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A Distilled One-Bag Travel Gear List: The Best Products for Indefinite International Travel

It’s 2017. There has never been an easier time to travel internationally with just one or two bags — a variety of products and services are available to make the experience as smooth as possible.

At the same time, we are now completely overwhelmed with choices for clothing, electronics, and accessories. There are many great companies out there, each routinely pumping out new, enticing stuff to buy. Lighter backpacks. Softer merino. Faster smartphones. Sharper lenses. For anyone researching this stuff for the first time, it can be overwhelming.

The goal of this post is to help you make smart purchasing decisions as you put together your own one-bag packing list. It will be updated on a regular basis.

Rules for all products that will appear on this page:

  • The product must be available today (no pre-release stuff, no discontinued inventory).
  • It must be available for purchase online.
  • The cost must be within reason (i.e. $300 backpacks are OK, but $9000 diamond-plated smartphones are not).

For most product categories, both premium and budget alternatives will be presented. Where possible, there will be direct product links (either to Amazon or to the manufacturer’s website). All prices in US Dollars.

It’s worth noting that this is not a full shopping list for one-bag travel, but rather a list of options — so please don’t go crazy and buy everything on here!

Ladies! My apologies, as this list is very light (heh) on women’s clothing. I’m working on amending this — in the meantime, if you have gear suggestions, send them my way. A couple brands to check out in the meantime: Pivotte and The Willary.


Backpacks

Disclaimer: this is going to be a controversial category no matter what — people can get quite emotional about their choice of pack! The idea here (and for all the other categories) is to present the most sensible choices that have no major weaknesses. This category is divided into sections based on carrying capacity.

If you’d like a personal recommendation based on your unique needs and packing requirements, I recommend asking over at /r/onebag

* * *

Maximum carry-on size (i.e. roller bag replacement, 30 Liters or more):

All-purpose: Minaal Carry On 2.0 Bag ($299) or Aer Travel Pack ($220)

Business travel: Tom Bihn Tri-Star ($330)

Photography: F-Stop Loka UL ($209)

Outdoors/hiking: Kelty Redwing 44 ($106) or anything from a reputable outdoor backpack brand (e.g. Osprey, Deuter) that fits you well — if you’re going to carry it long distances, try it before buying!

* * *

Typical One-bag travel load-outs (approximately 20 to 30 Liters):

All-purpose: Tom Bihn Synapse 25 ($200) or Thule Subterra 23 ($120)

Business travel: Tom Bihn Western Flyer ($240)

Photography: F-Stop Guru UL ($169)

Outdoors/hiking: Deuter Futura 28 ($175)

* * *

Light load-outs (approximately 15 to 20 Liters):

All purpose: Tom Bihn Synapse 19 ($190), Tom Bihn Daylight Backpack ($80), or IKEA FÖRENKLA ($20)

* * *

Ultralight load-outs (smaller than 15 Liters):

If you have managed to get your travel gear down to this level, you probably already know what works best for you.

You could even travel with a small dry bag. Or a grocery bag. Or a hydration pack from Osprey, like this Raptor 10 ($130). 


Daypacks

Ideally, these are as packable as possible (so you can store them in the larger bag on your big travel days).

Best all-rounders: Mountain Hardwear Lightweight Backpack ($50) or REI Flash 18 ($40)

Lightest possible (not recommended for heavy loads): Matador Freerain 24 ($60, waterproof main compartment) or Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil ($32)

For photography: Think Tank Photo Mirrorless Mover 10 ($45) or Mirrorless Mover 20 ($55)


Clothing: Tops

Button-downs (linen for hot climates): Wool & Prince Button-Down Oxford ($128) or Uniqlo Premium Linen Long Sleeve Shirt ($30)

Button-downs (cotton for less wrinkling): Gitman Brothers Oxfords ($165) or Lands’ End Hyde Park Oxford ($50). For more versatile combinations, I recommend traveling with either blue or white button-downs.

Merino Wool Tees: Outlier Ultrafine Merino T-Shirt ($110) or Woolly Short Sleeve Tee ($40-60)

Cotton Tees: American Apparel 50/50 Crewneck ($18), Fruit of the Loom Short Sleeve Tee ($5), or Next Level Apparel Fitted Tee ($2)

Sweater: Uniqlo Extra Fine Merino Sweater ($40)

Blazer: Bluffworks Blazer ($295) or Haggar InMotion Blazer ($175)


Clothing: Bottoms

Versatile trousers: Bluffworks Chino Pants ($125) or Rohan Fusions ($85, may become cheaper post-Brexit).

