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Ultra-Light Travel

Ultra-Light Travel – Our Minimalist Backpack List

Doing a round-the-world (RTW) trip with a backpack under 11 lbs (5 kg) seems impossible and yet, without ending up in their underwear, some people manage to do it even lighter. In contrast to today’s hyper-consumerist culture, lightening the load is a personal endeavor to gain freedom and live more simply whilst travelling, as long as you’re willing to brush aside certain misconceptions with a wave of your hand.

That all sounds great, but how will it make my trip better?

Remember that there are almost no limits when whittling down your backpack pack weight. I’ve already been to Central America with less than 4.4 lbs (2 kg), and that included camping equipment!

In winter, if I’m not camping, I never set off with more than 6.6 lbs (3 kg).

This would never have happened
with a light backpack

Then why? Because:

Pepe Mujica, former President of UruguayNeeding little is the shortest way to have freedom.

More comfortable

On public transport, in taxis, hitchhiking, walking in the street or hiking, for sightseeing…


Picking up your bag, putting it down, moving it. How many times are you going to do this?

More independent

No luggage logistics to organise means you don’t have to depend on anything or anyone.


Packing and unpacking your bag every day in less than 15 minutes, less time spent catching your breath or relieving aches and pains. If you’re going away for one year and you save 15 minutes per day, at the end of your trip you’ll have gained almost four whole days.

More freedom

Go further, where you want, when you want, without being laden down by a cannonball. How many times have you said to yourself, “Alright, but what do we do with the bags?”.


Having less things to deal with takes you back to the feeling of going back to the basics, no-frills attached, closer to yourself and your immediate surroundings.

More discreet

A 30L backpack is less obvious than an 80L backpack. You’re less likely to be labelled as tourists in need of help.

Less tiredness

No back or shoulder pain even after an 8-hour hike to make the most of the place and the people around you. Keep your senses alive as opposed to dreaming about your bed.

Less stress

No more luggage in the holds of buses, trains or planes. Your belongings are always with you, so you can breathe easy.


No luggage storage or lockers, no checked luggage, fewer taxis, fewer purchases to start with…

More ethical

Say no to overconsumption, only take the essentials.

And so much more…

I could go on with the list, but that would be overdoing the good stuff. Let’s be reasonable.

Okay, you’ve convinced me, but how do you do it?

Firstly, you need to understand that packing your bag is a personal process, as each person has different needs. Although the methodology is universal, examples of lists and items can’t just be copied and pasted. Some people are passionate about photography, whilst others like to go around the local bars, and there are others who want to hike in the great outdoors…

3 steps for packing a lightweight backpack

It’s important to follow these steps carefully and specifically in this order. Take your time to read the mountain of information on the web and think about what you want to do on your trip.

Time to put your thinking caps on!

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, former international reporter, aviator and writer.

1. Draw up an exhaustive list of items you want to take and their weight

Write everything down! From a toothbrush to a water bottle, to a sleeping bag and pairs of socks. Make categories for easy reading and thinking. Note it all down, but separate what you’ll wear and carry with you most of the time (clothes and things in your pockets…) to really highlight the weight of the pack. Don’t include consumable items (soap, toothpaste, shampoo, water, food…). On a long trip, you’ll buy them if you need them and this’ll also depend on what’s available locally. You mustn’t forget a single ounce (gram), seriously, not one!

Mr Bean knows what I’m talking about!

2. Look closely at each item on your list, ask yourself if you can do without it and get rid of unnecessary items

That’s 80% of the job. Reducing the number of items on your list is still the hardest step, but it’s really the one that’s most effective. Do I really need this? How often am I going to use it? Don’t I have another item on my list that I could use instead? Can I just learn to do without it?

3. If you keep it, ask yourself if there isn’t a lighter alternative

Is there something similar in the shop that would be lighter? In my budget? Couldn’t I make it myself? Couldn’t I lighten this item by removing a few accessories from it?

