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.
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):
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.
Here’s the list of changes since last year:
|Bag||Tortuga Air 27L / 35L backpack||1030||Minaal 3.0 35L backpack||1555|
|Charger||mBeat Gorilla 45W charger||202||Mopoint 65W GaN charger||160|
|Data Backup||Samsung T5 SSD 2TB drive||51||3x Patriot Rage Elite 1TB drives||30|
|Cables||7x 10cm cables||42||3x 10cm cables|
2x 100cm cables
|Techbag||Muji Double Fastener Case (Small)||15||WH Pencil Case (2004!)||56|
|Towel||MSR Packtowl XL||100||Sea to Summit Airlite Large||47|
|Passports||UK only||34||UK and AU 🙂||72|
|Passport Case||Sea to Summit Waterproof Case||18|
|Mask||Stylemask 3 layer cotton mask||14|
|Spork||Humangear GoBites Duo||24||Relight My Fire Little Spork||8|
|Trimmer||Wahl Micro Groomsman||34|
|Swab Q Tip||Reusable Swab / Q-Tip||2|
|Drybag||Sea to Summit 7L Drybag||30|
|Exercise Band||Fortress Red Exercise Band||42||PVC Spiky Massage Ball||37|
|Marker||Sharpie Permanent Marker||8|
|Packing Cubes||8x cubes||153||5x cubes||83|
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.
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:
|1||CHANGED Minaal 3.0 Carry On 35L Backpack 55x35x20||1555|
|1||Sea To Summit Silnylon Traveling Light Washbag (Small)||44|
|1||The Crystal Deodorant Ammonium Alum 40g||64|
|1||NEW Wahl Micro Groomsman Personal Trimmer (22g, head 4g, guard 1g, AAA 7g)||34|
|1||Xiaomi Home Mi USB-C Shaver (88g, band 2g, brush 2g)||92|
|1||Colgate Omron Pro Clinical 150 Toothbrush (33g, head 4g, guard 3g, 2xAAA 14g)||54|
|1||Colgate Omron Toothbrush Heads (x2)||8|
|1||Seki Edge Stainless Steel Nail Clippers||32|
|1||Zwilling J.A. Henckels Stainless Steel Tweezers||10|
|1||Hearos Earplugs (x5 pairs)||4|
|1||Interdental Flossers (x3)||3|
|1||NEW Earthsider Reusable Swab Q-Tip||2|
|1||Shampoo 50ml (in Muji 12g poly tube)||70|
|1||Sunscreen 30ml (in Muji 8g poly tube)||42|
|1||REDUCED Hand Moisturiser 12ml (in Muji 3g poly tube)||14|
|1||REDUCED Hydrocortisone 12ml (in Muji 3g poly tube)||14|
|1||Hair Muk 10ml (in Muji 20g plastic tub)||37|
|1||Hearos earplugs in Case||6|
|1||CHANGED Relight My Fire Little Spork||8|
|1||Bic Pen Mutifunction 4 Colour Ballpoint Pen||12|
|1||Uniball Micro Blue Rollerball Pen||11|
|1||NEW Sharpie Permanent Marker||8|
|1||Maui Jim Sunglasses Case and Cloth||53|
|1||Maui Jim Sugar Beach Sunglasses||14|
|1||Montbell Travel Umbrella||87|
|1||Montbell Tachyon Parka Raincoat||72|
|1||Muji Double Zip Pouch (Small)||15|
|1||NEW Stylemask 3 Layer Cotton Mask||14|
|1||NEW Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Drybag||30|
|1||NEW Sea to Summit TPU Guide IPX8 Water Resistant Accessory Case (Small)||18|
|1||NEW Passport AU||38|
|1||Documents, Mugshots & Spare Credit Cards in Poly Pocket||50|
|1||Eagle Creek Zip Stash Pouch||16|
|1||Misc Plasters & Medistrips||5|
|1||Titanium Pocket Bit Screwdriver Keyring||4|
|1||Sewing Kit (Needles & Thread, Buttons, Safety Pins)||8|
|1||CHANGED Antiseptic Cream (in Muji 12ml 3g poly tube)||18|
|1||Zwilling J.A. Henckels Stainless Steel Nail Clippers Ultra Slim||15|
|1||Zwilling J.A. Henckels Stainless Steel Tweezers||10|
|1||HP Spectre x360 – 13-ae003na (i7-8550U, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD) Laptop||1238|
|1||HP Tilt Stylus Pen||14|
|1||Anker Soundbuds Slim+ Bluetooth Headphones||15|
|1||Anker Soundcore Mini Icon Bluetooth Speaker||211|
|1||Anker Powercore+ Mini 3350mAh Battery||84|
|1||Swiftpoint ProPoint 600 Bluetooth Mouse||24|
|3||CHANGED Patriot Supersonic Rage Elite 1TB USB-A 3.0 Flashdrive||30|
|1||CHANGED Mopoint 66W GaN charger (2xUSB-C & 1xUSB-A) w AU, UK & EU adapters & 3g band||163|
|1||Apple Charger USB-A 5W AU||28|
|1||Griffin Power Jolt Car Charger 2x USB-A 5W||12|
|1||Anker Powerline II USB-C 2.0 to USB-C 200cm Cable||54|
|1||CHANGED Mbeat USB-C 2.0 to USB-C 100cm Cable||27|
|1||CHANGED Amzer USB-A 1.0 to USB-Micro 100cm Retractable Cable||20|
|1||TRVL USB-C 3.1 to Lightning 10cm Cable||7|
|1||CHANGED TRVL USB-C 3.1 to USB-C 10cm Cable||9|
|1||CHANGED TRVL USB-C 3.1 to USB-A 10cm Cable||11|
|1||Apple USB-A 2.0 to Lightning 100cm Cable||19|
|1||HDMI 4K female to USB-C male Adapter||10|
|1||USB-A 3.0 female to USB-C male Adapter||7|
|1||USB-C female to USB-Micro male Adapter||3|
|1||USB-C female to USB-A 3.0 male Adapter||4|
|1||USB-C female to Lightning male Adapter||2|
|1||USB-Micro female to USB-C male Adapter||1|
|1||USB-Micro female to Lightning male Adapter||2|
|1||USB-A Charger for SwiftPoint ProPoint 600 Adapter||3|
|1||Sony Anti-static Cloth||14|
|1||Ultimate Ears 600VI Wired Headphones (with Apple Lightning Adapter)||20|
|1||CHANGED WH Smith Pencil Case 2004||56|
|1||CHANGED Sea to Summit Airlite Towel Large||47|
|1||Sea To Summit Ultra Sil Nano Daypack||30|
|1||CHANGED PVC Massage Ball||37|
|EVERY DAY CARRY|
|1||Apple iPhone 8 256GB (150g & case 15g)||165|
|1||Slimfold Micro Soft Shell RFID Wallet||78|
|2||Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Medium Cube (18g ea) for boxers & socks, tees||36|
|2||CHANGED Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Small Cube (14g ea) for cold weather gear, sundries||28|
|1||Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Tube Cube (19g) for shoes||19|
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!