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jmukh

Luggage and Backpack stuff

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jmukh

Hi all,

I remember an extremely helpful thread on a digital nomad forum several years ago on packing / luggage strategies, and I wanted to see what folks are doing in this regard these days. I'm a motorcyclist and try to pack as lightly as possible, especially since I frequently end up having an unplanned motorcycle adventure and need to randomly be able to strap everything to a bike at some point. 

My usual carry for a week-long trip: I try to squeeze everything into a Timbuk2 backpack, with a foldable backpack stashed in there + a ScottEVest travel vest in case I need more room on the way back (stuff seems to magically grow the longer the trip is). This is frequently not enough room if I'm carrying a mirrorless camera and several lenses. It's gray, attracts next to no attention in most countries and airports, and is very comfortable to walk around in all day. 

For longer trips or trips where I'm carrying a laptop with confidential data, or a trip where I need to work and cannot risk even brief downtime periods: I switch this out for a Pelican backpack. The polycarbonate laptop case is indestructible, has a pressure valve, won't crush, and has flown off a motorcycle before without damaging the laptop inside. This thing is too heavy to lug around on foot in Bangkok for a day, or to have strapped to your back on a bike unless it's going to be a short day ride somewhere. The Pelican attracts attention, especially in the middle east (Pelican is *extremely* common gear for military / defense contractor types, and a lot of them will recognize the logo from rifle cases). 

For longer trips where I'll have a space to keep stuff (like a nice hotel) while I'm out all day: I add a light soft-shell rolling bag to the Timbuk2. I think this one's a Timberland I got on sale somewhere, nothing fancy. I pretty much never need more than this + a backpack while traveling, but I'm in the habit of wearing the travel vest and having one foldable backpack around anyway. Having a check-in also comes in handy if I want to carry nicer shaving stuff or cologne on a trip without worrying about the carry-on Liquid limits on airlines. 

The two major downsides to traveling this light are not being able to carry an effective work setup (I'm used to 2-4 4k monitors on a quad arm; a laptop just never feels good without an external monitor now), and not being able to carry motorcycle gear (a jacket, a helmet, and riding pants would fill up an entire suitcase on their own; quality equipment is bulky). I'm beginning to research the idea of setting up a tiny studio in a country I wouldn't mind exploring in depth and keeping riding gear and a desk + reliable broadband + backup computer and monitor stationed there for hybrid vacation / work trips for a couple of weeks at a time. This would allow me to travel even lighter, with just a barely-packed backpack, which would make long haul trips with multiple stopovers much easier to handle. 

How much stuff do you guys carry for the average trip? Has anyone played with stashing stuff safely in Thailand between trips before just buying your own place? And what luggage options have worked / haven't worked for you?

 

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thai2try

I have a Pattaya Ready bag.

ex army backpack, packed light, Travel passport wallet with 3-7k baht from previous trip, toiletries are all travel size which get restocked each trip from 7/11 on second day. 3 pairs of shorts, 5 or 6 T-shirt’s, few singlets and  my iPad/headphones. I time my final laundry visit on each trip so all the clothes are freshly packed in plastic ready for the next trip.And make sure there is the baht ready for next trip so I don’t have to chase an exchange in first night.

ive been doing this for years.

 

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likeaking
Posted (edited)

Welcome to the forum, jmukh. Some forum members bring a lot and others (+me) live out of a  carryon  (https://www.ebags.com/product/ebags/mother-lode-tls-weekender-convertible/143101?productid=10362789) for two months. 

You won't be walking any distance with what you bring. Take a cab or bus from the airport to your hotel, condo, etc. A light weight, cheap, foldable $20 rucksack works for daily adventures but something heavier for carrying photo equipmnt. The majority of DSLR owners leave their bulky, heavy gear at home and use a good phone or point and shoot camera. 

Laundry service is plentiful and cheap so you don't need a lot of clothes and one pair of oxfords/loafers and a pair of trainers/sandals should suffice. Shorts are the rule, trousers the exception. Dress for tropical heat and humidity. The 7-11s in Thailand are better stocked with daily necessities than at home so don't bring soap, toothpaste, etc. for your stay. 

