Don’t worry, dear readers, this post is suitable for work. What’s not suitable for work is how excited you might get once you learn about the hyper-efficient world of “onebagging.”
It happens to all of us: No matter how feverishly and methodically you plan, and how many items you take out of your final packing pile, you arrive at the airport with way too much stuff. But what if you could swap your suitcase, carry-on, purse and everything you bring on your trips for a single, small backpack? Welcome to the world of onebagging, where clever travelers have figured out how to travel the world, in style, with just one small bag.
What Is Onebagging?
Onebagging takes “packing light” to the next level, challenging people to keep only the utmost essentials, treating every ounce and every inch as sacred. From a Google image search, it might seem like onebagging is an exercise in creating Wes Anderson-style tableaus. In reality, it is a highly creative means of narrowing down your packing list to a small number of highly modular, multi-use items that can meet the needs of nearly any occasion, from climbing a mountain to dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant – and still be able to fit on your back.
Think four pairs of underwear for a three-month trip is disgusting? Then onebagging might not be for you. But for those who are intrigued by the challenge of being able to hit the ground running as soon as the plane lands, there are tons of resources out there with great recommendations for which clothing brands are the most versatile and hygienic, which bags are the most durable and adaptable, and which travel and life accessories you simply can’t leave off your packing list. We’ve included some of our favorites here, but if your interest is piqued by the onebagging philosophy, be prepared to scroll deep into some online forums. Onebagging discussions can be rather addictive.
You might have guessed that the first place most onebaggers start is with the right bag. You also might have guessed that there is a lot of debate as to which bags are truly the best. The answer, of course, is that each person wants something slightly different from their bag. Here is a list of some that we think are super sweet.
A bag designed by a former Green Beret, this is the most rugged and the most versatile, but with fewer of the suitcase amenities. Great for the more seasoned or ambitious onebaggers.
This is a backpack with all the amenities of a suitcase, featuring a separate “stuff” compartment with tons of organization options for your electronics and accessories.
Aer Travel Pack
Sleekly minimal in its design, this bag has tons of great Easter eggs, including a ventilated shoe compartment, quick-access laptop pocket and multiple internal pockets for organizing your accessories.
REI Co-op Trail 40 Pack
The closest on this list to a traditional hiking backpack, it is the only pack that offers a U-shape zipper for easy access to the main compartment without opening the bag fully.
Clothing is the most important item on your packing list. It’s also the area with the most variety of options and personal opinions. We’re not going down this rabbit hole with you, but we will offer some tips when choosing the right clothes for your next onebagging adventure.
- Moisture wicking
- Quick drying
- Lightweight but warm
There are plenty of synthetic fibers that can accomplish what we laid out above, but for our money, Merino wool is the perfect travel fabric. To begin with, it’s hella soft and durable. But once it’s on you, Merino wool has tons of natural properties that make it a travel super-fabric.
Merino wool naturally draws moisture and holds it away from your skin, while remaining dry to the touch; it has natural anti-microbial properties, meaning you can wear it multiple times before washing; it keeps you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold; it is available in hundreds of different styles, from no-show socks to collared shirts; and it even provides natural sun protection of UPF 40+. On top of all this, Merino wool is 100% natural, meaning that it is much better for the earth, biodegrading in a few years once you’re done with it (as opposed to 30–40 years for synthetic fabrics).
To round out your clothing options, we recommend a down jacket. These are available in different weights, but they are all incredibly warm and absurdly compact.
Accessories and Essentials
This is another area that is too wide open for us to weigh in specifically, but we have some thoughts on a few items that can provide tons of value without taking up tons of space.
Cabeau Midnight Magic Sleep Mask
Travel life often means sleeping in strange places at strange times. Our Midnight Magic sleep mask makes sure you can have middle-of-the-night sleep even in the middle of the day.
Now you have a decent set of tips to get you started with your first onebagging journey, but here are some tips to help you take it from a dream to reality.
Organize Before You Pack
Seeing what you have laid out will help you to cull non-essential items.
Read, Read, Read!
Besides the two main subreddits (r/onebag and r/onebagging), there are tons of onebagging resources out there. Read up on other onebaggers’ experiences, opinions, failures and successes to set yourself up for a positive onebagging experience.
Be Prepared to Toss Out Some of the Things You Thought Were Essential
No matter how hard you try, you will pack some things that turn out to be a waste of space. It’s all part of the process! With each cut to your packing list, you become a more efficient onebagger.
Share Your Successes!
The beauty of the onebagger community is that everyone can benefit from each member’s personal hacks. Share what works for you so that you can make it easier for the next group of onebagging newbies!