Everything I Own (2017 Update)

Everything I Own (2017 Update)

A year ago I wrote a few blog posts about my belongings; the 18kg of clothing, gear and tech that I consider sufficiently valuable to my life that I carry it wherever I go.

Before I dive in, three things;

I recognise this lifestyle would not suit most people and I’m not ‘selling’ it.
None of my links are affiliate, these are simply products I use myself.

Clothes

On to the gear – starting with my wardrobe (which fits neatly in to a cabin baggage sized case):

That’s 48 items weighing 9.8kg (down from 51 items and 11.4kg last year).

Tees

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I have tried many merino tees over the years; Wool & Prince, Smartwool, Icebreaker, Formal Friday but my favourite (by a margin) is the Ultrafine Merino from Outlier. These things aren’t cheap (and they’ve just increased in price from $98 to $110!) but they are durable, beautifully cut and incredibly soft (in addition to being pure, high performance, ultra fine merino – as opposed to some other merino tees which are a poly mix). Most of my tees are now over two years old and holding up well. I did have to perform a minor fix on one when I dried it after handwashing, rolled it in a towel, stood on it to extract the moisture and unrolled it to find a tear in the bottom seam. Those Home-Ec lessons come good after all. I lost one when it got caught on a door latch and tore irreperably. I haven’t replaced it and probably won’t as I’ve been coping jst fine with the 7.

Hoodies

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I’m still wearing the two Icebreaker Merino Sierra Zip Hoodies I purchased in June 2015. I have yet to find a better hoodie (although admittedly I haven’t really looked). These things are ‘real fleece’ lined which means the wool on the inside is a fleece-y texture. They’re incredibly comfy and very warm despite being so thin that the light shows through them when held up to a window. They roll up beautifully in to the hood and weigh just 445g. The two main pockets are zipped and the internal sewing of the pockets turn them in to usable inside pockets too. The chest zip pocket is remarkably useful in cramped areoplane conditions. I always carry one when flying as they are perfect for the long haul when the temperatures drop. I dislike the branding particularly the grey strip around the inside neck but performance wise they can’t be beat and they’re clearly durable too. Sad to say that Icebreaker have discontinued production – as is often the case with the good stuff.

Shirts

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I have written separately about the wonderful Libertad Merino Travel shirts. They are by far my favourite merino button down shirts. They are lightweight, breathable, quick drying, non iron and best of all, they looks fantastic. Unlike the Wool & Prince Button Downs they don’t get ‘fluffy’ and unlike the Icebreaker Departure shirts they replaced, they look like proper office wear (no frilly shoulders or silly pockets here). Since I do still have an office job and need to convey an air of professionalism these shirts are just perfect for me. I have 3 which have been going strong for 6 months and I love them.

Suit

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For as long as I can remember I’ve worn Brook Taverner suits. I was first attracted to them for their high wool content, crease resistance and the fact that they are machine washable but the truth is I love the cut too. I tend to keep an extra pair of trousers since I wear a suit every work day. I wash the trousers far more than the jacket. If I wasn’t working in an office environment I’d ditch this but right now it’s a necessity. Sadly they only ship to the UK so I have to time any purchases with a trip there.

 

Jeans

 

Never travel with jeans, they say… too heavy, they say… rubbish in the rain and take ages to dry, they say… and they’re right. Unless you’re wearing prAna Bridger Jeans. I swear these things are magic or something. They are 76% cotton, 23% polyester and 2% spandex and they weigh just 465g (a far cry from the ~700g of full cotton jeans). I generally avoid cotton and these are the only cotton items I own but they are hands down the most comfortable jeans I’ve ever worn, even more comfy than the Outlier Slim Dungarees which is really saying something. I sold a pair of my SDs to pay for them and I am very happy with the trade. That said I do still carry a pair of Outlier Slim Dungarees which I still love – perfect for dinner out on humid evenings, and a pair of prAna Brion Pants which are great for hiking. These pants are so much better cut than the prAna Zion Pants that travellers seem to adore so much.

Shorts

 

I had no issues ditching my Outlier New Way Shorts as my Outlier New Way Longs are just fine to swim in and look better on me than the shorts anyway. When the rare opportunity to buy a pair of Outlier Ultralight Crops came along I jumped at the chance and could not be happier. These things are superb for very hot weather, they performed superbly while climbing and hiking in Thailand and Cambodia despite the humidity, they’re great for hikes in the mid summer sun in Sydney and super easy to sink wash and dry overnigt for the next day. Sadly now discontinued.

