The Professional Nomad Workbag

IMG_6297In my last post I described my wardrobe and the Samsonite (wheeled) cabin bag that I keep it in. My second bag is a Tortuga Air backpack (1077g) which I use to store my gear and tech. Whereas my wardrobe weighs in at 12Kg the Tortuga generally only weighs half that and has plenty of space left.

So why bother having two bags?

Three reasons:

  1. Optimised Space
    Airlines generally allow a cabin bag and a personal item, with a perfectly sized cabin bag and a mostly empty backpack that fits under the seat in front I can get away with this (most of the time). If I loaded all my gear in to a single bag I almost certainly wouldn’t. In this sense my gear is optimally sized for capacity and air travel
  2. Daily Commute
    The Tortuga is the bag I carry with me to work every day. Even when mostly empty it retains it’s shape and looks good, it’s light (just over 1Kg) and it protects my laptop from the hazards of daily life. I certainly wouldn’t use the wheeled Samsonite as a work bag each day.
  3. Onebag Travel
    My Tortuga is also my Onebag when I travel. I’m a Twobagger only when I’m moving (jobs, homes or countries). When I travel for leisure I’m a bona-fide Onebagger, in fact the term Onebagger is generally used to refer to someone who travels with one bag rather than lives out of one. I blogged about my onebag packing list last year.

So what’s on the gear and tech list:

There’s four key elements:

  1. Washbag (Eagle Creek Specter Washbag bottom right) 985g
  2. TechCell (Sea To Summit Tech Cell bottom left) 787g
  3. GearCell (Black thing on top of the other two) 742g
  4. Other (Stuff in pockets within the Tortuga itself) 2683g

These are compartmentalised this way because I don’t need the Washbag or TechCell for work and I very seldom carry the TechCell for trips.

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Washbag

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From L-R (ish)

  • Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Washbag (Not pictured above) 42g
  • Large baggie (used to hold liquids when going through security) 1g
  • Cotton Buds 7g
  • Alfred Lane Bravado Solid Cologne (awesome stuff) 21g
  • Interdental brushes 5g
  • Floss Sticks 5g
  • Philips PQ203 Electric Shaver (with 2x AA batteries) 130g
  • Antiseptic Savlon Cream 18g
  • EcoDent DailyCare Aniseed ToothPowder (200 brushings) 50g
  • Body Crystal Ammonium Alum Deodorant 139g
  • Stingoze bit cream (Straya) 25g
  • Sunscreen factor 50 (Straya) 48g
  • Hard Muk Hair Fiber (in plastic pot) 34g
  • Mini Lint Roller (for my suit jacket mostly) 15g
  • 20x Spare Hearos Earplugs (awesome earplugs) 20g
  • Oral B Professional Care 1000 Electric Toothbrush 130g
  • Oral B Professional Care 1000 Charger 125g
  • Dr Bronners bottle filled with medicated shampoo 75g
  • Colgate 360 Optic White Platinum Toothbrush with guard 48g
  • 5x Spare Oral B Heads 20g
  • Sewing kit nabbed from hotel room in Singapore 2g
  • Zwilling flat Nail Clippers 15g
  • Philips shaver brush 2g
  • Safety Pin 1g
  • Tweezers 7g

A total of 985g

TechCell

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The first few items are loose in the Tortuga rather than in the cell:

  • Ultimate Ears UE Roll Bluetooth Speaker (one of my greatest ever purchases) 315g
  • Sony Laptop charger cable (UK) 126g
    and Apple iPhone charger (UK) 46g wrapper in Outlier band
  • Zevek Digital Travel Luggage Scale (with CR2032 battery) 52g

A total of 539g

So in terms of the TechCell:

  • Sea To Summit Cable Cell Large 61g
  • Spare Lithium Ultimate batteries (2x AA, 3x AAA, 2x AAAA) 66g
  • 50x Business Cards 96g
  • Apple iPhone Lightning Cable 17g
  • Apple iPhone Charger 28g
  • Transcend Jet Flash 64Gb USB 3.1 Flashdrive (totes legit Movies n TV) 3g
  • Kikkerland UL03-A Universal Travel Adapter 49g
  • Cyclone Micro 4 Media Player (Awesome piece of kit) 63g
    and Cyclone Micro 4 USB charge cable (charges from TV!) 22g
    and Cyclone Micro 4 Remote Control (with 2x AA batteries) 59g
  • HDMI Cable (for use with Cyclone Media Player) 28g
  • Samsung 2.5″ Portable 4TB USB 3.0 Backup Disk 242g
    and Samsung USB 3.0 Cable 22g
  • InSystem Portable HardDisk Soft Case (to protect 4TB Backup) 31g

