Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

DSC01177 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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):


20oz Klean Kanteen Insulated Water Bottle

092712 1147 GearList121 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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? SCIENCE, SON!

Rick Steves Travel Gear Clothesline

092712 1147 GearList122 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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.

Dream Essentials Sweet Dreams Contoured Sleep Mask with Earplugs

092712 1147 GearList123 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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

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

092712 1147 GearList124 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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

Joby GorillaPod

092712 1147 GearList125 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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.

RayBan 54mm Foldable Wayfarers

092712 1147 GearList126 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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

Inka Pen

092712 1147 GearList127 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

This thing is sweet. It attaches to my keychain so I have quick access to a mini-pen (or PDA stylus!). 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, in space, it doesn’t matter WHERE inspiration strikes me, I get it DOWN on paper with my Inka pen, yo.

Packtowl UltraLite XL (3.1 oz.)

092712 1147 GearList128 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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.

Moleskine Classic Large Plain Notebook

092712 1147 GearList129 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

This is for jotting down notes, plans, expenses, learning experiences, meals, ideas, etc. It’s so suave looking it almost makes up for my shoes.

Fake Wallet

This is where I keep my daily spending money as well as 20 US 1 dollar bills, which gives the illusion there is lots of money in it. 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.

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.


Sony Vaio Z-Series

092712 1147 GearList1210 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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 weighs 2.5 pounds.

What’s up MacBook Air?

Sony NEX 5

092712 1147 GearList1211 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

More powerful than a point and shoot, has interchangeable lenses and is small and compact and takes great photos.

Kodak Play Sport

092712 1147 GearList1212 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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 for less than $100 you really can’t beat it.

Amazon Kindle

092712 1147 GearList1213 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

I bought the free 3G version so I could buy books without being reliant on finding a Wi-Fi connection, which is great for getting just about any book, anywhere. It’s a must have for any reader, especially if you’re traveling.

Fenix LD15 Flashlight

092712 1147 GearList1214 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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.

Kikkerland uL03-A Universal Travel Adapter

092712 1147 GearList1215 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

An amazingly well designed travel adapter that is small, compact and can transform to convert to any outlet for any country.

Griffen USB Mini-Cable Kit

092712 1147 GearList1216 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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.

AC Bel VGP-AC19V32 Laptop AC Adapter

092712 1147 GearList1217 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

Smaller and lighter than the adapter that came with my laptop

Seagate 1.5TB HDD

092712 1147 GearList1218 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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.

Other electronics include a San Disk Cruzer 8 GB Flash Drive, my Apple iPhone 4 with headphones, my Sony NEX 5 Battery Charger and a USB power outlet adapter.


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 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 the perfect material for the traveler trying to pack light.

Patagonia Super Shell Jacket

092712 1147 GearList1219 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

It hasn’t rained yet so I haven’t had the chance to truly test this out but it’s light and compact (built with GORE-TEX® Paclite® shell technology and weighs 13.5 oz.).

Mont-Bell Ex-Light Down Jacket

092712 1147 GearList1220 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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.

Icebreaker Apollo V-Neck*

092712 1147 GearList1221 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

Light every day wear shirt

Icebreaker Tech Polo*

092712 1147 GearList1222 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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

Icebreaker LS Outback*

092712 1147 GearList1223 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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

Icebreaker Men’s Distance Short*

092712 1147 GearList1224 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

I use these as pajamas, workout shorts and as a swimsuit (they have internet) which is great on laundry day so I can wash all my undies. Unfortunately, they don’t have pockets.

Icebreaker Multisport Lite Mini Sock*

092712 1147 GearList1225 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

Smartwool PhD Running Light Micro Sock*

092712 1147 GearList1226 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

These two socks 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.

Prana Zion Pant

092712 1147 GearList1227 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip    

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.

