My 40-liter backpack journey information

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2022 Jun 20
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My 40-liter backpack journey information

Special due to Liam Horne for suggestions and assessment. I obtained no cash from and have by no means even met any of the businesses making the stuff I’m shilling right here (with the only real exception of Unisocks); that is all simply an sincere itemizing of what works for me at this time.

I’ve lived as a nomad for the final 9 years, taking 360 flights travelling over 1.5 million kilometers (assuming flight paths are straight, ignoring layovers) throughout that point. During this time, I’ve significantly optimized the baggage I carry together with me: from a 60-liter shoulder bag with a separate laptop computer bag, to a 60-liter shoulder bag that may comprise the laptop computer bag, and now to a 40-liter packpage that may comprise the laptop computer bag together with all of the provides I have to dwell my life.

The goal of this submit shall be to undergo the contents, in addition to a few of the ideas that I’ve realized for a way you can also optimize your journey life and by no means have to attend at a baggage counter once more. There is not any obligation to comply with this information in its entirety; when you have essential wants that differ from mine, you possibly can nonetheless get a variety of the advantages by going a hybrid route, and I’ll discuss these choices too.

This information is concentrated alone experiences; loads of different individuals have made their very own guides and it’s best to take a look at them too. /r/onebag is a superb subreddit for this.

The backpack, with the varied sub-bags laid out individually. Yes, this all suits within the backpack, and with out that a lot effort to pack and unpack.

As a degree of high-level group, discover the bag-inside-a-bag construction. I’ve a T-shirt bag, an underwear bag, a sock bag, a toiletries bag, a dirty-laundry bag, a medication bag, a laptop computer bag, and numerous small luggage contained in the interior compartment of my backpack, which all match right into a 40-liter Hynes Eagle backpack. This construction makes it straightforward to maintain issues organized.

It’s like frugality, however for cm3 as an alternative of {dollars}

The normal precept that you’re attempting to comply with is that you simply’re attempting to remain inside a “budget” whereas nonetheless ensuring you could have all the pieces that you simply want – very similar to regular monetary planning of the kind that just about everybody, with the essential exception of crypto contributors throughout bull runs, is used to coping with. A key distinction right here is that as an alternative of optimizing for {dollars}, you are optimizing for cubic centimeters. Of course, not one of the issues that I like to recommend listed here are going to be notably onerous in your {dollars} both, however minimizing cm3 is the first goal.

What do I imply by this? Well, I imply getting gadgets like this:

Electric shaver. About 5cm lengthy and a pair of.5cm huge on the prime. No charger or deal with is required: it is USBC pluggable, your cellphone is the charger and deal with. Buy on Amazon here (advised you it isn’t onerous in your {dollars}!)

And this:

Charger for cell phone and laptop computer (can cost each on the similar time)! About 5x5x2.5 cm. Buy here.

And there’s extra. Electric toothbrushes are usually identified for being huge and hulking. But they do not should be! Here is an electrical toothbrush that’s rechargeable, USBC-friendly (so no further charging tools required), solely barely wider than an everyday toothbrush, and prices about $30, plus a pair {dollars} each few months for substitute brush heads. For connecting to varied totally different continents’ plugs, you possibly can both use any regular reasonably small universal adapter, or get the Zendure Passport III which mixes a common adapter with a charger, so you possibly can plug in USBC cables to cost your laptop computer and a number of different gadgets straight (!!).

As you may need seen, a key ingredient in making this work is to be a USBC maximalist. You ought to attempt to make sure that each single factor you purchase is USBC-friendly. Your laptop computer, your cellphone, your toothbrush, all the pieces. This ensures that you simply need not carry any further tools past one charger and 1-2 charging cables. In the final ~3 years, it has develop into a lot simpler to dwell the USBC maximalist life; take pleasure in it!

Be a Uniqlo maximalist

For clothes, you must navigate a troublesome tradeoff between worth, cm3 and the clothes trying fairly good. Fortunately, lots of the extra fashionable manufacturers do an amazing job of fulfilling all three on the similar time! My present technique is to be a Uniqlo maximalist: altogether, about 70% of the clothes gadgets in my bag are from Uniqlo.

This consists of:

  • 8 T-shirts, of which 6 are this type from Uniqlo
  • 8 pairs of underwear, principally numerous Uniqlo merchandise
  • 8 socks, of which none are Uniqlo (I’m much less assured about what to do with socks than with different clothes gadgets, extra on this later)
  • Heat-tech tights, from Uniqlo
  • Heat-tech sweater, from Uniqlo
  • Packable jacket, from Uniqlo
  • Shorts that additionally double as a swimsuit, from…. okay superb, it is also Uniqlo.

There are different shops that can provide you usually equally good merchandise, however Uniqlo is well accessible in lots of (although not all) of the areas I go to and does job, so I often simply begin and cease there.


