Everything I Own 2020

This is almost a tradition now – my annual gear blog post, with just a few hours of 2020 left. Genuine thanks to all of those who reminded me, it’s really lovely to receive such messages. For those that don’t know I’m a minimalist rover/wanderer/nomad/vagabond (call me what you will). In 2012 I packed my (two) bags and set off on a journey, since then I’ve reduced my base carry to one bag and I’ve (perhaps inevitably given the lockdowns of 2020) become a bit less of a vagabond. However I do still live out of a bag and I still like to pretend I can pack up and jet off at any time.

Clothes

The only changes to the wardrobe this year are hoodies, socks, shoes and a new cap. I also lost a pair of prAna jeans and haven’t yet replaced them. Frankly I’ve been a little disappointed with the durability of the prAna Bridger jeans which tore fairly spectacularly after just 2 years of wear. I’m not holding out much hope for my last remaining pair (bought last year) and I’m on the hunt for something better. Watch this space.

I’ve had my two Icebreaker Sierra hoodies since June 2015 and they were pretty threadbare in the elbows so an upgrade was required, unfortunately the Sierra was discontinued many years ago so I had to go for something new; the Icebreaker Elemental. It’s much thicker wool at 330gsm (compared to the Sierra’s 200gsm) and the weight is unsurprisingly more at 590g per hoodie (compared to the Sierra’s 445g).

The proper cuffs make it more snug too – which is great for winter but I may have to look at replacing at least one of the hoodies with something a little thinner for more everyday use. One walk on a cool Spring day in Sydney proved that 330gsm was a tad too much. I suspect it will be a godsend in Europe in Winter mind.

Last year’s shoes were not a success; the Vessi’s seemed perfect initially, very comfortable and both waterproof and breathable. But those two things are mutually exclusive and while they did seem to keep the water out on the rare occasions I needed this, they ran incredibly hot in the sun. The comfort of the knit upper was also an issue when it came to difficult terrain as the shoes were not ‘secure’ and my feet tended to ‘slip’ inside the shoe. I ended up with some of the worst blisters I’ve ever had after a fairly lengthy hike in the Blue Mountains of Sydney. For the time being I’ve gone back to Nike runners, until something better comes along.

My new Sunday Afternoons Aerial Cap has been a glorious success, incredibly light at just 48g but certified SPF 50 and wonderfully comfortable. The strap is adjustable and the mesh vents are genius. I really should have bought a cap many years ago as I have a tendency to burn at the sight of sun but my family can rest easy now 🙂

My new socks are also something pretty special; Silverlight are a new company and their hiking socks bring a combination of merino wool (with its moisture wicking properties), spandex (for a slip free form fit) and silver thread (which actively kills bacteria) to minimise the risk of blisters and significantly extend the wear time between washes. These socks are supremely comfortable, durable and genuinely stink free. I can literally wear the same pair for a week now (judge ye not). This has been independently verified by my better half.

Suffice to say I’ve replaced my 7x pairs of Outliers socks (315g) with 3x pairs of Silverlight crew socks (252g) and my 3x pairs of Icebreaker ankle socks (90g) with 3x pairs of Silverlight ankle socks (165g). My only gripe is that the ankle socks have a lip at the top which is something of a grit trap – I generally have to empty my socks out after a hike these days, small price to pay for such comfortable, durable, stink free socks though.

So here’s the full list of clothing – it would appear it has been quite a frugal year (probably helped by not going anywhere or doing anything):

