by Mike Shea on 6 July 2009
Back in March I wrote up my packing list for a four day trip. Since then, I got bit by the urge to pack even lighter. I've made some purchases, learned some things, and have my overall packing list reduced down quite a bit from what I had back then. I have a few items I want to discuss in detail and then I'll post my final packing list for indefinite travel with nothing but a backpack. First, some item reviews:
Dickies Performance T-Shirt: I've worn black t-shirts as a primary shirt since I was 14 years old and it hasn't changed now. I've gotten pickier about them but I think I found the perfect shirt. The Dickie black t-shirt is a 60/40 cotton poly blend so it dries fast and keeps its color in the wash. It is built long so it tucks in and stays tucked. It's pretty thick but could still work as an undershirt when needed. At $11 a shirt, its cheap and excellent. My only complaint is the label on the sleeve. Ten minutes and some careful work with a tiny pair of sewing scissors took off the arm label. This is an excellent travel shirt. I plan to wear one out and carry one with me on all my trips.
REI Pack-towel: Dubbed the "hanky-towel" by my lovely inlaws, this sham-wow-like towel absorbs a ton of water and packs into a tiny pack. It was able to dry me off from both showers and a day at the water park with no problem and dried in a couple of hours. My only complaint is that it sort of sticks to you when you dry it so you sort of dab yourself with it or lay it on you to absorb the water, you don't rub yourself with it like a normal towel. Still, well worth the $12 for a towel many times smaller and lighter than a normal towel.
Ex-officio Convertable Pants: I didn't really need to try out the insect repellant part of these pants but I did wear them and they are great. Extremely light weight and very handy when converted to shorts. In packing light, I try to find clothes that serve double duty at all times. These make up for a pair of pants and a pair of shorts all at once. Not exactly business casual but still great pants. They're a tad on the expensive side but they're light weight, dry fast, pack well, and serve multiple purposes.
LL Bean Overland Woven Shirt: This lightweight shirt serves double duty as a long-sleeved or short-sleeved shirt. It's lightweight, breathable, looks nice, and dries fast. It's not too expensive at $50. I'm not too crazy about the pattern, though it helps hide stains, and the sleeves weren't comfortable rolled all the way up so I just rolled them up to the elbow and they were fine. It's a great travel shirt and I plan to take it everywhere I go.
Ex-officio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs: Super-lightweight and comfortable, two pairs of these (one worn, one packed) can serve for weeks on the road (according to the propaganda). They're not cheap but they dry fast and feel fine.
Tilley Travel Socks: Also not cheap but they dry fast and are very comfortable. Two pairs of these (one packed one worn) should work fine for long trips. I'm only worried about them getting lost in the drier. At $18 a pair, that's $9 to the sock gremlin if they get nabbed.
LL Bean Super Deluxe Book Pack: An excellent and versatile backpack. This easily carries everything I need for a trip anywhere for any length of time. It carries on to a plane easily and is light enough to forget you're wearing it. It beats the hell out of the wheelbags of the zombie commuters. Nice big handle, two mesh sides for water, bathing suits, or wet pack-towels. Enough pockets for everything (too many, really. I like one big pocket), and a padded back for a laptop should you choose to carry one. Much cheaper than real luggage too.
With that, let's review the entire Mike Shea packing list:
If I need more formal clothing, I'd pull the convertable pants, swim suit, and overland shirt with another pair of dockers, two lightweight dress shirts, a couple of ties, and I'd wear a blazer. I might even buy this travel blazer. A good mix of shirt and pant colors can go four days without repeating.