The world's trusted guide to sustainable and ethical fashion

The world's trusted guide to sustainable and ethical fashion

The Perfect Men’s Packing List for a Year of Travel (When You Don’t Want to Dress Like a Backpacker)

Yes, it is much easier for a man to pack a year’s worth of clothing into a carry-on and feel perfectly comfortable and stylish. Men can wear the same clothes every day. Their footwear is much more versatile, and unless they are truly fabulous, their accessory choices are basic. They just need less to feel comfortable and confident.

But given all this, I was still very impressed with my husband’s packing list, which all fit into his Away Bigger Carry-on. (It’s not a sustainable brand, but he likes it and it suits his tastes and needs. Here’s a list of sustainable suitcases.)

Illich doesn’t dress like a hippy backpacker. He’s an architect and a DJ, so he’s fastidious about his appearance, aesthetically inclined, and isn’t afraid to experiment. In essence, it’s like a digital nomad wardrobe that is sexier and more fun, and still contains all the items he needed for mountain hiking, DJing at a club or festival, island life, meetings, and city life everywhere from Santiago, Chile to Amsterdam.  (What he packed in his DJ production backpack, I’ll let him share in his own channels.)

My husband is not a sustainability freak like me, but I’ve turned him on to several ethical and sustainable brands over the years. The key here is that he only brought high-quality clothing that he knew would hold up to an entire year of heavy use.

(PS. Here’s my list of sustainable shopping sites for men.) 

The following list is based on what he left New York City with, in December of 2017. Fifteen months and 23 countries later, I ran through it with him again to see what changed and cross off anything that he wouldn’t recommend. So, here it is: The perfect men’s packing list for a year of travel around the world.

At the end of the dock in the Guna Yala (a.k.a. San Blas) islands in Panama. Nike Dri Fit t-shirt and Fair Harbor shorts
  • Merino wool zip-up layer – Soft, healthy for your skin, moisture and odor-wicking and long-lasting, merino wool is your best friend when traveling.
  • Uniqlo ultra down jacket – This goes in a stuff sack, for easy packing when we were in hot climates
  • 2 Ably cotton t-shirts – In white and grey. Stain-resistant, they lasted him all year without getting yellow under the arms.
  • Uniqlo undershirt
  • Hemp long sleeve button down – By B Label. Hemp is sustainable, strong, and only gets softer with wear. This is a nice style that straddles the line between professional and chill.
  • White cowl neck t-shirt  – something stylish for his DJ gigs. This made it almost through the whole year, before an incident with a drugged motorcyclist in Cambodia ruined it.
  • Nudie jeans – these were already 6 months old when we left, and they were his only pair of jeans all year through thick and thin. They just finally ripped a month after we got back home. Read my full review of this eco unisex brand.
  • Caravana black men’s cardiganThis might be a little out there for you if you’re not the type to go to Burning Man, but this was so incredibly useful to him. He can wrap this as a simple scarf in the city when it’s cold, or wear it as a poncho in resort areas or festivals, and use it as a lightweight blanket in a pinch.
  • Black sleeveless cotton tee 
  • Outlier black pants – Illich hiked for 7 hours in these in Hawaii, but they look good enough for dinner or the office… if you work in a cool office.
  • MATTER shorts – He wore these every other day until he got a custom pair of drop-crotch shorts made in Morocco.
  • Light modal pajama pants and matching top
  • Nike Dri-Fit sleeveless and regular t-shirts
  • Columbia convertible hiking pants – These were the most lightweight plus came in a tall enough size for him (he’s 6’5″)
  • Fair Harbor grey shorts – These eco-friendly shorts look like normal shorts, but they can be worn as swim trunks, or to yoga. They don’t have an interior, ahem, support system, so he didn’t fully replace the need for swim trunks with them, though.
  • Swim trunks – He got his from Paul Smith.
  • 7 pairs Smart Wool socks 
  • Palladium boots – They look cool enough for the city but he can hike in them too.
  • All Birds runners
  • Fjallraven belt
  • Ecco hiking sandals
  • Baseball cap
  • Cheap Ray-Ban style sunglasses – He didn’t want to bring his real ones and lose or break them. A good thing, because he had to replace them a few weeks into the trip!
  • Cheap watch by Casio  – It was cheap, but lasted through the whole trip easily, even after three years at Burning Man. Great value, yet he wouldn’t be devastated if he lost it.
  • Marmot rain jacket with hood
  • Black sarong – He can use it as a light scarf, towel or a picnic blanket
  • Lifestraw water bottle and crochet sling – We never got a stomach ailment during our entire 14 months of travel, and I partly attribute that to this purifying bottle. You can take the filter out when you’re in cities where tap water is drinkable. And the sling is a pretty manly way to carry your water bottle around the city, actually. I appreciated him having this so I didn’t have to be the one providing all our water needs all the time.
  • Camelbak backpack – For day hikes and any time when he needed a non-huge backpack.
  • Headlamp – We stayed in several place where a headlamp was required for walking around at night.
  • Foldable duffel bag– Goes into a mini stuff sack – great for side trips to the beach or the jungle for a couple days.
  • Travel towel
At the top of Teotihuacan outside of Mexico City. Caravana men’s cardigan, Nudie jeans, Allbirds shoes

In His Backpack:

  • Smartphone
  • 2 phone charging cord  – in a normal length and extra-long length
  • Car USB phone charger – this was so helpful whenever we rented a car.
  • Laptop and charger
  • Laptop heat lap pad
  • Screen cleaner spray and cloth
  • Cable pouch/organizer
  • Moleskine sketchbook
  • Short extension cord with multiple plugs  – So we could share an outlet when we were working side-by-side. We used this a lot.
  • Passport and passport wallet
  • International vaccination certificate
  • International driver’s license
  • Extra photos for visas – definitely came in handy to have extra photos!
  • Fold up reusable shopping bag
  • Travel pen with carabiner – this was super helpful. He lost it after 8 months, but it was a good run.
  • Inflatable travel pillow
  • Earbuds
  • Earplugs
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Portable spork – So we don’t have to use disposable plastic cutlery. Make sure it’s plastic or wooden, not metal, which will be confiscated by airport security.
  • Reusable bamboo straw – You never know when you’ll encounter a coconut.
  • Pack of tissues  – For bathrooms without toilet paper
  • Reusable handkerchief

His Toiletries:

  • Small nylon travel toiletry bag – He liked it so much that when it got a hole in it in Mexico from an unprotected razor, he took it to get it repaired.
  • Electric toothbrush
  • Travel toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Safety razor and razor blades  – I only recommend this if you are checking your luggage. Airport security will confiscate the extra blades.
  • Mini hairbrush
  • 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner
  • Tweezers
  • Dental floss
  • Nail clippers
  • Soap
  • Soap box
  • Chapstick
  • Akamai skin and hair oil
  • Swiss Army Knife  – I have this in his toiletry bag because if it was in his backpack, it would get confiscated.

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