Boxer Shorts

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Icebreaker Merino Anatomica Boxers (2016)

Icebreaker discontinued my beloved Anatomica Boxers and I was not happy. I complained and they sent me a free pair of the new Icebreaker Merino Anatomica Boxers (2016) (which was pretty good of them really). These were heavier and sturdier (clearly a nod to the fragility of the previous boxers) but having worn boxers that felt like air for so long, the new style felt too restrictive. I shopped around – trying Wool & Prince, Smartwool, Ibex and Macpac merino boxers but none of them came anywhere near even the new Anatomicas. So I pulled the trigger on another 6 pairs to replace my (fast fading) older style. I’ve been wearing the 2016’s for five months now and I quite like them now, I suspect I’ve just forgotten what the originals were like. I dropped a pair (down from 8 to 7 total) mostly so I can fit all my underwear in to an Eagle Creek half cube.

Socks

I’m still wearing the same Outlier Megafine Merino Socks on rotation as I was this time last year, although when two socks developed holes I dropped a pair to bring the numbers in line with the boxers and so I could fit everything in to a single half cube. I have repaired holes in one other sock but on the whole I’m very happy with the durability here after nearly two years. They are actually pretty impressive socks, very comfy, always dry, never stink, breathe well in summer and keep my feet cosy in winter, what more could I ask for? Of course being Outlier they’re pricey at $25 a pair but you do get what you pay for. I also still have my Icebreaker no show socks. I hate the branding but functionally theyr’e great and just 30g per pair.

Jacket

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Arc’Teryx Atom LT Hoody

What was I thinking? A leather jacket weighing 890g and a non insulated raincoat weighing 297. This was not practical, particularly for cold rainy weather. What I needed was that one coat to rule them all. Something weatherproof, insulated, stylish and light… with a hood! Enter the Arc’Teryx Atom LT Hoody. It ticked all the boxes and I got it on sale too. It also packs down almost as small as my previous Marmot Super Mica (which is pretty incredible considering the thermal protection therein). I wore it in temperatures below freezing atop the Minshan and Emeishan mountains in China and it kept me toasty warm. I hate the overt branding (logo to the chest) but on the whole this is a very impressive piece of gear and its purchase shaved 829g off my base weight.

Thermals

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Buffwear Buff

With a January trip to Paris planned I needed to take the thermals seriously, with my new Arc’Teryx Atom LT Hoody it was the rest of me I needed to get covered. First of all I needed a pair of leggings to go under my Prana Bridger Jeans or Outlier SDs. Icebreaker merino would always be my first port of call and these Icebreaker Merino Oasis Leggings delivered the goods. Super comfy, wonderfully breathable and toasty warm. Next up was my Icebreaker ‘chute’ (buff) which was pretty heavy and not very flexible, I swapped that out for a Buffwear Merino Buff at almost half the weight and combined with my Icebreaker gloves, beanie and hoodie I was all set. Hot chocolate at the top of the Eiffel Tower never tasted so good.

Shoes

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Dr Martens 8053 Shoes

No change from last year; my trusty Dr Martens 8053 Shoes are my go-to for almost everything from formals, to daily work, to city trekking. I always wear these when flying (rather than packing) as they are heavy. I tend to wear out the soles quickly but for comfort and flexibility

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Amuri Cloud Xero Sandals

they can’t be beat. For running and hiking I’m still getting a lot of use out of my Nike Free 5.0 Trainers and for beach walking and feeding dolphins on Tangalooma island I’m still happy with my Amuri Cloud Xero Sandals which are a little more practical than standard flip-flops.

The rest

I still carry a single silver tie – my only non black item of clothing, for those actual formal dinners (only one in the last year), and my trusty 16 year old CK belt which I bought in Hawaii because the sales girl flirted with me. Yeah I’m that shallow.

I’m still getting a lot of use out of my Ultralite Packtowl XL and I swapped my Sea to Summit Daypack for a Matador FreeRain 24 which I wrote about in a previous blog.

