travel

OneBag 2020

Unfortunate circumstances forced me to live out of one bag for the first five months of 2020. Here's what I brought and what I'd change if I had to do it again.

My OneBag story

I’d been exploring living out of one bag for a lot of 2019. /r/onebag is a really good resource. I’d started collecting gear piece by piece. I think I bought all the Outlier stuff at one time and then gradually added everything after that. Then in January of 2020 my dad got really sick. I got a call from my mom at 4:30 EST and was on a plane from Boston to Los Angeles at 7:30 EST. I’d just gotten my packing cubes a couple days before and was lucky I left my bag packed after trying them out. I spent the next few weeks in and out of the hospital or the hotel or the couch at my parents house. After my dad lost his battle with heart disease I wanted to stay to help my mom transition, so I lived out of this bag for a little longer. Then COVID happened and it became apparent I wasn’t going to be able to go back home for a while, so the one bag journey continued. It wasn’t until April that I decided it was time to come back home so I rented a van and drove across the country. I didn’t come within 6 feet of any people, slept in the back of the van on an air mattress and only had the clothes from my bag. I ended up making it back ok and decided to write up my gear list as a resource for anyone who might want to try out the one bag life.

The bag

aer travel pack w

I packed everything below in the aer travel pack 2 using 3 eagle creek packing cubes. The bag is really durable and has plenty of room for everything. The side-straps that help compress the bag came in handy and helped everything fit into the overhead compartment on a plane. I was skeptical of packing cubes at first but they really are life changing and I’m not sure I can ever go back.

I only have two complaints/things I wish I could change about the bag. First is that the shoe compartment is cute but impractical. I couldn’t figure out how to keep shoes in there and also everything else, it just takes up too much vertical space. Packing the shoes horizontally on-top-of or below the packing cubes was my only option. Second, I wish there was a false bottom in the laptop sleeve. My computer is fine and wasn’t damaged at all but I was overly cautious setting the bag down and I wish I had just a little more security on the bottom.

Clothes

onebag clothes

I was lucky enough to be in California this entire time. Specifically. the first 4 months were in Southern California. This means I didn’t have to prepare for a variety of weather conditions. The Atom LT ended up getting a reasonable amount of use in the mornings and in Santa Cruz but for the most part my day to day was just: Outlier MFT, Outlier SD’s, and Allbirds. I managed to workout in the Outlier shirts as well, pairing them with the Lululemon shorts and the Nike metcons. I didn’t add any clothing during the trip but I did manage to lose a pair of socks. I’ll write reviews of most of these items individually but I’ll say that there wasn’t a single piece of clothing I was disappointed with and would highly recommend all of them.

Accessories

I wear glasses and love Warby Parker so I have both their regular glasses and prescription sunglasses.. Surprisingly I guess my Apple watch is an “accessory” but I threw it below in the technology section. I usually have a hat of some kind with me and in this case I just happened to be wearing a generic black beanie from my favorite brewery in Boston so that made the trip with me.

Toiletries

onebag toiletries

I tried to do the ultralight DOP kit thing for a while and it just wasn’t working out for me. By that I mean; small electric razor, crystal stick anti-perspirant etc. I couldn’t get either of those things to work for me so I went back to my trusty Old Spice that I’ve been using since I was 12 and a regular razor/shaving cream/aftershave combo.

Technology

onebag technology for digital nomad

I’m a software engineer so I’d wager this is all par for the course. I can’t express how much I dislike all the ports on the Macbook being USB-C, the dongles are a pain to keep track of. Airpods Pro are great, a huge improvement over the previous model in my opnion. The only other note here is that the mophie charging pad exceeded expectations. When you’re staying in a guest room, a hotel or a hospital, charging all your peripherals with one outlet is a game changer.

Everything Else

onebag accessories

I took up bullet journaling at the start of the year and was keeping up really good consistency until my dad got really sick. The notebook is just a strip of leather and a notebook and could be replaced with anything else. The pen set is excellent. They don’t take up a ton of space, they write nicely and it’s helpful having different colors when bullet journaling.

What I’d Change

Honestly I’m pretty happy with everything I brought. The three easy changes I’m making are

  1. Adding a lightweight sweater so I’m not wearing a jacket every time it’s a little chilly outside. I’m looking at the icebreaker elemental but haven’t decided yet.
  2. More socks. I can’t for the life of me understand why I had so few in my bag but it was a huge oversight and caused me to do more laundry than I needed to. 5 pairs should be the minimum but I think I want the full 7.
  3. Another pair of shorts. I recently picked up the outlier new way longs and am really happy with them. I took a dip in the ocean with them the other day and they’ve held up great.

Wrap up

Since coming back home I’ve transitioned back to my normal wardrobe. I enjoy “fashion” too much to be a lifer, but I’ve enjoyed the simplicity of living out of one bag for the last few months. My one bag is now my “go bag.” If there’s ever an emergency, a work trip or a spur of the moment vacation I know I’ll have everything I need.