Icebreaker Beast 150 Anatomica Boxer (x2)

092712 1147 GearList1228 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

Exofficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs

092712 1147 GearList1229 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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 their Icebreaker counterparts 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 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). The Icebreaker briefs have no opening and are quite see thru, which is a bummer as I’m a big fan of prancing around in just my undies. The Exofficio briefs also make a great swimsuit and I fit right in with the Europeans.

Arc’Teryx Spiro Cap

092712 1147 GearList1230 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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

Invisible shoes connect 4mm barefoot sandal

092712 1147 GearList1231 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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 roll them up and stuffed into my bag, taking up minimal room. They boast the closest thing to going barefoot that you can get, and when I wear them I can feel just about everything I walk on (which I love), but with some protection. They also have a heal strap so I can wear them like water shoes and not have to worry about them coming off like traditional thong sandals.

Montrail Streak Trail Shoe

092712 1147 GearList1232 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

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 comment I have received—the you-look-like-a-dork undertones were almost palpable.

I/O Bio Merino ¾ tight*

092712 1147 GearList1233 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

In case it gets extremely cold, these will be my extra leg protection. I also packed Foursquare mittens with glove liners, a beanie, a facemask and a neck tube scarf.



Tom Bihn 26 L Smart Alec Backpack

092712 1147 GearList1234 Gear List – 12 Month Round the World Trip

I chose this backpack because of the great organization and heavy duty material that it’s made out of. It also looks like a daypack so it doesn’t scream tourist. The bag is equipped with aquaguard zippers to keep the contents dry when it’s raining.

Tom Bihn small organizer pouches – 1 clear, 1 padded

Clear pouch – travel adapter, NEX Battery charger, Griffen USB cables, USB drive and usb to wall outlet converter

Padded pouch – 1.5 TB HDD

These clip into the Smart Alec’s side pocket

Tom Bihn medium clear organizer pouch

Holds any documents I’d like to keep (e.g. receipts, passport/driver’s license copies and letters). It clips into the water bottle side pocket

Tom Bihn Laptop Air13 Vertical Cache

Extra protection for the laptop

DLC Neoprene Lens Pouch – Medium

Fits my whole camera with the lens attached and clips into the main backpack pocket

Eagle Creek Pack-it 2-sided half cube

Holds my mittens with glove liners, beanie, face mask, neck tube scarf, long underwear and icebreaker long sleeve button down shirt

Eagle Creek Undercover Neck Wallet

Strapped around my waist under my pants (can also be wore around the neck) and carries my passport, immunization documentation, the big-pappi cash, ID, credit cards, etc.

Tom Bihn kit

Holds the non-liquid toiletries listed below

Tom Bihn 3D clear organizer cube

Holds all the liquids listed below for easy passage through airport security






Gold bond

Glide floss

Mini 1st aid/sewing kit

Nail clippers

Medicine – Nyquil, Imodium AD, Motrin, Claritin, Excedrin for migraines


Campsuds – Used for shampoo, body wash and detergent

SPF 50 sunscreen


Anthony logistics for men algae facial cleanser

Facial lotion


Thera-tears eye drops


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.


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).


  1. pazalinio says

    I look forward to reading about your progress. Good luck!

    Any chance you can rss your blog so I can subscribe to it for updates?

    • Dave says

      I have an e-mail newsletter that you can sign up for that will e-mail you a copy of my post every time I post something.

      In the meantime, I will work on the RSS for ya.

    • Dave says

      The e-mail notice through Feedburner should be enabled and working now. Thanks for letting me know it wasn’t working :)

  2. Vanessa says

    Awesome blog post! David and I will definitely be purchasing some of these items on any other long trips we plan. We definitely packed too much when we went to Europe, LOL! Hope you’re having a blast! xo

  3. Guy says

    Hey Dave, great packing list! And website! I also ready your post on the Tom Bihn forums where I’m a member.

    I had one question about your gear: what is the total weight?

    Thanks and look forward to following your adventures,


    • Dave says

      Thanks for the support Guy :)

      I just measured my bags weight yesterday on my flight from Hong Kong to South Africa and, with a full water bottle, their scales output 9.1 kg, which is just a hair over 20 pounds.

