The Art of Packing for the Long Journey

It has taken me a month and a half to write this post. That’s because packing is one of the most difficult aspects of traveling around the world. It’s takes a lot of research, a lot of trial and error, and a bit of luck to determine what goes with us on our journey and what stays at home. We have both traveled extensively and we have, early on, overpacked many times thinking we would need some item.  The last time I went to Asia, you’d have thought that I was going to climb the Himalayas with all the gear I had…oh, wait, I was.

Nowadays, we try to keep our luggage to just carry-on. A smaller bag is easier to carry and more maneuverable on crowded buses and trains. Besides, the less you have, the less you have to worry about. While this limitation makes it easier for us to move about quickly and saves on checked bag fees for some of our air travel, it’s nearly impossible to do without making some compromises.

Packing is a Very Personal Thing

I recently downloaded a packing app for my iPhone. I told it what I intended to do and where I was going and it presented me with a list of what I should bring. It was rather generic and way more than I would ever carry, but it got me thinking. Nobody nor any app can figure out what you should pack, because only you know what you’re capable of carrying, what you really need, and what you’re willing to leave behind. To know what you need, you probably have to have some experience with what works and what doesn’t, because there really is no substitute for real-world experience. And that usually involves some traveling. Not only traveling, but doing so in the same manner that you intend to travel with your current list. After all, someone who travels for work, staying at luxury hotels around the world isn’t going to be traveling in the same manner as a backpacker staying at youth hostels.

Packing lists that I find online don’t work for me, but they sometimes offer innovative ideas for how others deal with their packing dilemmas. My packing list presented here is primarily from an older photography guy’s point of view. It differs from most other lists I’ve found online, since I’m not your typical 20-something backpacker. A younger person wouldn’t be caught dead with some of the things on my packing list. I mean, what 20-something would pack a back massager? Right? Older travelers have different needs, as do men versus women. My wife may eventually post something about her own list, which should be interesting. I’m also a pro photographer, so photo gear is a priority and this list reflects that. Not everyone is into taking photos as much as I am, and that’s why the photo gear has its own section. Hopefully, seeing what I plan to bring gives you some ideas about your own packing list.

Pack for Your Destination’s Typical Climate

That statement seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how much people bring that they think they’ll need—just in case. So much can be left at home, especially clothing. In determining our RTW route, I tried to avoid cold weather, planning to visit most places during their summer months in order to pack fewer clothes. Unfortunately, even places that are normally warm, get colder at higher altitudes. Such is the case when we go trekking in the Himalayas, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, or hiking the W in Patagonia. This means we need to have clothing that can work in both hot and cold climates, yet still fit within our carry-on luggage. Or do we?

There’s another option. Warm clothing can be purchased locally, usually very inexpensively. When we’re done with it, we can give it to our guides, sell it to the next person, or simply donate it, and we don’t have to carry it around to warm climates where we’re not likely to use it. Something I learned while mountain climbing was to dress in layers. For cold climates, we’ll need a minimum of three layers: a base layer to wick away perspiration; an insulating layer to retain heat; and a shell layer to keep out the wind and precipitation. The insulating layer needn’t be heavy or bulky. In fact, thinner multiple layers are easier to pack and more practical for travel, allowing us to add or shed layers as needed. Polyester is an adequate base layer, wool works better in some cases and a GoreTex shell is expensive but worth it.

Whichever way we end up with warm clothes, we will be layering extensively, and quite possibly wearing everything we’re carrying, which is why my list may seem excessive for some people who aren’t planning such activities. If your travels don’t take you to temperature and climate extremes, then consider yourself lucky that your list will be simpler. In warm climates, you’ll need only a layer for wicking and sun protection. So, if you’re just hitting every beach from Bondi to Bali to Bermuda to Belize, you might get by with just some beach clothing. Heck, you may not even need shoes; just a pair of sandals or flip flops.