A total of 787g

GearCell

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  • Black Organiser Cell (purchased in Boots UK a long time ago) 87g
  • VGA to HDMI Adapter (Use this all the time at work) 10g
  • Griffin PowerJolt double USB Car Jack 12g
  • Retractable 3.5mm Phono cable 11g
  • Retractable Amzer Micro USB cable 20g
  • Retractable RJ45 cable 24g
  • Double 3.5mm Phono Adapter to single pin (for sharing tunage) 5g
  • Micro USB to Lightning Adapter 1g
  • Spare Energizer Lithium AA battery (for the mouse) 16g
  • Apple USB Charger (Oz) 28g
  • SATA to USB Mini Board with Adapter 6g
  • Anker RJ45 to USB Adapter 20g
  • Transcend Jet Flash 32Gb USB 3.1 Flashdrive (Windows 10 Installers) 3g
  • Spares Baggie (CR2032 battery, UE clips, iPhone SIM keys) 11g
  • Gorilla Tape in Baggie (Great for fixing anything) 19g
  • Blu Tak (White) in Baggie 12g
  • Safety Pins in Baggie 13g
  • Paper Clips in Baggie 10g
  • Rubber Bands in Baggie 10g
  • Baggies in Baggie (Spares) plus Large Baggies to right 36g
  • Anker AstroMini 3200mAh Battery Backup 83g
  • Sharpie 9g
  • Parker Biro (I prefer ink but biro is good for planes) 15g
  • Stanley 4-way multi screwdriver (comes in handy quite often) 21g
  • Kensington Bluetooth 4.0 SmartPro Presenter (with AAAA battery) 25g
  • 15x Cards (Credit / Airline / Loyalty / Metro) 70g
  • Spare Ultimate Ears 600Vi Headphones 18g
  • 3x Spare Comply Tx-500 Isolation Foam Tips 2g
  • Passport (most important possession!) 34g
  • Moleskine Notebook 36g
  • OSK – Oh Shit Kit (Paracetemol, Ibuprofen, Plasters, Lemsips etc.) 40g
  • Chapstick (a requirement for long haul flights) 9g
  • Boots Sweetner (for tea) 20g
  • Hearos Earplugs (in plastic case) 6g

A total of 742g

Tortuga (and Other)

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  • Sony Vaio Pro SVP1321C5E Laptop (2013) 1059g
  • Spare keys to apartment 17g
  • Keys to UK property 67g
  • Boots Sweetner (for tea) 20g
  • EuroSchirm LightTrek Automatic Umbrella (2014) 353g
  • Sony Vaio Charger block 194g
    and AU Power Cable 78g
  • Security Pass (Work) 35g
  • Logitech M337 Bluetooth Mouse (with AA battery) 74g
  • Gel Wrist Rest 65g
  • Pack Pocket Tissues 23g
  • Ray Ban Aviator Black Sunnies 31g
    and Ray Ban Case and Cloth 51g
  • 2x Transcend Jet Flash 64Gb USB 3.1 Flashdrive 3g each
  • Apple iPhone Lightning Cable 17g
  • 10x ClearWipe Phone Cleaning Wipes 10g
  • Sony Vaio Antistatic Cleaning Cloth 14g
  • 3x Uniball Micro Pen (Black, Blue, Red) 10g each

A total of 2079g

With the Tortuga itself weighing in at 1077g the bag fully laden tips the scales at 6274g.

Many of the items listed above are worthy of a lengthier explanation but I will save that for future posts.

Suddenly realising that even a minimalist has to tidy up before he can go to bed… priceless.