Some techniques to really analyse your needs
and carry out the step 2 effectively

Your brain isn’t necessarily ready for this thought process, because, quite simply, you’ve never done it. Do I really need this? How many times have you asked yourself this question in your life? Maybe never, at most a few times for some very pricey purchases during your lifetime… From now on, you’re going to have to listen to your inner self to answer those questions, understand your fears, expand your mind, trust yourself and have faith in life…

Test out your gear

All of this thinking takes time so start several months before departure. Ideally, you’d even test your list on shorter trips. Morocco, for example, is easily accessible from London. With a low-cost airline you can buy a round trip ticket for £25 to £180 ($35 to $240) and be there in less than four hours. It’s a great playground for testing your equipment, as there’s a variety of landscapes and climates.

In addition, by preparing well in advance, you’ll be able to take advantage of sales and discontinued product sales (“Last Chance to Buy!”) which take place throughout the year.

Tyler Durden - Fight Club

«The things you own end up owning you», Tyler Durden – Fight Club

Set yourself a goal

And, above all, stick to it until the very end! For example, I want to travel with a 13 lbs (6 kg) bag. I make my list and work on it until I fall below this limit. I don’t buy anything until the magic number appears at the bottom of the page. Remind yourself that there’s no real limit and that you can pack as lightweight as you want.

The lightest item is the one you don’t take

This rule is so simple that you often forget it. Always go for the option of leaving an item at home, as opposed to making it lighter or buying a lighter one – it’ll take up less space and will be cheaper.

Pareto principle: 80 / 20

This principle pretty much governs the whole world, even your bag.

Basically, 20% of a bag will be used 80% of the time and 80% of the bag only 20%. The goal here is to identify the category of each item and try to cut into the second category to get as close as possible to a 100:100 ratio. This second category is completely dispensable.

For example, if you wear a wool jumper for just one day on your trip of say a month and it sits in your bag for the rest of the time, it should never have been in there in the first place. Steer well clear of these items!

The 5 whys

To figure out the extent of an item’s use, ask yourself the question “Why?” five times in a row.

For example: a digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR)

  • Why N°1: because I want to take high-quality photos.
  • Why N°2: to fully capture the beauty of a landscape.
  • Why N°3: to be able to share these beautiful moments with my loved ones on social networks.
  • Why N°4: to make them want to travel.
  • Why N°5: because I think they need to.

Are you satisfied with these answers? Personally, I’m not, so I wouldn’t take it. But what about you? Not your partner, your father or your cousin, but you?

Opt for multipurpose items

Instead of taking two objects, it’s better to take an item that has two functions. For example, convertible hiking trousers are a well-known trick: the bottom part zips off and just like that you have a pair of shorts. Another example is a pair of shoes that you can use both in the city and in the mountains, so you don’t have to take several pairs. Shoes are typically the heaviest item on the list, especially if like me you wear a size 14…

A low-volume backpack is not only a good option for carrying all of your belongings, but also for walking around during the day with a water bottle, a jacket and a picnic. And, at much lower temperatures, sleeping in your clothes can actually keep you warmer than your sleeping bag.

Never take the same item twice

This rule is very important. For example, instead of taking two short-sleeved T-shirts, go for a combo of one ultra-light, short-sleeved synthetic T-shirt and one long-sleeved merino wool T-shirt. You’ll be more prepared for the range of temperatures you’ll encounter on the road.

Local resources

All over the world, you’ll find shops to kit yourself out, especially with clothing. In developing countries, this can be done on a low budget, but you’ll have less choice. In wealthier countries, there’ll be more choice, but with that comes a bigger price tag. So you should opt for second hand shops like The Salvation Army in the USA or Oxfam in the UK, because you can find all sorts of clothes for just a few dollars or pounds. For example, I was able to buy a second-hand shirt for 80 c (60 p) in Guatemala and a friend found a Patagonia T-shirt for $3 (£2.30)!


