What’s In Our Packs?

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English version only. To translate this post, click here. Versió en anglès només. Per traduir aquest post, feu clic aquí.

We’re starting our trip with backpacks and the most important things we need.

Down the road, we may consider using a cart or come up with  some other way of carrying water for long distances.  Carrying enough water is our most important concern, and when towns and people are more spread out and water is scarce, we’ll have to invent a solution.

For now, and through much of Southeast Asia, we intend to haul our homes on our back. The goal is to keep our individual total pack weight (everything on us and in our bags) to a relatively manageable 13-15 kilos (28-33 pounds); 10-11 kilos is really the sweet spot we’re aiming for.

Here’s a near-final list of what we are planning to bring with us. We’re still paring this down, and hope to trim a few more grams where we can.  Everything weighs something, even the smallest items, and we’ll have to take a hard look at what we really need and what we can do without.

Our packing priorities fall into a handful of mainstream “survivalist” categories: water, food, shelter/sleep and staying warm, dry, healthy and safe. Since we live in a virtually connected world, we’ve also added digital nomad necessities to our inventory list.

We have relatively the same things in our backpacks, with some minor differences based on our personalities, preferences and interpretation of “need.”  While we are traveling together and will share what we have, we also want to ensure that each of us will be okay independently (just in case).

packing the bag
A work-in-progress, but getting closer to figuring out what goes in the backpack and what gets left behind.
Backpacks and related gear
  • Her favorite turquoise Gregory Jade 35L Jetstream DTS backpack (Jenn)
  • Eagle Creek day pack (Jenn)
  • Setmil 7000 backpack (Lluis)
  • Quechua 35/50L backpack rain cover  (Jenn)
Food/Water/Cooking System
  • Drink Safe systems explorer 1L water purification bottle + extra filter (1 per person)
  • 1 Katadyn mini water filter/pump
  • 2-3 water bottles per person, including a 750 ml metal one that can also be used to boil water;  we aim to each carry 3-4 liters of water a day.
  • water purification and taste neutralizing tablets
  • 25 ml bottle of iodine
  • Backpacking Light pocket stove/windscreen (fits in a mint tin can)
  • do-it-yourself beer-can alcohol stove (alcohol to be bought along the way)
  • folding spoon, fork, knife, can opener combo
  • a box cutter (our lightweight version of a utility knife)
  • waterproof matches, a lighter,  fire starter striker, tinder chips, cotton balls & 49g container of Vaseline (which doubles as a firestarter and blister prevention)
  • 2 metal cooking mugs/pots (50 cl, 30cl)
  • small baggie of spice mix (mostly salt with some oregano and pepper)
  • food for starters (mostly to test weight): 20 Justins peanut/almond butter packets; 3 mashed potato packets; 6 oatmeal packets; 6 dehydrated rice packets, and 5 protein/energy bars
  • 80 ml honey (quick energy and also a first-aid anti-bacteria salve)
Sleep/Shelter System
  • McKinley X-treme Lite 800 sleeping bags
  • Thermarest neoair xlite inflatable mattress (Jenn); Lluís has a different one
  • DD Hammocks – super light jungle hammock with mosquito net, rain layer + hammock sleeve (Jenn)
  • a two-person tent – we’re still deciding which one we’re taking; there are pros and cons to each one we have in mind (Lluís)
  • silk sheets
  • pajamas – lightweight long sleeve shirt, Bombas mid-calf socks, super thin long stretch pants, 1 pair underwear
Clothes/Shoes/Socks (per person)
  • 2 long sleeve lightweight shirts
  • Scotevest multi-pocket lightweight vest
  • 2 pairs of pants
  •  travel towel
  • 2 jog bras (obviously Jenn only)
  • 2 pairs of underwear (Jenn will take the extra weight and have 3 pairs)
  • 4 pairs of socks (includes Smartwool, Quechua technical hiking socks & Injinji fve fingers)
  • backup lightweight shoes (Vibram Five Fingers)
  • hiking shoes
