- Buyer's Guide
Packing List: My One-Week Work Trip
Two weeks ago, I set sneaker across gangway, stepping into the hulking belly of a red-tailed Qantas 747 headed for the US of A. My driving force: a one-week work trip. First stop on the itinerary, the sunny Bohemian streets of San Francisco, then onto the mountain-fringed Salt Lake City for the Gear Mecca that is Outdoor Retailer.
I packed light. Keeping things stripped back to my essentials. In doing so, I shirked the burden that is overpacking and superfluous luggage. And I thought it’d be cool to run through my travel gear, dig down into my essentials and dish up some handy tips I’ve gleaned along my travels.
A small disclaimer: in no way am I a One Bag Zen Master; nor am I a schlepper. Let's just say I know some stuff that might be helpful. ;)
My Carry-On of Choice
Of course I rode with this year's Carry Awards winner: the Alchemy Equipment AEL008 Carry On. I won't go into too much detail, because we have an in-depth review on the way, but the AEL008 was epic. A sleek, functional bit of kit with, for me, the perfect array of pocketing. It also offered 3-way carry options. A pleasure to travel with and a standout among the generic travel fodder that squeaked and lurched from every corner.
Another fav: the GORUCK GR2.
The carry industry is a casual bunch. Sneakers and collared shirts are the status quo. So if you’re more formally inclined, I’d add more collared shirts and maybe a sweet blazer to the below.
"Tip: Invest in lightweight and breathable. Things like Merino and some performance synthetics a) breath, reducing odor, b) are washed less, c) dry quickly.
"Tip: Consolidate your garb. Pack muted colours that match. Keep the Hawaiian shirt at home. Think black, blue and greys."
And before moving on, I’ll get it out of the way: I have a brand crush on Outlier. There, I said it! Those dudes really own this space.
These t-shirts tick a slew of boxes. Woven from 17.5 micron yarn, they were beautiful to wear and to touch (really, I’ve lost who-knows-how-much-time kneading these bad boys between my fingers).
They’re crazy versatile and tailored with soft drape, which means they look great with shorts or jeans, but can be dressed up with a blazer or nice shoes when the evening calls.
And given that they’re Merino – fast wicking, naturally cooling and antimicrobial – they kept me cool in the heat, insulated me in the cool, and wore more between washes.
My slightly cheaper option (buying Merino really adds up!). This Tee is a lightweight blend of Merino, cellulose and polyester, and did most of the above with a workman-like attitude. Not as nice on the skin and the eyes, but certainly nicer on my wallet.
"Tips: Choose tailored fits and subtle branding. That way you can flex from tourist-y endeavors to meetings. And of course, pack less.
For this trip, I only went with the one collar – risky, I know!
This cotton, linen and ramie blend was a breeze in the heat. Light and dry like a linen but washed up like a cotton. And like its name, it pivots like a champ. It was awesome with shorts for long days out and about and dressed up sweetly when dinner gigs called.
Another versatile offering. I love the idea of shorts tailored like dress pants and made to wear like boardshorts! These New Ways, although lightweight and breezy, had enough structure and fine lines to look good in the evening, whilst being durable enough for my travel, press junkets and day hikes in SLC’s Wasatch Mountains.
A big plus, they’re “water-ready” too. Kitted out with flow through pockets, a drawstring waist with mil-spec paracord, and finished with a water-repellent treatment, they dried quickly and were awesome for a quick dip in the hotel pool.
"Tip: Oh multi-function! A shirt that can be hiked and dined with = one less shirt to pack."
Once I’d discovered the fizzy appeal of tailored shorts with board-y characteristics, I stumbled across the All Days. Again, slightly cheaper, this time with a vintage, sun-kissed look. They looked a little worn for when I needed my slickest A-game, but as a day-to-day, they were rad. Some of the perks: they’re super quick-dry, odor repellent and are made from eco-friendly and ethically sourced recycled polyester.
1 x Slim Dungarees
These are the chameleon of pants. They look like jeans from afar, but on closer inspection they’re like a tight-fitting, stretchy slack. You can wear these all day, everyday because they’re designed to breathe, and much like Outlier’s Merino Ts, they’re super-versatile, flexing from casual to more fashion-ready environs with the addition of slicker shoes and a buttoned-up shirt.
They’re also pimped with a "self-cleaning" NanoSphere®, giving them a nice resistance to water, coffee, wine and dirt (which came in handy) and the ability to quick-dry overnight.
This shell is not only like its kin above: lightweight, quick-dry, aesthetically dynamic, but to boost its appeal it packs into a rear pocket, and can be carried around like a mini shoulder bag, good for holding small things like sunglasses and such. Genius!
"Tip: Check with the Weather Gods pre-trip. Abnormal cold snaps or heatwaves can sizzle a trip quick smart."
"Tip: Points for protection. If fabrics have protective coatings, it’s a big plus. If an errant spill can bauble on the surface instead of stain, that’s one saved trip to the dry cleaner."
ExOfficio are known worldwide as the “traveller’s underwear”. Tim Ferris recommends them, so do a large chunk of the One Bagger community.
