Malaria Pills Doxycycline (90 days) decanted in a plastic container
Dioralyte x 6 For replacing salts during diarrhoea
Paracetamol x 8 Headaches
Bisacodyl x 10 Laxative
Loperamide Hydrochloride x 6 Anti diarrhoea
Water Purification Tablet x 40  
Waterproof plasters x 10  
Latex Glove  
Wound closure strips  
Finger dressing  
Non-adherent dressing x 2  
Burn gel  
Alcohol free wipe  
Safety Pins  





Kathmandu Microfibre Towel XL Quick drying, with anti-bacterial treatment. XL gives enough “coverage” for to/from hostel bathrooms (75cm x 150cm)
Sea to Summit Silk Travel Liner Keep the bedbugs out with a silk liner. This one comes with a pillow insert too.
Trekmates Rain Cover L sized for my main pack, XS for my day pack
Cotton Hat  
Belt Only needed for my trousers (shorts all fit snug… right now anyway)
Snood Cover up from dusty places, double up as a hat and double up in cold places like a scarf
Resistance Band For keeping fit. If you know how to use one of these properly, you can do a decent gym routine anywhere. I just used the toughest band from the set.
Beard Trimmer Remington came out with this smart USB charged trimmer, so I don’t need to bring another plug. Genius.
Glasses Kept in a Rigid Retro case
Berghaus Cloudline Jacket Incredibly light (158g), resistant for light showers (they call it a “Durable Water Repellent” finish)
Point It Dictionary As a final resort when you can’t communicate in foreign countries, you can point to categorised pictures in this book. Pictures of medical, transport, food and more.
USB / iPhone Data Cables USB cable used by camera and shaver
MacBook Air USB Network Cable Used when wifi isn’t an option. I’ve heard this can be an everyday scenario in China, where, due to government restrictions, you can’t have wifi, but rather a network cable only.
Veho Pebble Mini Battery (T) Spare juice for charging my iPhone, Camera, Beard Trimmer, Nokia Phone, Speakers and anything USB using their component cables.
Skross Pro Plus World Adapter (T) An earthed adaptor that goes from any plug to any socket. You use the plastic slider to slide out the various permutations one at a time. It does come with a dual USB outlet version too, but with the Masterplug (below), it wasn’t necessary. It’s not the lightest device around, but in terms of size, it’s pretty compact.
Masterplug USB Output and Surge Protector (T) The Masterplug provides me with 2 USB sockets to charge my USB devices and also acts as a surge protector (unlimited guarantee from the manufacturer). Both USB inputs and the plug can be used at the same time too, which is very handy for charging your camera and phone or anything else for that matter
Bose QuietComfort 15 Noise Cancelling Headphones Unbelievable noise cancelling ability. If you haven’t tried them before, head to a shop and test them. I’ve fallen asleep using these with a party in full swing, lights on and after 6 cans of red bull.
Eye Mask  
Head Torch  
In Ear Headphones These are the noise cancelling variety again.
2 x Locking Carabiners Locking ones add a little bit of security
2 x TSA Combination Padlock For main pack and day sack
1 x Combination Master Lock Bigger than the TSA ones, I’l use it for hostel lockers
iPhone Arm Band For when I go for runs
X-Mini Portable Speaker Amazingly powerful, USB charged speaker. Whoever invented this is a genius.
Antibacterial Handgel  
Sim Cutter Take a normal sim and convert it to a micro sim. I’ll use this if I can’t get foreign sims in micro form when I want to put a foreign sim in my iPhone.
USB 500Gb External Tough Hard Drive (T) Storage for pictures and data on the move. Throw it around with it’s rubber casing and the USB lead is part of the drive. This will also hold the backup of my MacBook Air in case that goes missing. Data is all encrypted in case i lose the drive itself.
Moleskin Notebook + Pen  
Spare SDHC 16Gb Camera Card Spillover and redundancy
Spare Camera Battery For long trips without access to charge my main one
2 x Verbatim 16Gb USB Drives (T) The ultimate small USB drives
Sim Converter For making a micro sim usable in a normal sim phone. E.g. the sim from my iPhone can be put in my cheap Nokia (below)
Paper Clip  
iPhone Tool For opening the sim card tray on an iPhone.
Rubber Bands  
China (Lonely Planet Guide) I’ll dump/trade this after I leave Hong Kong
Southeast Asia on a Shoestring (Lonely Planet Guide) I’ll keep this guide for the whole of my Asia travels. Excellent for total itinerary planning, border crossings, scam alerts.
PacSafe Waist Wallet I don’t want to use this often, but when there is a need, you can have this on your waist under your T-Shirt and slip it into your shorts/trousers too.
USB SDHC Camera Card Reader So I can transfer pictures to my MacBook Air
Spare AAA Batteries For my Bose headphones
Nokia 100 + USB Charger (T) Unlocked dualband (can’t be used in the US) phone. I’ll either swap my UK sim into here so I can use my iPhone with a foreign sim or I’ll just use it as with a foreign sim. £10 brand new, so I’d hardly cry if I throw it around or lose it. You can see the phone’s geared to travellers when its main features are alarm clock and flashlight.