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The Professional Nomad Wardrobe

I’ve spoken before about Monochrome Simplicity, every item of clothing I own is black. I take it one step further – each item is the same brand (mostly Outlier or Icebreaker). There are some exceptions to this rule but essentially this simplifies life further for me (in terms of what to buy / wear / wash). I own 51 items of clothing, and they all fit in to one cabin luggage sized bag (which simplifies moving). Here’s the list:

Weighing a total of 11.432Kg. And here’s what that little lot looks like (save for what I was wearing):

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Bottom right are:

  • Ultralite Packtowl XL 104g
  • Sea To Summit Ultrasil Daypack 72g
  • Sea To Summit Utrasil Duffel Bag 78g
  • Expandable Coat Hanger 29g
  • Etihad Mesh Sack (used for storing washing on the go) 28g

I am a big fan of Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cubes for keeping things organised and I use them for all of my clothes. Here’s what they look like cubed:

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In the photo are:

  • 4x Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Full 28g each
  • 2x Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Half 18g each
  • 2x Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Quarter 14g each
  • 2x Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Tube 19g each

So for the weight watchers among you that’s 214g of organisation – but then some packing cubes weigh that much on their own!

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And packed:

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The bag is a 48L Samsonite Spark Cabin Bag (55cm x 40cm x 20cm) weighing 2.5Kg. All packed the bag weighed in at 12Kg on the nose, which means I was wearing about 2Kg of clothing (including the 1.2Kg Dr Martens – always wear the heaviest items :).

I will be explaining my clothing choices in my next post – although many of these are covered in my Onebag Packing List 2015

I am a one-bagger when I travel, but I live out of two bags. My Tortuga Air backpack (also my travel bag) is normally home to my tech and my gear; a topic for another post.

The Homeless Professional Nomad

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I don’t have a ‘home’ per se, rather I like to think that I have multiple homes across the planet. My life fits in to a bag (or rather two small bags) and I go where I need to be. I consider myself a Professional Nomad (as opposed to a Digital Nomad) because I am a consultant and I tend to work on client sites. This can mean different client sites each day – travelling regularly, or it can mean long terms contracts with the same client – travelling less.

Digital Nomads make their living on the go using their laptop and internet connection. This is the ultimate freedom since DNs can work literally anywhere but it comes at a price:

  • isolation and self starting (not working as part of a team)
  • small-scale projects (less likely to work on a large and complex project) and
  • financial uncertainty (unsure where the next chuck of income will come from).

The upside is being able to choose where you work and live and changing that at the drop of a hat.

As a Professional Nomad I have much greater certainty over my income and I get to work on some fantastic large-scale complex projects. The lifestyle also lends itself well to my particular skillset which is Engineering. I still get to travel (since I’m not tied to a single ‘home’ location) and the gaps in contracts still allow for a much greater amount of time for personal travel.

Living like this relies on;

  • Travelling Light (being able to quickly pack up and go)
  • Renting Furnished (AirBnB / hotel or serviced accommodation)
  • Being Flexible (working around client deadlines / locations)
  • Having Funds (for those unforseen emergencies)

The internet, portable technology and cheaper flights have made the world a smaller place, so being away from those you love is no longer the major deal it once was. I make the effort to fly back to see my immediate family as regularly as I can, and I try to take in a new city on the way there and back each time too.

One of the questions I get asked a lot is how do I live permanently out of just two bags. I have decided to answer this question over a series of posts detailing what I carry with me and why:

The Professional Nomad Wardrobe

The Professional Nomad Workbag

My EDC

Onebag Packing List 2015

gear-header

Onebagging means traveling light, packing easily and quickly, breezing through airport security, never having to wait for luggage (or the dreaded lost luggage), being mobile at all times and changing plans at the last minute without having to plan ahead for a case drop or locker, peace of mind of knowing where everything is and having it to hand if you need it, and generally having a happier, lighter, easier time on your trip. I’ve been a Onebagger for many years and having just returned from a Onebag trip round the UK for a month, here’s what I carried.

Backpack

My bag is the Tortuga Air Carry On Backpack (1077g).

IMG_1718My fully packed Tortuga Air waiting to board at Sydney Airport.

I use this bag as my daily backpack for work and for commuting to Melbourne (which I used to do weekly). The compression straps on the side mean that it can be used almost empty and still look good.

The Tortuga Air is the lightweight brother of the Tortuga Backpack, designed to fit perfectly within the size limitations imposed by airlines whilst maximising carry on space. Normal capacity is 27L which may seem on the low side for a month but if you pack sensibly it absolutely isn’t.

