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Posted on: 11/19/2017

How to Pack Light - The Ultimate Guide to One Bag Travel

The ability to travel light for multiple weeks at a time allows me to see and experience more, making travel far more enjoyable.
How to Pack Light - The Ultimate Guide to One Bag Travel

How to Pack Light

How to Pack Light - The Ultimate Guide to One Bag Travel

I’m currently writing this post from 30,000 feet on my Bluetooth keyboard while traveling for multiple weeks with a 30L bag that weighs around 10 lbs. The ability to travel light for multiple weeks at a time allows me to see and experience more, making travel far more enjoyable. Here are a few things that I have learned from constant travel for both Western Rise and for fun.

Choosing the Right Bag
First steps first, we recommend ditching the rolling suitcase for a backpack. Most people jump right into the contents and don’t put enough thought into the carry. A dedicated travel backpack makes travel not only easier to maneuver but more enjoyable. The ideal travel backpack is between 30-45 Liters with dedicated Laptop carry and opens like a clamshell for easy access to all clothing and accessories. Not only do these backpacks carry on and fit in the overhead bin, they make it far easier to maneuver stairs, escalators, and city streets. Luckily, there are a few good options!

Our Recommendations
Aer Travel Pack  $220
Tortuga Setout Backpack $199
Minimal 2.0 $299
Alchemy Equipment AEL008 $320


Bring a Daypack
A packable daypack or sling pack allows you to use your travel backpack as a home base and carry what you need for the day without carrying everything you packed. Anything that packs small and is lightweight works well.

Our Recommendations
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Backpack  $28
Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L $149
Mystery Ranch Urban Assault Pack $139
Matador Daylite 16 Backpack $49
Uniqlo 3WAY Bag $39


Packing Cubes
We cannot say enough great things about packing cubes. Packing cubes keep you organized throughout your trip and make packing in each location significantly easier. Packing cubes allow you to avoid having to dump out all of the contents of your bag to find one item. We also recommend a lightweight Wet/Dry bag to keep your damp clothing or shoes separated from your clean clothing. This can also be used as a secondary bag inside your daypack for day excursions.

Our Recommendations

Eagle Creek Specter Packing Cube Set $39
Tortuga Packing Cubes $59
Tortuga Wet/Dry Bag $59

What to Pack
Knowing how to pack and what to pack can be daunting, so we recommend starting with our One Bag Travel Packing List.

Shoes are always the hardest item to pack because weather and locations differ, and they tend to take up the most room and weight. We recommend two pairs of shoes at the absolute maximum. Wear your bulkiest pair and save the room in your bag for the clothing and accessories that you will need on your trip. We recommend choosing the most versatile shoes possible. Shoes that will be comfortable walking, but also can be dressed up for nice dinners and events. Solid colors and natural fabrics like leather and wool work really well for this. The second pair will be used to give your feet a break from the first pair, so choose something light and packable like sandals.

Our Recommendations

Jak Royal Black $140
The Greats Royale Perf $179
Allbirds Wool Runners $95
Lems Boulder Boot Leather $140
Vivobarefoot Scott $200


How to Pack Light

Choosing the correct clothing is what makes one bag travel work, and we obviously recommend you start with Western Rise. Choosing clothing that can be worn more and washed less, is the key. Versatile clothing that sheds stains, dirt, and grime, dries quickly and resists smells for weeks or months at a time really makes indefinite one bag travel possible. While great materials and construction can be expensive, investing in quality clothing that is lightweight, durable, and neutrally colored is life changing. The key to choosing the perfect travel wardrobe is the fabrics. To reduce the number of items like T-shirts, underwear, and socks down to two or three of each, choose merino wool. Merino Wool is naturally anti-bacterial, odor-neutralizing, and dries rather quickly. It can be worn for days or longer without washing or smelling and can significantly reduce the number of items you need to carry. For pants, we recommend choosing a pair of durable, stretch nylon pants. These pants, when treated with a durable water repellant (DWR), will shed spills, dirt, and stains that inevitably happen while traveling. They are highly durable, dry fast and can be dressed up or down for any occasion and make excellent travel pants. We also recommend finding a hybrid short (works for day-to-day or swimming) in the same or similar fabric. For shirts, we recommend carrying one or two button-up shirts that can also be dressed up or down. For these, we recommend lightweight fabrics that stretch and dry quickly. We prefer nylon/polyester blends, hemp, or linen. Finally, we recommend a light jacket that can be packed small. Something that is weather and water resistant and offers warmth (no matter where you’re headed, the airplane always gets cold). Be sure to wear your bulkiest items to save room in your pack!

Other Tips:
Go monochrome - Neutral colors that match and compliment each other help to minimize the amount you need to carry and allow you to endlessly mix and match your clothing for different situations.
Hand wash and air dry - choosing the right fabrics allows you to wash your clothing in the sink with a little soap and have it be clean and dry by the next morning. (hint: bring a small sink stopper)
Roll don’t Fold - It’s incredible the amount of space you can save by rolling your clothes and putting them in packing cubes.
Stuff - Fill your shoes with socks and underwear.

Our Recommendations:
Western Rise AT Slim Pants  $129
Western Rise StrongCore Merino Pocket T $96
Western Rise DryWeight Merino Henley $98
Western Rise AirLight Western Shirt $109
Western Rise Liberated Hemp Shirt $109
Western Rise AirLoft Quilted Jacket $230
Western Rise AT Limitless Shorts (returning soon)
Icebreaker Merino Socks $20
Smartwool Merino Boxer Brief $45
Uniqlo Airism Mesh Boxer Brief  $9

How to Pack Light

As most of us have to work on the go, strategically bringing your technology is a must. Take some time and think about how you work and travel and formulate a list depending on your needs.

Our Recommendations:
Chafon 4-in-1Charging Cable - takes the place of multiple charging cords and only uses one plug - $7
Apple World Travel Adaptor $28
Apple MacBook $1299
Google Pixel Book $999
Dansrue Ultra Slim Portable Wireless Keyboard $28
-Bose QuietComfort Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones $249
-TaoTronics Active Noise Canceling Headphones $49
Anker PowerCore+ 20100mAh USB-C Portable Charger $65
Sony RX100 V $999
Apple iPhone X $999
Google Pixel 2 $649
Lechtturm Medium Dot Notebook $19
Pilot Fineliner 2 for $4

It’s no secret that we cannot travel without our toiletries. Be sure to choose a small, clear plastic bag that is durable and will fit all needed toiletries. You can find our list of toiletry items in our One Bag Travel Packing List.

Our Recommendations
Nalgene Travel Kit Medium $9

Other Gear
There are always a few random items that make traveling easier for us, and we highly recommend considering a few of these.

Our Recommendations
Black Diamond Wiregate Carabiner $119
Miir Wide Mouth 20oz Water Bottle  $32
Smith Lowdown Sunglasses $189
Woven Stretch Clothesline $6

Enjoy your trip!

Grab our FREE One Bag Travel Packing List and hit us up at with any questions!