Clothing is most important

Generally speaking, clothing must meet certain criteria to be road worthy. First, it must be durable. It isn’t much good if it falls apart in a couple of months. It has to be comfortable, after all, we’ll be wearing it at least once a week for a whole year. It must dry quickly. We’ll be hand washing our clothes most of the time and it needs to be able to dry overnight in most cases. Each item should coordinate easily with any other item. I should be able to dress in the dark and not worry that it clashes. Finally, it should be lightweight and pack small. Every essential item of clothing on my list meets these criteria and they’ve been road tested on previous trips.

Speaking of road tested, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t pack anything that you haven’t tried out beforehand. Shoes are something that need to be tested and broken-in before your trip. You don’t want to be thousands of miles from home and realize that your shoes are extremely painful. The same goes for your electronics and other gear. You should be thoroughly familiar with your gear before you go on that trip. The last place you want to be trying to figure out how your camera works is when you’re at a tourist site, and it’s hot, crowded and you don’t have the manual.

Making the Cut

If you’ve ever read any advice for packing, you’ve probably come across a recommendation that suggests laying out all you plan to bring and reducing it by half, or something similar to that. Although it’s a good idea, it’s not very specific about what needs to be cut. I’ve taken a different approach. As I look at each item I’m considering bringing, I think about specific criteria: volume, weight, and utility.


Most domestic airlines restrict your carry-on bag based on size. Very few enforce weight restrictions and even the size restrictions aren’t consistent from airline to airline. As a result, luggage manufacturers are obsessed with size. You’ve probably noticed that bags are designated either by the long dimension, such as the 21″ rollaboard, or by volume, such as a 50 liter backpack. Volume is important when you’re trying to fit everything you want to bring into a bag. Volume also goes hand-in-hand with size, as in, carry-on size, and that’s important if you want to save money in baggage fees and would like to keep your things close by, at least domestically.

The easiest way to reduce volume is to bring fewer things. (duh) When that isn’t enough, getting everything to fit is easier if you don’t pack bulky items such as beanbag neck pillows, fleece jackets and extra shoes. (again, duh) But that’s just common sense, or at least it should be. The other way to reduce volume is to find smaller things that do exactly what something larger does. Just be aware that miniaturization sometimes comes at a steep cost. For example, I have a functional 15″ MacBook Pro that I could bring, but it’s huge and requires a large bag to accommodate it. Instead, I’m going to bring the 11″ MacBook Air, which is not only much smaller, but also weighs less than half of the other one, which is a nice segue to the next criteria.


Air Asia Weight Restrictions Banner

Asian airlines are very restrictive with carry-ons. 7 kg. is about 15.5 lb.

Strangely,  luggage companies seem concerned with size, but when you read about minimizing your packing, it’s usually stated as “lighten your load” or “traveling lighter”, not traveling more efficiently, and certainly not traveling smaller. It’s often weight, not volume, that becomes the biggest issue. Airlines, especially Asian airlines, will scrutinize the weigh of your bag more than the size of it.  Sometimes, they’ll even check the weight of your bag at the gate. But it’s not just the airlines; I’m concerned with the weight of my bag too. The less weight I’m carrying, the better I’ll feel at the end of the day. I’ll be less tired, less sore the next day, and less stressed. Luckily, weight is easy to quantify, and therefore, easy to see where to reduce. However, one area you may not want to lighten too much is your luggage itself. Better fabrics and hardware usually weigh a little more. Go too light and you may be sacrificing durability and longevity.

To save pounds in your luggage (and ultimately on your back), start by cutting the ounces. All those items that are just a couple of ounces begin to inexplicably add up to pounds pretty quickly. Travel should be enjoyable and traveling with less will definitely add to your enjoyment. However, it’s not simply a matter of carrying less, it’s looking at each item and figuring out if there is a lighter alternative, or a way to combine the functions of two or more items so that what you pack is more efficient. For example, although that pair of cotton jeans is comfortable and goes with anything, it weighs a lot. A good pair of travel pants is less than half the weight of jeans and the other benefit is that it will dry quicker after being washed.