You think your pack’s too heavy? You don’t want to carry some of your souvenirs right until the end of your trip? You’ve realised that you’ve taken way too many clothes, but you don’t want to get rid of them? No problem, send a parcel back home! It may take several weeks, or even months, to arrive, but that’s alright as you’re on the road for quite some time to come.

Wash more, carry less

Making it a habit to never have more than a week’s worth of clothes will help you reduce the volume and weight of your bag. Lots of hostels (or even campsites) offer coin/card-operated washing machines. If you don’t have many items of clothing, share your wash with another traveller. It’s the usual two hours with the dryer included (the perfect time for a nap, a film, a bite to eat…) and you can set off again all nice and clean. In developing countries, lots of shops offer a cleaning service for a ridiculously low price. Sometimes they even deliver to your hotel!

Speak in ounces (or grams)

Pounds or kilograms should no longer be part of your vocabulary. Banish them like the plague, the Ku Klux Klan, the drink that makes you say, “I’ve had one too many”, or your grandmother’s lace curtains. Not one single item should weigh more than two pounds (one kilogram), and I stress “not one”, even if it was a bargain.


Your whole process can be crushed if you fall into certain traps. We’ve all fallen into them, but, thanks to this section, you won’t make the same mistakes.

Buying a big bag

Backpacks are typically the last item you should buy. Once all your gear is ready, you just need to figure out the volume of it all (you could use bin bags), add a little leeway and then buy an X litre bag. Big bags tend to fill themselves as if by magic! Another approach is to measure the size of the bag you’re aiming for and make sure your list fits into it. If travelling light and low-volume is crucial for the route you’ve planned, this method will probably be the best way to achieve that.

Giant backpack

We said a small bag!

The curse of “you never know” or “just in case”

Who’s never gone on a trip and returned with things that they didn’t even use once? These are the famous “just in case” items. Remember Pareto’s principle. Survival blankets, torches… In short, travel gadgets have no place on your list, they should be banned.

Toiletries and medication are often victims of “just in case” items. There’s effective medication all over the world at affordable prices. Taking medication to cover every kind of possible and unimaginable illness doesn’t really make sense. Focus on the most common ones. If you have any abnormal symptoms, avoid self-medicating and see a doctor. An appointment in Mexico only cost me $4 and the prescribed treatment was very effective.

“But that’s really handy”

That sure is handy, nobody doubts it. However, isn’t it possible to go without? If so, would life be so inconvenient without it? I see lots of travellers going around with clotheslines and pegs. Clearly this is handy, but it’s by no means essential. So what about binoculars, hydration packs, compasses, portable speakers, dictaphones…

“Yeah, but I love this thing, my other half gave it to me”

We don’t want to part with items we’ve been given and we’re often prepared to carry a heavier load for it even if it’s not suitable for our trip. Besides making the backpack lighter, leaving it at home also puts your mind at ease, as you don’t want to damage it or, worse, have it stolen. Therefore, it has no place in your bag. Sentimental attachment must be avoided at all costs!

A heavy bag is a bag stuffed with fears

A sleeping bag that’s too warm, a tent designed for arctic storms, boots for mountain expeditions… Out of fear, we all tend to add them. You can happily walk in the mountains with a simple pair of trainers if you’re careful and don’t lug a 66 lbs (30 kg) bag. Without going to the other extreme and endangering your safety, clearly identify your needs and draw from your experience to avoid taking unnecessary things.

Billy Crystal as a psychologist in Mafia Blues movie

«What a big bag! Tell me about your fears…»/p>

“And if I want to go camping or hiking?”

Going hiking with little gear is perfectly feasible and even recommended to help reduce fatigue and fully enjoy the experience.

Contrary to what you’ve always been told, you don’t have to go into the mountains with big boots, a 6 lbs (3 kg) double-wall tent and adjustable trekking poles. An easy hike can be done with a pair of trainers and a plastic tarp. There are plenty of alternatives.

