Clothes make up a fair percentage of the things in your backpack. If you take too many clothes, you end up with a heavy bag or no room for other essentials, and if you take too few clothes – well, let’s not go there.

To listen, hit play below or find episode 83 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

It’s important to consider what clothes you need. You’ll be surprised, you don’t need as much as you might think, and you certainly don’t need to take your whole wardrobe. We took 20-litre daybags for a week in Greece and wondered what other travellers (on the same one-week package) had in their two huge suitcases.

This list should cover you for any eventuality. We’ve been travelling for almost three years carrying basically these items, and we don’t need much else.

What to bring

  • 1. Five pairs of undies (and a couple of bras if you use them).
  • 2. Four or five pairs of socks. Good quality ones, you’ll be walking a lot.
  • 3. Sneakers or hiking shoes.
  • 4. Flip-flops.
  • 5. Lightweight nice shoes (optional).
  • 6. Three or four t-shirts.
  • 7. A nicer t-shirt or top.
  • 8. Two pairs of trousers, preferably non-wrinkle, zip-off. Not jeans!
  • 9. Shorts or a skirt for the beach.
  • 10. Thermal underwear if going somewhere cold. Merino wool is good and black is always a good colour — you might be able to use your thermal top as an outer layer.
  • 11. Two thin long-sleeve tops
  • 12. A heavier jumper (but not very heavy or bulky).
  • 13. A rainjacket
  • 14. Hat, gloves and scarf if heading into winter anywhere.
  • 15. A sarong can be handy for girls and guys — as beachwear, for heading to the shower in or as a spare sheet.
  • 16. A sun hat.
Our backpacks.
Our backpacks.

Extra tips

  • Think about where you’re going, and when. Investigate temperatures and pack for temperatures more extreme than what you discover.
  • Pack layers. You keep warmer and have more options if you can layer up.
  • Make sure all your items match — choose a colour scheme and stick to it.
  • Add extras as necessary. Buy country-specific clothes in that country.
  • Remember, you don’t need to pack everything in your wardrobe. Pack light and you won’t regret it. You can buy things along the road, in fact you’ll need to because things wear out quite quickly when you wear it every day or two days.
  • Category pack: have a small bag for undies, one for winter gear (that can be pushed to the bottom of your back in summer), one for summer gear and one for work/party stuff. It’ll be easier to find things and the things you’re not using will be out of the way.
  • It’s quite a good idea to take some old stuff with you when you travel. Wear it a couple of times then chuck it and buy something new. You’ll probably want a souvenir of your travels anyway, and clothes can be a great way to do it. Sure it’ll wear out, but it’ll be in all the photos!
  • Don’t take anything that needs ironing! If possible, hand-wash your clothes before you go and see how quickly they dry. If you’re thinking about taking jeans, this experiment should dissuade you.
  • Cotton undies tend to breathe well — get thin ones that pack small.

To listen, hit play above or check in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

Your thoughts on "What clothes to pack podcast"

  • I haven't seen them in any shops yet, but they look pretty good. That's what they pay the photographer for, so I guess they should! I've just worn out my second pair of Meindl walking shoes and am looking around a replacement. My problem is they need to be toned down enough to wear to work -- unlike most brightly coloured walking shoes. I also have my Vibram Five Fingers which are great if that's what you're into.

    on December 15, 2008 at 5:03 pm Reply
  • I saw those walking shoes at REI while in Seattle. They looked super comfy and they were soft and pliable. I didn't try them on, but I would have no problem trusting the company and buying them. These folks know their stuff.

    on December 15, 2008 at 9:39 pm Reply
  • Thanks to all for your advice. :) I'm trying to do research in advance for my next trip. I saw these in the huge REI in Seattle and couldn't get them out of my head. They're so light, it's insane.

    on December 16, 2008 at 2:17 am Reply
  • Great list! Have you found a good lightweight pair of walking shoes? I've seen these (only 8.5oz/240g!) at REI (American hiking/mountaineering store) but they're new so I'm not sure if they're up to a ton of traveling.

    on December 15, 2008 at 3:33 pm Reply
  • Like Daniel I don't have experience with those particular shoes but REI, in general, is a top notch company and I trust their stuff

    on December 15, 2008 at 11:02 pm Reply
  • I definitely second the items on this list. That's very similar to my general packing list. Roughly enough for a week and then washing needs to be done. Packing for a week ends up being the same as packing for 3 months.

    on December 16, 2008 at 6:01 pm Reply
  • Thanks for the good advice. I planning a long trip, so I need to pack only the most important clothes. I'm gooing to both worm and cosl places. But figured that additional clothing can also be bought (and sold) on location. But I think this 15 will be on my general packing list.

    on December 16, 2008 at 11:41 pm Reply
  • @Peter: I definitely agree that packing for a week and a month should look very similar. Apart from obvious weather-related items that is. When you're travelling through different climates or for a very extended period you might need extra range. @Tom: Glad it was helpful. Please let us know how your extended travel goes. @Everyone: Thanks for your comments. They're much appreciated.

    on December 18, 2008 at 2:54 pm Reply
  • C & L - loving these podcasts and plowing through 45 mins worth every day to catch up. In this episode (83 What Clothes to Pack) you mention along with Craig's kilt an "E.A."? Is that what you're saying. Can't quite tell but am curious as to what it is. Thanks loads, Christopher

    on February 9, 2009 at 12:55 am Reply
  • Hi Christopher, Great to hear you're listening. We hope you'll keep joining in on the comments too -- it's what makes the hours of prep fun :) The skirt is pronounced that way "ee" like "see" then "ay" like "way". It's written ie (each vowel is pronounced individually in many south Pacific languages). I search around for some more information and found some here. The full name is "Ie Fai Taga" -- "with pockets".

    on February 9, 2009 at 7:55 am Reply
  • I just tried sending the company linked above an email to thank them from the information and got a permanent failure error. I wouldn't try buying anything through them unless you can get in contact.

    on February 9, 2009 at 7:57 am Reply
  • Why would you need five pairs of undies? the pair your wearing is good for two weeks as long as you turn them inside out at the end of the first week!

    on April 22, 2009 at 8:34 pm Reply
  • Thank you for this great article. Packing is always worst part of the travel and it's good to get some advice from experienced travellers. Unfortunately I always pack too much stuff, so I'll bookmark your list and stick to it the next time:)

    on March 18, 2010 at 12:39 am Reply
  • You guys are fantastic! One item my customers have said they like to pack is tights. They are easy to pack and go under shorts when the weather is mild. Even in cold climates woolen tights are much warmer than pants. Keep up the great work. We are envious!! I wish I had the energy you two have.

    on April 6, 2010 at 9:20 pm Reply
  • […] Clothes […]

    on July 30, 2015 at 6:08 am Reply
  • […] ‘You can buy things along the road, in fact you’ll need to because things wear out quite quickly when you wear it every day or two days,’ she said. […]

    on March 28, 2017 at 7:35 pm Reply
  • […] ‘You can buy things along the road, in fact you’ll need to because things wear out quite quickly when you wear it every day or two days,’ she said. […]

    on March 29, 2017 at 12:58 am Reply
  • […] ‘You can buy things along the road, in fact you’ll need to because things wear out quite quickly when you wear it every day or two days,’ she said. […]

    on March 29, 2017 at 7:41 am Reply

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