Documents & Laptop

Documents and laptop

There a bit of methodology to the documents that’s worth explaining. The orange dry sack contains the core documents I travel with (passport, money etc.). The green sack contains photocopies and spares of everything else and some emergency dollars. As long as I don’t leave both dry sacks in one place (i.e. carry both in my day sack or leave both in my main sack), then I can lose either and still be ok. Sure there will be a little pain getting the originals replaced, but I can “survive” in the meantime. Anything I’ve copied, I’ve already scanned in as PDF and uploaded them to somewhere secure, so I can get to them in an emergency.

Debit & Credit Card Make sure you phone your card companies in advance of your trip and give them your itinerary. They can note it down to prevent transactions being held back.
Driving License Photocard version will be in my wallet
Vaccination Certificates Important for proof of Yellow Fever vaccination
Foreign Currency Take dollars as your floating currency. I’ll be taking most out via cash machines using my debit card
Passport Photos For visas sought on the borders
Internet Banking Token  
Wallet & Strap Strap in case I want to hook it to my trousers
iPhone 4s + Case (T) The iPhone is my travel buddy. I’ll use for maps, bookings, music, news, books, note taking and as a backup camera. The case is part deterrent (to hide a white iPhone) and part to absorb shock if dropped.
Macbook Air 11″ + Cover + Charger (T) The MacBook Air 11″ needs no introduction to travellers. It’s the ultimate robust yet lightweight laptop. The cover I chose was a Khaki Linen Sleeve, which has a subtle look and waterproof lining.
Various Sized Dry Sacks Useful for separating items in your sack and extra bags (see below)
Bag Strap Taken off another bag I had at home. If you attach this to a large dry sack, you can have a waterproof bag across your back. I’ll use this instead of my Osprey day sack when I can travel light for the day but knowing i’ll be going somewhere wet.
Sony Cybershot DSC-HX20V with 2 x 16Gb SDHC Cards (not pictured) (T) Super 20x Optical Zoom, 18MP capture, Exmor R CMOS Sensor and a best of breed battery.

Packing Bags


make some great packing aids. Everything in my pack is separated using these. I use 1 of these Cubes for t-shirts, 1 of these Half Cube for underwear, 1 Cube for dirty laundry (always separate it unless you want your clean clothes to be “affected”. These are the lightest version of the famous Eagle Creek packing system. The frosted look means you can tell what’s in them without having to open them. Lastly, I’ve got one big Cube from Kathmandu which holds my trousers and all the “Misc” gear. Putting trousers round the gear means it’s padded whilst in transit.


How Do I Pack My Gear

You’ll be surprised what a difference where you pack your gear can make. Here are a couple of diagrams of how it should be done. In short, put the heavy stuff as close to your shoulders as possible..




Anything glaring you think I’ve missed?