A checked roller suitcase and carryon backpack would hopefully be adequate space for you. IMO 

Edited by likeaking

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likeaking

If you rent a 125cc scooter for around town, most folks just wear a cheap helmet with shorts and sandals. If you rent a larger bike and travel, then well ventilated textile gear is best, leather is too hot. At home I'm a ATGATT guy but it's just not practical in Pattaya. In Chiang Mai you can rent gear along with the bike from POP Bike Rentals almost opposite Tha Pae Gate.

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mattmoore1965x

For my 10 night trips I ALWAYS have a 8kg backpack with all my electroncs, duty free bboze, money and books etc for the flight, and then pack 20kg of clothes and other 'essentials' in my rolling suitcase leaving 5kg of my 25kg allowance to get the stuff I buy when there home again.

Always fancied hiring a scooter on arrival - but dont think the wheels on my suitcase would last long......

 

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Baddave

Osprey farpoint 70 with t-shirts,shorts,boxers,wash n shave kit,2L hydration bladder,spare condoms etc packed ready to go (nothing in the zip off day pack on the outbound flights) 

 

North Face Borealis as carry on with medication,prescription,toothbrush,small tube of toothpaste,roll on deodorant,10.5" tablet,££££ and Bht left over from previous trip,pen for filling out landing card,Noise cancelling headphones with airline adapter. Lifeventure/Sea to Summit soap leaves and shampoo to freshen up before landing. RFID passport pouch,wallet and card holder condoms etc.  

 

If there are any purchases to take home, they can go in the Farpoint.

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Mr_Peace
Posted (edited)

Always try to go to my 2-3 week holidays with only carry on when going there, but return with that luggage in cargo and full backpack as a carry on. This way I don't have to wait at the carousel, don't need to worry about loosing my luggage etc. and have easier trip to hotel and easier wait if early check in isn't possible.

I buy most of my stuff like shampoos, toothbrushes, deodorants etc. from 7-11. In backpack I bring only essentials like medicines, phone charger, shit load of condoms, neck pillow to plane and a pen to fill the immigration form before landing. For clothes I bring few pairs of shorts & socks, 7-8 pairs of t-shirts and underwear and use laundry services at least twice a week. I wear my nicer shoes in the plane and buy sandals when I get there. If there's room for backpack in the cabin luggage, I will bring that, but that I can also get when I get to Pattaya. 

Usually I end up few hundred grams below the weight limit and overshoot it with the candies etc. from the airport.

I also have my packing/preparation list in my google docs for easy access and easy marking for done tasks. Helps a lot when you don't have to worry if everything is packed/taken care of.

Edited by Mr_Peace

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1500B
18 hours ago, thai2try said:

I time my final laundry visit on each trip so all the clothes are freshly packed in plastic ready for the next trip.

Does that mean you sometimes have to wear your undies inside out to fit in an extra day? 555

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WhiteThai
20 minutes ago, 1500B said:

Does that mean you sometimes have to wear your undies inside out to fit in an extra day? 555

Went to Pattaya once with a good friend of mine who once years ago had his luggage delayed 3 days, so now only takes a carry on no matter how long his trip. We were in Pattaya 2 weeks together, and a few times he would smell from wearing the same clothes for more than 1 day. As we all know it's hot and humid in LOS, and if you don't change your clothes at least once or twice a day, you get ripe pretty quick. 

We're still phone friends, but needless to say, I won't be going on any more trips with him, 555

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semi-retired member

Always a good idea to put a spare pair of briefs/socks in the carry-on, in case your hold-bag fails-to-arrive !

Failing which, the contingency-plan is to turn the ones you're wearing inside-out. :o

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Luv2Phuket

I notoriously over pack, but I have a number of shirts that I don't really "trust" going to the cleaners in Pattaya. They're generally "wear once and done for the trip," but I tried sending a few through the (over-priced) hotel laundry on my last trip and they survived. My boxer briefs, boxers, socks, shorts, t-shirts, etc., go to one of the cleaners in VT 6 (I often stay at Hilton next door or Intercontinental, which has a shuttle to Central Festival).

