For our more than a year on the road we're each carrying a carry-on size travel backpack under 45L and a daypack. Total weight for each pack is under 12kg/25lbs. Inside we each have packing cubes and a variety of other smaller bags to contain and organize our lives while on the road. Here you can see everything we are using to carry everything else. The page is organized large to small with backpacks and daypacks all the way down to headphone pouches and pocket organizers.

Osprey Farpoint 55

I've written a significantly longer digestion of the Osprey Farpoint 55 and compared it with our other main bag The Tortuga Travel Backpack that you can read here. To summarize: if I was intending to hike and walk more, the Osprey Farpoint 55's better frame, support and overall construction would give it the edge. Since we primarily travel in developed areas, carry laptops and need a heavy dose of organization, I personally prefer the Tortuga Travel Back Pack. That said, the Farpoint is certainly the most common bag we encounter being worn by other travelers and is a reliable, durable and well designed choice. It's a quality bag even if I overall prefer the Tortuga. 

Check out the Farpoint on Amazon

Tortuga Travel Backpack

For a full breakdown of the Tortuga Travel Backpack check out the long comparison I wrote between it and the Osprey Farpoint 55. To sum up: if you travel with a laptop and won't spend large portions of your trip hiking, I think the Tortuga is a great choice. It packs a lot of space and tons of organizational options in its 45L. 

Find the Tortuga on Amazon

Osprey Farpoint 55 Daypack

The Osprey Farpoint 55 includes this daypack. In fact, its what allows the Farpoint to claim a 55L capacity: the main bag holds 40L and the attachable daypack another 15L. We very seldomly attach the daypack and so the design capitulations necessary to making the bag attachable are hard to swallow. Again, check out my detailed comparison of the Osprey Farpoint 55 and the Tortuga Travel Backpack for all the details. Budget wise a backpack and daypack for the price is a pretty good deal, but there are design and capacity downsides to the package. That said, the bag is durable and functional and I still think its a good choice for long term travel.

Check out the Osprey Farpoint 55 on Amazon

Osprey Waypoint Daypack

This is actually the daypack that accompanied an older version of the Osprey Waypoint, another hybrid bag with just like Jess’ Farpoint. The Waypoint is too large to be carry-on size and works better as a big duffel than a backpack, though it does have backpack straps. Given it’s size, it was never an option for my primary bag on the trip. However, I did end up using the daypack from the Waypoint after some design and construction defects with the Tortuga Daypack I had purchased. (I did a video review of those issues that you can see here.)

The bag has two compartments: a smaller front pocket with a single vertical zip and a rear larger pocket with a standard two zipper flap opening. The bag has a rigid back thanks to a light weight plastic sheet between the mesh back and the main compartment. It also has two flexible and stretchable opaque top open pockets on the exterior. They are large enough for big water bottles, large sunglass cases etc.

There a few things that make me prefer this daypack over Jess’ Farpoint daypack and my old Tortuga daypack.

The overall design is minimalist. The padding on the back and straps is minimal. The bag isn’t large enough for the kind of weight that would demand padded straps. The straps themselves are wider and pleasingly thin yet stiff and durable feeling. When empty, the bag is really flat and can be easily stacked on top of my packing cubes and zipped up into my larger bag. The plastic backing gives the bag some structure which makes packing and unpacking it easier. It also keeps oddly shaped items from digging into your back. The interior fabric is a light grey which makes finding objects in low light easier.

The smaller pockets vertical zipper means its harder to get things in and out but also makes me feel more secure against pickpockets, especially since the zipper pull can be tucked out of site under a flap at the top of the opening. The larger compartment comfortably holds a 13’’ Macbook in a case and the rigid plastic back means that setting the bag down doesn’t put pressure on the laptop. It has durable zippers with holes for a luggage lock, though I’ve never had a need to use a lock.

The primary downsides of the bag have to do with design features. The overall shape of the bag is a little like a turtle’s shell, largest coming out of mid-back. This limits the overall capacity of the bag and also means slimmer items sometime get wedged at the bottom of the bag. Overall, the limited capacity isn’t a big downside for me. Travelling minimalistically is something we practice everyday, so we seldom carry much. The bags minimal size is what allows it to be packed into my larger Tortuga bag, a feature of great importance to me.

If you are interested in a minimal daypack that can fit in or on another bag and don't want to purchase an entire Osprey Waypoint just to use the daypack, I suggest the Osprey Daylite Backpack. As a bonus it is actually designed to clip into other larger Osprey bags, though I prefer emptying mine and packing it inside my larger bag an travel days.

Check out the Osprey Daylite Backpack on Amazon

Ebags Packing Cubes

We carry two medium cubes and three large cubes between us. The mediums are half the size of the larges so you can pretty much sub one for the other, though you will lose a bit of space with each smaller set. Both the Tortuga Travel Backpack and the Osprey Farpoint 55 have a footprint for two large or four medium bags. 

The larger ones are good for clothes as you can zip it half way up and shove rolled up items in there, much like a stuff sack. I like having two mediums because I carry most of our miscellaneous items and its good to have some organization between them.

Given how little structure our life has while on the road, packing cubes make life feel more together. You pack your bag faster and find stuff easier when you arrive. Our Eagle Creek Packing Cubes are definitely lighter, but I prefer the full zip for packing and unpacking and the mesh for visibility and aeration. Make sure you check your bag measurements against whatever size you order.