That little lot (save for my coat and what I wear on the plane) packs down in to 8 Eagle Creek Specter packing cubes:

  • Full Cube = Suit and Shirts
  • Full Cube = Pants, Shorts and Hoodie
  • Half Cube = T-Shirts
  • Half Cube = Boxers and Socks
  • Quarter Cube = Thermals
  • Quarter Cube = The rest
  • Tube Cube = Xero Sandals
  • Tube Cube = Nike Trainers
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Clothes packed in to 8x Eagle Creek Packing Cubes

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48L Samsonite Spark Cabin Bag

My case is a 48l Samsonite Spark Cabin Bag weighing in at 2.5kg, so fully loaded with 7.9Kg of clothes (That’s 9.8kg less what I’m wearing) it’s around 10.4kg.

Interesting to note that 40 of my 48 items of clothing are the same as last year.

Gear and Tech

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Top left = Techbag, Top right = Dopp kit, Bottom = Tortuga Air and contents

Dopp Kit

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Dopp Kit

  • Eagle Creek Specter Washbag (42g)
  • Body Crystal Ammonium Alum Deodorant (138g)
  • Sunscreen SPF 50+ (47g)
  • Antisepctic Cream (16g)
  • Nutrogena Shampoo in 60ml plastic bottle (82g)
  • Toothpaste (47g)
  • Stingose (30g)
  • Hard Muk Hair Fiber in plastic tub (26g)
  • Alfred Lane Solid Cologne Bravado 0.5oz (22g)
  • Colgate Omron Electric Toothbrush Pro Clinical 150 (54g inc batteries)
  • Boots Stainless Steel Tweezers (7g)
  • Seki Edge Stainless Steel Nail Clippers (32g)
  • Philips Norelco Electric Shaver PQ208/40 (128g inc batteries)
  • Hearos Baggie – Hearos (14 pairs) (14g)
  • Spare Boots Saccharin Sweetner (20g)
  • Colgate Omron Heads (x3) (12g)
  • Care Dent Tooth Floss Sticks (x5) (5g)
  • Care Dent Interdental Brushes (x18) (3g)
  • Shaver brush (2g)
  • Spare baggies for liquids at airports (4g)

731g in total. Key differences since last year; I swapped my insanely heavy 130g Oral B toothbrush and 125g charger for the quite brilliant 54g Colgate Omron battery powered toothbrush, I also swapped my razor at the same time and wrote about that here, I ditched the lint roller when it ran out, I reverted back to Colgate toothpaste when my dentist advised that non fluoride toothpaste was a bad idea and I ditched the cotton buds when I was advised they were a bad idea.

Techbag

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Techbag

  • Simple black Pencil Case (53g)
  • Spare Logitech Ultimate Ears Headphones 600VI (18g)
  • Spare Energizer Lithium Ultimate Batteries (56g)
  • USB 2.0 to Micro USB 2.0 30cm Cable (for UE Roll) (12g)
  • Neet HDMI v1.4 to HDMI 100cm Cable (28g)
  • Anazon USB 2.0 to Lightning 10cm Cable (6g)
  • Anker USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter (20g)
  • SATA to USB mini board Adapter (6g)
  • Micro USB (Female) to Mini USB (Male) Adapter (6g)
  • Apple Charger Apple USB OZ (for UE Roll) (28g)
  • Transcend USB 3.1 32Gb Jet Flash 710S + 2x iPhone SIM Extractors (4g)
  • 2x Transcend USB 3.1 64Gb Jet Flash 710S (2x3g)
  • Sandisk SD Card Adapter (Micro to Standard) (1g)
  • Logitech Bluetooth Mouse M337 (74g inc battery)
  • Spare Comply Tx-500 2 pairs and spare UE Clip (2g)
  • Gel Mouse Wrist Rest (65g)
  • Sony Antistatic Cloth (14g)
  • Samsung USB 3.0 A-Male to Micro-B Cable (for Samsung disk) (22g)
  • Sodial Retractable RJ45 100cm Cable (24g)
  • Amzer Retractable USB Micro 100cm Cable (20g)
  • Micro USB (Female) to Apple Lightning (Male) Adapter (1g)
  • Rubber Bands (1g)
  • SD and Micro SD to USB 3.0 Adapter (7g)
  • Kensington PresentAir Bluetooth 4.0 Presenter (25g inc battery)
  • Anker AstroMini 3200mAh 1A output Battery (83g)
  • Griffin Power Jolt Dual USB Car Charger (12g)
  • HDMI to VGA Adapter (10g)