The bag features a hidden zip which expands the capacity to 35L, I didn’t use this feature once while traveling but it was great to know I could carry more stuff if I had to. The full specs are here but my primary reasons for selecting this bag were;

  • Lightweight (just over 1kg);
  • Clamshell style opening for easy access on the go;
  • Easy access, well padded dedicated laptop compartment (on the back);
  • Easy access top compartment;
  • Water bottle pocket;
  • Excellent padding on the straps; and
  • Expansion from 27L capacity to 35L via a hidden zip.

Airport security was so much easier with a top pocket to empty pockets in to and easy access to the laptop, I kept my liquids at the top of the front pocket too. The bag straps are very comfortable and, while there are no hips straps, the sternum strap does a remarkable job of spreading the load and taking the weight off the shoulders. It helps to pack correctly too – Tortuga offer some excellent advice here.

Clothes


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My Carry-on clothes (clothes I was wearing are not pictured)

Monochrome simplicity at its best – yes I only wear black.

[1] – 5x Outlier Pure Ultrafine Merino Tee (180g)* These tees are voodoo magic or something. I have raved about the benefits of merino previously but these are the softest merino tees I have ever worn (and I have tried many). They weigh slightly more than the Icebreaker Tech Tee but they drape beautifully and feel so amazing they’re worth the extra 55g.
[2] – 7x Icebreaker Merino Anatomica Boxer Briefs (52g)* It has taken many years and many attempts but I have finally found the perfect boxer briefs, they fit perfectly, perform brilliantly, and weigh just 52g per pair. Like all the greatest clothing, they’re merino wool and, unlike the ExOfficio range, they’re anatomically forgiving (!). They also manage moisture far better than Uniqlo Airism and are incredibly durable when compared with Uniqlo Tencel.
[3] – 7x Icebreaker Merino Lifestyle Ultralight Crew Socks (46g)* As an Icebreaker fan these seemed a sensible choice. All the benefits of merino in a dress style sock suitable for use at work and at play. The fit is good and the performance is excellent but these socks have been prone to pilling which is a shame. It may be a reflection of the pounding they receive as I do walk a lot but I am currently on the lookout for alternatives and may be turning to Outlier’s Megafine Merino socks soon
[4] – 1x Icebreaker Merino Sierra Plus Hoodie (465g) Despite being about half the thickness of a cotton hoodie this piece of merino tech clothing manages temperature like nothing I have ever owned. I have worn it in the midday sun at Uluru and the depths of winter in Copenhagen and on both occasions felt comfortable and isolated from the temperatures. It is a beautifully considered top with zipped pockets and an extra zip compartment to the left chest and two internal pockets. It packs down (rolls) remarkably well showing little or no creasing and it dries quickly compared to cotton. Very happy with this.
[5] – 1x Outlier Slim Dungarees (415g) Outlier pitch these dungarees as a ’21st century jean – tough and casual’. For my part I was looking for a lightweight jean replacement that would be comfortable for travel without looking like travel clothing. In the end I couldn’t have been more happy with my purchase. The fit is excellent, the material is very strong but still breathable and comfortable. They wash incredibly well and dry in a fraction of the time jeans take. All in all the perfect travel pant. They are fairly expensive though.
[np] – 1x Crosshatch New Techno Jeans (687g)* Yes I know, the age old Jeans debate, they’re heavy and take forever to dry but they are durable and barely need washing. I also think they look good and despite owning Outlier’s SDs I’m not a denim hating convert yet. These jeans are actually 60% cotton and 40% poly which make them marginally lighter and significantly quick to dry than normal jeans.
[np] – 1x CK Plain Leather Belt (109g)* The oldest piece of kit I own – purchased in Hawaii in 2001 because the very attractive sales assistant was flirting with me. But yeah – it’s just a belt.
[np] – 1x LLD Soft Black Leather Jacket (890g)* My luxury item, who would travel Onebag with a leather jacket? Well rules are made to be broken. I like it and I don’t mind carrying it so ner.
[np] – 1x Dr Martens 8053 Shoe (1288g)* Travel shoes are hotly debated. Personally I favour the ‘one shoe to rule them all’ approach and for me, these are they. Formal enough for work and weddings, comfortable enough for commuting and running for connections, rugged enough for trekking and climbing, environmentally capable enough for -20 to +40. What’s not to like? Definitely go for the ones made in the UK though, they are significantly better!