6Outlier Ultrafine Merino Tee (195 gsm)1801080
2Icebreaker Merino Sierra Zip Hoodie (200 gsm)445890Replaced
2Icebreaker Elemental Zip Hoodie (330 gsm)5901180New
1Arc’Teryx Atom LT Hoody358358
3Libertad Merino Travel Shirt (for work / formals) (130 gsm)230690
1Brook Taverner Cassino Suit Jacket (for work / formals)623623
2Brook Taverner Cassino Suit Trouser (for work / formals)335670
2 1prAna Bridger Jeans4654651 Fewer
1prAna Brion Pants328328
1Icebreaker Merino Oasis Leggings (200 gsm)168168
2Outlier New Way Longs277554
7Icebreaker Merino Anatomica Boxers (150 gsm)68476
7Outlier Megafine Merino Socks45315Replaced
3Silverlight Crew Hiking Socks84252New
3Icebreaker Merino Run+ Ultralight Micro Socks3090Replaced
3Silverlight Ankle Hiking Socks55165New
1Icebreaker Merino Sierra Gloves (200 gsm)3030
1Icebreaker Merino Pocket Beanie (200 gsm)4040
1Buffwear Merino Buff (125 gsm)4747
1Vivobarefoot Ra II Shoes510510
1Vessi Everyday Slip On440440Replaced
1Nike Free Run Trainers500500New
1Calvin Klein Plain Black Belt (for work / formals)109109
1Ciro Citterio Silver Tie (for work / formals)6161
1Sunday Afternoons Aerial Cap4848
41TOTAL CLOTHING8354

Like most of the planet I went in to lockdown in March this year, since then I haven’t worn my suit jacket, trousers, shirt, tie or belt once. These items have previously been useful for formals such as weddings (although, again, not this year) but do I really need to keep all 8 items (weighing 2513g)? This is literally 25% of my clothes weight and while this year has been exceptional it feels like the tide is turning for remote working. One to watch for next year’s update.

Non Clothing

Here’s the list of changes since last year:

20192020
BagTortuga Air 27L / 35L backpack1030Minaal 3.0 35L backpack1555
ChargermBeat Gorilla 45W charger202Mopoint 65W GaN charger160
Data BackupSamsung T5 SSD 2TB drive513x Patriot Rage Elite 1TB drives30
Cables7x 10cm cables423x 10cm cables
2x 100cm cables
27
47
TechbagMuji Double Fastener Case (Small)15WH Pencil Case (2004!)56
TowelMSR Packtowl XL100Sea to Summit Airlite Large47
PassportsUK only34UK and AU 🙂72
Passport CaseSea to Summit Waterproof Case18
MaskStylemask 3 layer cotton mask14
SporkHumangear GoBites Duo24Relight My Fire Little Spork8
TrimmerWahl Micro Groomsman34
Swab Q TipReusable Swab / Q-Tip2
DrybagSea to Summit 7L Drybag30
Exercise BandFortress Red Exercise Band42PVC Spiky Massage Ball37
MarkerSharpie Permanent Marker8
Packing Cubes8x cubes 1535x cubes 83
TOTAL1693TOTAL2228

The largest change to my gear in the last year has been my onebag itself. After six wonderful years it was time to replace the Tortuga with a Minaal 3.0 as I covered in a Minaal 3.0 blog post. Of course the additional support came at a price in terms of weight – almost 50% more, however I was able to reduce the number of packing cubes from 8 (153g) to 5 (83g) thanks to the pockets and superb organisation inside the bag.

On the tech front I sold my Samsung 2TB external SSD drive for 3x 1TB USB drives (saving me 21g).

I switched out my mBeat Gorilla 45W charger for the svelte but powerful Mopoint GaN 65W saving me 42g and giving me an extra 20W to play with, as I covered in my Maximum Power blog post.

I also tweaked my cable setup, replacing the 6x Momax adaptercables with 2 more TRVL cables and a longer USB-C cable (longer cables come in handy when the single power socket is in the corner of the hotel room), and I reverted to carrying all of my tech in my old 56g WH Smith pencil case from 2004 as it all fits now.

After over 5 years of carrying my 100g MSR Packtowl I finally found a lighter weight but suitable replacement in the Sea to Summit Airlite Towel. This thing is like some kind of magic, it absorbs 3x it’s weight in water and the large size (108cm x 45cm) is just enough to get me dry after a dip and to tie around my waist (just). At just 47g it’s a significant saving on the already light MSR Packtowl.

I was granted Australian citizenship this year (cue whooping and cheering) which also means I now have a second passport to cart around (oh the hardship).

I invested in a small 18g waterproof Sea to Summit TPU Accessory Case to keep both passports and all my key documents safe and secure in the hidden stash pocket in the back of the Minaal 3.0.

The must-have fashion accessory of the year has, of course, been the mask. Nothing special here, just a 3-layer 14g cotton mask purchased when WHO decided that such things were in fact useful after all.