Another thing to consider with airline weight is that the weight only counts if it’s in your bag. Say what? Yep, if you’re carrying something on your person, your weight isn’t questioned, which is when all those cargo pants pockets and travel vests come in handy. I’m not suggesting you overpack by carrying a heavy load in the clothing you’re wearing. The idea is to pack lighter, but if you find yourself in a pinch at the gate in Bangkok because all those souvenirs have tipped the scale, then just put some of your heavier items in your pockets. It’s perfectly legal and saves you from paying for a checked bag.


In deciding the utility of an item, I put everything into one of four categories: essential, nice-to-haveluxury, and not-this-time. Essential are those items that I’ll absolutely need, won’t likely be able to find while on the road, and I’ll use frequently. Nice-to-have are those things that make life easier, but aren’t essential, and may rarely or never be used. Luxury are those items that provide some level of comfort but are completely extravagant or heavy or bulky. And finally, not-this-time are those items I would normally bring, but have decided to not bring this time, and on the list I explain why.


What follows is a very specific list with brand names and some rather lengthy justifications, along with the weight in grams. I could have just made a generic list, but without understanding why I’m bringing something, you may find yourself saying, “Huh?” quite a bit. For me, by including my justification, the process of justifying an item in writing makes me take a serious look at it, and sometimes makes me realize I don’t need it after all. I’m always re-evaluating my list, so if you check back later, up until the time we leave, you may find that the list has changed.

My packing list is divided into sections: clothing, toiletries, luggage & packing accessories, personal items, just in case, electronics, and camera gear. I’m bringing a carry-on bag and my camera bag is my “personal” bag. In the grams column, an asterisk * indicates it goes in my camera bag, and a dagger  indicates I’m wearing some or all of these items, especially when boarding an airplane.

