Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

Gear List - 12 Month Round The World Trip

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You’re leaving the country for a year. What do you pack?

It took me 6 months to finish answering this question. Not only did people say I was crazy when I told them I’d be trying to do it with a 32 liter bag, they said it wasn’t possible.

I ended up leaving the country with a 26 liter backpack.

Traveling as light as possible was the driving factor because of the freedom it allows (and partially just to see if I could do it).

When a 26 L backpack is all I have:

  • There’s no need to check baggage
  • I look less like a tourist
  • I have higher mobility
  • I have lower dependency on having to find a spot to store/lockup my bag

I believe in quality over quantity. Why should traveling be any different?

After acquiring stuff I didn’t really need all my life, it was a huge step to sell it all and leave with only a 26L backpack. But even after my cutbacks, there are still items I could probably get rid of.

When deciding on gear, I looked at weight, compressibility and functionality, mostly.

Here is the final list (with my comments):


A majority of the clothing listed below is made with merino wool (denoted with *).

Merino wool is quick drying–laundry days are efficient, odor resistant–laundry days come less often and it has great flow and insulation, allowing it to keep me cool when it’s hot outside and warm when it’s cold outside.

It’s an amazing material for the traveler trying to pack light.

Patagonia Super Shell Jacket

Patagonia Super Shell Jacket RTW Gear List
There are many rain shells out on the market but I picked this one mostly because I found it on sale at the time.

it’s light and compact (and has a hood)--I can roll it up into the size of a Fosters beer can and it's built with GORE-TEX® Paclite® shell technology and weighs 13.5 oz.

● View On Amazon ●

Mont-Bell Ex-Light Down Jacket

Mont-Bell Ex-Light Down Jacket RTW Gear List
This jacket is amazingly warm, ultra-compact and light. It fits into an included stuff sack that is about the size of a Fosters beer can.

The sizes are a bit small though (the jacket is made to be worn in layers and close to your body) so keep that in mind if buying one.

● View On Amazon ●

Icebreaker Apollo V-Neck*

Light every day wear shirt.

● View On Amazon ●

Icebreaker Apollo V-Neck RTW Gear List

Icebreaker Tech Polo*

Light every day wear shirt, but with a collar, for those days when I’m feeling fancy.

● View On Amazon ●

Icebreaker Tech Polo RTW Gear List

Icebreaker LS Outback*

Icebreaker LS Outback RTW Gear List
A thick, long-sleeved full button down shirt with collar, for those days when I’m feeling fancy AND it’s nippy out.

It's a great over shirt and extra layer when it's too cold for short sleeves but not cold enough for a full jacket.

● View On Amazon ●

Icebreaker Men’s Distance Short*

Icebreaker Men’s Distance Short RTW Gear List
I use these as pajamas, workout shorts and as a swimsuit (they have inter-net...) which is great on laundry day so I can wash all my undies.

Unfortunately, they don’t have pockets.

● View On Amazon ●

Icebreaker Multisport Lite Mini Sock*

I brought two different pairs socks with me to test different brands.

They are the first legitimate, nice socks I’ve ever owned.

They are like bras for your feet—nothing gets bunched, everything is tight and supported where it needs to be and they are so soft and cushiony.

● View On Amazon ●

Icebreaker Multisport Lite Mini Sock RTW Gear List

Smartwool PhD Running Light Micro Sock*

I bought both a medium height sock and a low cut sock, for no reason in particular.

● View On Amazon ●

Smartwool PhD Running Light Micro Sock RTW Gear List

Icebreaker Beast 150 Anatomica Boxer* (x2)

Icebreaker Beast 150 Anatomica Boxer RTW Gear List
The Icebreaker briefs have no pee-hole opening and are quite see thru, which is a bummer as I’m a big fan of prancing around in just my undies.

They are made out of merino wool but they get bunched up while walking because the legs are so short.

I bought 2 pairs, when really I should have bought 3 pairs of the Exofficio briefs.

● View On Amazon ●

Exofficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs

Exofficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs RTW Gear List
The Exofficio boxer briefs come with the tag line: “17 countries. 6 weeks. One pair of award-winning underwear. (Ok, maybe two.)”

