Ultralight Backpacking Gear: A List for the Reasonable Minimalist

I’ve been traveling on. I arrived in Southern Califorina exactly yesterday.

After approximately three months of bike touring and three more months volunteering, its finally time for me to hit the road again. This time, however, I’m packed for travel by foot & by rock. Last time I detailed my gear it was back in Oregon on my bike tour. Now, I’ve changed things up, bought new things, got rid of others, and created a slick new set up for my upcoming travels.

Therefore, I present to you, an updated list of my earthly posessions for my next stint as a vagabond rock climber.

The Wardrobe aka. My Clothes Chunk (38 items)

I’ll start with the boring and slightly excessive. This wardrobe has been relatively fine tuned over the past 6 months. Each piece serves a function. I should do a fashion show sometime to show you the incredible versatility of my clothes chunk. Sometimes I look a bit ridiculous, but that really isn’t anything new.
  • One green shirt dress thing
  • One little black dress
  • One print dress that usually ends up being my laundry day outfit
  • One black skirt
  • Waterproof biking jacket leftover from bike tour
  • An oversized red sweatshirt
  • A white knit sweat — incredibly impractical for traveling, but I like it.
  • One thin tan sweater
  • A houndstooth scarf — absolutely essential, any scarf, houndstooth or not
  • A plaid long-sleeve
  • A tan long-sleeve, which I’m seeing now may be a bit redundant
  • Blue & white striped 3/4 length shirt
  • The W Dress from American Apparel — I think that’s what its called. I’ve made several holes in this shirt by now..
  • White Manna T-shirt from Arcata, CA
  • A plain black shirt
  • One pair of black tights
  • One pair of neon tights from bike tour that I adore
  • Yellow leggings
  • A pair of jeans
  • One pair of longer striped jean shorts — internationally appropriate
  • Another pair of shorts, tan & white striped — less internationally appropriate
  • Yet another pair of shorts. I’d call these sleeping shorts
  • A tan tank top
  • A multi-colored striped tank top — What’s up with me and stripes?
  • Little black tank top
  • Sleeveless zip-up hoodie– adds a hood to any outfit, I really appreciate this
  • 4 socks (one thigh high wool set, a super warm sport sock & two athletic tiny socks)
  • 3 bras, one strapless
  • Underwears
  • Rainbow neon one-piece swimsuit
  • Fingerless gloves
  • Neon arm warmers — No excuses, they just look cool

OK. Fine. For anyone that claims to be a minimalist, this is a lot of clothes, I know. I’m sure I could do without a few of these items, and they will probably fall away as time goes on, but for the time being, it all fits in the bag, so I’m not feeling too much pressure. I stuff the lot of it into a waterproof compression sac (1 item) which may, in fact, be the most useful thing I have. It makes all those clothes look more like this…

…. I keep the larger & warmer pieces outside the compression sac for easy access.

Camp Stuff aka. I Can Sleep Anywhere (7 items)

I really appreciate being self-sufficient in this respect. It allows me stay in amazing locations and saves tons of money. Honestly though, If I didn’t have camping stuff, there would be almost nothing in my backpack.

I don’t have everything you need while camping, but still have enough to be comfortable living outdoors. Which leaves me with the following:

  • Pretty decent sized one woman tent
  • Sleep pad — its the short kind this time, much better
  • Sleeping Bag (30 degrees)
  • Compression sac for sleeping bag
  • A folding knife
  • Headlamp + batteries

Toiletries and the Like (11 items)

I’m not really one for primping & beautifying, so don’t be surprised that I have so few items in this sections. Last time I wrote about this, my mother was pleased to find that I was actually bringing a hair brush with me. Yeah, I’m just that bad…

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Loofa
  • Small Dr. Bronner’s soap
  • First Aid Kit (band-aids, gauze, pain killers, disinfectant, etc.)
  • Nail Clippers
  • Tiny hairbrush
  • A bag for the high-use toiletries
  • The bag from the front of my bike to hold it all
  • A camp towel

Technology Stuff aka. How I Make all this Magic Happen (9 items)

  • Solar Charger — yes, it works & yes, it is awesome
  • iPad + keyboard/case hybrid
  • iPhone + charger
  • Hot pink iPhone protector. Yup.
  • Data Storage device
  • Some practically useless Apple converter piece to plug into the iPad
  • Earbuds

Rock Climbing Things (7 items)

Yes, I know. I need way more than this to be a savage rock climber, but I have to start somewhere so this will have to do…

  • One set of super sticky rock climbing shoes
  • A harness
  • The Belay device
  • Chalk bag & accompanying chalk
  • A carabiner
  • This mesh bag that carries it all

Other Things–Random or Not–That I Need Need Need (9 items)

  • Passport
  • Bank Cards, etc.
  • One pair of Teva sandals
  • One pair of all purpose tennis shoes
  • A pretty pink pepper spray
  • A lighter
  • A notebook + pen
  • Sleeping pad repair kit
  • And finally… A GoLite backpack–which may actually be made of magic

That’s it. That’s the whole of it. That is everything that I own, well, excuse the emergency bag & mementos left in Portland. 80 total items. So much better than last time!

There are, however, a few things that I would like to add to my haul…

  • Travel mug and/or waterbottle. It would be cool if it had a lid & I could heat it up. I may just settle on a mason jar.
  • A set of chopsticks
  • A book. I just need a new one
  • Some quickdraws for rock climbing
  • An amazing rope–I know I can’t really carry it around, but I can still want it. Right?

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

-Lao Tzu

Sigh. OK. I’m working on it…

The Packing Saga….

  1. Yard Sale & Moving Out (Adventures in Minimalism)
  2. Moving into a Smaller Space (Sweating tthe Small Stuff)
  3. Downsizing: Round III (Adventures in Minimalism)
  4. Indecision Paralysis (Obsessively Compulsive Dilemmma)
  5. The Final Countdown (Hurry Up & Panic)
  6. Bike Tour Gear (A Minimalist Goes Mobile)