Living itinerantly out of a backpack for long periods of time requires a precise packing list that efficiently makes use of the limited carry space.
The gear vagabonds and nomads carry is more than just equipment and clothing, it’s our life in a backpack and in a way, everything we own.
So every item needs to be vital, functional and pack efficiently for mobility. Without these traits, that gear does not belong on a traveler’s kit.
A single article of clothing that takes up a disproportionate amount of space and weight that’s only useful during 1 season. An avoidable hassle to lug around for constant travel. Instead pack a light windbreaker or waterproof shell – takes up significantly less valuable room. Of course the exception to this rule is if your primary location(s) is freezing.
The red headed stepchild of adventure travel packing. Backpacks are without question the best type of luggage for a life nomadic. Rolling luggage or even suitcases are much too big, take up too much space and are not easily transportable (bus, motorbike, tuk-tuk) despite the “rolling” feature.
Don’t make yourself a target and wear too many pieces or really flashy jewelry, especially in poorer, more tourist targeted countries – even potentially dangerous from other travelers. It impresses no one but does gain attention, just not the good kind. Beyond theft, there’s the chance of loss. Do as I say, not as I do.
Not all cultures are as lenient and forgiving of self expression and style as the US or other Western nations. In some countries, revealing too much skin can get you in “social trouble” and wearing the wrong message on a shirt can get you in real trouble like actual jail time.
A century ago tents were the most vital item for vagabonds, but now made irrelevant due to extensive global hotel, hostel, couchsurfing coverage. However, a tent is necessary for certain adventurous travels or if intending to keep it old school and sleep outdoors whenever possible.
Even with advancing materials, sleeping bags are still inconveniently large when packed. Unless a majority of your travels will be in the outdoors, sleeping bags will only be a nuisance. In fact, some hostels don’t even let you use them. Besides, finding bedding will almost never be a problem.