I ‘upgraded’ my 24g Humangear GoBites with a lovely 8g Relight My Fire Little Spork, in truth I used these so rarely I was on the verge of getting rid altogether but the flashback to that indian takeaway I picked up sans cutlery made me play it safe. Useful for stirring tea on planes too.

I’ve hit the age where a ‘personal’ trimmer is required. I did some investigation and lightest, by a long way, was the 34g Wahl Micro Groomsman which comes with and ear/nose hair trimmer and a detail trimmer with a 2-position guide for… other hair.

It runs on a single AAA battery and it’s a noisy beast (although if you’re putting it in your ear, you’re gonna hear it no matter what right?). Anyway, it does the trick and I feel marginally less old as a result.

One of my favourite teeny tiny purchases of the year is this 2g reusable swab / q-tip.

Primarily aimed at reducing waste it’s also superb for travelers and while it doesn’t look like it will last long I’ve been using it for 9 months now with no complaints. Simply run under hot water after use. No waste!

This Sea to Summit 8L drybag was something of an impulse purchase, rare for me, but it occurred to me that handwashing my clothes in a drybag may be easier (and more hygienic) than using hotel sinks when traveling. Of course I haven’t put this to the test as yet…

Finally I ditched my red Fortress exercise band around the time I found a new physiotherapist who explained that all the work I had been doing to fix my mashed up shoulder was all wrong. He recommended a spiky massage ball (which seems to be helping a lot) and a new bag with better straps, support and load lifters. Done and done. One of these things saved me 5g, the other added 525g… swings and roundabouts right?

Full Gear List

Rather than separate out in to categories I’ve opted to blast through the whole list this year so here goes:

BAG
1CHANGED Minaal 3.0 Carry On 35L Backpack 55x35x201555
1555
DOPP
1Sea To Summit Silnylon Traveling Light Washbag (Small)44
1The Crystal Deodorant Ammonium Alum 40g64
1NEW Wahl Micro Groomsman Personal Trimmer (22g, head 4g, guard 1g, AAA 7g)34
1Xiaomi Home Mi USB-C Shaver (88g, band 2g, brush 2g)92
1Colgate Omron Pro Clinical 150 Toothbrush (33g, head 4g, guard 3g,  2xAAA 14g)54
1Colgate Omron Toothbrush Heads (x2)8
1Seki Edge Stainless Steel Nail Clippers32
1Zwilling J.A. Henckels Stainless Steel Tweezers10
1Hearos Earplugs (x5 pairs)4
1Interdental Flossers (x3)3
1NEW Earthsider Reusable Swab Q-Tip2
1Toothpaste 20g24
1Shampoo 50ml (in Muji 12g poly tube)70
1Sunscreen 30ml (in Muji 8g poly tube)42
1REDUCED Hand Moisturiser 12ml (in Muji 3g poly tube)14
1REDUCED Hydrocortisone 12ml (in Muji 3g poly tube)14
1Hair Muk 10ml (in Muji 20g plastic tub)37
548
GEAR
1Hearos earplugs in Case6
1Pocket Tissues24
1Saccharin Sweetener20
1CHANGED Relight My Fire Little Spork8
1Bic Pen Mutifunction 4 Colour Ballpoint Pen12
1Uniball Micro Blue Rollerball Pen11
1NEW Sharpie Permanent Marker8
1Maui Jim Sunglasses Case and Cloth53
1Maui Jim Sugar Beach Sunglasses14
1Keys44
1Montbell Travel Umbrella87
1Montbell Tachyon Parka Raincoat72
1Muji Double Zip Pouch (Small)15
1NEW Stylemask 3 Layer Cotton Mask14
1NEW Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Drybag30
418
DOCUMENTS
1NEW Sea to Summit TPU Guide IPX8 Water Resistant Accessory Case (Small)18
1NEW Passport AU38
1Passport UK34
1Vaccination Certification15
1Documents, Mugshots & Spare Credit Cards in Poly Pocket50
155
OSK
1Eagle Creek Zip Stash Pouch16
1Paracetamol12
1Ibuprofen6
1Antihistamine2
1Loperamide3
1Lemsip x28
1Misc Plasters & Medistrips5
1Titanium Pocket Bit Screwdriver Keyring4
1Sewing Kit (Needles & Thread, Buttons, Safety Pins)8
1CHANGED Antiseptic Cream (in Muji 12ml 3g poly tube)18
1Zwilling J.A. Henckels Stainless Steel Nail Clippers Ultra Slim15
1Zwilling J.A. Henckels Stainless Steel Tweezers10
107
LAPTOP
1HP Spectre x360 – 13-ae003na (i7-8550U, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD) Laptop1238
1238
TECH
1HP Tilt Stylus Pen14
1Anker Soundbuds Slim+ Bluetooth Headphones15
1Anker Soundcore Mini Icon Bluetooth Speaker211
1Anker Powercore+ Mini 3350mAh Battery84
1Swiftpoint ProPoint 600 Bluetooth Mouse24
3CHANGED Patriot Supersonic Rage Elite 1TB USB-A 3.0 Flashdrive30
1CHANGED Mopoint 66W GaN charger (2xUSB-C & 1xUSB-A) w AU, UK & EU adapters & 3g band163
1Apple Charger USB-A 5W AU28
1Griffin Power Jolt Car Charger 2x USB-A 5W12
1Anker Powerline II USB-C 2.0 to USB-C 200cm Cable54
1CHANGED Mbeat USB-C 2.0 to USB-C 100cm Cable27
1CHANGED Amzer USB-A 1.0 to USB-Micro 100cm Retractable Cable20
1TRVL USB-C 3.1 to Lightning 10cm Cable7
1CHANGED TRVL USB-C 3.1 to USB-C 10cm Cable9
1CHANGED TRVL USB-C 3.1 to USB-A 10cm Cable11
1Apple USB-A 2.0 to Lightning 100cm Cable19
1HDMI 4K female to USB-C male Adapter10
1USB-A 3.0 female to USB-C male Adapter7
1USB-C female to USB-Micro male Adapter3
1USB-C female to USB-A 3.0 male Adapter4
1USB-C female to Lightning male Adapter2
1USB-Micro female to USB-C male Adapter1
1USB-Micro female to Lightning male Adapter2
1USB-A Charger for SwiftPoint ProPoint 600 Adapter3
1Sony Anti-static Cloth14
1Ultimate Ears 600VI Wired Headphones (with Apple Lightning Adapter)20
1CHANGED WH Smith Pencil Case 200456
850
OTHER
1CHANGED Sea to Summit Airlite Towel Large47
1Sea To Summit Ultra Sil Nano Daypack30
1CHANGED PVC Massage Ball37
114
EVERY DAY CARRY
1Apple iPhone 8 256GB (150g & case 15g)165
1Ice Watch46
1Slimfold Micro Soft Shell RFID Wallet78
289
PACKING CUBES
2Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Medium Cube (18g ea) for boxers & socks, tees36
2CHANGED Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Small Cube (14g ea) for cold weather gear, sundries28
1Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Tube Cube (19g) for shoes19
83
91TOTAL5357

My non-clothing weight this time last year was 4844g so I’m up 513g, mostly due to the bag itself. This is a necessary evil if the support provided by the Minaal allows me to continue living this way.

So in total, 41 items of clothing at 8354g and 91 items of non-clothing at 5357g, that’s 132 items weighing a total of 13711g. Since I’m generally wearing around 1.6kg of clothing that brings it down to a carried weight of around 12kg, and if I can ditch the 2.5kg of formal wear that brings me under the 10kg mark. Something to aspire to in 2021.

Happy New Year all!

Maximum (USB) Power

Every so often I empty my tech bag out and stare at the multitude of chargers, cables and adapters with a view to reducing weight. Having had tech fail on me mid-journey I’m all for redundancy where it can be justified, in fact I would argue that multiple use items are a foundation of minimalism in onebag travel, but keeping track of that redundancy with something as ubiquitous as a universal serial bus (USB) can be a challenge.