Grab some packing cubes on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

Eagle Creek Ultralight Pack-It Cube Set

These cubes were a Christmas gift from my sister before I left. They are super light and I threw them in my bag without a clear idea of what they would be useful for. As it turned out, they were incredibly useful and have served a number of short and long term purposes over the course of the trip. The larger one is most frequently used as a dirty laundry bag to keep stinky socks and other items separate. The smallest is now in full use as my ‘sleep bag’ with earplugs, eye mask, contact case and glasses. I throw it into my daypack for flights or bus rides and leave it on the bedside when we unpack in a new place.

My only design quibble with these cubes is their lack of a second zipper pull. You can really pack the Ebags Packing cubes tightly by half-zipping them and then stuffing them like a sleeping bag sack. You move the zipper up as you fill it, something that isn’t possible with a single zipper pull. With the Eagle Creek cubes, you can fill them half-way and then they lose their structure. They are, however, lighter than the Ebags cubes. The lack of mesh is a blessing for dirty and stinky things, but a pain for visibility.

Find these on Amazon

Skooba Design Cable Stable DLX

This holds our less consistently needed cables or small electronics. A micro USB for charging our Bluetooth speaker and Sterilite, the headphone splitter as well as larger items like our external hard drive, wired mouse and power brick. The pack fits perfectly in my daypack or the front pocket of my Tortuga when needed.

Find the Skooba on Amazon

Eagle Creek Pack-It Wallaby Toiletry Organizer

We chose the Wallaby for its capacity and hanging hook, which is large and durable. It folds over itself to close and even fully packed, its zips easily. When hanging, it gives full access to every pocket and it includes securable pockets for smaller or less frequently used items as well as slotted open pockets for every-day items like toothbrushes or combs. 

Get a Wallaby on Amazon

Pacsafe Citysafe CS50 Anti-Theft Cross-Body Purse

Jess was looking for a simple durable purse. Pacsafe's purses typically have an non-cuttable strap lined with metal cabling. This one was used on eBay. It's big enough for a wallet, phone, some TP, maybe a water bottle. It's not super attractive, but it gets the job done. 

Check out a new Pacsafe on Amazon

 

Transparent Cosmetic Bag

We have a few of these bags, primarily holding intermittently needed drugs or personal items. This quart sized bag holds 6 months worth of birth control for Jess as well as our supplies of monthly contacts.

Find a transparent cosmetics bag on Amazon

South African Airlines Amenity Bag

South African Airlines Amenity Bag

Got this on our business class flights from Sao Paolo, Brazil to Johannesberg, South Africa. Turned out to be the perfect size for my charger daily carry: Macbook Pro charger, Nexus 5x and iPhone charging cords, surge protector and outlet adaptor. If we are going to work in a café or want to plug in on a train or plane, this bag is easy to pull out. If I want to pack before bed for an early flight, I can leave this out and still have everything charged in the AM.

Small Electronics Bag

This former sleep-sack bag now holds primarily my GoPro and its accessories. It's an additional layer of organization (lumpy though it may be) within my smaller packing cubes.

Small Electronics Bag

Cosmetics Bag

We use this bag to hold infrequently used pharmaceuticals like allergy meds, antibiotics, malaria pills and altitude meds. Any TSA approved quart bag works.

Get a cosmetics bag on Amazon

Waist Wallets

A holdover from my period of much rougher travel in the Peace Corps, I still prefer keeping all my important docs and financials in one place, especially when traveling in the developing world. Worn only on travel days and always under my clothes, the lighter and thinner the waist wallet the better. These are going to get sweaty and gross. Buying one three times as thick with ‘sweat wicking’ foam and mesh is just going to make you more uncomfortable and less likely to use it.

If you haven’t used one before, the advantage of a waist wallet over one hanging over your neck is that you can quickly and relatively inconspicuously access it when necessary. Also, you won’t look like you have a massive chest tumor or risk being strangled by a purse snatcher.

ALSO:

If you are wearing this on the outside of your shirt, you are wearing it wrong.

If you are wearing this up on your stomach, under your shirt, you are wearing it wrong. 

If you are wearing this right above your crotch, below the waistband of your pants, where its hot and uncomfortable, you are wearing it right.

Get yourself a nerd wallet on Amazon

Daily-Carry Small Organizer Bag

This was originally a tiny travel first aid kit. It's now a catch-all for the tiny things that I always want with me but don't want bouncing around in my bag. On a normal day it holds headphones, ear plugs, a little bit of toilet paper and coins if i have any. I also use it to stash receipts or tickets or any other small paper that needs keeping. I recommend something with interior pockets so you can always stash and always find commonly used objects.

Find one on Amazon

 

Cheap Card Wallet from South America

Jess bought this... somewhere in South America. We only carry three cards on a daily basis: state ID, primary credit card and ATM card. The only thing worth saying about this is you're better off with a wallet with a coin pocket. Most countries in the world use more coins than we do.  

Jess Wallet

Timbuk2 Card Wallet

Leaving regular life is the best wallet diet plan you could go on. There’s no point having membership cards, business cards, old receipts or any other crap you would normally have stuffed into your wallet. We each carry ID, a single credit card and a single ATM card. I recommend a money clip to avoid any problems with the different sizes of currency. Jess’ cheap wallet she bought in South America doesn’t fit larger denomination Euro notes for example. She has to fold them twice to put them away. Timbuk2 doesn’t make this money-clip/card-holder anymore, but Herschel has a great one I plan to buy once this one falls apart.

Grab a card wallet on Amazon

Zippered Cloth Bag from Namibia

Bought this for Jess in Namibia as part of an anniversary gift. She keeps her sleep stuff in here. Ear plugs, eye masks, contact case etc. All these smaller bags inside other bags help keep everything organized and ensure we don't forget anything when we pack up at 4am for a flight.

Jess Sleep Bag