561g in total. Some nice weight loss changes since last year. Firstly the 52g Zevek luggage scale – no longer needed once I’d written this blog and recorded the weight of everything! I ditched the 81g Cyclone Micro Media player as almost all TVs can play video files now anyway (and I play from my laptop via the HDMI cable for those that can’t), I gave away my retractable phono lead as I stream music via bluetooth these days, and I binned the phono splitter as I never used it (sniff). I got rid of the 126g UK Vaio cable and the 46g UK Apple charger. My awesome 21g Stanley 4-way multi screwdriver was confiscated by Sydney security (pointless replacing it) and I ditched the notepad / paper clips as I’m basically paperless now.

Gear

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Gear (stored in the various pockets of the Tortuga most of the time)

  • Sony Laptop Sony Vaio Pro SVP1321C5E i7-4500U, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD (1050g) 9g less than last year due to new fan and heatsink!
  • Kingston SD Card Kingston 512GB SDXC (3g) for backup
  • Samsung Portable HD 4TB 2.5″ USB 3.0 (240g)
  • Sony Laptop Charger Sony VGP-AC10V10 (270g)
  • OSK (Oh Shit Kit) (100g)
  • Business Cards x30 (60g)
  • Slimfold Wallet (With cards and cash etc) (68g)
  • Passport (34g)
  • Baggies (17g)
  • Ray Ban Aviator Sunglasses and Cloth in Ray-Ban Case (82g)
  • Mitsubishi Uniball Micro Blue Pen (11g)
  • Sharpie (9g)
  • Bic Mutifunction 4 Colour Ball Pen (12g)
  • Keys (45g)
  • Amazon USB 2.0 to Lightning 100cm Cable (18g)
  • Ultimate Ears Headphones 600VI (18g)
  • Eagle Creek Specter Quarter Cube (for in flight stuff) (14g)
  • Kleenex Pocket Tissues x9 (23g)
  • Hearos Hearos earplugs in Case (6g)
  • Boots Saccharin Sweetner (20g)
  • EuroSchirm Light Trek Automatic Umbrella 2014 (353g)
  • Ultimate Ears UE Roll Bluetooth Speaker (314g)
  • Apple USB 2.0 Lightning 100cm Cable (18g)
  • Skross Pro Light World Dual USB Travel Adapter (178g)

2963g in total. Big change here is the weighty 178g Skross charger in place of the lightweght 49g Kikkerland. I loved the Kikkerland but the truth is, it didn’t work very well. The design meant it didn’t fit all sockets, and when it did it would hang precariously – particularly with something plugged in, but worst of all was finding that it just plain didn’t work (Italy, UK and even Australia). The Skross, on the other hand, is triple pronged and therefore maintains its ‘socket grip’ well, it also has two USB charging ports which is very useful.

My four year old Sony Vaio Pro laptop is still going strong. I’ve had to replace the fan and heatsink (which failed very noisily), the battery is down to around half original capacity and the processor is slow compared with modern equivalent (it’s a 4th gen i7) but it still gets the job done and it still hasn’t been beaten on weight (except for the Microsoft Surface range which is tempting but would mean a compomise on ports and form factor).

I still use the UE Roll daily (love this little speaker) and my backup drive is the same 4TB Samsung as I carried last year (minus the case which I figured I didn’t need thanks to the pocket system of the Tortuga.

Bag

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My trusty Tortuga Air has seen me on umpteen global trips in the past two and half years and carried my gear to work and back every day to boot. The capacity is 27l but this extends to 35l in a pinch due to a idden zip. The clever laptop compartment at the top keeps my Sony Vaio well protected and easily accessibe for security, and the drop pocket at the top is just a genius idea that I find myself using daily. Considering all it’s been through it’s still standing up remarkably well. It weghts just 1077g so with the 4255g of gear I’m carrying about 5.3kg on my back.

So that’s it – 10.4kg case and 5.4kg backpack when I move. Plenty of opportunity to Onebag light by transferring some clothes to the Tortuga. Not hugely different from last year which makes me think that what I have works pretty well 🙂

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Thanks for reading – hope you found this useful.

