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1. Posted by RebekahL (Budding Member 14 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!


I'm travelling to around Southeast Asia but then I'm heading to Sydney to hopefully find some work and to travel up there! Not sure whether to take a backpack or a suit case?!?

Help!! :/

Also would any recommended in just staying in hostels and making your own way around or do it properly and use campervan?!

Any answers would be great thanks muchly :) x:)

2. Posted by Andyf (Moderator 929 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I say a small backpack.

It sounds like you'll be travelling around in SEA so it will be much more comfortable to travel light, and to have a backpack rather than trundling a case around.

Personally I'd be using a 35 litre backpack, as everywhere you're going is warm, and if you decide you need more clothes or anything else then they're readily available out there cheaper than at home.

3. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

What kind of bag to use to carry your 'stuff' is entirely up to you to decide based on how YOU intend to actually do your travelling. If you expect to take a taxi to a hotel etc. then a suitcase will work fine. If on the other hand you expect to actually walk around much with your bag then a backpack (or more likely a travelpack which is not the same thing) would be better.

Since you have said NOTHING about HOW you plan to actually move around, then no relevant response is possible.

There is no such thing as 'doing it properly'. Any way you do it that suits you is the way to travel.

4. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 939 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

RebekahL, no need to travel around in a campervan. Hostels and other accommodations are quite inexpensive in Southeast Asia. No need to take lots of stuff, too, as you can buy practically anything you need and want there, especially in places like Bangkok.

As for a bag, I share Andyf's recommendation that smaller is better. If you opt for something like a suitcase, soft sided is better than hard sided. It will fit virtually anywhere. I carry a soft sided bag, plus a small backpack for cameras and laptop. That's served me well in all environments, from desert to jungle, to mountains and sea. My soft-sided bag (no wheels) fits airline carry-on rules, so I rarely have to check a bag.

Get any bag you like. Then decide what goes in it. That's more important than the bag.

5. Posted by allia85 (Budding Member 8 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Get any bag you like. Then decide what goes in it. That's more important than the bag.

I agree that what's inside is more important than the bag. But maybe think about what you want to take with you before buying it so you can know how big it must be. (But remember that smaller is always the better)

6. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 939 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Allia85 makes a good point.

I draw up a packing list for each trip, trying to figure what I'll need. Some items are basics that I take on every trip that, in my mind, I can't do without. This includes wool-silk socks that help cushion my feet on long walks and hikes in all environments. To me, they are just as important as my shoes. I always take a pair of cheap flip flops, too.

Sometimes, I pack a pair of sandals. That's not often, as it adds extra weight. But if I know that I'll be walking in marshes, jumping off of boats to get onshore, then I'll bring them along.

Anticipating what you'll need is problematic, since I often discover at the end of a trip that I've packed some things that I didn't need or use. The tendency always is to over pack, even though I try to limit the weight of my two bags (one for cameras and laptop) to no more than 7 kilos each. What to do when you didn't pack enough, or didn't anticipate correctly what was needed? Buy it there, or improvise and get along with what you have.

7. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Well if we are going to move from 'what bag to buy' to 'what to pack' then I will offer my actual packing list that I use for almost all trips of any duration beyond 3 days. As you will see, I agree with keeping it light. The issue I find is that often people don't have an actual definition of what 'lightweight travel' actually means. Berner256 suggests 7kg for each of his 2 bags and I would say that is a reasonable starting point to aim for. Of course if like me you don't need 7kg of camera gear then you could half the weight Berner256 carries. My target is 5kg. total as you will see.

Everyone has different needs and I would not fault Berner256 for carrying 7kg of camera gear at all. To Berner, that is a necessity and I'm sure he tries to keep that weight down as much as possible. What is important is to decide what is a NEED and then find the lowest weight example of each item you take. You can for example take a 7oz. rainjacket or a 14oz. rainjacket as I mention in my packing list to follow here. Both meet the need to keep you dry. The same is true of any item you decide you need to take. One thing I can tell anyone for certain is that if you do not know the weight of each item you plan to take, you will be carrying more weight than you need to. That's 100% guaranteed. It is only by looking at the weight of each item that you can find the lowest weight answer. So here is my list for anyone to use if they wish to compare their 'lightweight' packing list to.

Three season packing list.

What to pack is a topic that comes up regularly. Packing too much is one of the two commonest mistakes that travellers make, along with trying to see too much in too little time.

Over time, my wife and I have refined our packing list to reach a balance between comfort/safety and weight.

