I often get asked by readers what I keep in my rucksack. It’s something I’ve written about a few times but recently I’ve made some rather big changes to both the way I travel and what I travel with.

One of the biggest things I’ve done in the last year – and something I’ve actually not mentioned – is the fact I ditched my Berghaus Jalan 60 + 10 rucksack and swopped it out for a 110 litre Dakine suitcase!

Pretty big change hey?

There were 2 reasons – first off I needed more space (I was carrying surf stuff, dive stuff, promo stuff for companies etc etc) and secondly I needed more organisation – the Dakine with its epic amounts of space and self contained compartments offered both.

But I’ve been keeping a close eye on what I’ve been using and what is simply taking up valuable room and since I’ve returned home and regrouped I’ve offloaded a heap of crap and I’ve decided to totally streamline and minimise my travel life.

One of the things I’ve decided to do is revisit my 25 litre challenge.


backpacker banter 25 litre rucksack

Time To Travel Light!

25 Litres Of Life

For those of you who have been reading the blog for a while you’ll remember a few years ago I challenged myself to travel for 3 weeks in Thailand on nothing more than 25 litres using my Dakine Photo Mission Bag.

It was a great success and it taught me a lot about what I really needed to survive on the road and how much excess I was lugging around. Lessons it seems I subsequently forgot!

It was great to travel on only hand luggage, it made flights, bus trips and ferries a breeze to navigate.

I could walk to destination looking less like a target and the fact it was compact and light made everything…well….easier!

It did however have a major drawback – the very thing that made it a success…size.

Using it for 3 weeks in Thailand was easy as there was only one climate I needed to deal with. This year I’ve jumped from Moroccan heat, to snowy Swiss Alps, to a Kiwi autumn and back to the heat of Asia.

Packing enough to deal with all those climates made 25 litres near impossible to use!


Following The Sun

For the adventure I’ve just started through I shall be following the sun – with diving and surfing being the main focuses. This means I only have to pack for sun drenched beaches where board shorts and bare feet are the order of the day.

So I thought sod it – lets strip down my kit, take advantage of the opportunity to offload it at my parents house and really challenge myself to travel light.

And that’s what I’ve done.

I spent no more than 15 minutes packing a 25 litre rucksack with the essentials. It was brutal. It will involve quite a bit of hand washing clothes in sinks but I’m sure the pros will outweigh the cons.

And since some of you are keen to know here’s what made the final cut…

backpacker kit list long term travel

The Entire Contents Of My Bag!

Cameras & Electronics

  • 7D + 40 + 10-20
  • Battery and charger
  • GoPro
  • Cable + SD + adaptor
  • Bobble grip and new grip + pole + red filter + time lapse mount
  • Surf Mount
  • Olloclip iPhone attachments
  • Macbook Air + charger
  • iPhone + charger
  • iPad
  • Dive computer
  • Portable Hard drive



  • 2 x Boardies
  • 1 x walkshorts
  • Thermal rash shorts
  • 4 x tshirts
  • 4 x boxers
  • 1 x flannel
  • Sunglasses
  • Flip Flops



  • Toothbrush
  • Razor (no idea if these will get through check in!)
  • Zinc Cream (hardcore waterproof suncream for surfing)
  • Business cards


As you can see I’m a man of little clothing and my life revolves around my digital lifestyle!


backpacker challenge long term packing

Roll On The Next Adventure…


It’s a bit of a risk slimming down this much – but knowing where I’m heading over the next 8 months I know in the back of my mind that I’ll be fine.

I’ve also made sure I’ve set aside a bit of cash to purchase extras on the road if/when I need them. Things like tooth paste, extra suncream…it’s cheap enough to by it on the ground and then buy a fresh supply after a flight if needed.

At the end of the day if I do struggle it’s not going to kill my bank balance to buy a cheap suitcase or bigger rucksack to chuck some stuff in – but I doubt it will come to that!

So here goes – putting my money where my mouth is and seeing if the 25 litre challenge can hold out over a long term period of time!

As I said in my verdict of my initial test – travel genius or deluded ideal…I won’t know until I try it!


What are your packing essentials – have you attempted anything similar?!


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24 Responses

    • Chris

      Should be an interesting experience hey Val – but as long as I can grab my surfboard I’m easily pleased!