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My 100g OSK (Oh Shit Kit)

My 100g OSK (Oh Shit Kit)

When I was about 8 years old my familysunsites took a camping holiday in the South of France. The holiday was run by Sunsites who offered a ‘Magpie Club’ for kids. I remember it being a lot of fun; playing games, sports and earning coloured stickers through completing tasks. The gold and silver stickers were the most sought after and one day we were given a scavenger hunt task. I did not win. In fact I came last as I was unable to locate a tea bag. I earnt no gold or silver stickers that day. This scarred me and from that day forward I carried many of the things on the scavenger list in my pocket just in case. This included a tea bag which would regularly split in my pocket… a small price to pay, I felt.

Of course, over the years, I have managed to let go of most of the crap I used to carry in my deep coat pockets, but there remains a core set of small items (notably first aid related) that have proven remarkably useful over the years. Despite being a minimalist I do not believe in getting rid of things which add value to my life and so I created my ‘Oh Shit! Kit’ (OSK).

osk-closedI carry the OSK with me on a daily basis and the contents are designed to be TSA friendly so even the hyper paranoid security at Sydney (who confiscate TSA approved scissors and screwdrivers) can unclench. My most recent addition to the OSK is the case itself; an Eagle Creek Zip Stash clearly originally intended for cash and coins. It weighs just 16g with the key loop and has three distinct sections for organisation. It’s also water resistant and perfectly sized for the contents.

osk-contentsIn terms of First Aid I carry:

  • 2x Large Elastoplast Plasters 4g – for the elbow and knee grazes
  • 8x Medium Medistrip Plasters 5g – for cuts (most commonly used)
  • 10x Small Butterfly Plasters 4g – for deep cuts (to hold the cut closed)
  • 8x Ibuprofen 5g – my go to pain relief and long haul survival mechanism
  • 8x Paracetemol 5g – for pain relief on an empty stomach
  • 3x Lemsip 15g – surprisingly useful, mostly for other people who are suffering, but three sachets is enough to curb the effects of an oncoming cold

I also carry:

  • Sewing Kit (6x Thread, 4x Needles, 8x Buttons, 5x Safety Pins) 8g – This kit started out as a posh hotel freebie but I replaced the bag with a tiny ziplock and ditched the green and pink thread in favour of black (since I use this the most). I also replaced the needles with three quality needles, added the spare buttons from my suit and shirts, and threw in a few safety pins which do come in (mostly at weddings!)
  • Ultra Slim Stainless Steel Nail Clippers (Zwilling J.A. Henckels) 15g – I actually carry these, not for clipping nails, but in lieu of scissors which aren’t permitted in hand luggage. These clippers do a good job of trimming thread but are also strong enough to cut tags off clothing and I’ve even used them to extract a pair of scissors from the retail card (genius design right there).
  • Stainless Steel Tweezers 8g – Good for removal of splinters, and ticks (although I’ve never had to deal with that thankfully). I have also used these when fixing computers and phones in a pinch.
  • Titanium Pocket Bit 4g – The closest I am going to get to carrying a screwdriver these days but despite the size these things are cleverly designed. The key ring allows a good grip and enables decent torque. I’ve tightened up the screws on chair legs and even dismantled an old laptop with this thing.
  • Chapstick 9g – A remnant of Winter living in the UK but still useful for long haul flights in harsh aircon. I’m toying with replacing this with a small tube of antiseptic cream if I can find the right one.
  • Finally; Interdental brushes and Floss Stick 2g– These are stored in my Dopp kit but since I don’t carry that with me every day and occasionally need the services for that stray bit of spinach I carry spares here too.

So that’s it – TSA approved and 100g on the nose. Don’t leave home without it 😊

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The Ultimate Daypack

The Ultimate Daypack

In my experience the notion of ‘onebag’ is seldom actually a reflection of the number of bags carried by onebag travellers; because most travellers prefer to have a separate daypack for carrying at destinations on a daily basis (touristing / trekking etc).

Generally, these daypacks are around 20 litre capacity – enough for the daily essentials; a hoodie or coat, a bottle of water, a battery backup, sunscreen, basic first aid and maybe some food. Since this is very much a subset of a full travel packing list, using a onebag for this purpose is inefficient and weight wasteful, it also means completely emptying said onebag before it can be used as a daypack. The sensible solution is therefore a separate daypack which must be carried inside the onebag on travel days. Ideally, therefore, the daypack should be as light and small as possible, but remain functional and comfortable.