  4. Joe G says

    Nicely done. I’d love to see some photos (or a video?) illustrating how you fit all of that stuff into a 26L pack.

  5. Alan Reeves says

    Great list Dave, thanks for sharing. I don’t travel much but with this list, I’m starting to make plans. I am curious if your pants ever get dirty enough that you can’t wear them the next day and if so, what do you do if it’s cold (since it seems your only alternative is shorts)?

    • Dave says

      Hmmm…well that hasn’t happened yet. I try to wash my pants in the evening when I’m in for the night, with the hope that they are dry in the morning. If for some reason this didn’t happen and i was in cold weather, I would do one of three things in order of likeliness. 1) Wait until the pants were dry. 2) Wear my long underwear bottoms with the shorts on top or 3) Put on my wool long underwear bottoms with the damp pants on top.

  6. Stephen Guise says


    Thanks for putting this together! It’s is very inspiring for me to see it. I’ve got a few Amazon tabs open to look at some of this gear. I’m a minimalist and I’m looking to pack very light when I take the opportunity to travel, so I’ve bookmarked this page.

    Cheers and happy travels,

  7. Ryan says

    Thanks for the tips Dave! I was curious about the socks. Why did you spring for the special socks for travel? Do they dry faster or something? I also noticed you have a lot of Icebreaker gear. I just started on Exxofficio and have been recommending that brand, but I heard good things about icebreaker. Thoughts?

    Also, loved the idea on the fake wallet. I think i’m super paranoid now after I was robbed in Spain :P

    • Dave says

      Full disclosure…my feet sweat a lot, and that makes them stinky, so the main reason was odor control. They do dry quicker, and they are more comfortable (not the biggest issue).

      I was unaware that Exxofficio made anything besides underwear, but I cannot recommend their underwear more (I like them better than the Icebreaker undies). However, the Icebreaker shirts are AMAZING.

      Bummed to hear you got robbed in Spain (I hear that’s the most common place, since their stealing laws are very relaxed), but I’m glad you were able to survive :)

      • Ryan says

        Thanks for the info! Definitely going to pick up some Icebreaker gear to see how it compares. Looks like the shirts actually look like a regular cotton t-shirt. The Exxofficio ones remind me of some sort of sports wear :P

  8. dek says

    Hi m8, ur story inspiring me.. question, during ur trip, how u manage ur expenses, r u saving first, or u using cc to funding then u pay later, n how much ur expenses in 1day? (just range)

    • Dave says

      I manage my expenses by writing down what I spend everyday. Every couple of weeks I’ll go back through my journal and input all of my expenses into an excel spreadsheet by category (food, accommodation, transportation or entertainment). This allows me to track how over or under budget I am. I saved up all the money I would need before I left and I have been averaging about 50USD/day.

  9. Guy says

    Dave, so sorry to read about the theft. Hope the rest of the trip goes well and that the thief gets caught and all the gear returned!

    Cheers, guy

  10. Belen says

    This is the best post on packing I’ve ever seen! I’m deffinitly throwing away my big 70ltr and getting a small bag for my next trip! The best part about this post is that I’ve met you and you are an awesome guy! Hope you continue to enjoy this amazing trip of yours!

  11. dan says

    I think it would be good to list the gear prices (I know it depends on where purchased so maybe list what you paid as a benchmark) individually and the total. Some may have to choose a more economical alternative even if not quite as functional. I recently downsized from a 45 liter Jansport bag that wore out (the zippers – after 5 years of part-time and 5 years of full-time use) to a $100 Lowe Alpine tt carry on 40 liter bag.

  12. Dana says

    i don’t see anyone asking the most important question….did the Letters Lady Love survive the RTW trip?

    • Dave says

      Hahaha, the “most important question” eh?

      I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and say you’re a romantic?

      The letters did indeed survive the entire trip and I didn’t even peek at them until I was supposed to!

