My travel gear list for 2017

My travel gear list for 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve done a packing list (my last one was in 2014). I was planning to do another one until I realised my 2017 list is remarkably similar to 2014. Not much has changed in my bags, or the bags themselves. Hell, I might even have the very same underwear in there, so I will save myself the embarrassment of cataloging my entire wardrobe again.

I thought it was odd that I haven’t updated my gear, but then I have been travelling long enough now and I have refined everything I need to travel.

Instead of doing a breakdown of everything in my bag, this list is of physical gear I use, and shortlisted replacement gear. I will do another post of websites and apps I use for travel planning.

Bags

Primary Bag

REI Stratocruiser Wheeled Convertible Luggage - 25I’ve had the REI Stratocruiser for over four years now and it is still going strong. When it comes to bags it pays to buy quality brands that are known to last. The amount I’ve spent on crappy knock-off bags from markets in Asia I could have bought one good bag.

I have no reason to upgrade this anytime soon, though if I had regular access to an REI store I would probably buy a new one as I can’t help myself in that shop.

Here is my original review of the REI Stratocruiser Wheeled Convertible Luggage.

Day Bag/Carry-on Bag

I’m in the market for a new day bag. I’ve been using the Afar by Eagle Creek as a laptop/electronics bag, and a Carry-on by Minaal for small trips. Both bags are still great, but I have had to change my travel style after injuring my back last year. Doctors orders says no more lugging bags on my back, so my backpacking days are well and truly over.

On my short list are the Copilot Luggage Roller and messenger bag by Timbuk2 (or brands similar to these styles).

I need a carry-on bag with wheels and the Copilot comes in three different sizes. (And I never though I would be saying “carry-on bag with wheels.”) The big carry-on size would be ideal for short trips, and double as my electronics bag when checking a bag.

I’m also looking for a messenger bag that is big enough for a laptop and not much else (to stop me overfilling it). Basically an informal briefcase. This can then be packed into either bag when travelling with the two wheelie bags.

Electronics

Laptop

Apple MacBook Air 11.6-Inch LaptopI’m still using the same MacBook Air 11″ that I bought in 2012. Previous to this laptop I was a PC user. I went through 5 laptops over the space of 10 years (I bought my first laptop in Dublin in 2002) and previous to that (before my nomad life) I was a desktop computer user.

Working in Ho Chi Minh City

I’ve gone from an average of two years per laptop to four and a half years on the same laptop. Here is my original review of the Macbook Air. It’s a durable piece of machinery, though I’ve had the battery replaced in London, and the hard drive replaced in Saigon (doubling the size) after I dropped it on the floor.

Dead laptop

I’ve also gone through countless power adapters. I’ve literally lost count, but at a guess maybe six (I recall buying new ones in Bucharest, Penang, Singapore, and Saigon a few times). The fragility of the power cords are the most annoying thing about Macbooks.

I was originally planning to upgrade when I dropped the laptop. I had the choice of buying a new one or getting a new hard drive. I figured the new version was coming out soon so I would wait.

If you are a Mac fan you would know what a disappointment the 2016 update was. After four years the Macbook was virtually the same (apart from the weird touch strip). One review described the MacBook Pro as an expensive MacBook Air on the inside.


[My reaction to the new Macbook.]

I don’t know what is going on in Appleville. Maybe they should spend less time on designing door handles and more time coming up with a computer that wows again.

I’ll probably just upgrade (or sideways-grade) to another Macbook Air before they are taken off the market. I love my Macbook, and every time I use a PC at a netcafe to do some printing, my eyeballs hurt from looking at Windows. Having said that I am not a loyalist and I would switch again if there is a better offer. Indeed, I like to keep my options open because it is consumers like me that Apple should be concerned with – the ones that will switch again.

Who knows, maybe I will be rocking a Xiaomi or a (gasp) Surface Book by the end of 2017. For now the good money is on a old Macbook Air.

Mobile Phone

iPhone 5Previously I was using a Samsung Galaxy until I switched to an iPhone 5 in 2013, so I have had the same phone for over three years. Like my laptop, my phone has served me well with its current specifications. We haven’t hit peak smartphone yet, but I am at the point where I no longer need to keep updating.

I’ve had a replacement battery over the previous three years, and I am now getting to the point where the current battery is not lasting a day, so I maybe in the market for a new phone this year.

Contenders include upgrading to an iPhone 7, which is basically an excellent point-and-shoot camera with a computer attached. At over $700 though it is a considerable investment. I’m not a brand loyalist when it comes to phones either, so I am keeping my options open. Maybe I will be a Xiaomi fanboy by the end of the year, or try out a Huawei or Oppo.

Camera

Olympus PEN E-P3I’ve had my Olympus PEN E-P3 since 2012 (my review here) and it has been a great camera. Last year the camera got wet on a rainy day in St-Malo, France and it hasn’t been the same since. Sometimes when I turn it on the image on the screen doesn’t show and I can’t take a photo at all.

I definitely need to upgrade, though I haven’t done extensive research on a replacement. I’ll probably keep it simple and stay in the PEN series (which is now up to PEN E-PL8) and keep my lens from my current camera.

e-reader

Kindle PaperwhiteRounding out the electronics I bought in 2012 is the Kindle Paperwhite (original review here). This device is as good as the day I bought it. The battery life still lasts for weeks, and the backlit screen means I can read anywhere. As someone who lives outside of English-speaking countries, having an e-reader has been essential for me to keep up with my reading.

iPod touch

By far the oldest electronic item I own is my old iPod touch. I don’t remember when I bought it, but it is either a 2nd or 3rd generation iPod touch (released in September 2008 and 2009) so it is sometime around then. I prefer to listen to music and podcasts on this rather than using my iPhone, otherwise I would be burning through my battery life on my phone.