Also ask yourself the following questions: how many hikes are you actually going to do? Can’t you rent equipment out there? Can’t you sleep in shelters? For more information, the BackPackingLight and Trek-Lite forums are the absolute bibles on the subject. There are tons of tips on how to pack light when hiking, for all types of destinations and budgets.

“What if I can’t wash my clothes”

Where there’s life, there’s water. The locals wash themselves, and their clothes as well, so unless you’re spending time in a desert far, far away from civilisation, you’ll have no problem finding somewhere to wash your clothes. And anyway, in the desert, you won’t need to wash yourself and you can get chummy with the local wildlife.

“Hold on a second, this tent cost me an arm and a leg, I have to take it”

We also don’t want to part with items that have cost us a lot of money. Free yourself from that weight and from the fear of it being stolen. Sell it on and take a lighter and cheaper product or save it for shorter and more predictable trips. So, financial attachment is also something to avoid!


Living in an ultra-cautious and over-consuming society, we naturally find excuses to not lighten our pack weight. Here are the most common excuses I’ve come across on the road.

“Well, I’m not exactly going to Switzerland!”

The world isn’t a barren no man’s land where life is terrible. Of course you’re going to encounter different climates, but you’re not going to endure The Day After Tomorrow. If you find yourself in the middle of a storm, you’ll stay indoors in the peace and quiet, playing cards and nattering away with your new travel buddies. Moreover, a developing country isn’t an empty country. You’ll find lots of things to do in these countries.

“I’m going to go from the tropical jungle to the Altiplano!”

Does that justify bringing a 20°F (-10°C) sleeping bag whilst you’re totally laid back on a Caribbean beach? And why take a swimming costume whilst you’re mountaineering in Bolivia? How long are you going to stay in each region? What are you going to do there? Starting with a basic lightweight universal list and relying on local resources to deal with extreme weather conditions is still the best tip for efficiently travelling in different climates.

Avoid packing multiple bags that you send / return home. I tried this system and ended up wasting a lot of time and freedom, when that’s what we’re looking for, right?

“You can’t do lightweight when it’s cold. You need to cover up…”

There are low-priced lightweight down jackets (see next paragraph). Thoughtlessly placing layers on top of each other will weigh down your bag and might not even make you warmer.

Here are some essential tips to keep warm:

  • Protect yourself from the wind: the slightest breeze will drive out the air trapped in your layers of clothing that has been heated by your body and replace it with cold air. So a wool jumper or a fleece can be ineffective when it’s 50°F (10°C). A 3 oz – 10 oz (100 g – 300 g) windproof and / or waterproof jacket will boost your clothing game.
  • Cover your body equally: we often tend to forget to insulate our legs. As a result, all the heat accumulated in the upper body escapes from the bottom. Consider bringing thermal leggings or pants.
  • Cover your extremities: we lose more than 60% of our body heat from our head. Sometimes it’s more comfortable to be in a T-shirt with a hat than with a jumper and a bare head. What’s more, when you’re cold, blood tends to drain out of your hands and feet to instead concentrate on vital organs. So remember to cover your extremities.
  • Stay dry: water conducts heat away from the body 20 times faster than air. Getting wet pumps up our body heat like sales on our credit card. What’s more, insulating material is only effective if they retain their loft. Moisture shrinks it and air is no longer trapped in your clothes. So you’re then in danger of hypothermia and that happens rapidly, even in summer. Never let your sleeping bag or down jacket get wet. Never, ever, ever…

“I don’t want to look like some vagrant hippy”

I don’t think anybody wants to. You don’t need to take 8 T-shirts to smell good. You just have to wash your clothes. Lots of hostels have washing machines. In developing countries, there are always little businesses that wash your clothes for a few dollars. If you don’t want to pay, you can always wash your clothes by hand in the bathroom. Here’s a short video of a traveller who explains how she washes her clothes in a plastic bag!

“Does that mean I have to blow my whole budget on hi-tech equipment?”

