On Packing

Going light, but not too light

I’m preparing for a trip with no end. Or rather, a trip with no defined end. I’ll be on the road for at least a year, but it could be significantly longer than that if I choose.

I’ve decided to pack like a backpacker. I’ll take as little as I can, and live as simply as I can. Add to that the fact that I have no end date, and you get some pretty challenging packing. This article outlines how I’ve met those challenges, and what I’ve decided to take with me.

Practical Packing

How the sausage is made


His name is Verdigris, and he’s going to carry me many thousands of miles, or so I hope. He’ll also carry an additional fourty pounds of stuff, which hopefully will be pretty much all I need to use for the next year.

Here’s what fourty pounds looks like:


Let me unpack all of this—figuratively—and show you my plan. I have three priorities when it comes to packing:

  1. It has to fit my vision for the next year
  2. It has to be something I’ll use every week (except emergency supplies)
  3. It either has to be durable or disposable

Let’s start with one of the hardest things to pack for a trip with no length: the clothes.

What will I wear?

Packing clothes for a trip is always a struggle. You need durable clothes that are easy to keep clean, which is an interesting balance. I’m also not sure what access I’ll have to washing machines and the like, so I’m taking a variety of clothes to experiment on. If anything becomes too unwieldy I can toss it and buy something new.

I’ll show you the shirts first:


I’ve got seven shirts here. Probably more than I’ll need, but I’m experimenting, so I’m okay with that. Two plain gray shirts, two tank tops, two gorgeous Within the Fold shirts (shameless plug), and one cotton polo for a slightly more dressed up look. I’ve got one 100% polyester shirt, one 100% cotton shirt, and a mixture for the rest.

The poly will be way easier to keep clean, but I like the feel of cotton better. We’ll see if that’s a dealbreaker or not.


Four pairs of pants. One pair of nice jeans, one pair of jean cut-offs, one pair of beat-up cargo shorts, and one pair of Adidas Sereno pants. The Sereno pants are new, but I got them because they’re comfy, easy to clean, and easy to layer with other pairs of pants. Lots of wins there.


Most of my underwear is pretty typical cotton stuff, except for that black ExOfficio bad boy on the right. These were recommended by a backpacker I know. I only bought one pair because it’s a bitter pill buying a single pair of underwear for $26. But I think they’re going to be worth it, having clean underwear all the time is essential.

Pro tip: in a pinch, you can clean them in the shower, roll them up in a towel for a minute, and then put them back on. They dry that fast.

As for socks, I only wear socks when it gets cold, so I’ve just got two pairs of standard wool socks. These babies are warm, but they take ages to dry when washed, so I might need more pairs, or something that dries faster. I’ll deal with that when the time comes.


As for the colder weather, I’ve got one wool heat generator and an old military jacket/windbreaker. The jacket will also be my work jacket, because nothing can damage this jacket. It’s tough. (go figure)


Hats. My favorite on the left, and a slightly more all-purpose durable hat on the right.


One year of clothing. Give or take.

The Tech

I’ve been a techie for almost a decade now, so I’ve built up more than my fair share of technology. I’ve also got a number of projects and websites that depend on me to manage them, so I can’t go tech-free, even if I wanted to. So here’s what I’m taking with me:


It’s a lot to take, but it’s all pretty important. The iPad is the most expendable, but it’ll be a good reading resource, which is important. I’d probably prefer a Kindle if I had one.


I just started learning about photography. I haven’t been doing it long, so my equipment is pretty lean.


A small, super solid Manfrotto tripod. Two SanDisk 64GB SD cards. 2.5TBs of external hard-drive space (I like Seagate). And my lovely Sony NEX-5. I’m going to get a nicer lens one of these days, but I want to learn how to use the one I have first.


Every trip needs a bit of home


My pride and joy. This is a Taylor GS Mini, her name is Sunny, and if I can’t find anyone else to talk to me I can always rely on her.


I love good coffee. This is the absolute minimum I can take that still allows me to make good coffee. Plus a killer mug, because what you drink your coffee out of is almost as important as the coffee itself. And coffee infused honey, because how could I not take that?


Last but not least, lots of notebooks. Pictures don’t tell the whole story. Plus my favorite pens, and a large copy of the bible. Reading the bible digitally just isn’t as good, so I’m willing to shoulder the extra pound. All other books I’ll be reading digitally, via iPad.

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