  • combo scarf/head cover/bandana
  • lightweight glove liners (sun protection & anti-mosquito)
  • lightweight cashmere sweater
  • Scotevest lightweight jacket/windbreaker
  • lightweight hat (extra warm layer)
  • running cap with a long visor for sun and rain protection + homemade face mosquito net cover + anti-wind clips
  • Coleman rain pants
  • rain poncho (can also be used as tarp)
  • 2 pairs of glasses (regular and sunglasses)
Hygiene/ Health
  • toothbrush + candy tin filled with toothpaste powder (baking soda with ground cloves, cinnamon and cardamon)
  • soap chips
  • small shampoo
  • 80 ml sunblock spf 55
  • tube of chapstick 30 spf
  • tongue scraper
  • small dental floss
  • Mooncup (Jenn only)
  • foldable brush
  • baby powder
  • 2 x 4ml blister prevention/anti-chafing sticks & Compeed anti-blister packet
  • mosquito repellant
  • anti-itch/anaglesic cream
  • bandaids, bandages, non-stick compresses
  • rubber gloves, handwipes & anti-bacterial hand gel
  • 50 ml rubbing alcohol
  • tick/bug remover
  • 20 ml tiger balm
  • antihistamine pills
  • electrolyte packets
  •  probiotics pills
  • anti-diarrhea pills
  • antibiotic/pain relief cream
  • anti-malaria pills
  • antibiotic pills
  • ibuprofen
  • eye drops
  • magnesium pills (for muscle cramping)
  • melantonin (for sleep support)
  • disposable razor (for those now and again days when we have the luxury of shaving)
  • nail clippers + file
  • tweezers
  • foldable scissors
  • thermometer
  • some toilet paper
  • emergency heat blanket
  • wilderness survival booklet
Safety and Repair Kit
  • traffic safety vest (one per person)
  • whistle (one per person)
  • compass (one per person)
  • universal language picture book
  • paper maps of the country we’re passing through
  • 2 bungee cords
  • 2 carabiners
  • ~1.5m of stretchy rope/clothesline +  a few clothespins
  • backpack/tent/matress repair patches  + small tube of repair glue + safety pins
  • some thread + 1 needle + small spool of fishing line
  • headlamp (2 AAA batteries + 2 replacement batteries)
  • manual, hand-winding LED light
  • clip-on running/cycling red light
Digital Nomad
  • mobile phones + cords + adapters
  • PowerAdd 10000mAh solar/USB battery charger
  • small MP3 player (1 AAA battery + 3 replacement batteries)
  • iRigCast small mic for recording/podcasting
  • foldable bluetooth keyboard
Random Necessities
  • passport + copies
  • several passport photos for visa applications
  • international health card
  • money belt
  • ear plugs + eye mask
  • reusable nylon string bag (to carry fruit, for example)
  • watch
  • 2 carabiner hooks on the outside of backpack (thumb hooks)
  • lightweight travel blanket
  • bank cards, credit cards and some cash
  • beaded bracelet and a small medallion (gifts from loved ones we’ll carry as reminders of those cheering us on from afar)
Little gifts from people we love. We'll carry these bits of goodness with us and remember those of you who are the wind beneath our wings.
Little gifts from people we love. We’ll carry these bits of goodness with us and remember those of you who are the wind beneath our wings.


Update: The Weight Check

Everything’s in our bag, and despite efforts to minimize even more, we’ll start with packs heavier than we aimed for. With a couple liters of water and a couple kilos of food, Jenn’s total pack out weight is 17.5 kilos. Lluis’ weight is slightly less, but, man, does water weigh a lot!

Hopefully as we move, we’ll see what we really need and leave behind the things we don’t use.




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4 thoughts on “What’s In Our Packs?”

    1. Thanks, John. You are an inspiration to us, and we may be seeking more advice from you done the road. Do you think we’re missing anything from the list? Any ideas what we can cut?

  1. Jenn & Lluís: I’m peeking in now and then to see how your travels are going. Very inspired by your trip! Very helpful lists. Hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity to use them one day soon. Happy walking! xox

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