packing, travel, travel clothing

How to Pack for Long or Short Term One Bag Travel

November 06, 2017

The trick to traveling with just a backpack is to cut the fat until you have refined your perfect “one bag wardrobe”. Cut the fat and you’ll cut the stress of packing.

We’ve scoured the net looking for the best packing lists out there, and have one bag traveled all over the world. Here is what we think is the quintessential travel wardrobe.

The Approach:

The good thing is, most trips, no matter how long or short, hot or cold, require the same basic elements – so once you have your wardrobe, it will be adaptable to most of your travel needs.  

One trip is all you need and you’ll never travel the same way again.

The key is to seek out clothing that will stand up to the rigors of travel. Here are some things you’ll want:

  • Minimal, simple & timeless style:  Most “travel apparel” is full of odd features and designs that will have you looking out of place everywhere except maybe a tourist trap. Pick clothing that has function in mind, but also style and can be mixed and matched. Pick clothing that will have you looking good in number of different situations – in most situations, a neutral colored wardrobe is ideal
  • Wrinkle Resistance: You’ll be rolling your clothing, and maybe even using compression cubes, so pick clothing that refreshes and bounces back easily. Ideally, this is clothing that can be rolled and stuffed in your bag for hours and then worn immediately while still looking good. Merino wool has a lot of anti-wrinkle properties, and every Unbound Merino T-shirt is wrinkle resistant.
  • Odor Resistant: Reducing your wardrobe to the bare essentials means you’ll be wearing each article of clothing many times over. Since you’re on vacation, you probably don’t want to spend a lot of your time doing laundry. Odor resistant Merino wool clothing will stay clean, fresh and save you time.
  • Quick Drying: This is important especially for long-term travel. Since you’ll only have a few staple items, you will be washing your clothing from time to time. Quick drying clothes can be line dried over night.
  • Durability: The stuff that will go into your one bag is going to get hammered. Daily wear and tear is heightened while on the road so look for durable, high quality brands. Although the initial investment might be higher, quality clothing will save you money and grief in the long run.
  • Layering: Craft your one bag wardrobe to work in layers. Warm or cold climates, you’ll be able to pivot and stay comfortable without adding unnecessary bulky items that you may not even need anyway. For example, instead of bringing a rain jacket and a warm jacket – bring a super light waterproof outer shell, a warm sweater, and some base layers.
  • Plan your heaviest clothing around travel days. We’re talking jeans, shoes, and even sweater. No reason to lug it on your back, and it will free up space.
  • Don’t take stuff you “might” use. Every item in your bag should be multipurpose and have guaranteed function. If you’re not sure you’re going to use it, don’t bring it. You can always buy something you need while on the road. Only bring what you will for sure use.
  • So, with these principles in mind, here’s what we think is the quintessential list of packing that will get you buy on most trips, even long term travel.

Keep in mind, every trip is different, and everyone is different, so of course you’ll supplement all of this stuff with a personalized wardrobe that meets your style and needs. This basic list of essentials will ensure you have plenty of room for what you think is best.



  • 2-4 X Merino Wool T-shirts
    Choose light shirts for the day and dark for going out at night.


  • Travel in your best fitting, most versatile and comfortable  jeans, but to add to the mix, pack a pair of climbing pants.
  • 1 X Climbing Pants: We recommend a good pair of climbing paints because they are super light, comfortable, durable and dry extremely fast. They also roll up extremely small.

Under Garments:

Warm Threads Supplement:

If you’re traveling to a cold climate, layering is key.

  • 1-2 X Merino wool base layer long sleeve
  • 1 X Merino Wool long sleeve Henley
  • 1 X Merino Wool zip up hoody.
  • 1 X  Packable Compression Jacket

Tropical climate supplement:

  • 1-2 Tank Tops
  • 1 X Neutral Colored Board Shorts: A nice pair will double as swimwear and shorts.
  • 1 X Quick Drying Shorts: A pair of shorts made of lighter materials packs easily and can double as swimwear.
  • 1 X flip flops

Getting fancy:

For anything requiring a little bit of dressing up, travel in or pack a nice pair of dark jeans or chinos.

  • Add a wrinkle resistant button up.
  • Light weighing black leather shoes.
  • And if absolutely necessary – black blazer.

Just in case you need it, here’s a super helpful guide for how to pack sport jacket.

So there you have it. Now all you need is the perfect travel bag – we have a guide for that too.

              Col Forbin
Col Forbin


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