Clothing  Grams Justification
Underwear, 4 pair ExOfficio 236 I’ve been using these for overseas trips for the last 8-10 years and they are great. 4 pairs allows me to go for at least 3 days before having to do laundry. And when I do, these dry very quickly. Briefs or boxers are up to you.
Pants, 3 pair Eddie Bauer & Columbia 1105 Most travel pants are just too tight, especially around the crotch, and they often don’t look “normal.” Really, who needs 6 pockets on their pant legs. The Eddie Bauer and Columbia pants stretch and are loose enough for comfort, have a few discreet pockets, shed wrinkles, and I can pack 2 of these in the space that one pair of jeans takes up. They’re very lightweight and fast drying. For comparison, a pair of jeans weights 800 grams.
Long underwear bottoms, REI polyester 220 For cold nights when trekking in the Himalayas, Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Patagonia.
Shorts, polyester, double as swim trunks 180 A last minute addition for areas with a more Western influence. Despite hot climates, shorts generally don’t blend in with locals in Asia.
Swim trunks, tight fitting 72 Speedo swim trunks are really nice to have if I decide to go diving and need to slip on a wetsuit. Mine is not the intended physique for which these were designed, but they don’t weigh much so I’ll bring ’em. I’ll try not to post anything you won’t be able to un-see.
Shirts, 2 short sleeve collared 398 A collared shirt is comfortable and versatile. I can open the buttons when I get hot and button it up when it gets cold. Wearing a shirt with a collar also garners more respect from government officials.
Shirt, long sleeve collared 198 The long sleeves are good for sun protection while still keeping cool. It’s also another warmth layer when needed.
T-shirt, 2 Icebreaker Men’s Tech T Lite Short Sleeve Wool 296 Wool keeps you warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. It also resists odor better than polyester. I order mine larger for a slightly looser fit.
Long underwear top, 1/4 zip polyester, Patagonia 182 Another layer for the cold, with a zipper to regulate body temperature. Patagonia’s Capalene is the best.
Socks 3 pairs Smartwool 204 My feet sweat like crazy and will need something to wick it away. I’ll probably only wear socks when the temperature drops below 50°F (10°C). Wool socks work best for me for preventing blisters.
Liner socks 2 pairs, 1 wool, 1 polypropylene 68 When we start trekking, these socks will be essential for warmth and blister prevention.
Boots, Ahnu Men’s Coburn Hiking Boot 992 New boots that I’ll be breaking-in before our trip. These are comfortable and lightweight without looking too much like a backpacker. Okay, I’ll still look like a backpacker, but after a couple of sprains, at least I’ll have much needed ankle support.
Sandals, Tevas Keen Newport H2 786 I usually wear Tevas, but they no longer make the style I like and the styles they have are no longer comfortable. However, I’m not sold on the Keens either,  because they tend to get pebbles and dirt into the shoe and since it has a closed toe, makes it hard to get it out.
Gloves, fleece 62 Not absolutely necessary, but I’ll be glad I have these when I’m trying to take photos in colder areas.
Belt, money belt  76 One of many places where I’ll be stashing emergency cash.
Blazer, Eddie Bauer Travex 552 A total extravagance but I never know when we might attend an opera or eat at a 3-star restaurant. It’s also another layering piece.
Vest, ExOfficio Men’s Flyq Lite Vest, Black 360 A very discreet vest that could come in handy when flying some of those Asian airlines. 11 inside pockets will hold all sorts of stuff without looking like I’m on safari. I chose Exofficio over the popular ScotteVest because it was half the price with only 15 total pockets instead of 26. I can’t see paying $135 for clothing that’s made in China.
Fleece Jacket  592 Fleece takes up a lot of valuable room in the travel bag and it’s heavier than you think. We are only spending about 10% of our time in climates where we would need this. I don’t really need this additional layer since I have the blazer and if it’s even colder than I anticipated, I can always buy warm clothes locally.
Jacket, OR 2-layer Gore-Tex shell  408 The outer layer of our clothing layering plan. In hotter climates, I doubt I’ll even use this, but I will in the mountains
Hat, Tilly 98 My Tilly hat has worked wonderfully in Africa and Egypt shading my entire head from the searing heat.