It doesn’t need to be hi-tech to be lightweight. Remember, the lightest equipment is that which you don’t take, and it’s also the cheapest. Of course, some ultra-lightweight materials are extortionate, but you can definitely go without them. An inexpensive pair of trainers for $15 to $30 (£10 to £20) will always be cheaper than a pair of leather hiking boots with 2 inch soles. And by planning ahead, you can take advantage of the sales. For examples of lightweight and inexpensive products, see the last section in this article.

A dog with a pleading look

No excuses. No need to sulk

Photo: Shutterstock

“If I go hiking, I won’t be safe”

If you set off in flip-flops and a T-shirt at an altitude of 5,000 m in the Andes, you’re clearly going to put yourself in danger. Getting to know your body and your needs along the way will help take the weight off your shoulders, both physically and mentally. If you can set out into the middle of nature bare naked with just a lighter and a knife and enjoy walking around like this, fine. Personally, I need a little more equipment.

“Only guys can travel light. It’s different for us girls!”

I have an Argentinian friend who travels all over the world with less than 9 lbs (4 kg). She’s trendy, she smells good, she has silky hair… In short, she’s not the hippie you might expect when you see the minute size of her bag. She carries a notebook for her stories, watercolours, an e-reader… She’s just carefully studied her needs and has really optimised each item on her reduced list. Another example: What’s in Bri’s Bag? from

“It’s only 26 lbs (12 kg), that’s already light enough”

If you’re 5ft4 (165 cm) and weigh 132 lbs (60 kg), 26 lbs (12 kg) represents 1/5 of your weight. Imagine the old small car you had a few years ago. You and three mates would use it to go out to bars or drive to festivals. Do you remember how it felt like a Ferrari after you dropped your mates off? So, let’s say that your friends weighed 165 lbs (75 kg) each on average, that’s equivalent to an extra 496 lbs (225 kg) or 1/5 of the weight of the vehicle with you behind the wheel. Get rid of that weight and now you’re a Ferrari. Tell yourself that it’s always too heavy, that’ll be easier.

“And how exactly do I find that in the darkest depths of Peru?”

You might not find the most lightweight one in Peru, but, short-term, it’s better to buy a slightly heavier and less durable down jacket to meet a one-off mountain-hiking or outdoor adventure need, as opposed to carrying a really warm down jacket for your entire trip.

“I have a passion for drawing, I can’t do without it!”

Don’t deprive yourself of your little pleasure, but do adapt it! If you’re a keen drawer, don’t leave your sketchbook at home! Quite the opposite, this is a good opportunity to have the time to draw again and again, wherever and whatever, and even meet other artists. However, see if you can make do with a smaller sketchbook or lighter paper, even if it means sending your full sketchbooks home. Leave your easel at home and craft a DIY one that you can fit in your bag. Tailor your passion to your trip and count yourself lucky if it’s drawing or photography. For me, it’s scuba diving…

I’ve shortened my list. Now, what about lightweight equipment?

To choose the right equipment, as well as experience, you need some basic technical knowledge. This will allow you to make the most of an item’s potential and avoid expecting too much of it.

Some important technical knowledge

Down or synthetic sleeping bag: which one should I go for?

Down is still the material with the best weight / warmth ratio. However, it’s expensive, it’s not resistant to humidity and it’s fragile. If you want quality down, you have to put some money into it. Cheap down sleeping bags are much less lofty than the high-end ones. Synthetic is more resistant to moisture, is cheaper and is tougher, but it’s a lot heavier.

Despite that, for a long trip, I strongly advise taking a synthetic sleeping bag, because you’ll mainly be in temperatures of around 32°F (0°C). A good synthetic sleeping bag is better than a bad down one. You can machine wash it (if you take care) more often and you can leave it compressed in your bag for up to seven days in a row, whereas if you want to protect the loft of a down sleeping bag, you need to air it out every day.

It’s really the only backpack item that’s hard to find if you want it both cheap and lightweight. And it’s really the most important investment on the list. I think it’s definitely worth it though, as you’ll be able to use it for many years to come.