I always have a big checked bag and a carry-on that includes my laptop bag and a change of clothes in it. It's a long ass flight and, if possible, I like to get a shower and change on my layover in Hong Kong, etc., but, if that's not an option, I will sometimes change into shorts and a t-shirt on the BKK leg. I fly in joggers and a long-sleeve t-shirt - not too hot, but cool enough in case the cabin temp is high.

I like to have lots of options and shopping for clothes in Pattaya is not something I want to have to deal with.

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thai2try
5 hours ago, 1500B said:

Does that mean you sometimes have to wear your undies inside out to fit in an extra day? 555

Underwear in Pattaya is similar to making plans. 


they just don’t go together.
 

 

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likeaking
20 minutes ago, thai2try said:

Underwear in Pattaya is similar to making plans. 


they just don’t go together.
 

 

I only wear them to catch the post-coitus drip.

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Jeffone

I am a big fan of one bag travel.  To accomplish this, I use a backpack from Bellroy called the Transit Backpack.  It is very light and opens up like a suitcase.  Inside I pack into my Peak Designs compression bag my clothes.  I have purchased the clothes I bring because they are light, easy to pack.  You can read a ton about the items best for travelling light elsewhere like merino wool shirts, tech pants, etc.  For my use on planes I have my iPhone, iPad and ANC headphones.  Because I don't want to check a bag my carry on must meet not only dimension standards but also weight standards.  So everything in my bag weighs under 7kg when I drop it on the scale.  If I need to pack laptop stuff for work I try to fly an airline that has a carry on policy that allows you to have a second piece of luggage which is restricted to a "laptop sleeve".  To meet this requirement I have a double pocket sleeve from Waterfield Designs.  In it I slide my laptop on one side and second portable monitor on the other.  Because it is not a "bag" it passes the inspection every time.  

Thats my packing set up.  Hope it gives you some ideas.  :)  

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1500B
2 hours ago, thai2try said:

Underwear in Pattaya is similar to making plans. 


they just don’t go together.

Spoken like a true Bar Crawl veteran, or should I say Commando?

And the strategy, or is it state of mind?, works like a dream until the crawl drunkenly makes its way to Katoeys Are Us 555

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vimto66

I always overpack, i like wearing (what i consider) nice clothes!

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jmukh

I've tried a few of the technical travel clothes over the years.

As mentioned above: the ScottEVest. I have their original travel vest (saved me twice its cost in luggage penalties when I had to do an emergency trip to Tijuana on a budget airline and literally packed for the entire trip in that one vest). Currently mostly-replacing it with their concealed carry jacket, which is a very similar design (but with zip-off sleeves). The ability to double as a second carry-on that the airlines haven't figured out how to charge me for is sometimes critical, but having a zillion pockets is just insanely useful for travel. 

Ex-Officio's boxer briefs: Saw them on sale right when Tim Ferris was raving about them, and figured I'd give them a shot. This will solve your having to wear your undies inside out on the second day. Antimicrobial, and more importantly, you can wash them in the sink and have them dry before you wake up. There are people who've done entire trips rotating between a couple of pairs of these with a sink wash every night. 

Merino wool t-shirt: Same concept, but a natural material. Antimicrobial, takes longer to stink when you sweat, and you can wash it in the sink at night and expect it to be ready to wear in the morning unless it's crazy humid. There are viral blog posts on people wearing these for a year, daily, though I haven't quite taken it that far. Good to have one for trips. I have a merino wool dress shirt as well, which has the added advantage of de-wrinkling itself if you hang it on a hanger (I can't iron to save my life). Good for work travel. Both of mine were from Wool & Prince, but there are several companies making these now so you can probably go with whoever's got a sale. The merino feels like a really nice shirt fabric, not a sweater (and is about as light and summer-friendly as a regular cotton t-shirt would be). 

I'm hoping the merino stuff lasts, since it was crazy expensive. The travel jacket and boxer briefs have lasted through several adventures already; I've more than gotten their price out of them. 

I usually wear jeans and add a pair of boots if there's a chance of motorcycles, and sometimes pack sandals if I have the room.