For thes2s last two years, I have been using the Sea to Summit UtraSil 20L Daypack which is a marvel of efficiency weighing a mere 72g and packing down to something little bigger than a tennis ball. It’s durable, fairly water resistant and spacious and I actually like it a lot.

If I were to criticise the S2S it would be the lack of water bottle pocket (an essential for trekking in hotter countries), the poor bag structure (a symptom of the material) and the uncomfortable straps which have a tendency to slip even when tight. I was also aware after a recent rather rainy trek in the Blue Mountains of Sydney that the ‘water resistant’ claim was not entirely true after my hoodie, which was safely packed away in the S2S, was decidedly damp on the train journey home.

matadorI recently discovered and purchased the Matador Freerain 24; a slightly larger, more expensive but altogether more feature rich daypack. The Matador addresses all of my issues with the S2S. With water bottle pockets on either side I’m spoilt for choice and despite being made from exactly the same Silnylon as the S2S, the Matador offers a much more impressive support and structure with a double layer face and thick but light and breathable shoulder straps.

The waterproof aspect is covered by taped internal seams and a rolltop in lieu of a zip and while the contents would not stay dry if the bag was submerged nothing got wet during my testing in the Sydney March showers (fairly heavy of late). I was also aware that sealing the bag with air inside created a balloon effect which demonstrated how airtight the bag is. The Matador Freerain24 is also black (or black/grey) – as opposed to the garish yellow/red/green/blue options of S2S which is a pretty big win for me and my monochrome simplicity.

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The bottle pocket on the size is brilliantly designed – deep enough for a large bottle (700ml Smart Water bottle in photo) and elasticated at the neck to prevent movement. Even holding the bag upside down the full 700ml water bottle did not shift.

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Fully loaded bag containing the following gear:

Main pocket:

  • 1x Arc’teryx Atom LT Hooded Jacket 358g
  • 1x Icebreaker Sierra Merino Hoodie 450g
  • 1x Packtowl Ultralite XL 104g

Front pocket:

  • 1x Anker AstroMini 3200 mAH Battery Backup 83g
  • 1x iPhone cable 18g
  • 1x Sunscreen 47g
  • 1x Bite cream 30g
  • 1x OSK (Oh Shit Kit containing plasters, painkillers etc) 40g
  • 1x Ray Ban Case & Cloth 50g

TOTAL = 1334g (inc 154g for the Matador)

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L-R: Meds, Sunnies case, Towel, Charger & Cable, Icebreaker Hoody, Matador Bag Arc’teryx Jacket

Of course all of these features come at a price. The Matador Freerain24 is 154g and almost twice the size of the S2S when packed down. It’s also more expensive at $59.99 USD compared to Sea to Summit’s $32.95 but for me, the extra cost and weight is worth it for the functionality (water bottle pocket, taped seams) and particularly the comfort when carrying.

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The Matador Freerain24 It is available now from the Matador website. Matador also offer a slightly cheaper and smaller 16L / 116g daypack for $49.99 but this has been sold out for a while now.

A Simple Life

simpleIt’s very easy to come across as judgemental or even ‘preachy’ when discussing life choices, and of course there is no right answer. For me, a happy life means simplicity and while I recognise that my approach is unlikely to work for you, here’s what works for me:

  1. I live out of hand luggage. I can pack up everything I own in minutes and carry it on to a plane; a grand total of 150 things which together weigh in at less than 20kg. I don’t deprive myself but equally I keep only what I need.
  2. I wear only one colour; black. I don’t have to think about what to wear each day, what to wash or buy. Laundry is a simple single load per week (less if travelling). Everything goes with everything, nothing gets stained, everything looks sharp.
  3. I wear the same clothes. My 7 pairs of socks are the same, my 8 tees are the same my 3 work shirts are the same. Almost everything is merino wool so nothing needs ironing, hang dries quickly and performs superbly whatever the weather.
  4. I live in Hotels or AirBnBs. My furniture, appliances, kitchenware, towels and bedding are all provided. I have no gas, electric, water or internet bills as they are all included. I pay nightly or weekly so I have no commitment.
  5. I don’t have a car. I rely on public transport (Uber when I have to) and generally I walk wherever possible. I love getting out in to nature when the weather is nice – which it usually is in Sydney.
  6. I don’t have debt. I pay off my credit cards every month and I detest shopping. My most expensive possessions are a 3 year old phone and a 4 year old laptop. I’m not rich but what matters is that I don’t need to be.
  7. I spend my money on experiences (almost always travel) and not on stuff. This is an easy decision when buying a new ‘thing’ means adding it to my pack weight, and it means getting to spend some quality time in some very beautiful places.
  8. I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. I’ve seen the impact on all of these on lives of those important to me, and while I try not to pass judgement these days, I don’t want that in my life.
  9. I don’t have a wife or kids. This is not a popular lifestyle choice but it suits me. I have always maintained that choosing to be with a person every day without obligation is far healthier than being forced to stay because of a title.
  10. I truly value time spent with family and friends. Taking myself a world away from everyone I loved was a strange but effective way to come to the stark realisation that relationships and experiences are really all that matter in life.