Balaclava 44 When the temperature drops, most body heat is lost through your head. A balaclava can be worn like a hat if it isn’t that cold. Packs small and lightweight.
Kool-tie  20 (dry) We picked these up before going to the Middle-East and it probably prevented heat stroke. Soak them in water for an hour and they’ll keep you cool all day. The only problem is that it takes days to dry out and can get smelly during that time. Best to tie them to the outside of your pack.
Toiletries  Grams  Justification
Toothbrush, Sonicare 222 My wife insisted on bringing this, and she may end up carrying it. It’s definitely a luxury to bring an electric toothbrush around the world, but since we won’t be going to the dentist for a year, it’s a small price to pay to keep our teeth and gums healthy.
Toothpaste 22* Toothpaste is available in every country, so I’ll pack just enough to last for a couple of weeks.
Floss 16* I’m picky about my floss, so I’m packing the biggest size they offer.
Disposable Razors, 2 6* Razors are available everywhere, but since they’re small and light, I’ll pack an extra one.
Comb 14* I can’t look disheveled all the time.
Contacts & solution 60* I wear my glasses most of the time. For certain activities, such as snorkeling and diving, it’s just easier to use contacts.
Shampoo 64 I no longer need this because I use my soap for just about everything.
Castile peppermint soap and case 150* I use this for washing myself, my hair and my clothes. The peppermint soap makes me feel cooler in hot climates and the case keeps it from getting mushed in my pack.
Travel towel 82* Not everyplace provides linens, so having your own helps.
Deodorant 102* It’s hot, I move, I stink. This might help a little.
Tweezers, Uncle Bill’s Sliver Gripper 6* These are extremely handy when you get a splinter in your finger. It’s happened often enough that I carry these on my keychain now.
Nail clippers 14* These are just about the only things you can carry on an airplane nowadays. Useful for cutting other things besides your toenails.
Toiletry Bag 260* Handy for shlepping your stuff to shared bathrooms. I have the smallest one that will hold all my stuff.
Luggage & packing accessories  Grams  Justification
Travel Backpack, Eagle Creek (65 liter) Tortuga (44 liter) 1660 Unfortunately, my Eagle Creek Continental Journey bag is starting to fall apart from lack of use. So far, the Tortuga Travel Pack V2 has the best combination of features, size and comfort that I’m looking for.
Camera bag, ThinkTank ChangeUp Pacsafe Camsafe Venture V16 Camera Slingpack, Black (16 liter)  996 My previous camera bag is great for short trips, but just isn’t big enough for all I’ll need to carry for a year. Combined with my travel vest, this will have enough capacity to carry my camera gear and clothes and toiletries for short side trips, but not too big that it becomes a burden to carry. The Pacsafe will allow me to put most of my valuable items in a bag with good security features which I’ll always have with me. Read my complete review to find out more.
Packing cube, Full and 1/2, Packing folder 186 Huge bags need some organization to make it easier to find things. These have been field tested and do exactly that. I’ve used packing folders in the past, but with the HDPE sheet inside to give it structure, I’m not sure they’re flexible enough. I end up packing around the folder and that’s not always the best use of space.
Dry/Laundry bag, Outdoor Research Ultralight 35-Liter 74 In the past, I’ve always relied on doing laundry in the bathroom sink. Sometimes it was in a wastebasket, sometimes in a bucket. This will keep my dirty clothes from stinking up all my other clothing and double as a wash bag. Oh, and it will also protect my stuff from getting wet.
Ziplock bags 10 Zippered bags come in handy for organization or keeping things dry. I just need a few in various sizes.
Ditty sack for shoes  52 Because I don’t want everything in my bag to smell like my shoes. Yuck.
Pacsafe Locking Mesh bag cover 654 I’ve carried this stainless mesh net on several trips to Asia, used it a couple of times, but I’m starting to question the need for something like this. I think I’m leaving it behind this time and hope I don’t regret it.
Carabiners, 2 climbing rated, locking 134 Useful for hanging things from your bag and for clipping bags together for security when off your back.