Active pants: Prana Brion Pant ($75)

Shorts (can double as swim trunks): Outlier New Way Shorts ($120) or Myles Apparel Everyday Short ($58)

Board shorts: Patagonia Men’s Stretch All-Wear Hybrid Shorts ($68)


Clothing: Outerwear

Packable down jackets: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer ($325, 800-fill), Montbell Plasma 1000 ($269, 1000-fill) or Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Jacket ($70, 640-fill)

Down jacket for even colder weather: Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down ($379, 1000-fill)

Rain jacket: Outdoor Research Men’s Helium II ($159), Marmot PreCip Jacket ($100), or Frogg Toggs Ultra Light Rain Jacket ($14+)


Clothing: Basics

Undershirts: Icebreaker Men’s Anatomica Crewe ($70) or Uniqlo Airism Mesh Crewneck ($10)

Leggings: Icebreaker Anatomica Leggings ($80) or Uniqlo Heattech Extra Warm Tights ($20)

Boxers: Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers ($25-50) or Uniqlo Airism Men’s Boxer Briefs ($10)

Socks: Darn Tough Hiker socks ($20 — look for sales on these)


Footwear

All-purpose (versatility for both urban and wilderness): Vivobarefoot Gobi II Desert Boot ($185)

Mostly urban: Men’s and Women’s Allbirds Wool Runners ($95) or the sneakers you already have (free)

(Trail) running: New Balance Minimus 10v1 Trail ($115) or Merrell Trail Glove 4 ($100)

Sandals: Xeroshoes Cloud Barefoot Sandal ($50, Women’s version also available)

Flip-flops: Havaianas ($18+) or just buy them at the beach ($5)


Electronics

Laptop: Apple Macbook or Macbook Pro ($1,200+, check deals on the online Refurbished store) or Dell XPS 13 ($800+)

Netbook: Chromebook ($180+)

e-Reader: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite ($120)

Smartphone (must be water resistant and unlocked): Apple iPhone 7 ($649), Motorola Moto G ($230+), or the phone you already have (free)

Battery pack (for recharging electronics): Anker PowerCore 26800 ($100) or Anker Astro E1 ($60, ultraportable)

Earphones (for every budget): Etymotic Research ER4P-T ($300), Shure SE315-CL ($200), Logitech Ultimate Ears 600vi ($90), Sennheiser CX 300 II ($35), or Panasonic Ergo-Fit ($14)

Earphones (noise-cancelling): Bose QuietComfort 20 ($250) or TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones ($46)

Universal Adapter: FosPower All-in-One ($12)

Action camera: GoPro HERO5 ($400) or YI Action Camera ($125, with waterproof case)

Drone: DJI Mavic Pro ($1000, shoots 4K) or DJI Spark ($500, max 1080p but more portable)

Highly rated compact cameras (that easily out-resolve any smartphone):

For budget versions, check used gear and previous generations of the above cameras.


Popular Travel Accessories

Headlamp: Black Diamond ReVolt ($67, batteries can be recharged through Micro USB cable), Black Diamond Storm ($50, weather-proof) or Black Diamond Spot ($30)

Water Bottle: Hydro Flask ($30, preserves temperature) or Vapur Element ($14, collapsible)

Luggage locks: Abus 64TI/30 ($8, uses key) or Master Lock 647D ($6, combination)

Ear plugs: Hearos High Fidelity Ear Plugs ($14)

Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Folding Wayfarers ($150), or buy them at the beach ($5)

Travel towel: make your own linen towel or get it custom-made on Etsy ($10+). IKEA also has some cheap options. For non-linen, the Personal Packtowl ($6+, Polyester/Nylon mix) does the job.


Everything Else (Nice-to-haves)

Playing cards: KOVOT waterproof playing cards ($9)

Multi-function headwear: Merino Wool Buff ($28)

Travel friendly Multi-tool: Nite Ize DoohicKey ($5)

Spork: Light My Fire LMF Titanium Spork ($14)

Umbrella: Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella ($28) or buy a cheap one at your destination and leave it there ($5)

Packing cubes: Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes ($10+, many sizes and combinations available)


Am I missing anything? Is there something that should be taken off?

This list is always open to review and modification. If you feel that a certain product belongs in place of an existing one, leave a comment below and we can all discuss it.

Also: this post on LighterPack goes into detail about real ultralight travel (includes info on camping gear, tents, etc)

Disclaimer: this site is not affiliated with any brands. All recommendations on this page are either based on personal experience, second-hand accounts, and/or hundreds of hours spent perusing travel gear blogs and watching video reviews.

A Distilled One-Bag Travel Gear List: The Best Products for Indefinite International Travel was last modified: August 25th, 2017 by Nick
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