The iPod touch is now up to the 6th Generation and is cheaper than what I bought mine for. An improved product at a cheaper price is what is meant to happen to electronics, which did not happen for the Macbook.

Clothes

Shirts

Libertad Travel ShirtI have a Libertad which is an excellent travel shirt (here is my review). My travel shirt definition is a travel shirt that doesn’t look like a travel shirt. I’m not spending my days in the jungles of Borneo so I don’t need a beige meshed shirt with zips and large logos on the breast pocket. My shirts need to look good in an urban environment, yet be durable enough to be on the road without an iron, and be able to handle sweaty environments.

I’m in the market for a new travel shirt so I will either get another Libertad if they are available, or try some other brands.

This is my current short-list of stylish shirts for travel:
prAna
Wool&Prince
Ministry of Supply
Outlier

Jeans

Muji stretch denimYou may have heard the saying that “once you go Mac, you never go back.” As you have read above, I might prove that maxim wrong. I’m going to make up another saying that “once you go stretch denim, you never go back”.

Seriously, if you wear jeans and are still wearing normal old jeans that don’t stretch, then go out and get into some stretchy denim. They are like wearing trackpants while still looking like normal jeans.

I wear the Muji stretch denim, though all the other jean emporiums are on the stretch wagon as well.

My only concern is that this is a fad and we will soon be forced to wear normal jeans again. I was thinking of stocking up – just in case – but I don’t want to be that guy who loved Bell Bottoms in 1977 and bought a lifetimes supply. Maybe we will be looking back in 20 years and saying “can you believe people used to wear stretch denim!”

T-shirts

AIRism MESH

Since my previous packing list I have discovered the best travel t-shirt I’ve ever owned – the AIRism MESH by UNIQLO.

They come in t-shirts and polo shirt, and they are ideal for tropical wear. They have mesh on the side, but not in a creepy fishnet singlet kind of way. The mesh is only apparent if you look closely, otherwise it looks like a normal t-shirt. You can sweat all day in this and not look like you were dipped in a swimming pool.

I have seen similar style shirts from the leading sports brands, but I hate wearing clothes with a big sports logo on it, so this is ideal.

I usually stock up on t-shirts when I visit Bangkok or KL stores, or you can buy online.

Shoes

Apart from the countless amount of cheapo flip-flips/thongs that I have worn through over the years, I have the same shoe that I bought every year for the past three years.

The Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe is a comfortable and lightweight shoe, and – most importantly – is well ventilated. Shoes that can’t breath in the tropics are not a good idea.

I would happily buy these online, but being a nomad does not lend itself to ecommerce purchases. I buy a pair of these every year when I visit London from one of the many outdoor and adventure stores on High Street Kensington. I don’t even remember the name of the shop, I just go there and know where it is.

The first time I bought these I loved them, but I figured I would do something different and buy something else. I probably spent a whole day of my life wandering around shoe shops in London before settling on a new pair of shoes that I was not sure about. Sure enough the shoes were awful and I could not break them in after weeks of wear. Upon my return to London to get my flight home I dropped into the store I know and got my old favourites.

I hate shoe shopping, so now rather than wasting a whole day each year in looking for shoes, I know to go to this store and pick up a new pair. I get why Mark Zuckerberg wears the same thing every day.

I also have a pair of black dress shoes for those occasions which require such footwear, though they are uncomfortable, so I would like to get a durable and comfortable pair in the future.

Other Gear

Wallet

I would like to get the Bellroy Travel Wallet except it doesn’t fit the extra pages Australian passport. I am waiting for the upgraded size.

Watch

I think it’s time (ahem) I got back into wearing a watch. I’m aware of how often I pull my phone out of my pocket to check the time, and next thing you know I’m checking Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I’ve also been in situations where my phone has ran out of battery during the day and I’ve been unable to check the time.

I don’t know where to begin in this department, so to help me make a choice I will be polling other travellers about their watch and how they came to choose it.

Post Disclaimer

All gear reviews and recommendations are personal editorial. There are no inserted paid links or advertorials here. I have affiliate links where offered, which don’t change the buying price. Other links are listed for your convenience without consultation with the brand.

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Comments

  1. Uniqlo was a fantastic discovery for me too!
    They have lots of travel-friendly clothes for a bargain.

    Thanks mate

  2. I am really impressed with your clothing list. I never seem to be anywhere I can buy that sort of stuff. I guess you must buy it online? I am slowly converting my travel wardrobe from cotton based to more merino and polyester.

    I have never made the move to Macs. I tried running a Samsung S3 along with an iPad and it never really worked. If Apple were to ever have Micro SD card slots then it might be a game changer for me. It’s great to carry my entire data (work and personal), music and movie collection on four 128gb micro cards.

    I am typing this on my new mini foldable keyboard and I finally have left my laptop behind. I am using a Samsung Tab A 10 inch and have a desktop type setup with a mouse too. Big reason is to reduce weight. All my gadgets are now powered by micro USB. This has made a big difference to the leads I carry. I buy a local USB wall plug with two slots and carry a 3m and 1m micro USB lead.

    I hike a lot when I am not based somewhere working, so it was very important to me to get the weight down. I can now carry everything all the time, whether I am on a metro in Madrid or climbing a mountain in New Zealand. Freedom!

  3. owen oglala says:

    REI stands for “Really Expensive Inventory”. However, you do get what you pay for.
    Here in Thailand I have an I-Touch and a ฿700 Nokia phone. Who needs an I-Phone?

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