“What am I going to put in my backpack?” is the question that has replaced our daily “What am I going to wear today?”… And yes, moving from a city life to a nomadic one is not at all easy, and above all not obvious! So we decided to share our experience, thoughts and advice on how to prepare an optimized backpak – tested and approved in all seasons and circumstances!
First of all, it’s necessary to figure out the total weight of a full backpack that you’ll always carry on your back: we usually hike with backpacks that don’t exceed 25% of our body weight – in order to not feel inconvenienced. It was with this weight limit goal that we have sorted our things that we will take with us for our World Tour (goodbye my heels!)
We have opted for backpacks with a rain cloth and side pockets for stuff that we would like to be available quickly. Our backpacks also feature a zipper on the full length, so we don’t need to empty your bag entirely each time to access the bottom!
But the most important point is that our backpacks perfectly fit on our hips to support 80-90% of the total weight, in order to relieve our backs and shoulders. Feel free to try several brands and backpacks types in a store, and ask a seller for weights to fill and test them full.
I took a multi-purpose dress, both simple and classy, for an outing day at the beach as well as for a night party in the city!
Another tip for small sizes like me: you can buy your clothes in the children section, more economical (14 years size is equals to a XS / S woman size)
My foldable ballerinas are the perfect solution to fit in my backpack and allow me to walk in town (I also use them for an event!).
I use my flip flops for outdoor showers at the beach or sometimes indoor showers
My scarf protects my neck from the cold and can be worn over the head if required
My sleeping bag allows me to sleep more comfortably or in a bed with a doubtful cleanliness. As for the format, I recommend a relatively warm sleeping bag (0 ° C) for extreme situations. Also good to know: there are “duo” sleeping bags that you can zip together: practical for couples!
My long sleeve shirt in a casual style can be wore to protect me from cold, sun and mosquitoes, but also for an event. As for jeans, I use it as everyday pants, but it can also be wore for a night out!
I invested money in a good convertible hiking pants with pockets on the sides: it’s very important for me to have my wallet and Swiss army knife at hand! Small practical detail: one of the pockets is equipped with an anti-theft fabric sewed on the zip.
I use my hood folded on my neck as a simple scarf
Finding good clothes that combine warmth, lightness and small volume is a real challenge. I prefer to invest in a good and warm jacket, light and waterproof (few are waterproof). As for the raincoat, I can wear it in case of heavy rain in combination with my down jacket, or simply over my clothes when it’s hot.
As Margaux, my warm sleeping bag (0 ° C) allows me to sleep in extreme situations
Our tips to have a less heavy backpack!
We had to find out some tricks to deal with all situations, all seasons and all climates. So we favored lightweight dual-purpose clothing such as convertible trousers, down jackets and long-sleeved t-shirts as it reduces unnecessary amounts of clothing!
We also have preferred some fabric types:
- Synthetic for tops, because it’s a very breathable material that dries quickly: ideal for daily hand washes!
- Cotton for underwears: comfortable to wear and very breathable, it’s recommended for women who are sensitive to urinary infections;
- Thermal underwears with high thermic protection which are an indispensable underlay against cold and be used as pajamas;
- Micro fiber towel for its lightness, fast-drying property and high absorption capacity;
- Silk liner for sleeping bags: a light liner that does not dirty our sleeping bags (silk liner is more easy to wash) and make you feel warmer.
Before leaving, sort out all your clothes and if necessary buy your equipment second-hand (an economical and ecological solution). However, for dual-purpose clothing such as convertible hiking pants or down jackets, do not hesitate to invest in quality and fitted products.
Another option to avoid unnecessary clothes to carry: buy clothes directly in the coutry you visit. It’s often more economical and adapted to the local weather. And when your clothes are no longer used, you can give them or send them back home through postal packages.
How to protect your valuable material?
All our valuable equipment, money and papers are stored in our small 20L backpacks worn in front of us. These small backpacks can be kept folded in our big backpacks or be used for a day outing.
Our tip for a better walk comfort: take small backpacks with a lap belt for a better weight distribution. When traveling, first hang your small backpack in front of you, then put on your big backpack and tie the lap belt below your small backpack’s one, so your small backpack’s weight will lay on your big backpack’s belt. This method of hanging also allows you to drop your big backpack very easily (for a bus ride, or in a car trunk of car) and to keep your small backpack with all the valuables items always with you!
Our tip: do not take on unnecessary products! Soaps and drugs can in most cases be easily bought in local pharmacies or drugstores.
Our essential equipment for every season (tested and approved from -20°C to +40°C)
i.e. about 9 kg per person
An extra equipment we took lately without suffering a great loss of comfort (+2.6 kg)
note: good for 2 people
Non essential equipment that allows us to enjoy our second passion: photography!
Of course, we are far from minimalist travel backpacks… But it’s a good compromise, in our eyes, to combine our two passions: travel and photography!