Small suitcase locks Black zip ties 30 Actual locks will get cut off by airport security in other countries if they need to search your bag. If they do that, they usually replace it with a colored zip tie to indicate it has been opened. By using zip ties, they can be cut off by the airport, but will be a deterrent to casual pilfering. I’ve left bags at my hotel in Thailand while I travel on short side excursions—some long side excursions too—and they’ve always looked after it with no problems. Times like that, I’m not worried about the hotel staff, but the other guests.
Personal Items  Grams  Justification
Prescription glasses  20 I’m nearly blind without correction, so I wear these constantly. Titanium is the only way to go. Strong, durable and corrosion resistant.
Sunglasses & case  164* My prescription sunglasses and case are heavy, so I’m probably going to get new prescription glasses with Transitions darkening lenses.
Pen  8 Don’t bring one that’s expensive or flashy, in case you lose it. A disposable one that writes nicely will do just fine. The Pilot Precise V7 RT Retractable Rolling Ball Pen writes smoothly, is refillable, and is airplane safe.
Cash  20 We plan to have enough starter cash for the major destinations on our trip—enough to get us a taxi and a meal. After which our first order of business will be to get more local currency. We’ll also be carrying our emergency stash of U.S. currency in our various hiding places.
Credit cards, one with chip & pin  20 This has been a tough one to check off my list. See my other post on American Banking Fail: Chip and Pin. My wife and I will each be carrying two different credit cards, along with an ATM card. That way, if either one of us loses a card or wallet, the other will have cards that will still work after I cancel the lost ones.
Wallet, Dash 4.0 60 I typically carry a small money clip wallet that I can keep in my front pants pocket, however, I just funded a Kickstarter campaign for Dash 4.0,  a new kind of minimal wallet, so I’ll be seeing how that works out. The Dash wallets were crap. They didn’t hold enough and were difficult to slide card in and out of.
Wallet, The Ridge w/money clip After the disappointing showing of the Dash wallet, I invested in the Ridge wallet. It’s a bit more bulky with a money clip, but it does seem to hold all my cards while still keeping them accessible.
Decoy wallet and cards for muggers 86† I read about this somewhere and it seems like a good idea as long as your real credit cards and money are safely hidden away. Putting a few U.S. dollars in it makes it look legit.
Security Pen, CRKT It’s a solid aluminum pen with a blunt pointy end and strong pocket clip that can be used as a weapon. I’ve never had it questioned going through security. It actually is a pen and will write, in case it is ever scrutinized.
Watch, Skagen titanium 40† It’s good to know the time and I don’t want to pull out my iPhone and flash it around every time I want to know the time. It’s very lightweight and wasn’t super expensive, so I won’t be too upset if it gets stolen.
Passport and cover 80* We got the expanded passport since we’ll be visiting a lot of countries. If you run out of pages, you could be denied entry into the country. The extra pages will accommodate those places, such as China, who insist on using a full page for their visas. The cover is homemade, out of duct tape, and contains aluminum foil to block RFID skimmers.
Laundry kit: sink stopper, stretch clothesline, inflatable hangers 160* I’ve used this on practically every trip. Laundry facilities or drop-off services aren’t always available and this is better than draping your clothes around the hotel room.
Collapsible water bottles, 1 – 300ml, 1 – 1 liter  50* I like rigid 1 liter Nalgene bottles better, but they’re bulky and heavy. These pack down to nearly nothing.
Nalgene water bottle, 500 ml I found that the collapsible bottles are not as practical as I hoped and opted for a rigid plastic bottle instead. It didn’t hold enough water, but was better than nothing.
LED headlamp, three AAA batteries 74 Handier than a handheld torch, and uses readily available batteries.
Sleep sack, Cocoon Silk TravelSheet 136 Essential for all the questionable beds in teahouses in the Himalayas and low-budget hostels everywhere else. Silk is lightweight and breathable. I’ve taken mine on several trips and I’ve always been glad I did.
Inflatable neck pillow  104* It’s not essential but it certainly saves your neck on those long flights.
Inflatable seat cushion, Therm-a-Rest Lite Seat  152* Trains in India, buses in Africa and cold rocks in the mountains are just a few reasons to bring something to cushion my butt. These ended up being too bulky to carry around when packing space was limited. We actually could have used them, but I sent them back early in our trip.