They aren’t made out of merino wool like the Icebreaker ones above so I decided to try them both. They each work great in the sense of being odor resistant and quick to dry.

However, I like Exofficio better (shouldn't have even bought the icebreaker ones) because the legs are longer so they don’t bunch up and they have a pee hole (don’t know what the actual term for this is). These will probably be the only underwear I ever buy in the future.

The Exofficio briefs also make a great swimsuit and I fit right in with the Europeans.

● View On Amazon ●

Prana Zion Pant

There’s nothing really special about these travel pants.

I chose them because they look like normal pants that aren’t covered in cargo pockets or convertible to shorts. They are light and breathable and can be rolled up and buttoned when I’m wearing sandals.

Yes, these are the only pants I brought. Jeans are too bulky and heavy and who really notices when you’re wearing the same pants all the time? That was my reasoning at least.

● View On Amazon ●

Prana Zion Pant RTW Gear List

Arc’Teryx Spiro Cap

Even though I look terrible in hats due to my enormous “cabeza de marro” (the cooks in the restaurant I worked at called me this, I was told it means: head like a sledge hammer), I knew I needed one for my pale complexion.

This cap can be folded into a tiny shape without hurting the brim, dries quickly and the back can be unrolled for full ear and neck coverage.

● View On Amazon ●

Arc’Teryx Spiro Cap RTW Gear List

Invisible Shoes Connect 4mm Barefoot Sandal

Invisible shoes connect 4mm barefoot sandal RTW Gear List
I knew I wanted the option to have both close-toed shoes and sandals, but I knew they needed to be compactable.

I settled on invisible shoes. They are pretty much the most minimalistic shoe you can get. They are just a 4mm piece of rubber with string to hold them on your foot, which makes it possible to be rolled up and stuffed into my bag.

● View On ●

Montrail Streak Trail Shoe

Montrail Streak Trail Shoe RTW Gear List
Nothing special about these shoes,

I wish I could have found something a little more stylish as well as functional. “Nice shoes” is the only "compliment" I have received—the you-look-like-a-dork undertones were almost palpable.

I/O Bio Merino ¾ tight*

In case it gets extremely cold, these will be my extra leg protection.
I/O Bio Merino ¾ tight RTW Gear List

Other Cold Weather Gear

  • Foursquare mittens with glove liners
  • Beanie
  • Face mask
  • Neck tube scarf.

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Sony Vaio Z-Series

Sony Vaio Z Series RTW Gear List

- Intel Core i7 (2.7GHz with turbo boost up to 3.4GHz)
- 13.1″ LED Full HD display (1920 x 1080)
- 128GB Solid state drive
- .66 inches thick and 2.5 pounds.
What’s up MacBook Air?

● View On Amazon ●

Sony NEX 5

Sony NEX 5 RTW Gear List
I chose this camera because it's more powerful than a point and shoot and not as complicated as a professional camera, since I'm still quite the amateur.

However, it has interchangeable lenses, it's small and compact, and takes great photos.

● View On Amazon ●

Kodak Play Sport

A more rugged, 5 megapixel camera/video camera that is waterproof down to 3 meters.

I bought it before the go-pro came out and after playing with one of those, I think I’d rather have a go-pro. However, the Kodak takes decent photos/videos and I plan on using it during the more rugged adventures.

● View On Amazon ●

Kodak Play Sport RTW Gear List

Amazon Kindle

I love to read so I'm loading up the kindle with some books I've been meaning to read and hitting the road with it instead of having to worry about lugging around books.

● View On Amazon ●

Amazon Kindle RTW Gear List

Fenix LD15 Flashlight

Fenix LD15 Flashlight RTW Gear List
The flashlight is very small (a little larger than the single AA battery that powers it), but very bright. It also has a candle setting which I have used to read at night when others are sleeping.

● View On Amazon ●

Kikkerland uL03-A Universal Travel Adapter

Kikkerland uL03-A Universal Travel Adapter RTW Gear List
An amazingly well designed travel adapter that is small, compact and can transform to convert to any outlet for any country.

● View On Amazon ●

Griffen USB Mini-Cable Kit

The package comes with an Apple charger, and micro and mini USB cables.

Perfect for connecting to a laptop or right to the wall to charge instead of having to lug around the bulky cables that came with the device.