So here is my packing list:

  • Pack:* Vaude Triset 25+4. I’ve had this pack for a few years now and the fit for me is excellent. I like the Aeroflex back and find that with a wicking t-shirt my back stays dry (sweat free) all day. Since I won’t be carrying a tent, stove, sleeping bag, etc. it’s more than big enough.
  • Clothing:*
  • 3 wicking T-shirts* Columbia Omni-Wick. 2 short sleeve and one long sleeve. I may try one of Columbia’s new Omni-Freeze instead of the standard Omni-Wick I’m used to.
  • 2 long sleeve shirts* Royal Robbins Expedition Light. Light weight, wicking, UV protection, low wrinkle and smart enough looking for anywhere.
  • 3 pair pants* North Face Paramount Peak. These are convertible to shorts (zip-off legs) and easy to wash and dry overnight.
  • 1 rain jacket* North Face Venture. Packable into one of it’s own pockets. Edit: this jacket weighs 14 ozs. And I am now looking at changing to a Marmot Micra which weighs 7 ozs. That will save nearly half a pound!
  • 1 down vest* Ralph Lauren. A lightweight down vest that can pack into it’s own pocket. Don’t ask, it was a gift but I have to say at least it doesn’t have a big RL logo on it anywhere.
  • 3 pr. Underwear* Icebreaker 150 merino wool. Keep you cool, don’t smell, feel great and dry quite quickly.
  • 3 pr. Socks* Rohner original merino wool medium weight. I’ve worn this brand for many years. Arguably the best hiking sock made.
  • 1 pr. Hiking boots* New Balance H710 Very light, breathable and fit like my skin. These were the first light weight hiking boots made. In 1984, Lou Whittaker wore one of the first pair to the top of the North Col of Mt. Everest. They’ll take you anywhere you are likely to go.

Other items:

  • 1 first aid kit* My own assembly of items.
  • 1 toiletry kit* The usual but only smaller quantities ie. Toothpaste. A 4 oz. bottle of Couglan’s concentrated camp soap will wash anything you can wash in water. You, your clothes, your hair, dishes, etc. You use a very small amount so it will usually last around 3 months.
  • Miscellaneous* A swiss army knife (never leave home without it), compass, map, baseball hat, 2 – 1 litre plastic water bottles, bandana, small LED flashlight, space blanket, sunglasses, matches, a couple of energy bars. The ‘ten essentials of wilderness backpacking’ are covered. Also passport,tickets, money, bank cards, etc. (no wallet, I use my pockets).

Here is my weight chart. Pounds rounded up to 2 decimal places.

Pack: 1200 grams/2.64 lbs.
T-shirts: (4.8oz. x 2, 6.2oz. x 1= 15.8 oz.) 448 grams/0.99 lbs.
Shirts: (5.0 oz. x 2 = 10.0 oz.) 284 grams/0.63 lbs.
Pants: (17.6 oz. x 3 = 52.8 oz.) 1500 grams/3.30 lbs.
Rain Jacket: 400 grams/0.88 lbs.
Down Vest: 284 grams/0.63 lbs.
Underwear: (3.0oz. x 3 = 9.0 oz.) 85 grams/0.56 lbs.
Socks: (2.82 oz. x 3 = 8.46 oz.) 80 grams/0.53 lbs.
Hiking boots: 454 grams/1.00 lbs.
First aid kit: 354 grams/0.78 lbs.
Toiletry kit: 340 grams/0.75 lbs.
Miscellaneous: (approximate) 454 grams/1.00 lbs.

Total all items: 6.21 kg./13.69 lbs.

Off course you have to add the weight of water carried, 1 or 2 litres at 1kg/2.2lbs. per litre as well as a ‘picnic lunch’ when hiking usually. Say another .5kg/1.1 lbs. But then you have to subtract what I am wearing and therefore not carrying in the pack. That can be as low as 1.15 kg./2.54 lbs. (shorts, t-shirt, socks, underwear, boots).

Total carried (dry weight): 5.06kg./11.16 lbs.

Maximum load carried (wet weight): 7 .56 kg./16.67 lbs.
I’d love to break that 7 kg. maximum but just can’t see how to get there without sacrificing comfort or safety. Of course I am well under it when in a town or on the plane.

My wife’s weights are slightly less primarily due to smaller clothes sizes and therefore slight weight reductions on each item. She carries a small make-up kit instead of a first aid kit and her miscellaneous items differ as well. She carries a skirt in place of one pair of pants on my list and a pair of ‘dressy’ sandals. On our next trip she will carry her Ipad for taking photos, making calls (Skype) and internet access (I don’t care about any of those). It’s relatively heavy at 652 grams/1.44 lbs. but she feels it’s worth it. Overall her list is basically the same for clothing. Her total dry weight is just under 5 kg./11 lbs. Her wet weight is almost right on the 7 kg. mark.

I call this the 3 for 3 pack. Good for three seasons and any number of days from 3 to infinity. Whether on a city break or in the country; whether travelling for 7 days or 7 months, on streets or hiking trails, it makes no difference.

The only other item sometimes added is a pair of Teva sandals. They are only added if it will be really hot weather or we plan on visiting beaches. They weigh 680 grams/1.50 lbs. but generally when we need them we don’t need a rain jacket or down vest and so the overall weight remains the same. If travelling alone, some items that are shared would have to be carried by the individual and would increase overall weight by perhaps 7-8%.

The key to successful packing is to always take the lowest weight item you can find that will do the job. Look for multiple use items (like camp soap) that can replace several individual items. My wife adds, colour co-ordinate everything to look good. Pack smart, not heavy.

This may provide a specific list for those new to backpacking to compare their own lists to and see where they could save some weight and add to their comfort. Feel free to question or comment.