The greatest shirt ever made?

vidsnip1Way back in September 2015 I discovered a Kickstarter by the name of Libertad. Kyle wanted to make ‘the perfect travel shirt’ with the two guiding principles of ‘style’ and ‘performance’.

As a career man I wear formal shirts to work each day – always black, but despite many attempts to locate the perfect merino shirt I was losing hope. I had sampled the Wool & Prince Black Twill Button Down (far too heavy at 170gsm), the Wool & Prince Solid Black Button Down (still heavy and white buttons? Really?) and eventually landed on the Icebreaker Departure which had a fairly informal cut, awkwardly ‘frilly’ shoulders and a fairly weak structure, but at least it was a longsleeve black merino shirt so no stink, no ironing, quick drying and thermal perfection.

emailThe Libertad shirt was due to ship in January 2016 so I figured I could hold out on Icebreaker until then. Of course, as is common with Kickstarters, the inescapable delays began. While it’s easy as a consumer to get angry as the months roll on I really did feel for Kyle as he constantly kept his core faithful up for date with all the gory details of delays due to the small order size, issues with packaging and crucially issues with the initial weave of material. Eventually – just before Christmas 2016 the emails came that the shirt was about to ship. By then my initial batch of five Icebreaker Departure shirts had all failed and Icebreaker had discontinued them (presumably because of the poor construction). I had scavenged amazon.com and managed to secure three from some US outdoor store’s stockpile at outrageously inflated prices but after a few months even they were on their way out with small seam tears.

img_9938Just before New Years 2016 my Libertad shirt arrived. I’d opted for a Medium ‘tapered’ shirt and the first time I tried it on I was in love (apologies for the less than impressive photo). The cut is fantastic; Outlier make a big deal about their ‘pivot’ sleeves allowing full arm movement in a shirt, the Libertad shirt has a variant of this which is freeing but doesn’t result in bunched up parachutes behind the armpits when arms are not outstretched. The shoulder and chest is spacious but not baggy and the midriff perfectly pulled in a modern tapered cut that still allows room for a pasta lunch (if you know what I mean).

The material is beautiful, it’s 130gsm but feels altogether lighter than the Wool & Prince – in fact it is at 228g compared to the 236g W&P Solid Black (130gsm), 310g W&P Twill (170gsm) and the 256g Icebreaker Departure. It is softer and less itchy than W&P (although admittedly both shirts get significantly less itchy after a couple of washes) but sufficiently solid to maintain shape (unlike the Icebreaker shirt). It breathes beautifully – having tested it in some of the hottest weather Sydney has seen in the last decade, 42 degrees anyone? The weave is so fine that sweat is not wicked as quickly as, say, an Outlier Runweight tee, but this is to be expected from a structured weave necessary for a formal shirt.

cuffThere are some lovely features too – like a separate pen pocket within the chest pocket, a secret internal pocket, double buttons on the cuffs for a more fitted look. It also has a convertible cuff allowing for cufflinks for that altogether more professional look. It washes beautifully – even at home (low temperature – hang dry), requiring no ironing. The same could not be said for either of the W&P shirts.

All in all I would wholeheartedly recommend this shirt for any travelling professional. I have since bought another two and while I’m only a couple of months in to it, I feel like they will last me a good while yet. Libertad Travel shirt – available now for $129.