Another lightweight alternative to regular sleeping bags: the hiking quilt.

Cotton and me, it’s over.

Cotton is convenient in normal, everyday life. But when you’re travelling, it’s a hassle. It’s heavy and it takes ages to dry so you can’t put it in your backpack. If you go on a hike, it’ll get drenched in sweat and, as it’ll take a while to dry, you’ll be chilled to the bone with the slightest gust of wind. Seriously, it’s better left at home.

Tent alternative

And what if you could camp without a tent? What do we expect our tent to do? Mainly to protect us from the rain, maybe also from the wind, perhaps from insects… And what if I’d only camp if it was raining lightly, and in that case, I was going to sleep under a roof? Do I really need poles?

3 alternatives:

  • Tarp:

    A simple tarpaulin, often rectangular, with lots of tie downs can be assembled in different ways. Some people use their trekking poles, others find natural elements (trees, rocks…) or both at once. It’s helpful if you’re good with your hands so it’s important to practice a bit before your trip (or during like me), but it cuts down on a lot of weight. It’s getting back to nature and you’ll have a wonderful feeling and experience of sleeping under the stars, all whilst being protected from the rain. Pure magic!

    For more details and feedback: Trek-Lite

  • Tarptent:

    Something between a tarp and a tent. So you save on the weight of the tent poles, but it’s still easy to set up and you still have 360° protection from the tent. The Tarptent brand has a good reputation, but it comes with a hefty price tag.

    Link to the manufacturer:

  • Bivvy bag:

    In true backpacker spirit, the bivvy bag might be worth considering. No more stakes, poles, mosquito nets, guy lines, setting up and taking down… This is a sleeping bag made from waterproof or just windproof material. You sleep inside it with your regular thermal sleeping bag. Pure simplicity: you arrive, you unroll and hey presto, it’s ready.

    When the weather’s nice, it’s perfect, as it protects against humidity, wind and sometimes even insects, depending on how it’s made.

    In uncertain weather, it comes in very handy.

    When the weather strikes, aside from tough leather ones and decent gear, you need extra protection like a tarp, something from nature, or just a roof.

Alternatives to hiking boots

Tall, heavy leather boots are not necessary for hiking. I’ve hiked in Alaska and above 5,000 metres altitude in the Andes with running shoes. I’ve never had a sprain, ever.

On the other hand, my feet did get a bit wet, and even more so in marshy areas. But, on hikes of a maximum of one week, no men died. However, this meant that I only had one pair of shoes for all activities (hiking, sight-seeing, bars, biking…).

But, there are two things two respect in order to be able to use them comfortably and safely when hiking:

  • Have a light bag:

    Walking with a 55 lbs (25 kg) bag on your back and running shoes on your feet is dangerous – unless you’re built like Thor. It’s crucial not to go over 22 – 26 lbs (10 – 12 kg) including consumables (food and water).

  • Watch where you step:

    With bulldozers on your feet, you tend to walk straight ahead without thinking twice. The soles are so thick and the upper so stiff that any force applied is absorbed by the shoe and not our muscles. In running shoes, there’s no need to become paranoid with each step, just be careful on very rocky passages for example. And since they’re much lighter, you won’t get tired so easily, especially as your bag is light as well. It’s the virtuous cycle of lightness.

  • Trail shoes:

    Trail shoes (running on different surfaces and / or in mountains) are perfectly suited to hiking. They have a great approach and are pretty breathable. However, their slightly soft rubber often means that they don’t last very long. For the sake of budget and ease of finding them, I’d settle for classic running shoes that you can find pretty much anywhere.

Perhaps an example of a list?

With the theory almost complete and the budget established, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Since it’s always easier to draw inspiration from what already exists to create something of your own, here’s an example of a list of inexpensive gear for travelling around the world.