      Unfortunately, even though the letters survived, the relationship did not. C’est la vie.

      • Dana says

        well shoot. guess my plan to avoid all men until i leave on my trip is solid, then.

        i do have a question after reading through some of your other posts. did you ever regret booking the RTW ticket? obviously you got an incredible deal, but did you miss the flexibility of going somewhere you didn’t originally intend, or meeting people and tagging along with them to their next destination?

        i’m leaning toward leaving my trip open-ended, but it’s tempting to save some money and indulge my type-A planner personality by doing it your way.

        • Dave says

          Your plan is probably a good one. I had the same plan, and ended up becoming official with the gal the day I left for the trip…so much for plans, huh?

          As for your question…it’s a good one I wrestled with before leaving and even after the trip was done. I still don’t have a definitive answer, but I’d say a mix of the two is best. I didn’t even mean for this to happen but it’s how my trip played out, mostly because I was traveling for such a long period.

          What I mean by this is I basically purchased what I like to call a “skeleton” for my trip. It was 15 flights that took me around the world to 6 of the 7 continents over the duration of the year. That was the only thing I planned.

          Once I landed in the different locations it was usually for quite a bit of time. This allowed me the flexibility to go somewhere I didn’t originally plan and have fun with that open-ended type of travel.

          For example, I was in Singapore for 3.5 weeks, so I bought a plane ticket out to Bali and had an amazing adventure there for 2 weeks before flying back to Singapore. It was something I thought of in Singapore while chatting with people, and since I had so much time I was able to figure out a way to make it happen.

          There were countless places I had the thought: “I could stay here for so much longer.” But, I knew if I did I’d have less time at the next place where I’d no doubt have the same thought. Ideally you wouldn’t have to deal with this, but I only had so much money. Blah.

          The cool thing was that even if I left a place too early for my liking, I went on to have an amazing experience somewhere else that I wouldn’t have had, had I stayed in the original location.

          Some Other Pros Of Pre-purchasing Tickets
          - The flights were purchased so I didn’t have to worry about budgeting for them anymore, worrying about having enough money, stressing out about waiting to get the best deal, or searching for major flights to book while I was on the road. This was very nice.
          - It forced me to make the most of the time I had while I was there. Sure, I relaxed a lot of the time but when you travel open-endedly you tend to sink into the attitude of, I have plenty of time, I’ll do that [activity] tomorrow.

          Some Other Cons Of Pre-Purchasing Tickets
          -Because of the ticket I had, I flew into and out of the same city. This can be annoying because you basically have to travel in a huge circle instead of going with the flow.
          -You have to save up a good chunk of money (or spend a lot of time beforehand travel hacking like I did) beforehand to purchase the tickets, as opposed to getting to a place, settling in, getting a job while you experience the culture and saving up money that way.

          • Dana says

            the skeleton thing makes perfect sense–thanks for taking the time to write all that out! i’m setting out on a 3-month road trip around the US before i go abroad, so i will have some solo time to decide what will work best for me. luckily, i don’t really think there’s a wrong way to travel as long as you pack light and get out there!

            thanks again for the advice–looking forward to diving into your specific destination posts as i get closer to figuring out my must-sees. :)

          • Dave says

            3-months around the US?? Amazing. Traveling the US is next on my list, so I’ll have to pick your brain when you’re all done :)

            If for some reason your road trip takes you through New Mexico, let me know and we can grab a drink or something!

            Good luck with your planning and travels and let me know if you have more questions :)

          • Dana says

            welp, guess i’ve maxed out the allowable replies on this thread (sowwy). but yes, my road trip is taking me through NM–i’ll be there in November! definitely would love to meet you and talk travel; i’ll be leaving on the overseas portion about in early January so would be great timing for last-minute tips, and i can maybe give you some about roadtripping, depending on how successful i am. plus, that’s toward the end of my trip so i’ll probably be longing for human interaction. haha.

            if you have the book:

            if not, my email should be in these comments!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>