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.
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):
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!
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Typical One-bag travel load-outs (approximately 20 to 30 Liters):
Outdoors/hiking: Deuter Futura 28 ($175)
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Light load-outs (approximately 15 to 20 Liters):
* * *
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.
Ideally, these are as packable as possible (so you can store them in the larger bag on your big travel days).
Best all-rounder: REI Flash 18 ($40)
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.
Sweater: Uniqlo Extra Fine Merino Sweater ($40)
Active pants: Prana Brion Pant ($75)
Board shorts: Patagonia Men’s Stretch All-Wear Hybrid Shorts ($69)
Down jacket for even colder weather: Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down ($379, 1000-fill)
Leggings: Icebreaker Anatomica Leggings ($80)
Socks: Darn Tough Hiker socks ($20 — look for sales on these)
All-purpose (versatility for both urban and wilderness): Vivobarefoot Gobi II Desert Boot ($150)
Sandals: Xeroshoes Cloud Barefoot Sandal ($50, Women’s version also available)
Flip-flops: Havaianas ($18+, women’s version available too)
Netbook: Samsung Chromebook ($200)
e-Reader: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite waterproof version ($150)
Smartphone (must be water resistant, quad-band and carrier unlocked):
- iPhone: any of them are fine, from iPhone 6S and SE onwards
- Android: almost any phone is OK. Motorola Moto G offers great value, while Google’s Pixel line has amazing computational photography features.
- The smartphone you already have (free)
Universal Adapter: something cheap on Amazon ($10-15)
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 Storm ($50, weather-proof)
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+). 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 ($15)
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)
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. Last updated: April 2019