Socks are a sophisticated balancing act between a number of desired traits:

  • Low cm3
  • Easy to placed on
  • Warm (when wanted)
  • Comfortable

The splendid state of affairs is if you happen to discover low-cut or ankle socks comfy to put on, and also you by no means go to chilly climates. These are very low on cm3, so you possibly can simply purchase these and be joyful. But this does not work for me: I typically go to chilly areas, I do not discover ankle socks comfy and like one thing a bit longer, and I must be comfy for my lengthy runs. Furthermore, my giant foot dimension implies that Uniqlo’s one-size-fits-all strategy doesn’t work nicely for me: although I can put the socks on, it usually takes a very long time to take action (particularly after a bathe), and the socks rip usually.

So I’ve been exploring numerous manufacturers to attempt to discover a answer (lately attempting CEP and DarnTough). I usually attempt to discover socks that cowl the ankle however do not go a lot greater than that, and I’ve one pair of lengthy ones for once I go to the snowier locations. My sock bag is at present bigger than my underwear bag, and solely a bit smaller than my T-shirt bag: each an indication of the problem of discovering good socks, and a testomony to Uniqlo’s superb Airism T-shirts. Once you do discover a pair of socks that you simply like, ideally it’s best to simply purchase many copies of the identical kind. This removes the hassle of looking for an identical pair in your bag, and it ensures that if considered one of your socks rips you do not have to decide on between shedding the entire pair and sporting mismatched socks.

For footwear, you most likely need to restrict your self to at most two: some heavier footwear that you may simply put on, and a few very cm3-light different, similar to flip-flops.


There is a key mathematical cause why dressing in layers is a good suggestion: it allows you to cowl many potential temperature ranges with fewer clothes gadgets.

You need to maintain the T-shirt on in all instances, to guard the opposite layers from getting soiled. But other than that, the overall rule is: if you happen to select N clothes gadgets, with ranges of warmness unfold out throughout powers of two, then you definitely will be comfy in (2^N) totally different temperature ranges by binary-encoding the anticipated temperature within the clothes you put on. For not-so-cold climates, two layers (sweater and jacket) are superb. For a extra common vary of climates you may need three layers: gentle sweater, heavy sweater and heavy jacket, which may cowl (2^3 = 8) totally different temperature ranges all the best way from summer time to Siberian winter (after all, heavy winter jackets should not simply packable, so you could have to simply put on it if you get on the airplane).

This layering precept applies not simply to upper-wear, but in addition pants. I’ve a pair of skinny pants plus Uniqlo tights, and I can put on the skinny pants alone in hotter climates and put the Uniqlo tights underneath them in colder climates. The tights additionally double as pyjamas.

My miscellaneous stuff

The web always yells at me for not having microphone. I solved this downside by getting a transportable microphone!

My workstation, utilizing the Apogee HypeMIC journey microphone (sadly micro-USB, not USBC). A rest room paper roll works nice as a stand, however I’ve additionally discovered that having a stand is just not actually crucial and you may simply let the microphone lie down beside your laptop computer.

Next, my laptop computer stand. Laptop stands are nice for bettering your posture. I’ve two suggestions for laptop computer stands, one medium-effective however very gentle on cm3, and one very efficient however heavier on cm3.

Nexstand is the one within the image above. Majextand is the one glued to the underside of my laptop computer now:

I’ve used each, and suggest each. In addition to this I even have one other piece of laptop computer gear: a 20000 mAh laptop-friendly power bank. This provides much more to my laptop computer’s already first rate battery life, and makes it usually straightforward to dwell on the street.

Now, my drugs bag:

This accommodates a mix of assorted life-extension medicines (metformin, ashwagandha, and a few nutritional vitamins), and covid protection gear: a CO2 meter (CO2 focus minus 420 roughly offers you the way a lot human-breathed-out air you are inhaling, so it is a good proxy for virus threat), masks, antigen assessments and fluvoxamine. The assessments had been a free care package deal from the Singapore authorities, they usually occurred to be glorious on cm3 so I carry them round. Covid protection and life extension are each fields the place the science is quickly evolving, so do not blindly comply with this static listing; comply with the science your self or hearken to the newest recommendation of an professional that you simply do belief. Air filters and far-UVC (particularly 222 nm) lamps are additionally promising covid protection choices, and transportable variations exist for each.

At this specific time I do not occur to have a primary support package with me, however normally it is also really helpful; loads of good journey choices exist, eg. this.

Finally, cell knowledge. Generally, you need to be sure you have a cellphone that helps eSIM. These days, an increasing number of telephones do. Wherever you go, you should purchase an eSIM for that place on-line. I personally use Airalo, however there are various choices. If you’re lazy, you may as well simply use Google Fi, although in my expertise Google Fi’s high quality and reliability of service tends to be pretty mediocre.

Have some enjoyable!

