The Ultimate Ultra Light Packing List for Men

ultra light packing list
All of this easily fits in my 35 liter backpack, with plenty of room to bring home some souvenirs.

I will cut straight to the bone. The bare bones of my super light travel packing list. This list should be more than adequate for a week-long trip – or even more.

This is my ultimate ultra light men's packing list for warm weather travel. The details on the actual products I use are below, although any equivalent garments and products should work just fine. All of this, if folded/rolled properly will fit easily in my 35 liter Cotopaxi backpack.

See Kris's corresponding post, The Ultimate Ultralight Packing List for Women.

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If you're going really stingy, you could fit the warm weather version in an even smaller backpack, such as my Osprey Talon 22 liter backpack that I primarily use for day hiking.

Men's Ultra Light Packing List – Warm Weather Version

  • 1 pair of shoes
  • 3 pairs of boxer briefs
  • 3 pairs of mid-weight wool socks
  • 3 t-shirts
  • 2 long sleeve shirts
  • 1 pair of pants
  • 1 pair of shorts/swimsuit
  • 1 belt
  • 1 rain jacket
  • 1 lightweight wool Buff
  • 1 pair of sunglasses
  • 2-3 handkerchiefs
  • Microfiber towel
  • Optional: 1 lightweight down vest
  • Optional: 1 wide brim hat

The Backpack

The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack is my first choice. Everything above easily fits into it. And, I have converted to a backpack instead of a roller bag because I just find it much easier to navigate airports and cobblestone streets without a wheeled bag. Packing the way I do, it's light enough to carry easily.

The Cotopaxi also has a separate padded sleeve for a laptop and tablet, if you don't feel like carrying a separate hand item.

Like I said above, if the absolute minimum is your goal, you can, with very careful folding and rolling, fit all the warm weather gear into a 22 liter pack, such as my Osprey Talon 22.

The shoes

Nearly 100 percent of the time, unless I'm in for some serious country hiking, I take one pair of my favorite trail/walking shoes, the Adidas Terrex, in black. I wear them on the plane and every day, which means they don't take up space in the bag. I like them because they're rugged, and they fit my foot. Also, in black, they can pass a little bit for dressier shoes. Ultimately, you'll want a shoe that's comfortable for you.

Update: I recently got my first pair of Xero Prio shoes and have been wearing them now for a few days. I put more than 10,000 steps on them the other day at the Minnesota State Fair and my first impression is that I love them. Wide toe box, barefoot feel, super flexible, light weight. And they come in a variety of colors and styles for in-city walking and tough trail trekking. I think they're going to supplant the Adidas as my new favorite traveling shoe. Let their Find Your Shoe feature help you select the right Xero shoe for you.

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Boxer Briefs

I've been wearing Ex Officio Give-N-Go boxers since I discovered them years ago. They're light weight. They don't retain odor. And when you want to wash them out in your hotel sink, they'll dry overnight.

Mid-weight wool socks

I have several sock brands I like, but Darn Tough is as good as any. They wick moisture, which is essential.

T-shirts

The only t-shirt I travel with are Unbound Merino. They're light. They resist odor for days. And, you can wash them out in your sink and they'll dry overnight.

Long sleeve shirts

I have two ExOfficio insect repellent long sleeve shirts, but unfortunately ExOfficio seems to have quit making anything other than underwear. I've just ordered a Clothing Arts pickpocket proof shirt to try out. Until I get it, I'll stick with the ExOfficio shirts. BTW, ExOfficio shirts are still available on Amazon and at REI.

Pants

I like Kuhl pants a lot. Lightweight, washable, comfortable. And they don't necessarily look like “travel pants.” An alternative that I take if we're mostly going to cities is the Clothing Arts pickpocket proof pants.

Shorts/swimsuit

I like Vuori shorts a lot. Not sure how I got onto them, but they're my everyday shorts in summer, even when at home.

Belt

I really like Arcade Belts for a couple of reasons. They come in dozens of colors and styles. And they have plastic buckles. You don't have to take them off to go through security.

Rain jacket/shell

Patagonia is my go-to brand for weather resistant clothes. I love my Torrentshell Rain Jacket.

The Buff

A merino wool Buff neck gaiter keeps the sun off your neck. You can configure it into any shape you want pretty much for sun and wind protection. You can also pull it over your nose and mouth for when the air is bad. In cooler weather, it subs for a scarf.

