Travel Gear & Notes - 2018

Travelling is a uniquely awful experience, from losing your luggage in some far off airport, getting harangued at borders to hand over your passport to a shady border patrol officer, to even waiting out snow storms on a mountain pass. I've spent about half of 2017 travelling, with 3 months at the edge of the grid in the Pamirs, to the bustling streets of Karachi, and finally back to New York. This has dramatically forced me to sharpen my travel gear, which has become decidedly about minimizing weight, and maximizing flexibility.

Specifically, the final configuration of my gear last year was

1. Bags

1.1. Main bag: D3 Traveler

The D3 traveler is a hideously priced bag, but it's damn worth it if you need a bag that is discrete, light, and spacious. A skivvy roll fits about the width of a D3, which gives you enough padding to fill your backpack in the middle. The top compartment of the D3 is best left without bulky stuff, since your back is going to be grinding up against it all day when you lug it around. Otherwise, the D3 itself is fantastic for what it does: a low profile workhorse of a bag/ The only thing I'd make a note of is that the standard D3 strap that comes with it is far too short if you're planning on using it in backpack mode, so you're probably going to end up forking over another 140 for the long version of the D3 strap or the B1 strap. Add in your preferred pack system, and the total rings to over an eye-bulging 1k. I wouldn't recommend this unless you need it and have a little too much money to spare.

1.2. Day bag: Triple Aught Design Azimuth Pack, Laptop Sleeve, & Admin Panel

This I actually don't feel bad about recommending, since I use it day-to-day as a regular backpack. The laptop sleeve is separate from the bag, so you can place the laptop wherever you please. The backpack itself is solidly built, and won't flinch from whatever you need it to do. Note that the laptop sleeve does not actually nicely fit large amounts of A4 sheets, but you can just tuck it in with your laptop and it's good to go. The admin panel itself is nice for organizing all of your miscellaneous wires and cables. The Kindle also fits snugly into the laptop sleeve, alongside all of its wires.

1.3. Important Docs: Double Passport Pouch

I'm less sold on the necessity of this, but the double passport pouch is a lightweight pouch that hangs around your neck, holds your passports and wads of cash, and can be tucked into your shirt. You might be better off just using your backpack for this and save the $60.

1.4. Hyperlite Stuff Sacks

I actually own these because I have Hyperlite's ultralight trail kit, which I use normally for camping. The stuff sacks are fine, I use the x-large one to hold my pants and shirt, and use the pillow sack to hold my nano puff and hoodie, saving the jumbo one for dirty clothes.

1.5. Wallet.

It's a wallet yo.

2. Clothes

2.1. Icebreaker Shirts

Since this list is already a veritable who's who of overpriced gear, I felt it important that my icebreaker shirts make the list. They're light, they're comfy (albeit somewhat scratchy since they're wool), and they wick sweat right off your back. I've gone extended days wearing the same icebreaker shirt without smelling in cold environments, 2-3 days if I'm actively sweating, and 4-5 days otherwise. The only thing to complain about is that it's an insane 75 dollars per shirt.

2.2. Patagonia Underwear and Shorts

After a year of testing, I'm not totally sure how to feel about these. I like the shorts overall, since they double as swimming shorts when needed, but the underwear is overall very mediocre.

2.3. Icebreaker Socks

Now these babies are the real deal. Warm when you need them to be warm, cool when you need them to be cool, they can be worn all year around with no problems.

2.4. Grid Linen Towel

This towel is insanely good. 65 bucks for a towel is insane at first sight, but linen dries quickly, doesn't smell, and can take a beating. This towel is probably the most bang for your buck out of everything on this list.

2.5. Outer Layers: Hoodie & Nano Puff.

I'm a huge fan of the middle layer (e.g. hoodie) and an outer layer (thin jacket). This allows you to be as flexible as needed for all weather, without needing to carry a hulking jacket around. I've survived Bishkek winters and NYC slush with this combo, and would highly recommend it.

2.6. AT Slim Rivet Pants

I'm reevaluating whether these are worth it or not. While they're great pants in almost all aspects, they're not great when it gets wet out.

2.7. Conveyor Belt

It's light and has the added benefit of not setting off metal detectors.

2.8. Adidas Pureboost

These are surprisingly the best shoes I've found. They're light and comfortable in all weathers, and hold up significantly better than expected when it's raining.

3. Electronics

3.1. Thinkpad X1 Carbon

I used to lug around a 15 inch 2015 Macbook Pro with a GPU, and that was far too heavy for my tastes. The Thinkpad is a lot more lightweight, and is significantly smaller than the MBP without feeling constrained on screen size, 14 inch is definitely a sweet spot of productivity for me.

3.2. Kindle

You gotta read books man.

3.3. RavPower Travel Router

This is low key one of the best items I've found. It manages to be a solid battery bank and a wifi extender in a pinch, while maintaining a reasonable form factor.

4. Misc

4.1. Writing System: Roulette Pencil & Rite in the Rain Notebook

I'm currently reevaluating my writing system, although the Rite in the Rain notebook + pencil combo has served me extremely well. The biggest issue is carrying around lead, and the fact that pen does not work particularly well on the notebook itself. I've been giving some thought into extra pens and a smaller notebook on top of the larger one, but that seems to be overkill for me right now.

Posted: 2018-05-28
Filed Under: personal