Trekking pole  312 I’m no longer young nor as steady on my feet as I used to be. A hiking pole will help my stability as I carry a pack in mountainous regions. The Himal Collapsible Ultralight Trekking Pole with EVA Foam Handle (Green & Black) is light and collapses quite small.
Back massage device, Backnobber II 474 This was a lifesaver when we went to Europe. Self-massage made it possible to carry those heavy loads every day. It’s bulky and heavy, but it’s one luxury that I think is worth carrying. I left this at home because it ended up being to bulky to carry.
Dive certification card  5* On the off chance that we decide to rent gear and go diving. It’s a card so it doesn’t take up much room.
Just-in-case items  Grams  Justification
Small basic sewing kit 20* Buttons fall off and seams split. Trying to find one of these overseas is damn near impossible when you need one.
First aid kit, band-aids, moleskin, Imodium, ciprofloxin, amoxicillin, motion sickness, anti-malaria pills  206* There are plenty of pharmacies overseas, but I can never find brands or drugs I’m familiar with, so I bring quite a bit of my own. Since we are traveling to some malaria infected locations, we’re bringing anti-malaria pills. Since we may get a stomach bug, I’ll have ciprofloxin and Imodium.
Energy bar 40* Can’t afford to go low blood sugar, not when I’m carrying this much gear.
8 Gb tiny flash drive with important documents 5† Based on an article I read, should we ever lose our travel documents, this could make it easier to replace.
SteriPen 4 AA powered, Freedom UV sterilizer, USB rechargable  90 If I drink bottled water and eat only cooked foods, I would be okay. However, many places don’t have bottled water, such as up in the mountains, or on a boat in Asia. We brought the larger version to Africa, drank local water after sterilizing with this and never had an issue. It’s bulky and heavy, but it’s better than being sick for 3 days. This version is very compact and has a self contained battery that recharges with a standard micro USB cable.
Duct tape 54 Fixes just about anything, from packs to shoes to blisters. I don’t bring a whole roll, but usually wrap a good amount around one of the legs on my tripod, or just flatten the last bit on a roll.
Padlock, full-sized, keyed 76 I found a good Master lock with an aluminum body and hardened shackle that doesn’t weigh a lot. It comes in handy at hostels to lock up your locker or room. I don’t like locks with keys, but a 4-digit combination lock is so heavy.
Paracord, 25 ft. 42 Lots of uses, from an extra long clothesline to a guy line for mosquito netting. Small and light so it’s not hard to justify.
Electronics  Grams  Justification
Laptop, 15″ MacBook Pro 12″ MacBook  1080* Beside my pack itself, this is the single heaviest item I’m packing. I had to find a good compromise between performance and weight and the 12 MacBook seems to be the ticket. Because it lacks the ports I need to access memory cards and external drives, I’ll need a port hub. The Macbook will fit just about anywhere an iPad will fit and weighs just 2 pounds, about half the weight of my MacBook Pro.
45 W MagSafe adapter 450* A heavy necessary evil that accompanies the laptop. At least this one packs fairly small. Perhaps Apple will even redesign the connector before we leave.
2 Tb portable hard drive with USB cable 228* The internal flash drive on the MacBook Air will eventually get filled up in a year. This becomes both the overflow drive and backup drive. I also plan to have a cloud backup as well in case everything gets stolen.
Smartphone, unlocked  165* I’m hoping to have my iPhone 6 unlocked, but it’s still under contract, so I may just rely on my wife’s iPad or my old iPhone 4S..
goTenna 53 Allows our smartphones to work without a cell connection for communication off the grid.
Apple USB phone charger PowerGen® Black 2.4-Amp (12 Watt) Dual USB Wall Charger and cord.  80* The original Apple charger is still the best, but I’m trying this one since I’ll be charging both a phone and my wife’s iPad.
4 NiMH AA batteries and charger Spare set of 8 AA batteries,  6 AAA, Lithium 210
Batteries are heavy, but I use them in headlamps, UV sterilizer, and flashlights. I used to bring rechargeable NiMH batteries and a charger, but those are too heavy. Lithium batteries are the lightest AA battery. I try to standardize all the battery operated devices to AA size only or their own internal rechargeable battery.