Not all the pieces that you’ve got must be designed round cm3 minimization. For me personally, I’ve 4 gadgets that aren’t notably cm3 optimized however that I nonetheless actually take pleasure in having round.

My laptop computer bag, purchased in an outside market in Zambia.


Sweatpants for indoor use, which are both fox-themed or Shiba Inu-themed relying on whom you ask.

Gloves (phone-friendly): I purchased the left one for $4 in Mong Kok and the suitable one for $5 in Chinatown, Toronto again in 2016. By coincidence, I misplaced totally different ones from every pair, so the remaining two match. I maintain them round as a reminder of the time when cash was far more scarce for me.

The extra you save area on the boring stuff, the extra you possibly can depart some area for just a few particular gadgets that may carry probably the most pleasure to your life.

How to remain sane as a nomad

Many individuals discover the nomad life-style to be disorienting, and report feeling consolation from having a “permanent base”. I discover myself not likely having these emotions: I do really feel disorientation once I change areas greater than as soon as each ~7 days, however so long as I’m in the identical place for longer than that, I acclimate and it “feels like home”. I can not inform how a lot of that is my distinctive difficult-to-replicate character traits, and the way a lot will be accomplished by anybody. In normal, some ideas that I like to recommend are:

  • Plan forward: be sure you know the place you may be no less than just a few days upfront, and know the place you are going to go if you land. This reduces emotions of uncertainty.
  • Have another common routine: for me, it is so simple as having a bit of darkish chocolate and a cup of tea each morning (I want Bigelow green tea decaf, particularly the 40-packs, each as a result of it is probably the most scrumptious decaf inexperienced tea I’ve tried and since it is packaged in a four-teabag-per-bigger-bag format that makes it very handy and on the similar time cm3-friendly). Having some a part of your life-style the identical each day helps me really feel grounded. The extra digital your life is, the extra you get this “for free” since you’re staring into the identical laptop it doesn’t matter what bodily location you are in, although this does come at the price of nomadding doubtlessly offering fewer advantages.
  • Your nomadding ought to be embedded in some neighborhood: if you happen to’re simply being a lowest-common-denominator vacationer, you are doing it incorrect. Find individuals within the locations you go to who’ve some key widespread curiosity (for me, after all, it is blockchains). Make associates in numerous cities. This helps you be taught concerning the locations you go to and offers you an understanding of the native tradition in a method that “ooh look at the 800 year old statue of the emperor” by no means will. Finally, discover different nomad associates, and ensure to intersect with them usually. If dwelling cannot be a single place, dwelling will be the individuals you soar locations with.
  • Have some semi-regular bases: you do not have to maintain visiting a totally new location each time. Visiting a spot that you’ve got seen earlier than reduces psychological effort and provides to the sensation of regularity, and having locations that you simply go to often offers you alternatives to place stuff down, and is essential in order for you your friendships and native cultural connections to really develop.

How to compromise

Not everybody can survive with simply the gadgets I’ve. You may need some want for heavier clothes that can’t match inside one backpack. You may be a giant nerd in some physical-stuff-dependent subject: I do know life extension nerds, covid protection nerds, and lots of extra. You would possibly actually love your three screens and keyboard. You may need kids.

The 40-liter backpack is in my view a very splendid dimension if you happen to can handle it: 40 liters allows you to carry every week’s value of stuff, and customarily all of life’s fundamental requirements, and it is on the similar time very carry-friendly: I’ve by no means had it rejected from carry-on in all of the flights on many sorts of airplane that I’ve taken it, and when wanted I can simply barely stuff it underneath the seat in entrance of me in a method that appears legit to workers. Once you begin going decrease than 40 liters, the disadvantages begin stacking up and exceeding the marginal upsides. But if 40 liters is just not sufficient for you, there are two pure fallback choices:

  • A bigger-than-40 liter backpack. You can discover 50 liter backpacks, 60 liter backpacks or even larger (I extremely suggest backpacks over shoulder luggage for carrying friendliness). But the upper you go, the extra tiring it’s to hold, the extra threat there may be in your backbone, and the extra you incur the chance that you will have a troublesome state of affairs bringing it as a carry-on on the airplane and would possibly even should test it.
  • Backpack plus mini-suitcase. There are loads of carry-on suitcases that you may purchase. You can usually make it onto a airplane with a backpack and a mini-suitcase. This is dependent upon you: it’s possible you’ll discover this to be an easier-to-carry possibility than a very huge backpack. That stated, there may be typically a threat that you will have a tough time carrying it on (eg. if the airplane may be very full) and infrequently you may should test one thing.

Either possibility can get you as much as a decent 80 liters, and nonetheless protect so much of the advantages of the 40-liter backpack life-style. Backpack plus mini-suitcase usually appears to be extra widespread than the massive backpack route. It’s as much as you to determine which tradeoffs to take, and the place your private values lie!

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