In total this little lot weighed in at 5440g but by following the standard rule of wearing the heaviest items* (in this case the shoes, jacket and jeans) I ended up wearing 3252g of clothing and carrying 2188g.

The quantities are based around a washing schedule; unlike many Onebaggers I don’t like to want to waste chunks of my trip doing laundry (either at a laundromat or nightly in hotel rooms). Being merino, the boxers and socks are good for two days at least (actually longer but two days is acceptable to the SO), the merino tees are good for three days at least and jeans are good for a week at least (although again – much longer in reality). So this gives me 14 days of underwear, 15 days of tees and 14 days of jeans. In essence I can go away for the best part of a month and get away with just one wash mid way. I actually did two washes this trip but only because the facilities were available.

Formal Clothes

Normally I wouldn’t be carrying  formal clothes on a jolly, but on this trip I was best man at my buddy Simon’s wedding. I was fully prepared to use my extra 7L Tortuga expansion allowance for this little lot but in the end I didn’t need to.

IMG_2853-tag2Formal clothing (required for a wedding)

[1&2] – 1x Brook Taverner Slim Fit Cassino Suit (958g) I wear a suit for work most of the time, the challenge has always been finding a suit that performs well as a travel suit and looks good in the boardroom. Brook Taverner have excelled here, the Cassino (and the Avalino before it) are machine washable – which makes a huge saving in the money and simplicity stakes, and they are crease resistant so can be worn straight from being folded in a bag. Moreover with 44% wool content they look great and are remarkably comfortable in all weather (even the Sydney summer sun). They’re not too cheap retail but they almost always have a 50% sale on.
[3] – 1x M&S Pure Cotton Formal Shirt (227g) I’m holding out for Wool & Prince forthcoming black merino button down shirt which I suspect will soon become my goto shirt forevermore. However, for now there are no decent black merino shirts so cotton will have to do. I did try the Icebreaker Seeker Shirt but it just hangs like a sack and is not at all suitable to be worn with a suit. I have to give a nod to Formal Friday who do make awesome shirts but their Charcoal shirt which looks so great on the website just wasn’t black enough for me.
[4] – 1x Pure Silk Tie (60g) No tech here but if you’re going to a wedding go for a silk tie over a poly one, even if you toss it afterwards.

So 1245g of formal clothes in total, not inconsiderable considering this was only worn for one day of the trip but totally worth it; a truly brilliant day.

Washbag

IMG_2856-tagEagle Creek Washbag and contents

I try to keep a generic washbag ready at all times for trips – I also try to keep it as light as possible – currently 707g.

[1] – Lint roller (24g) Required for suit!
[2] – Alfred Lane Bravado Solid Cologne (23g) Recent discovery and brilliant stuff – one teeny tiny dab and you smell great for the day. Love the smell too, as does the SO.
[3] – Muk Styling Mud in tub (36g) This is a water based styling product that smells great and holds incredibly well. It’s available in 85g tubs but to save weight I transferred to a smaller (more durable) plastic tub.
[4] – Dr Bronner Pure Castille Soap (60g) Most Onebaggers use Dr Bronners. It’s the ultimate cleaner – good for hair, body, clothes, dishes, even teeth (if you’re brave). It’s entirely natural and a few drops go a very long way.
[5] – Savlon Antiseptic Cream 15g (18g) Antiseptic cream is a necessity but finding the ultra small 15g tubes is tricky. As far as I can tell they’re only available in the UK.
[6] – Colgate Toothpaste (86g) There are more lightweight alternatives (like tabs) but I prefer toothpaste.
[7] – Borghese Hand Lotion (11g) I got given this on Thai Airways flight. A teeny tiny bottle that’s remarkably good at preventing dry hands on long haul flights.
[8] – Panasonic EW-DS90K Electronic Toothbrush (41g) By far the lightest electronic toothbrush I could find. Requires just one AAA battery. I use Energizer Lithium batteries which last much longer and weigh less than Alkaline.
[9] – Chapstick (9g) Generic and cheap but required for long haul flights
[10] – Oral B Satin Tape Floss (15g) I prefer tape floss over normal anyday.
[11] – Philips PQ203/17 Micro + 2HD Travel Shaver (130g) & brush (2g) I prefer the convenience and speed of electric shaving over wet shaving – and I’m willing to lug the extra few grams involved. The shaver takes two AAA batteries which are Energizer Lithium batteries.
[12] – Seki Edge Nail Clippers (32g) By far the most effective nail clippers I have ever used, they cut through anything like butter and it’s good to have something that can be used in lieu of scissors when traveling.
[13] – Tweezers (7g)
[14] – Spare Hearos Earplugs 5x pairs (4g) These really are Hero’s! The most effective earplug by a long way (assuming you fit them correctly) and incredibly comfortable.
[15] – Body Crystal Mineral Salts Deodorant (138g) Yeah this is a bit tree-hugging hippie crap but it is remarkably effective at controlling the stink. The mineral salts are actively anti-bacterial which kills the source of BO, it leaves no residue (important for blacks!) has no smell, and crucially lasts forever (well certainly more than a year!)
[16] – Swisspers Q-Tips (4g)
[17] – Lifeventure Unbreakable Travel Mirror (24g) I actually carry this mostly as a holder for the Tweezers and Nail Clippers. I don’t recall using it as a mirror in a while.
[18] – Eagle Creek Specter Pack-It Quick Trip Washbag (43g) Super lightweight washbag which I am very happy with on the whole (although it does get a bit wet in steamy shower rooms)

