Ladies and gentlemen, the time has finally come to reveal the biggest secret I’ve been carrying for the last year of my life – what’s in my backpack? (Yes, the bad pun is intended) Many people, including my fellow travelers, cannot believe I survive off the contents of a single, 40-liter backpack (by comparison typical school backpack is between 15 and 30 liters). I was a bit skeptical at first, but now that I’ve been on the road for over a year I can finally say with confidence that I know a thing or two about backpacking.

Sorry for the lackluster photos. My bag is not particularly photogenic.

If you’re planning your own backpacking trip, scroll to the bottom for a simplified packing list.

For any aspiring backpacker, deciding on what to bring with you is a tremendously difficult challenge. With so much travel gear online it can be endlessly confusing, but where do you even begin? I spent hours researching and reading through blogs just like this deliberating on what to buy because, let’s face it, it’s far more efficient to copy what other’s have done before you rather than reinvent the wheel. So as a public service to future backpackers out there planning their own trip and family/friends back home wondering what the hell has been in my bag for the last year, let me take you on a little tour.

All My Worldly Possessions

Now before I begin, you’ll notice many of the items below are linked to products on If you are interested in buying anything, I encourage you to use the links provided as I received a small percentage of your purchase at absolutely no cost to you. If you are feeling particularly generous please bookmark the link below and use it whenever you shop on It takes two seconds of your time, costs you no money, and helps me stay on the road. Everybody wins

(This link is also available on the Support Page of my blog)

Now time for business, the first item on the list should be obvious - the backpack itself. My tried and trusted backpack is an Osprey Fairpoint 40. I can toss it around and generally treat it like crap without the slightest fear that it will break or fall apart. The construction is solid and I love this bag to pieces - it is my best friend on the road.

Everything in my easy access backpack pocket.

My bag is separated into two main compartments and a small zippered pocket on the outside. First up is the small zipper pocket at the front of the bag at the top (above the Osprey eagle logo). This is where I keep any items I need easy access to while in transit: 

The contents of my secondary pouch.

In the secondary pocket I have some electronics and random documentation. Specifically, this pocket contains:

all of the loosly packed gear in my bag.

Not too impressed? That’s fine, the main pocket is where the magic happens. When I first open the bag there are a few things I’ve laid on top that don’t fit anywhere else:

All my toilietries.

On the back of the main flap you’ll notice a mesh compartment I’ve retrofitted to hold my toiletries bag. Here’s what in there:

  • Lewis & Clark toiletries bag
  • Toothbrush (3x; because they are cheaper in bulk)
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Bar of soap
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo
  • Contact lenses, solution & case
  • Razors (3x; same as toothbrushes)
  • Basic comb
  • Hand sanitizer (2x)
  • Sunscreen
  • Nail clippers
  • Extra contact lenses (4x)
  • Travel size Advil (10 count)
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Condoms
  • Band-Aids (4x)
  • Antibacterial cream
  • Malaria Medication (1 month)

Ever single square inch of my pack is used.

This list looks more intimidating that it really is. Everything is rather small, so it doesn’t take up much space. Now down to the meat and potatoes. From top to bottom you can see:

To the left and right of the orange sleeping bag I have a little extra space where I store:

If you’ve been following along you’re probably asking yourself, “Where the hell does he keep his clothes?” Well that’s what the packing cubes are for! I can’t stress this enough, buy packing cubes! They changed my life and I will never travel again without them. Here’s how everything is divided:

The rest of my supplies. My backpack is completely empty at this point.

One last thing to note: while I carry all this in my backpack, there are still a few things I physically wear or carry on me when I move from city to city:

So there you have it! While my gear fluctuates slightly from time to time, this is all that I’ve carried and lived off for an entire year on the road! I hope this finally puts to rest the mystery!. To tell you the truth, I’ve never been happier with so little in my life and, if you can believe it, I’m actually looking into what I can get rid of so I can shave off a few extra ounces! 

Let me know if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer in the comments below for all to see. Finally, I’d like to reiterate that if you are interested in purchasing any of these products please use the links in this post to support you favorite nomadic backpacker!

If you want to see the full unpacking I've uploaded the pictures to Flickr and you can see them all in the slideshow below. Safe travels my friends!


Simplified Packing List

This post was originally drafted to entertain friends and family back home. For the serious backpackers out there, below is a simplified shopping list to make your life easier. I left off a few items mentioned above that are either country/region specific or that I don’t use frequently and would not recommend. Happy Travels!