● View On Amazon ●

Griffen USB Mini-Cable Kit RTW Gear List

AC Bel VGP-AC19V32 Laptop AC Adapter

The adapter that came standard with my laptop was awkward and bulky.

This adapter is much smaller and lighter and a much better shape (flat) for packing in a backpack.

● View On Amazon ●

AC Bel VGP-AC19V32 Laptop AC Adapter RTW Gear List

Seagate 1.5TB HDD

Seagate 1.5TB HDD RTW Gear List
The 128 GB in the Vaio isn’t enough room for all the photos/videos I plan on taking during the trip so this is a nice supplement.

● View On Amazon ●

Other Miscellaneous Electronics

  • San Disk Cruzer 8 GB Flash Drive
  • Apple iPhone 4 with headphones
  • Sony NEX 5 Battery Charger
  • USB to power outlet adapter.


20oz Klean Kanteen Insulated Water Bottle

20oz Klean Kanteen Insulated Water Bottle RTW Gear List
I filled this up a quarter of the way with ice and the rest water, 24 hours later there were still ice cubes jingle-janglin’.

Hot liquid will still be hot 6 hours later and still warm 12 hours later.

How does it work?


● View On Amazon ●

Rick Steves Travel Gear Clothesline

Rick Steves Travel Gear Clothesline RTW Gear list
The clothesline is made out of braided surgical tubing so you can stretch it to accommodate all kinds of living situations.

Because it’s braided, you can separate the braid and stick your clothes in to hang without clothes pins.

● View On Amazon ●

Dream Essentials Sweet Dreams Contoured Sleep Mask with Earplugs

Blocks out a great amount of light and because it’s contoured you can blink your eyes without interference.

The earplugs are standard foam and the carrying case isn't anything special (mine fell apart after about a month).

● View On Amazon ●

Dream Essentials Sweet Dreams Contoured Sleep Mask with Earplugs RTW Gear List

Sea To Summit 100% Premium Silk Travel Liner (Traveler Size)

This will only keep you about 10 degrees warmer, but I plan to use it for protection from shady hostels or couches rather than warmth.

It’s extremely light and stuffs into a bag that fits in the palm of my hand.

● View On Amazon ●

Sea to summit 100% Premium Silk Travel Liner (traveler size) RTW Gear List

Joby GorillaPod

Joby GorillaPod RTW Gear List
Since I’m traveling alone it’s nice to have a versatile tri-pod like this.

It can be wrapped around poles, trees, pets, etc. for photos and it's light and compact.

How else am I supposed to take epic selfies?!

● View On Amazon ●

RayBan 54mm Foldable Wayfarers

RayBan 54mm Foldable Wayfarers RTW Gear List
I have always loved wayfarers (even before the hipsters thought they were cool).

The folding wayfarers are a perfect design to eliminate the bulky and awkward-to-pack issues that I always have with sunglasses.

● View On Amazon ●

Inka Pen

This thing is sweet. It attaches to my keychain so I have quick access to a mini-pen or PDA stylus...haha so handy.

It easily converts to a full size pen when I’m getting my journal on, and the ink is pressurized, so I can write upside down, underwater or in space!

● View On Amazon ●

Inka Pen RTW Gear List

Packtowl UltraLite XL (3.1 oz.)

This is a full size towel that compacts down to a little bigger than a notecard and it’s ultra-absorbent and quick drying.

I went on a live aboard scuba trip, we did 11 dives in 3 days, I showered and dried off after every dive and this thing was never wet and always got me completely dry.

● View On Amazon ●

Packtowl UltraLite XL (3.1 oz.) RTW Gear List

Moleskine Classic Large Plain Notebook

Moleskine Classic Large Plain Notebook RTW Gear List
This is for jotting down notes, plans, expenses, learning experiences, meals, ideas, directions etc.

It’s so suave looking it almost makes up for my shoes.


● View On Amazon ●

Fake Wallet

This is where I keep my daily spending money as well as 20 US 1 dollar bills, which gives the illusion I’m carry a lot of money.

It is also packed with expired credit cards, old hotel room key cards and any other cards I could find that I wouldn’t mind losing.