I standardized on just AAA batteries for devices that used them. Eliminating AA batteries reduced weight to 1/4 of the original. Although sometimes expensive, I can always buy more on the road. Batteries in luggage also need to be secured. The weight includes the battery holders

Solar charger, GoalZero Nomad 7  502 I brought this on our trip to Southern Africa and used it quite a lot. However, it’s heavy, dependent on clear and unobstructed skies, and takes forever to charge a phone. Going with the spare battery pack this time.  Since I didn’t have many rechargeable items, I decided to leave this at home.
25,000 mAh spare battery, Anker 358* It’s heavy and big, but it’s faster and lighter than a solar charger, can accommodate two devices at once, and can actually fully charge an iPad…twice.
iPod Nano & USB cable  24† Weighs next to nothing and lasts nearly all day. This goes with me on almost every flight.
Headphones, in-ear Panasonic RPHJE120K In-Ear, Black  10† These have the best cost to performance ratio that I’ve found so far. For less than $10, they sound great, block out airplane noise, and I’m not too upset if I damage or lose them somewhere. Light and small enough that I can pack a spare. Get any color but white. It could make you a target for theft since most iPhones and iPods come with white headphones..
Headphone splitter  24* For watching movies on the iPad together.
Power strip, Monster 4-outlet Power Strip 164 This power strip has gone everywhere in the past and is one of the most useful things I pack. Charge and power multiple things from just one wall outlet and one AC socket adapter.
AC socket adapters  146 Most modern electronics automatically adapt to voltage overseas. Unfortunately, plugging them into the wall is where problems begin. There are 4 common outlets I’ve encountered, so I’m limiting it to just those. Many hostels have power strips that can take almost any plug. The oddities will be South Africa, India and the U.K.
Camera Gear  Grams  Justification
Camera body, Nikon D300 Nikon D7200 Camera Body 675* Upgrading from my old D300 to the D7200 will lighten my camera body by 40%. Plus, it will add video capabilities and higher resolution.
Lenses, 70-200mm, 18-70mm, 12-24mm & 18-300mm 1190* Glass is heavy and in the past, I suffered through carrying the 70-200mm f/2.8 just to get some quality shots in low light. But I had to make some compromises and limit my lenses to just two. The 18-300 will cover all the focal lengths that two lenses and a teleconverter used to cover at 1/4 the weight.
Gitzo G026 Tripod with Kirk BH-3 Ball Head Sirui T-025X Carbon Fiber Tripod 864* In the past, I carried my 4.5 lb. Gitzo everywhere and it nearly did me in. At 1.9 lb., this is the lightest, stiffest tripod I could find,  and it comes with an Arca-style ballhead. Read my complete review for details.
Filters, grad ND1.2, reverse grad ND1.2, ND2.4 & pouch 448* For landscape photography, these are essential, but glass filters are heavy, fragile and need protection. That protection makes them bulky and that’s one reason why I needed a larger camera bag.
Filter holder, 100mm Lucroit (Formatt Hitech), flags, 2 adapter rings 226* Filters, holders and rings for the serious photographer. Big enough for super wide angle shots.
Polarizer, 105mm 56* Improves color saturation and removes glare. Easier than trying to fix it in post. However, this is a big piece of glass that’s fragile.
Contour ROAM POV camera, underwater case 442 I decided to leave this home and replace it with a waterproof Canon point and shoot that my wife will carry.
Extra camera batteries, 2 EL-EN15 159* Since I won’t be bringing the solar charger, some extra camera batteries are essential. Since each battery can take about 1,000 photos, 3 batteries total should hold me for a week without power. Now if I can only remember to charge them.
Camera battery charger, Watson 108 One charger with multiple adapters for all the batteries I use. It’s smaller, lighter and more efficient than the manufacturer’s chargers.
32, 64 & 128 Gb memory cards, 22 SDHC cards, 12 micro SD, 1 adapter, 1 WiFi SD card 36* At 1.6 grams and $0.50 per gigabyte, memory is cheap and small, and I may just keep the photos on them as backup. If I don’t erase them, I can always buy more along the way.
Memory card cases, 2 Pelican 190* Waterproof and capable of storing 12 SD cards and 6 micro SD cards, this case might be overkill since most SD cards are already waterproof. However, it’s nice to have everything in one place. The Pelican cases, although very good, were too bulky. I used 2 XTMcases for the full-sized SD cards and a small aluminum case for the micro SD cards.
Camera strap, Pacsafe Strapsafe 150 Carrysafe Anti-Theft Sling Camera Strap (Black) Black Rapid  106* The Pacsafe strap had security features, but in the end, it was bulky and uncomfortable to carry.  I ended up ordering a Black Rapid short hand strap attached to an Arca-style clamp that mates with the L-bracket on the camera and adds 50 grams to the total weight.

Once I load up both bags, I end up with my main bag weighing 10.63 kilos or 23.44 lb., and the camera bag weighing 6.62 kilos or 14.59 lb. In order to do this, I will be wearing or carrying in my travel vest about 3.34 kilos or 7.36 lb. of gear. Remember, whatever is on your person doesn’t count as carry-on weight. When I compare the total weight of just under 45 lb. for all my gear to the 77 lb. backpack I carried up Mt. Rainier, this should be a breeze…he says now.

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