Sunglasses

Since I had cataract surgery which corrected my nearsightedness, the world of sunglasses has opened up for me. I like the wrap around kind like these Hobies. Very light weight, which is my primary criterion for glasses of any kind.

Lightweight vest

The Scottevest Featherweight is a great product. Not only does it provide just a little bit of warmth, but also has 16 internal and external pockets that can stow your phone, keys, wallet, Kindle, and other electronic gear. When you go through airport security, just drop it in the bin with your backpack.

Hat

I've had my Tilley AirFlo Hat for more than 15 years. It's maybe the most durable and useful piece of clothing I have. It's wonderful in hot weather, too. Soak it in water, wring it out a bit, and it's like an air conditioner on your head.

Microfiber tower

If you're staying in a hotel, this microfiber towel is probably optional. Even if you're not going to use it to dry yourself, however, it's great for rolling up items you've washed out in your sink to get the last bit of water out of them before hanging them up to dry.

packing list ultra light bag
All of the above items easily fit in the 35 liter Cotopaxi backpack.

Men's Light Packing List – Colder Weather Additions

When I'm going somewhere colder, I pack the warm weather package with the following adjustments. Of course, if you're going somewhere really cold, like Minnesota or Sweden in the winter, you'll need even more rugged stuff. Obviously, in those rare cases, you'll want a parka, long underwear, and serious gloves and boots.

This list will take care of you down to freezing and a little below.

  • Switch 2x midweight socks for 2x heavyweight socks
  • Switch down vest for down jacket
  • Add 1 pair of lightweight gloves
  • Add 1 lightweight wool hat
  • Switch t-shirts for long-sleeve undershirts
  • Add 1 heavyweight wool hat

Heavyweight socks

Again, I'm partial to Darn Tough. These Darn Tough socks are my standard winter socks. I do live in Minnesota.

Down jacket

Again, a Patagonia down jacket is as good as any. A lighter jacket will keep you warm down to the freezing mark, if you layer with your long sleeve undershirts, a long sleeve shirt. In a pinch, put your raincoat over the thin down jacket for even more warmth. You'd be surprised how warm it is. (This is exactly what I once wore in Berlin in January.)

Gloves

Living in Minnesota as we do, I have about 10 pairs of gloves in all weights. For lightweight gloves, I like these Black Diamond screen tap gloves. It's nice not having to take them off to use your phone. Pack these in the pockets of your down jacket.

Wool hat

I like this Smartwool Merino Wool beanie. It's warm enough if it's above freezing, and it packs down really small. Like the gloves, pack this in the pocket of your jacket.

Long sleeve undershirts

Unbound Merino again. Unbound Merino's long sleeved shirts are just the best for layering when it's cold.

Men's Light Packing List – Hot Weather Variations

When traveling somewhere we know is going to be hot, i.e. constantly above 80 F (27 C) I pack the basic package and make some adjustments. Note: even for hot environments I usually pack long sleeves and pants to add a little bit of protection from mosquitos and other pests.

  • Switch 2x mid-weight socks for 2x no-show socks
  • Add 1 pair of shorts/swimsuit (see above)
  • Optional: 1 pair of sandals
packing list ultra light toiletries
Minimal toiletries for minimal weight and space. If you need anything else, you can buy it there.

Minimal Toiletry Kit

Other than recommending the Sea to Summit lightweight hanging toiletry bag, I'll leave it up to you to pick your own toiletry brands. For the toothbrush, floss, and travel sized toothpaste, I use what my dentist gives me at my semi-annual cleaning.

  • Sea to Summit Hanging Toiletry Bag
  • Toothbrush
  • Floss
  • razor
  • Lip Balm
  • Sunscreen SPF-50 or higher
  • Small insect repellent, if you're going where you'll want it
  • Nail clippers and file
  • Tweezers
  • Travel-sized toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Medicine

Minimal Electronics

  • Phone, loaded with apps
  • Adapter/charger. We like this one, because it combines all the plugs adapters you'll need anywhere in the world with four USB charging ports.
  • Cables for phone, watch, and computer. We like the Amazon Basic cables as well as any.
  • Kindle or iPad for books
  • Auxiliary power supply for when you wish you hadn't spent so much time looking at videos and realize at the end of the day that you're out of juice.
  • Optional: headlamp

Homemade First Aid Kit

This entire homemade travel first aid kit will fit into a sandwich sized ziplock bag, although I recommend something a little more durable. I actually use a heavier weight plastic envelope that my ExOfficio underwear was packed in.

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