Given that I’m a nature lover and always travel on a small budget, all my travel lists include camping gear so I can set up camp anywhere. As a reminder, this is only a guideline for refining your thinking process, by no means is it a model list. You’ll no doubt want to replace certain items, add or remove some, perhaps go for a higher-quality range…

Example of an ultra-lightweight bag
Total weight, including bag 156.26 OZ (4,430 G), total price £593

Item Description Weight (g) Price (£) Cheap example
Total weight: 21.72 oz (616 g) – Total price: £17
Backpack 30L, simple, possibility to cut off some straps 21.72 oz (616 g) £17 Quechua NH100
Total weight: 57.67 oz (1,635 g) – Total price: £250
Shelter Tarp (2-person) + guy lines 17.63 oz (500 g) £60 Forclaz Trekking Tarp 900
Floor covering Large volume bin bag 1.76 oz (50 g) £0
Mattress (Self-)inflating to reduce volume and increase comfort 17.98 oz (510 g) £45 Forclaz Inflatable Air Mattress
Sleeping bag Synthetic insulation, extremely light material 18.87 oz (535 g) £129 Cumulus Dynamic Zip
Waterproof bag Silnylon (silicone + nylon) 1.41 oz (40g) £16 Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Drysack
Total weight: 54.14 oz (1,535 g) – Total price: £116
Waterproof jacket Simple, loose 6.17 oz (175 g) £10 Quechua NH100
Down jacket Hood, long zip 10.22 oz (290 g) £60 Forclaz Trek 100
Fleece Short zip, 200g/m² 7.40 oz (210 g) £10 Quechua MH100
T-shirt Synthetic, sweatproof 3.88 oz (110 g) £6 Quechua NH100
Underwear Synthetic 1.76 oz (50g) £5 Kalenji
Leggings Thermal, 180 g/m2 7.05 oz (200 g) £6 Wedze
Shorts Cotton / polyester mix 7.05 oz (200 g) £10 Quechua NH100
Socks Synthetic or light wool 1.76 oz (50 g) £4
Flip-flops Simple, as light as possible 8.81 oz (250 g) £5 Olaian TO 100
Total weight: 5.46 oz (155 g) – Total price: £6
Medication Some medication in a zipped bag 3.52 oz (100 g) £0
Toothbrush Simple and compact 0.17 oz (5 g) £1
Towel Foldable, A4 format, super absorbent 1.76 oz (50 g) £5 Olaian Basic S
Total weight: 3.35 oz (95 g) – Total price: £140
Chargeur USB 1.05 oz (30 g) £0
USB cable 0.70 oz (20 g) £0
Headphones 0.70 oz (20 g) £10
Bottle 1L 0.88 oz (25 g) £0
Smartphone 5” screen 5.64 oz (160 g) £130
On you
Total weight: 51.67 oz (1,465 g) – Total price: £64
T-shirt Synthetic / wool mix 5.39 oz (153 g) £20 Forclaz Travel 500
Underwear Synthetic 1.76 oz (50g) £5 Kalenji
Trousers Synthetic mix 8.81 oz (250 g) £15 Quechua NH100
Soks Synthetic or light wool 1.76 oz (50 g) £4
Shoes Breathable running shoes with 3D mesh 21.16 oz (600g) £20 Kalenji
Passeport 1.76 oz (50 g) £0
Bank card 0.17 oz (5 g) £0

So, all in all, you’ve got less than 11lbs (5 kg) on your back and the gear comes in at a total of £593 (bag + other items). You’ll notice that the smartphone and the sleeping bag alone represent 55% of the budget.

Again, as a reminder, this is only an example of a list of new products that I thought were interesting and suitable for a long trip, whilst having a minimum of comfort. It’s super easy to make it lighter and you can also do it cheaper. Follow your instincts, look around, search high and low and make your list!


2 different but complementary t-shirts

A short-sleeved synthetic one and a long-sleeved merino wool one. These two T-shirts are totally complementary. Synthetic T-shirts are strong, cheap and dry very quickly, but some can smell very quickly (not the suggested one which in fact slows down the onset of odours for a long time), which isn’t the case with merino wool.