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likeaking
16 minutes ago, jmukh said:


I usually wear jeans and add a pair of boots if there's a chance of motorcycles, and sometimes pack sandals if I have the room.

Jeans are too warm in Pattaya's heat and humidity until the sun goes down. Linen pants, chinos or golf shorts are good in the evening. IMO

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Kickoff

For the carry-on luggage, use either the Tumi Tegra-Lite 2 Carry On or the Samsonite Black Label Firelite Carry On. The Tumi can fit a bit more, but the Samsonite is very light at 4.5 lbs (bit over 2 kg) compared to Tumi at 9.4 lbs (4.3 kb). Not a big difference, but it all adds up in the end. Use the "ranger roll" method of packing as it is the most efficient. Generally can fit or stuff toiletries, 9 each of t-shirts, boxers/briefs & socks, a couple Hawaiian style shirts, 3-5 pairs of shorts depending on space. Don't like checking in bags and will use local laundry services for basic wear like t-shirts, socks, & underwear which typically  have a 1 day turnaround. 

Also have the Peak Designs Everyday Backpack which is awesome. Can stick my battery pack, 4 port USB charger, wireless charging pad, various cables, Sony WH-1000XMH3 noise canceling headphones, Samsung Galaxy Buds +, GoPro Max, tablet, another pair of shoes, a hat, and some stationary. This bag is very versatile. 

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insearchofxxx
Posted (edited)
On 27/07/2020 at 08:23, likeaking said:

If you rent a larger bike and travel, then well ventilated textile gear is best, leather is too hot

Yep!

I would also recommend to bring it from home. You get here either Chinese made ones for a price far to high for that shit quality or European made ones for double the price as in Europe.

A lot of guys doing extended bike tours also bring their own helmets (the quality here is often from questionable Chinese origin; often the form is circular for Asian heads and not oval).

On 30/07/2020 at 05:19, likeaking said:

Jeans are too warm in Pattaya's heat and humidity until the sun goes down. Linen pants, chinos or golf shorts are good in the evening. IMO

That’s always a long discussion on many forums...

Personally, I prefer long pants: 1) you don’t need sun protection, 2) it soaks up the sweat, 3) mosquitoes can’t bite

However, they should be of tightly woven, thin, high quality cotton cloth. Normal, thick jeans of the Levi’s etc. type, I would also not wear in the tropics... But thin BRAX Ultralight jeans are excellent. 

However, those don’t  help you in one of the many accidents here, so you are back to improved thick jeans, if you are looking for a combination of protection and normal looks, like King Kerosin.

 

I understand, @jmukh is carrying some expensive gear with him. Therefore, theft protection becomes an issue - on the way and in the room (a lot of hotel rooms and AirBnBs have no safety box). I bought my first PacSafe backpack already more than 15 years ago (at that time with steel mesh) and it served me well on many trips in whole of Asia. 2 years ago, before a Madagascar trip, I changed to a Pacsafe VentureSafe EXP 45, slashproof - not so safe as the steel mesh - but far more convenient: 1 central lock, top opening, 45l volume, but standard onboard luggage size. For hotel rooms, I still have a small PacSafe TravelSafe steel mesh lined bag for my passport, credit cards and important papers.

Edited by insearchofxxx

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jmukh
On 01/08/2020 at 04:47, insearchofxxx said:

Yep!

I would also recommend to bring it from home. You get here either Chinese made ones for a price far to high for that shit quality or European made ones for double the price as in Europe.

A lot of guys doing extended bike tours also bring their own helmets (the quality here is often from questionable Chinese origin; often the form is circular for Asian heads and not oval).

That’s always a long discussion on many forums...

Personally, I prefer long pants: 1) you don’t need sun protection, 2) it soaks up the sweat, 3) mosquitoes can’t bite

However, they should be of tightly woven, thin, high quality cotton cloth. Normal, thick jeans of the Levi’s etc. type, I would also not wear in the tropics... But thin BRAX Ultralight jeans are excellent. 

However, those don’t  help you in one of the many accidents here, so you are back to improved thick jeans, if you are looking for a combination of protection and normal looks, like King Kerosin.