This year I decided to draw a picture I have been meaning to draw in a long time; essentially a tech justification highlighting the multiple applications, connections and charging mechanisms of my current tech kit. It’s a bit spaghetti but it’s also quite enlightening, and it looks like this:

Blue boxes indicate ports (USB-A, USB-C, USB-Micro B and Apple Lightning). Perhaps one day these will all be universal as the name suggests but for now my devices require all 4. Blue lines indicate power, green line indicates TV out (HDMI adapter) and red lines indicate data (between my laptop and phone / USB drives). Devices are displayed around the edge of the image (I’ll describe these in my 2020 Gear post) with the cables and adapters inevitably towards the centre and chargers grouped top right. The Apple 1m iPhone lightning to USB-A charge and data cable is displayed in 3 locations but I have only 1.

It’s reassuring to see a significant amount of redundancy in the image which suggests there is scope for further trimming. Most of that comes from the 8 tiny adapters I carry enabling almost all cables to serve almost all devices. It’s also worth noting that redundancy is necessary when charging multiple devices simultaneously.

Chargers
Mopoint 65W GaN charger (2xUSB-C & 1xUSB-A) w AU, UK & EU adapters160
Charger Apple charger USB-A 5W (AU)28
Griffin Power Jolt Car charger 2x USB-A 5W12
Cables
Anker Powerline II USB-C 2.0 to USB-C 200cm cable54
Mbeat USB-C 2.0 to USB-C 100cm cable27
Amzer USB-A 1.0 to USB-Micro 100cm retractable cable20
TRVL USB-C 3.1 to Lightning 10cm cable7
TRVL USB-C 3.1 to USB-C 10cm cable9
TRVL USB-C 3.1 to USB-A 10cm cable11
Adapters
HDMI 4K female to USB-C male adapter10
USB-A 3.0 female to USB-C male adapter7
USB-C female to USB-Micro male adapter3
USB-C female to USB-A 3.0 male adapter4
USB-C female to Lightning male adapter2
USB-Micro female to USB-C male adapter1
USB-Micro female to Lightning male adapter2
USB-A Charger for ProPoint SwiftPoint 6003

So that’s 200g of chargers, 128g of cables, and 32g of adapters, 360g all up.

Charger

I have only made two significant changes to my tech over the past year; the first was swapping my 51g Samsung SSD portable T5 2TB drive for 3x Patriot Rage Elite 1TB USB 3.0 flashdrives at 10g each (1TB extra storage for a 21g weight loss). Also no need for a cable and the USB drives plug straight in to hotel / AirBnB TVs (although it can be quite expensive to retrieve them when you forget… ahem).

The second was the universal charger. I’m now carrying a Mopoint 65w GAN charger which I supported as a Kickstarter. After a few months of use I have to say I’m impressed.

On the left my mBeat Gorilla 45w charger with its 4 adapters (AU fitted), and on the right the tiny Mopoint 65w charger with its 3 adapters (AU fitted). The Mopoint US charger is integrated which means no need for a separate carry.

  • The mBeat Gorilla weighs 131g for the charger and 71g for the 4 adapters so 202g in total
  • The Mopoint weighs 113g for the charger and 47g for the 3 adapters so 160g in total

That’s a 20% saving in weight (and a significant saving in space) for an additional 20W of power.

Each of the Mopoint USB-C ports support 65w, and the USB-A port supports fast charging for phones of 18w (although obviously not all simultaneously). The Mopoint allows me to charge my laptop (pulling around 45w) and my iPhone (pulling 18w) simultaneously – something the mBeat understandably struggled with.

The only downside to the Mopoint to date is the lack of earth pin on the AU adapter which was useful on the mBeat for simply securing the charger in place, however the smaller form factor (and reduced weight) of the Mopoint make this less of an issue.

All dressed up but nowhere to go

It would be remiss of me not to begin this post with a line such as ‘2020 huh? What a year’. Like everyone else I have spent most of the year hunkered down in one location. The whole ‘living out of a bag so I can jet off somewhere exotic at any moment’ has been somewhat undermined, and the benefits of my minimalist lifestyle seem far less significant this year.

That said, it has been reassuring to discover that, even with a significant lifestyle change, my onebag of 137 things is enough to sustain me for another year, and being static has not meant a static onebag, I’ve made a few changes to my belongings, including perhaps the biggest change of all; my onebag itself.