“17 countries, 6 weeks, 1 pair of underwear (okay, maybe two)” is their tagline (I rolled with three).
Super comfy, made with ultralight mesh, they’re breathable and quick-drying – again, perfect for washing in the hotel sink – and antimicrobial, making sure I stayed odor-free.
Like many, I was formerly a print idealist. But 3 years gone, my girlfriend gifted me a Kindle and it’s still my favorite gift! It holds something like 1000 books, has a battery that lasts for weeks, it’s super-slim, super-light, and if you run out of books (what?) you can just track down a wi-fi and download MORE! Enough said. A must for me when I’m blowing time in transit.
"Tip: Forget ‘what if’ scenarios. Buy for the unexpected when it comes."
Ray-Ban Highstreets (6039/71)
Sometimes you just can’t beat the original. There’s a ton of new and awesome sunglass brands out there, but I’m a purist when it comes to eyewear. Timeless. Classic. Black. Ray-Bans. Enough said.
When I travel I always rock The Owl (it’s pretty much in my contract, ha!) . It’s long-ish, no denying that. But when you can keep your cash, cards, boarding pass, customs form, pen and your passport all in the one place, it makes up for it – a breeze to travel with.
Every phone needs a little protection. But add a card slot, and in some situations it takes away the need for your wallet. In my case, this rang true when out for dinner. The wallet stayed in the hotel, and my phone and Amex tagged along for the ride. Easy.
"Tip: Unlock and go SIM. Foreign SIM cards are cheap and effective and way better than going global roaming!"
Compartmentalising is a long word. In short, you can find stuff easier. I used these bomber pouches to store my tangle of cords and chargers, and my pens and toiletries and business cards. I highly recommend. There’s other lighter and great options out there, but GORUCK’s my choice.
"Tip: Pouch it. In no time your bag can look like it’s been turned over by a team of overzealous narcs. With packing cubes, you can keep things sorted and neat and together."
I used this every day. The Vapur drinking bottle collapses, or more precisely rolls up and is latched shut by an integrated carabiner clip. Saving a ton of space when empty, this “anti-bottle” was super useful. All I needed was a hotel faucet or drinking fountain and I was good. Add up all of the $4 bottles of water I didn’t buy, and I’d say the Vapur paid for itself 10x over.
I – and every frequent flyer I’ve spoken to – swear by these. When you need that little corner of peace and serenity on the plane, these are a godsend. Clamp a set over your ears, flick the noise cancel button, and bear witness as the engine roar evaporates into thin air! And everything else, like the crying and clanking, dampened to a cruisy and palatable level.
Oh, and they fold in on themselves, flat, into a sleek, slim case. Pretty nice add-on. And if you’re not a 90s Hip-Hop fanboy like me, and don’t love the look of giant cones on your ears and want the bulk gone, try the In-Ear option.
I’m a writer, so I need paper and pen, that’s just how it is. Random jotting occurs frequently. Personally, I dig the French-made Essentials Notebook: 96 pages of high-quality 90gsm paper sourced from self-managed sustainable forests, and so smooth to write on.
"Tip: Layers are handy and thin to pack. Even when heading to summery locales, things like shells are a must. Nights can get cold and so can airplane air conditioners."
This is my fancy pen. It gets unsheathed in meetings and such. It has great weighted balance and looks suave in its brushed stainless steel – everyone needs a fancy pen!
My workhorse. It gets thrashed by everyday use, works smoothly, and costs a few bucks. Highly recommended.
No matter how hard I tried, I still ran out of juice a few days of the trip. So the Mophie came in handy. Sleek and compact, it charged my tech rapidly and stored away easily. A backup charge when not a power outlet was to be found. Lifesaver.
"Tip: Leave the laptop. Our smartphones can access The Cloud, Skype and answer emails."
I’m no camera expert, but it’s part of the journalism gig – awesome imagery is essential in the blogosphere – so, last year, I hit up a friend – a professional photographer – for a recommendation. He suggested this. It’s super easy to use, takes great pics and you can wirelessly DL your photos directly to your phone or laptop. It’s served me well, but there are more compact options for the space-saving sticklers.
"Tip: Get snap happy. Photograph important docs and upload them to The Cloud."
When on work or headed to the world’s biggest gear expo for work, you need comfortable shoes!! These Cole Haan’s were cool to kick it with. The inner sole softened quickly, the mesh let my feet breath, and they looked great with a shirt and dungarees or nice and casual with shorts. Versatile and comfortable.
The Alchemy AEL008 was an epic carry-on, but for the floors of OR I needed something smaller, a daypack, to house my business cards, water bottle, pens and shell.
Thanks to my lean packing, I had room to spare. At first, I planned on packing the Outlier Ultrahigh Backpack – ultralight and awesome – but one of the team had snatched it for a snowboarding trip!
My second Plan A (in-joke for those who attended Product Underground): the Kletterwerks Daypack.
Man, it was rock-solid. Simple. Classic. Comfortable. Flat enough to pack. A nice extra – if you can make room, that is. ;)