Paying rent for your stuff

This is the time of year I get to feel very smug about my Onebag lifestyle. I just booked my flights for Christmas. I will be away from Sydney for five weeks and during that time I won’t be paying a cent in rent. In fact the money saved in rent is thousands of dollars and pays for my flight with money left over. Being able to carry my life on my back allows me to live in an AirBnB which means I pay nothing when I’m not there. Of course I’m a good customer so the owner is very happy for me to pick up again when I get back which means I am essentially doing what many others are doing for the holiday season – an expensive flight to see loved ones – but offsetting the cost by not paying rent for my stuff.

Think about it – you go away for Christmas and you pay full-whack rent simply for your less important stuff. All the books, music and clothes you decide aren’t worthy of accompanying you on your trip actually cost you hunderds of dollars more than the stuff you take with you. It would probably be cheaper to put it all in storage and let go of your apartment but then you’d have to renegotiate a contract when you get back, plus pay for storage fees, removals, and all the hassle that goes with it.

You don’t own that stuff. That stuff owns you.

Losing Weight

Following some feedback on my Washbag / Dopp photos I have been exploring ways to reduce some of the weight. The two heaviest items were my electric toothbrush and electric razor – both of which I’ve managed to slim down somewhat.

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On the left is my Oral B Braun Professional Care 1000 rechargeable toothbrush that I’ve been carrying with me since September 2011 (£29.99). It’s an excellent brush – deep clean, with a timer. A bit noisy but I’ve never had any issues with it – very reliable. The brush weighs in at 130g (including the 4g head) and the charger weighs in at 123g (including the 8g black AU adapter). I would also stock up on the Oral B heads when they were cheap resulting in my carrying up to 8 of these 4g heads. I then decided that since 253g was a lot to carry for trips I would buy a separate non electric toothbrush – in this case a Colgate 360 (23g). Tot that up and I’m carrying a total of 308g for my teeth.

Enter the Colgate Omron Pro Clinical 150. I purchased this battery powered toothbrush six weeks ago from Priceline for a mere $20 (about £12). It weighs just 51g (including the 4g head and the two 7g AAA batteries). As always – Energizer Lithium is the way to go with batteries for the lightest weight and longest life. The brush itself is significantly quieter – probably because the head vibrates rather than spins – but the clean is certainly equivalent to the Oral B if not better. I’ve only been using it for six weeks so I guess time will tell but I’m pretty happy with the results. Also since this toothbrush is almost the same weight as my travel toothbrush I don’t mind carrying it on trips – allowing me to ditch the 360, and the heads are sold in packs of two so no risk of carrying too many.

I’ve slimmed down my toothbrush from 308g to 59g (or 276g to 51g without spare heads) and my teeth actually feel cleaner for it.

Next up; the electric razor:

I purchased the battery powered Philips PQ203 in September 2013 from Boots UK for £12. The shave is clean although it can be time consuming – not quite as effective as the three headed razors which weigh a lot more. It’s a neat little device that weighs in at 136g (including the two 15g AA batteries and the 6g cap)

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Happy with the Philips shave (as opposed to the Braun which I generally don’t like), I decided to see what new products they have – sure enough they have an improved travel shaver; the Philips Norelco PQ228 which charges from a USB port in the base. Again with only six weeks on the clock it’s difficult to gauge longevity but the shave is significantly better and the redisign makes the device more ergonomically pleasing 🙂 This weighs in at 114g (including the 6g cap) plus 13g for the USB cable (although I already carry one of these). OK so a drop in total weight of 9g from 136g to 127g isn’t exactly worth writing home about but given the improvement in shave I’d say it was a worthwhile purchase.

It’s also interesting that I moved from rechargeable to battery on the toothbrush but the other way on the razor. I guess my eco credentials remain balanced.

EDIT 02/03/17: Since writing this blog I have ditched the Philips PQ228 shaver. The 8-hr charge for 30-min of use became an imbuggerance – particularly when the thing died mid shave and I had to wait an hour before it would even turn on again. Initially I returned to my trusty Philips PQ203 but for Xmas I treated myself to a newer Philips Norelco PQ208 (AU$24 from eBay) which is, by all accounts, exactly the same as the PQ203 but with ‘self sharpening blades’. In any case I needed new blades which I couldn’t source separately. It also weighs marginally less at 130g (92g for the shaver, 2xAA 30g, Brush 2g, Guard 6g) thus negating 66% of my whopping 9g reduction on the PQ228 anyway.