After almost 6 years I have decided to replace my superb Tortuga Air. As the container for my worldly belongings this was a big decision, and one that, thanks to Covid, hasn’t really been validated yet. My Tortuga didn’t fail, in fact it still looks remarkably good, but there was a fairly urgent need that drove this change.

Last year, thanks to a very delayed Flybe flight I found myself running from Manchester airport terminal 1 to 3 with my fully laden Tortuga, for a connecting flight to Oman. I made the flight (literally as the gate was closing) and after I’d finished congratulating myself for not needing to check a bag (which wouldn’t have been an option) I noticed that I couldn’t move my neck.

It turned out I had pulled a muscle in my shoulder and this one injury almost wiped me out for my Oman trip.

I have been living out of a bag for over 8 years now, and I turned 43 this year, an age that somehow seemed pretty ancient even when I started this adventure.

I now have a pension, a personal hair trimmer and a physiotherapist. His name is Jim and after this particularly painful shoulder episode, he suggested my Tortuga may not be providing the necessary support for my back and neck when fully laden.

This was a fair assumption, the bag’s primary feature is its feather weight (requiring minimal structure). It’s a superb bag and it’s served me well but the time had come for something with better structure and support, and perversely I would have to consider heavier bags for the sake of my health. Enter the Minaal 3.0.

Minaal 3.0

The Minaal Carry-On has been cooking (their term) for almost as long as I’ve been carrying my Tortuga, it always struck me as sleeker and sexier than the Tortuga Air but the weight difference (1.5kg to 1.0g – both 35l capacity) was a turn off.

With the recent release of the 3.0 the Minaal team introduced a new lightweight ‘unified harness’ featuring a dense EVA foam back panel, thicker EVA foam handles, and remarkably strong magnetic load lifters which make a big difference.

The first time I lifted this bag on to my shoulders and adjusted the straps, it just felt right, good balance and excellent weight distribution, even when full.

The sternum strap is strong, comfortable and makes a hell of a difference to the ease of carry. It is also easily stowed in its own clip when not in use, which is neat.

There are other killer features too – including the material itself (1200D and 600D Picton) which is significantly more water proof and abrasion resistant than the Tortuga’s Denier material (which was getting a little ‘fluffy’ after so much use).

There’s a clever system of pockets (particularly towards the top of the bag) that are larger than the Tortuga’s – which I really appreciate, particular when under pressure at airport security.

The solid grab handles are a delight and having one on the side of the bag makes all the difference when retrieving from awkward positions such as overhead bins.

The internal pockets also reduce the need for packing cubes although the Tortuga’s internal mesh pocket created two large packing cubes which is a feature I shall miss.

I did try the Minaal packing cubes but I am so used to how my gear packs in the Eagle Creek Specter cubes (which still fit inside the Minaal remarkably well) there seemed little point in making the switch. The Eagle Creek cubes are lighter too – although it is marginal (19g vs 30g for a Medium).

The hidden passport pocket is a nice addition and the lie flat laptop compartment is neat if a little gimmicky although the ‘Devicenest’ system itself is very cool; protecting the laptop from impact on all sides – particularly from drops on the base of the bag.

The ability to hide the straps, and in super quick time, for that professional look, is impressive, and the way the rolldown cover stashes is very clever.

Everything about the bag feels premium; from the lightweight alloy buckles to the hypalon zipper tabs which make closing the bag so much easier.

I really appreciate the inclusion of an integrated raincover (and raincover pocket in the base of the bag) and the water bottle pocket is very well thought out, secure and much deeper than on the Tortuga.

The dimensions of the Minaal (55 x 35 x 20) are also better for a onebag than the Tortuga (48 x 32 x 18) – maximising most airline carry on limits (56 x 35 x 22) while minimising the external trappings for what can only be described as a minimalist sleek ‘flow’ look.

The Minaal feels roomier than the Tortuga Air (even when the latter is expanded), and yet the extra weight isn’t very noticeable when being carried, thanks to the harness system.

Time will tell whether the Minaal 3.0 will reduce the drag on my shoulder and neck, but for now I am hopeful.

Also I will be updating my ‘Everything I Own’ for 2020 in the next couple of weeks, there have been some other changes to reduce weight I hope you will find useful.