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backpacker kit list long term travel

My Long Term Backpacking Challenge – Hand Luggage Only?!

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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