  1. Ove

    cool idea! i did somehting similar when i traveled to indo for a month. had one boxer with me and the clothes i was wearing. if i needed something new i bought it cheap on the streets. was a really nice experience and new feeling of backpacking! but of course less long than u are planing too! good luck ;)

    • Chris

      One pair of boxers hey Ove?! good times! were they those anti bacterial micro fibre things?! did you enjoy Indo?

      • Ove

        haha who knows ;) i fell in love with indo especially with gili . will go back there next year. best thing for me on bali was the climb of Mount Batur to see the sunset from the top, unreal feeling! have u done it?

      • Chris

        Love Gili! I’m back there this year actually!
        My bro and his buddies did the Mount Batur trip and I opted to stay in bed…was pretty happy with that decision as it turned out to be a heaps cloudy day! Maybe next time hey?!

  2. Kate

    As someone who is in the process of starting their first backpacking adventure, these types of posts are invaluable! I’m so looking forward to catching up on all your adventures, and hearing about the ones to come!
    Kate recently posted..Our “Must Sees” in Costa RicaMy Profile

    • Chris

      if it’s your first trip Kate I wouldn’t suggest hand luggage only!haha! Hopefully it’ll make you realise you don’t need to lug the whole kitchen sink with you though! What’s your plans?

  3. Ni

    Congrats on this :) We seem to have almost the same electronics (though I seem to have more cable!) I am cutting down more and more on my load too. Which backpack have you got?

    • Chris

      Yeah I’ve crunched my cables down heaps! Needless clutter I found. I’m travelling with the Dakine Photo Mission bag.

  4. Sam

    Well done! 25 litres would be a dream for me. Currently I have 32, and it’s just about right, but I only have 2 t-shirt! (The rest of the time I steal my partner’s – one benefit of being in a same sex couple!) It is surprising, though, after you travel with a lot and then travel with less, the things you realise you don’t miss until you’re reunited with them again. Good luck – I’m sure it was a good decision!
    Sam recently posted..Expat Living in Peru: Mari in LimaMy Profile

    • Chris

      hahaha love your logic Sam! I’m justifying the lack of tshirts simply because the next few months are very ocean based so its boardies all the way!
      Fingers crossed I remembered everything!

  5. Jodie Taylor

    I am adamant that cabin baggage size is the way forward. My main backpack is a 46l Osprey Porter which I have found to be an excellent size and is the max. cabin baggage size. I’ve saved myself hundreds in baggage check fees as many airlines (esp Asian) fail to weigh cabin bags. I have only been caught out once so far – to the tune of $45 AU, but a small price to pay.
    I think as a girl I would struggle with 25m but will be interesting to see if it can be done. Good luck x

    • Chris

      Good skills Jodie!
      Didn’t realise you could cram up to 46l in hand luggage! Might have to check out that bag incase I need to upsize!

  6. Rusja Foster

    Wow. Being a girl makes it so much harder to pack light! I’d love to give this a go one day though…although maybe not 25L! And your tech is pretty similar to mine, although somehow I always just seem to have so much clutter!

    • Chris

      Yeah I’ve had that reaction from most females I’ve spoken to about it! 25 Litres is on the limit even for me – mind you if I didn’t have the tech in tow it would be more than enough!

    • Chris

      Worked well enough for 3 weeks in Thailand for me on very similar kit so I’m thinking – I’ll just do more washing hey!?
      Congrats on the blog bday dude!

  7. Beth

    Hi Chris, love your blog! I’m planning my own RTW trip for next year and was wondering how you keep some of your expensive kit safe? I want to be able to take my Macbook, IPad and DSLR but am worried about keeping it safe, especially when in Asia! Any suggestions?
    Beth recently posted..Failure Is What You Make It.My Profile

    • Chris

      Hey Beth – stoked you like the blog! Personally I carry all the kit you mentioned – just make sure your covered insurance wise – and when it comes to sleeper buses and transport I always keep it with me rather than put it in the luggage hold.

  8. Nessa

    As a solo traveller I don’t want to stick out too much with a massive backpack. How did you get on? Anything you didn’t take that you wish you had?

    • Chris

      Hey Nessa – packing is always a pretty personal thing and these days I have a pretty big bag due to the surf and camera kit I carry around. It’s always more of a mission when you jump through weather patterns too. To be honest it’s easy enough to pick up things on the road so I wouldn’t worry too much about leaving things behind, its amazing how quickly you learn to scale your belongings down!


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