We’ve posted many tips to help you pack light through the years:
And many others.
From all the posts one thing is clear, the main tip for packing light is:
"Take half of what you think you need and put it away."
I’ve been experimenting with different methods and options for packing light for a long time. Yet this simple tip still remains true. Take half of what you think you need and put it away.
You can test this during your next trip. Write down everything you are bringing. Then, at the end of the trip, cross the items you wore/used during the trip. How many items did you cross?
Having less things also forces you to really bring what’s necessary and nothing more. You can be smart about this and make sure that you combine the items you are bringing in such a way that you have options for outfits or that a single item can serve multiple purposes. For example, a nice polo shirt can be cool on the beach with a pair of shorts but also be ok on a restaurant with a pair of khakis. Instead of bringing two shirts you bring one.
Of course fabrics and styles play an important role here. Synthetic fabrics are best for all kinds of traveling, especially extended trips. You can wash them yourself in the hotel and they will be dried overnight. They are also less prone to getting wrinkled. Some brands have cotton and synthetic blends of fabric that make the garments look good yet remain easy to care for.
There are usually two problems when packing light: shoes and toiletries.
Shoes are big and hard to pack. There is no way around it. There are shoes that can be packed flattened, like the Patagonia Cardon, However most likely they will take a lot of the real state in your compact backpack. I travel a lot for business and having to bring a pair of dress shoes and a pair of everyday shoes forces me sometimes to have to travel with a bigger pack. Sure, it’s still small enough that I don’t have to check the luggage, but it is a hassle. What I discovered is that you can use the shoes as storage and you can gain some room inside the pack. For example, I pack socks, rolled tshirts or underwear inside the shoes. I can remove the Pack-It cube that I would have had for the shirts and underwear and leave it out. It’s a good way of utilizing the dead space inside the shoes.
Toiletries are another issue. People tend to bring the whole bathroom set. I settled on a simple set: deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrush. The rest? I have a toiletries fund allocated for this and I buy it on my destination. I usually get the travel size stuff. Also, you can’t fly with shaving razors (unless you check the backpack, which I NEVER do), so I would have had to buy shaving razors on location anyway. So, instead of bringing a huge dopp kit, I just bring a very minimal one.
Ultimately, packing light is about being smart with what you bring and how you pack it. I really discovered that the Eagle Creek Pack-it cubes and the GORUCK Shadow Pockets really help is keeping things organized, but more importantly, they help keep the space needed to a minimum.
Lately I’ve been trying a new way of packing. Keep an eye on the blog for some pictures and first impressions.