Packing a 13 liter backpack + small messenger for a 3 day trip

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For the past several years I have been challenging myself to pack light, so I can go fast. No waiting for checked baggage on arrival when traveling by air, no returns to the car to unload tons of stuff at the hotel when traveling by auto. With less stuff, I’m more mobile, less worried about losing things, and I learn to live with only what I really need.

For my last three-day trip to Georgia, USA, I packed pretty light (almost ultra light) and I thought it’d be worth sharing here. Something I did a bit different this time was to go the two-bag route.

Instead of the traditional large-carry-on+large-personal-item combo, though, I took a small 13 backpack and a super-little satchel.

The packs

My main pack was my trusty Osprey Daylite (link is to the latest updated version). This 13 liter daypack has been with me all over the US, from the trail to the city and has never let me down. Osprey packs are made in the US and are covered by an amazing, almighty guarantee. Lightweight, durable, inexpensive, and smartly designed, I love my Osprey Daylite for carrying just about anything, as long as it’s not too wide. It’s not going to do well with large binders or laptops, but for everything else it’s fantastic. The Daylite was the perfect choice for this trip.

For my secondary pack, I picked up the Victoriatourist V5006 Vertical Messenger Bag from Amazon. I was amazed by the quality of this little pack. Helpful inner pockets, beefy water-resistant exterior fabric, solid and reliable zippers all combine in a pleasantly nondescript bag that was perfect for carrying small items. And it was only $10!

Everything I put in here could have fit in my main pack, but it would have been less accessible. I wanted to be able to throw my main pack in the overhead if necessary and have my tablet, keyboard, wallet, etc. readily available.

What I brought

Wearing

The internet is full of advice about what to wear while traveling, and lots of it is super anti-cotton and anti-jeans, since cotton doesn’t tend to dry very quickly and can be heavy. That said, I often travel wearing a simple cotton t-shirt because they’re comfortable, and although they don’t dry super quick if you’re doing laundry in the sink, they’re usually ready overnight, so I’m willing to take the hit for comfort and price. Again, conventional jeans are comfortable, look good and don’t need to be washed often anyways.

This was my second trip with some inexpensive cross-trainers, and they did amazingly well. Basic, lightweight sneakers are comfortable and versatile shoes, perfect for running, walking long distances, light hikes, and just hanging out. I was impressed with how quickly my pair dried when I got caught in the rain.

I like to bring a hat when I travel; a lightweight ball cap is my go-to in the summer. I also wear a rosary and a fitness tracker. In my pockets, the usual: wallet and phone.

In the backpack

Osprey Daylite packing layout

In the messenger bag

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