The idea is that if I were to get mugged, I could hand them this throw this in the air and run away screaming while the thieves are preoccupied with the money flying everywhere. I also wouldn’t be too upset if it got pick-pocketed.

Note: You can now buy these from Decoy Wallet instead of making your own. You can read a guest post by Chris, the founder of the company, on how he used kickstarter to start his business and fund his travels here.

Deck Of Cards

Great way to meet people

Handwritten Letters

The fates of the universe definitely have a sense of humor. 7 weeks before I left, they decided to introduce me to a wonderfully splendid individual.

Our first official day of being together was the day I left on this yearlong trip.

She wrote me a letter for every flight destination I have, as well as letters for when it rains, when I miss her, etc., so there are about 20 of those in my bag as well.


Tom Bihn 26 L Smart Alec Backpack

Tom Bihn 26 L Smart Alec Backpack RTW Gear List
I chose this backpack because of the great organization and because it's made of durable and heavy duty material. The bag is also equipped with aquaguard zippers to keep the contents dry when it’s raining.

My favorite thing is that It also looks like a daypack and is a solid unassuming color so it doesn’t scream tourist/backpacker.

● View On ●

Tom Bihn Clear Organizer Pouch (Small)

Tom Bihn Clear Organizer Pouch (Small)
This Pouch Holds:

  • Travel Adapter

  • NEX Battery Charger

  • Griffen USB Cables

  • USB Drive

  • USB to wall outlet converter

● View On ●

Tom Bihn Padded Organizer Pouch (Small)

This Pouch Holds the 1.5 Tb external hard-drive.

Both of these small pouches hook into the side pocket of the backpack.

● View On ●

Tom Bihn Padded Organizer Pouch (Small) RTW Gear List

Tom Bihn Laptop Air13 Vertical Cache

Extra protection for the laptop.

I made sure to get the vertical cache because then it makes it very easy to access the laptop while it's in the backpack.

● View On ●

Tom Bihn Laptop Air13 Vertical Cache RTW Gear List

Eagle Creek Pack-it 2-Sided Half Cube

Eagle Creek Pack-it 2-Sided Half Cube RTW Gear List
Holds most of my cold weather gear: my mittens with glove liners, beanie, face mask, neck tube scarf, long underwear and icebreaker long sleeve button down shirt.

● View On Amazon ●

Eagle Creek Undercover Neck Wallet

Eagle Creek Undercover Neck Wallet RTW Gear List
I wear this strapped around my waist under my pants (can also be wore around the neck).

It carries my passport, immunization documentation, the big-pappi cash, ID, credit cards, etc.

● View On Amazon ●




Tom Bihn Kit

Tom Bihn Kit RTW Gear List

● View On ●

Tom Bihn 3D Clear Organizer

Tom Bihn 3D Clear Organizer Cube RTW Gear List

● View On ●

Gold Bond
Face wash
Glide Floss
First Aid/Sewing Kit
Nail Clippers
Eye Drops
Medicine--Nyquil, Imodium AD, Motrin, Claritin, Excedrin for migraines

I have been traveling for over 3 weeks now and as I’ve told the people I’ve encountered, “I have everything I need, just not very much of it.”

The freedom to just pick up and leave is remarkable. Everyone I have met wishes they didn’t pack so much.

I saw a traveler walking to the train station with a 70+ L backpack, another backpack the size of mine strapped to their front and another bag in their hand. They looked miserable.

Pack less, and if you can’t live without something, buy it on the road.

The lack of restriction is very liberating and I wouldn’t recommend traveling any other way.

You Might Also Enjoy:

●How Much Does It Cost To Travel Round The World For A Year?●
●How I Booked A 15 flight, 45,000 Mile, Yearlong Trip Round The World For $1100 ●


It has been quite an adventure so far. I’m in Newcastle, Australia, on my way back down to Sydney after a 3 week journey that took me up to Cairns and back along the stunning landscape of the Australian east coast.

A special thanks to Becky for letting me stay at her place here in Newcastle to do some hardcore R&R, to Shannon for editing this post and to Tynan for the inspiration for a majority of this gear.

On October 2, I leave for New Zealand, where I will embark on a 14 day road trip across the north and south islands that hits around 50 different destinations (an aggressive plan that will probably change when reality smacks me in the face and says nope).

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