 

I understand, @jmukh is carrying some expensive gear with him. Therefore, theft protection becomes an issue - on the way and in the room (a lot of hotel rooms and AirBnBs have no safety box). I bought my first PacSafe backpack already more than 15 years ago (at that time with steel mesh) and it served me well on many trips in whole of Asia. 2 years ago, before a Madagascar trip, I changed to a Pacsafe VentureSafe EXP 45, slashproof - not so safe as the steel mesh - but far more convenient: 1 central lock, top opening, 45l volume, but standard onboard luggage size. For hotel rooms, I still have a small PacSafe TravelSafe steel mesh lined bag for my passport, credit cards and important papers.

Thanks for the recommendations. I will take a look at the Pacsafe stuff. I remember coming across it before, and deciding on Pelican (mostly because of the hard carbonate laptop case and the rave reviews from defense contractors). Do you lock the pacsafe and stuff it inside the hotel room safe? Or is this intended for rooms without a safe, where you're chaining it to something in the room?

I've gone down a few times now and still carry some scars, so I tend to try to carry riding gear where possible (including a helmet). Kevlar lined riding jeans aren't too bulky other than the armor, but even a mesh jacket takes up half a suitcase. Haven't really figured out a solution for this yet.

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insearchofxxx
Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, jmukh said:

Do you lock the pacsafe and stuff it inside the hotel room safe? Or is this intended for rooms without a safe, where you're chaining it to something in the room?

The first PacSafe backpack, I bought, was one with a full steel-mesh inliner. I bought it for a journey to Cambodia as a big portable safety box, when Cambo was still far wilder than today.

The smaller PacSafe TravelSafe (also steel-mesh), I use nowadays only for cash, passport, credit cards as a small, easy to use safety box, with a zipper plastic bag inside.

The problem in most of Asia is: where to chain it to? No heating pipes, no strong furniture, so what's left is mostly the pipes under the sink (won't save you, if they have enough time, but most burglaries will be an act of a few minutes). I chain only the TravelSafe there. The backpack is chained to something just holding it a very short time, the electronics won't like the wet and often dripping sink pipes and packing them all watertight would be too unconvenient.

The VentureSafe has a central lock mechanism, very convenient and quick to use. However, even with the slashguard panels, it's not so safe as the steel mesh. You can also only use a relatively small lock. Big advantage: considerably lighter, compressible to a certain extent and therefore more suitable as hand luggage.

That said, in the end it's always a question of criminal energy and tools. With the right bolt cutter, the steel rope will also not resist long ...

15 hours ago, jmukh said:

even a mesh jacket takes up half a suitcase. Haven't really figured out a solution for this yet.

I know - I solved that quite simplistic: I was just wearing it at the check-in and when boarding. Onboard, I put it in the overhead locker.

If you have jacket, trousers, boots and helmet: maybe checking that in as sport luggage could also work - but I never tried.

Edited by insearchofxxx

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Mal-Larky

i also keep old shirts / shorts that are near to end of life for my bike trips. travelling on thai roads can be very dusty and dirty. they get binned at destination never to return! so I always come back lighter than when i set off.

anyone else do similar to this ?

hopefully..... this is normal.......

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superdaws

I too have been wondering about what sort of riding gear to take and based on my experiences at home in 80 degree F weather I can't see taking a jacket and surviving.  I did see a Thai in Bangkok my last trip who had one of the Revit ligthweight jackets and I asked them about it and they said it was cool and had no trouble with the heat but they are probably more use to it then I am. 

Also came across this video on Youtube talking about hot weather gear.  The guy is from Canada so not sure if it would work in Thailand or not.

 

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Garzan
2 hours ago, superdaws said:

I too have been wondering about what sort of riding gear to take and based on my experiences at home in 80 degree F weather I can't see taking a jacket and surviving.

 

I have this jacket and the pants that go with it. https://www.dainese.com/us/en/motorbike/jackets/textile/air-frame-d1-tex-jacket-201735196.html It does get a bit warm stopped but cools right down when moving. I'm not an ATGATT fanatic, but I prefer not to ride around without at least a jacket and helmet. I've already got too many slide scars from when I didn't bother with PPE. I don't think I need anymore. :-) 

 

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