Tech

sony-vaio-pro-svp13213-spec2sSony Vaio Pro SVP1321C5E Laptop

[1] – Sony Vaio Pro SVP1321C5E Laptop (1059g) I purchased this machine in June 2013 and over two years later nothing has come close to rivaling its specs. The processor is a 4th gen Core i7 (1.8GHz), it sports 8Gb DDR-3 RAM and an incredibly fast 512Gb SSD (which is where most competitors fall short), the super bright full HD 13.3″ display is touchscreen, battery life is around 7hrs and it tips the scales at a smidge over a kilo. It is a solid performer and it looks fantastic, I have received many compliments during presentations over the years. On the downside it doesn’t have an Ethernet or VGA port which means carrying two adapters most of the time (from USB 3.0 and HDMI respectively), but this is a small price to pay for such a capable piece of kit. It recently handled the upgrade to Windows 10 without issue too.

IMG_2859-tagTech bag and geeky gear

My tech bag (819g) is also fairly generic and lightweight although I do swap out a couple of bits for daily use.

[1] – Sodial Retractable RJ45 Ethernet Cable 1m (23g) This and the USB 3.0 / Ethernet adapter are required to repair the family’s routers as I tour the country
[2] – Amzer Retractable Micro USB Cable 1m (20g) with Mini USB Adapter (6g) and Lighting USB Adapter (1g) This is a lightweight way of bringing three cables – especially since I never need them all the same time
[3] – Sodial Retractable 3.5mm Phono Cable 80cm (11g) Good for playing tunes from the iPhone which I tend to do using other folks’ (heavy) speakers
[4] – Splitter 3.5mm Phono (5g) Excellent for sharing tuneage – although the SO wasn’t with me this trip so could have saved 5g there…
[5] – TX-500 Comply Foam Buds, Elacin ER20S Musician Earplugs, Spare Headphone Clip (8g) The Elacin’s are great for avoiding tinnitus after gigs, the spare Comply Foam buds are necessary as they do fail.
[6] – Spare Ultimate Ears 600VI Noise Isolating Headphones (18g) Music is very important to me and the prospect of being without it because the kit has failed is not acceptable. Onebaggers don’t allow for redundancy often but 18g is a small price to pay.
[7] – Ultra slim HDMI Cable 1m (27g) This was the lightest HDMI cable I could find although the search continues…
[8] – Apple Lightning Cable 1m (17g) I have an iPhone, so this is a must.
[9] – Apple USB Charger (Aus) (28g) The lightest charger block, works well with the Kikkerland for global charging
[10] – Sony VGP-AC10V10 Laptop Charger (Aus) (289g) Man I wish there was a lighter solution, but again it works well with the Kikkerland and has a USB charging point too
[11] – Sony Anti-Static Cloth (14g) Essential for a touchscreen laptop, good for wiping sunnies too
[12] – Kikkerland UL03A Travel Adapter (49g) Brilliant piece of kit this – the lightest universal travel adapter. However – no good if all you are converting *from* UK socket to ROW
[13] – Microsoft Business 5000 Bluetooth Mouse (80g) I have had this mouse for a long time. It’s good but I’m sure there are better smaller solutions – currently looking at the Microsoft Bluetooth Designer Mouse
[14] – 2x Transcend USB 3.0 Flash Drive 32Gb (8g each) The fastest USB 3.0 drives I have used – and cheap too.
[15] – Anker AstroMini 3200 Portable Battery Backup (83g) Very useful piece of kit for long days of photography (given that I use my iPhone as my camera). This came in very handy at the wedding!
[16] – Anker RJ45 to USB 3.0 Adapter (20g) Lightweight. Cheap. Works well. Bosh.
[17] – Griffin Power Jolt Dual USB in car charger (12g) Teeny tiny double USB charger for car charging ports. Excellent for road trips (although not so easy to get out of the car socket)
[18] – Generic Tech Bag (92g) This is actually fairly heavy for a tech bag, I am currently looking for a lighter alternative

