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The Ultimate Carry-On Packing List For Male Backpackers And Nomads (In-Depth)

In a related article, we laid out the 6 key principles that underlie smart, efficient packing. Knowing these principles and how to apply them will help you to pack everything you need for a great trip into a compact carry-on and avoid those nasty checked luggage fees and other problems that stem from traveling with too large a burden.

In that article we didn't cover the exact items you should pack in a carry-on and the justification for carrying them, so we've created this ultimate packing list for male backpackers to fulfill that very purpose.

Even though we believe in traveling on a budget and always finding inexpensive food, transport and accommodation, you'll notice as you go through this packing list that we don't always apply the same mindset to our actual travel gear. Why?

Because we believe in buying high-quality gear that’s both durable, compact and ultralight, and such gear often comes with a higher price tag.

You might pay more initially for such gear, but it will last longer and could save you more money in the long run. Compact and lightweight gear will help spare your back too and is one of keys to packing everything you need into a small carry-on.

Before we begin, we want to remind you that this packing list will best cater to the needs of travelers who prioritize efficient packing and minimalist, carry-on travel.

It is not for the traveler that is attached to material possessions to such a degree that he is willing to endure the burden of heavy backpack and spend hundreds of extra dollars in checked luggage fees.

The packing list is particularly well-suited to backpackers, digital nomads and other people traveling the world for extended periods. It should cover most of your needs while travelling in the majority of countries around the world. In countries with extreme climates, you may need to modify the list accordingly, particularly the clothing & footwear section.

You might think at first glance that all the items on this list could never fit inside a carry-on if you were to pack them all at once... and you'd be right! The list will cover you for a wide variety of travel situations around the world but for any given trip, you might only need to pack 50 - 75% of the items on the list, depending on the particulars. The idea is to pick and choose items from the list as you see fit.

Here it is then, the ultimate carry-on packing list for male backpackers and nomads.


May 8, 2022

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Two Birds Breaking Free

Media Mentions from Two Birds Breaking Free

Our real names are Eoghan and Jili and we are two passionate, long-term shoestring-budget adventure travellers from the Republic of Ireland and India respectively.

We both share a desire for a larger life, a life less ordinary, a life full of adventure and uncertainty.

We’ve been leading a continuous nomadic existence for almost three years now, travelling all over India, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia and it has been a phenomenal and life-changing journey so far.


My only complaint is that eventually, backflushing won’t be enough. These can clog up after some time and no amount of back flushing will fix its low flow. I went through 2 on the AT. However, it will attach to Smart Water Bottles and most bladders!

Anna Hamrick


Built for backcountry reliability and portability, the Sawyer Squeeze filter is our pick for the best portable water purifier.

Pete Ortiz


The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).

Halfway Anywhere
Media Mentions from Halfway Anywhere