To keep it short and sweet, merino is a wool made by the merino breed of sheep which has the distinctive feature of being naturally antibacterial. This therefore helps to slow the onset of sweat odours. If you’re not doing strenuous physical activities, you can easily wear a T-shirt of this material for a week without smelling bad. It doesn’t itch at all and has the ability to regulate temperature (you’re cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold).

It’s really an amazing material, but the main flaw is that it’s fragile. Mixes with synthetic materials overcome this weakness. If you want the top of the range compared to the example shown, Icebreaker is the most reputable brand that owns farms in New Zealand where the wool is produced.

Trainers / Flip-flops combo

This is the most suitable combo for an active trip involving walking and sporting activities. You can use flip-flops in the evening, for days of relaxation and for strolls in warm weather.

A smartphone is all you need

I chose to group all my electronic devices into one smartphone. I use it to make calls, listen to music, take photos, communicate on social networks, go on the internet, check my emails, check my bank account, watch films, back up and download important documents… I even use it as a torch!

In a nutshell, I’m perfectly happy with this all-in-one tool, and the quality of photos and videos gets better every year.

What’s more, I think that the 5” is the optimal size, as it’s the smallest size to navigate comfortably and watch films and the biggest size to be able to keep it in your pocket at all times.

Sleeping bag: the biggest investment

As explained above, it’s hard to get a high-quality, lightweight sleeping bag without having to splash a bit of cash. I deliberately suggested a sleeping bag for fairly mild temperatures, because you can go in much lower temperatures if you wrap up warm with the clothes mentioned on the list above, such as the thermal leggings and down jacket.

Cumulus is a European brand that has a range of quality products with very attractive prices. Aside from the fact that they use ultra-lightweight insulation and materials, the construction and design of their products has really been thought out so as not to “waste” grams. The finishing touches are of a high quality. These are products that will last for a longtime.

If you want to move more upmarket, one of the leading brands is Triple Zero.


The alternative to a tent, for camping with a buddy from time to time. Other alternatives include an inexpensive tarp that you find when you’re out there, or borrowing or renting a tent. It’s a really basic and natural system but perfectly functional, as soon as you accept that it’s far from an easy pop up tent when assembling.

The following video shows some different techniques for setting up a tarp. Don’t hesitate to watch more videos to see other ways of doing it depending on how much protection you need and the environment you find yourself in.

No camping stove, no problem

Since I discovered that you can make a 10 g alcohol stove in 10 minutes from a can of coke for almost free, I no longer take a camping stove with me.

This awesome little stove works with alcohol (90% – 96%) found in pharmacies, or methylated spirits which you can find everywhere. So you can go without camping gas cylinders, which are usually pretty tricky to find in the more exotic regions of the world.

The following video shows the basic set-up of the DIY can-stove, but there are more advanced set-ups out there.

Microfibre towel

It’s a material that absorbs a lot of water and is very easily wrung out so that it can absorb it again. So you can make do with a tiny-sized one. You run it over your skin and then, once it’s full of water, wring it out by squeezing it over and over firmly, then you run it over your body again, and so on. I’ve already done this with the postcard-sized one, but, for more convenience, you can take a larger square up to 15” x 15” (40 x 40 cm) for example.

If you want to go more upmarket than what’s on this list, I recommend the towels suggested on the Sea to Summit Inc. website, a company that specialises in high-performance, durable and lightweight gear.


Portrait of Romain

Romain, the author of this article

Romain is a long-distance traveller and a fan of travelling in an ultra-lightweight way. In 2012, he left his job for good and has since led a nomadic lifestyle all around the world. He alternates between periods of travel and jobs found on the road. Also a part-time diving instructor, you might get the chance to meet him, like I did, on a small tropical island that’s full of multicoloured fish. A really great guy, full of wisdom, close to nature and people.

Thanks for the article buddy.