Personal

IMG_2861-tagPersonal bag and contents

My personal bag (435g) is the one I keep with me at all times – it sits next to me on planes and it’s always at the top of my bag for easy access.

[1] – Soap2Go Anti-Bacterial handspray (12g) This is the lightest variant I could find of this product.
[2] – “Oh Shit Kit” (35g) containing plasters, 3x Lemsips, painkillers and other useful medication.
[3] – Hearos Earplugs in plastic case (5g) See above for my love of Hearos.
[4] – Boots Saccharin Sweetner 1000 (20g) Teeny tiny, lightweight and fantastic for sweet tea.
[5] – Moleskine Mini Notebook (37g) Despite being almost 100% digital there are times when only paper will do.
[6] – Passport (35g)
[7] – 2x Uniball Pens (10g each), 1x Biro (6g) I prefer ink pens but sometimes a biro is necessary (credit cards etc).
[8] – Keys (92g) Assorted keys to the various houses I would be staying in (folks are so trusting!)
[9] – Pocket Tissues (23g)
[10] – Baggie of baggies (16g) It is surprising how often baggies come in – good for keeping coins together, storing smaller tech like headphones and adapters, and keeping cuff-links together when you get the as a surprise gift for being a best man.
[11] – Baggie of rubber bands and paper clips (8g) I seem to find a use for rubber bands and safety clips on every trip.
[12] – Business cards, credit cards and travel cards (35g)
[13] – Cash UK Pounds (4g) Weighing currency and wondering what the hell you’re doing…
[14] – Silnylon Travel Bag with loads of pockets (87g)

Other stuff

I also carried with me (mostly on my person):

[1] – Sea to Summit Ultrasil Packable Daypack (73g) An incredible piece of tech, a usable 20l daypack that is water resistant and packs down to something no larger than a juggling ball. Brilliant. Sea To Summit recently ‘upgraded’ this bag to a larger 98g version which I like a lot less.
[2] – Basic Grey Case for Sunnies (42g) and Sunnies (26g) Just cheap ones because they get scratched so easily
[3] – Ultimate Ears 600VI Noise Isolating Headphones (18g) These are the most robust quality earbuds I have ever used. They are significantly better sound quality than Sennheiser or those truly awful Beats cans. They have an inline remote for volume and playback control, they also use foam buds which are so much more comfortable than rubber.
[4] – 2x Eagle Creek Silnylon Packing Cube (Half) (18g each) I am a recent convert to packing cubes, whilst I have always been a compartmentalised packer I previously opted for clear plastic bags reasoning that they weighed so little it was a more effective solution for the ultralight packer. However I recently discovered Eagle Creek’s Specter range of silnylon ripstop cubes which are incredibly strong, retain their shape for packing ease and weigh next to nothing. I used two of these – one for tees and the other for underwear & socks.
[5] – Slimfold Micro Soft Shell Wallet (18g empty / 60g full) This is a brilliant minimalist wallet. It easily fits notes and up to 8 cards. It isn’t quite big enough for UK notes but doesn’t struggle with Aussie notes. Prior to the Soft Shell I had a Tyvek wallet which was also super durable but showed it’s age fairly quickly. After 6 months the Soft Shell looks as good as new.
[6] – iPhone 6 128Gb (129g) No I’m not an Apple fan but they do make the best phones. This one stores all my music and replaces so many pieces of kit I used to carry. It is my communication center, camera, calendar, contacts list and calculator… and that’s just the c-words.

IMG_2850-crop4x Outlier tees packed in to one cube and the 6x Icebreaker boxer briefs and 6x Icebreaker socks in the other.
Oulier Slim Dungarees and Icebreaker hoodie to the right.

IMG_2854Tortuga Air with suit, shirt and tie in the left section and 2x packing cubes
Oulier Slim Dungarees and Icebreaker hoodie in the right.

IMG_2862Tortuga Air with clothes in the main compartment and 3x smaller bags
(Tech Bag, Washbag and Personal Bag) in the front compartment.

IMG_2864Tortuga Air fully packed bag ready to go. Total weight 7700g with plenty of room to spare.

Monochrome Simplicity

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“Black isn’t even a colour”

I have worn exclusively black for the last fifteen years now – possibly longer, I don’t really remember when I started I just gradually gravitated towards it. I don’t wear black because I’m a goth, I don’t wear black because I think it’s slimming, I’m not trying to make a fashion statement or attract attention. I wear black because it’s simple.

I have very few clothes but everything I own is black. When I buy clothes I don’t spend ages looking at or deciding over which colour I want. When I do washing I don’t have to worry about doing separate loads and each morning I save myself valuable minutes by not having to decide what to wear.

My simplicity goes further; I have only one brand of each item. All of my (7) tees are Outlier, both of my hoodies are Icebreaker, all of my (7) boxer shorts and (7) socks are Icebreaker, all of my (5) shirts are M&S (but waiting to upgrade to Wool & Prince) and both of my suits are Brook Taverner.

When I pair up my socks I don’t have to engage brain. When I shop I know exactly what product I’m buying because it’s generally a like for like replacement. When I hang stuff in my wardrobe I don’t have to think about where it goes.

But this is simple day to day too. Black does not show dirt or change colour with rain or heat (sweat patches). Black can handle most stains and even the worse kind (such as ink) are not an issue. Black looks great at any occasion from the boardroom to the beach (yes that’s me in the boardroom and on the beach) and all occasions in between including weddings and funerals (!).

Acmena-180DSCF1371I believe that life is complex enough and we should seek opportunities to simplify it. Wearing exclusively black is a step too far for many but it works for me and has done for a great many years now.

My love of black is not the origin of the name ‘Blackshine’. This comes from the band Radiator  who had a hit with the track ‘Black Shine’ in 1999. I used to run a website dedicated to their awesomeness and stuck with it when the split.

The Benefits of Merino Wool.

icebreaker-merino-sheep

Let me just take a minute to tell you why merino wool is the greatest material known to man. If you have ever read another blog related to travel you will likely have read the list that follows many times before, but to my mind this simply reinforces the fact that merino wool is *the* greatest material for travel and for clothes in general.

Naturally Anti-Bacterial

Merino wool is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-odour meaning it can be worn for days without washing, this is particularly relevant when traveling since it essentially unlocks the most effective way to reduce your pack; wear clothes longer and carry less. For my part I wear my merino clothing for at least twice as long as I would cotton – and therefore carry (and own) half of what I used to.

Temperature Control

Merino wool is excellent at regulating temperature, staying cool in summer and warm in winter; living in Sydney we do have some very warm months and having temperature control where it counts is very important! Likewise the benefit of merino in colder climes is immediate and merino layers that are thinner than cotton can be significantly warmer.

Comfort

Merino wool is breathable and excellent at wicking moisture making it comfortable all year round; superfine merino is very soft and comfortable to the skin, not itchy like regular wool, it feels immediately warm to the touch even when cold – unlike cotton, it is also naturally anti-static which means it attracts less fluff on the move.

Strong

Merino wool is resilient and strong, demonstrated to be around 6x stronger and more durable than cotton, mostly down to the ‘bouncy’ nature of the wool fibers which can be bent 20,000 times without breaking – as opposed to cotton which breaks after around 3,200 bends;

Efficient

Merino wool dries incredibly quickly from the wash and never needs ironing – retaining it’s shape with the natural bounce of the material; it is also a very lightweight material which packs down remarkably well. It’s naturally fire retardant too which is good to know.

Cheap

No. That last one is a lie. This is the downside to merino wool – it isn’t cheap to buy ethically sourced merino wool. It is important to know where your merino comes from because there have been some awful corners cut in the sourcing of merino wool in the past (google ‘mulesing’… but be warned it isn’t pretty).