Challenge: Help Me Find My Perfect Minimalist RTW Bag
I am in need of some serious bag advice. I would love any suggestions anyone can offer. Hereís a bit of background:
Iím a 26 year-old woman who is 5í11Ē and 135. So, picture tall, skinny, and athletic. But I do tend to have some lower back issues.
I am working extremely hard to be a minimalist and I play with my packing list constantly.
I am beginning a RTW adventure with my boyfriend on April 15th. We are both experienced travelers, but this time we have no time frame and no itinerary. The (very loose, yet to-be-determined) plan is to begin with 3 months in Malaysia. We want to cover SE Asia, head down to New Zealand, spend some time in India and Nepal, then make our way to Eastern EuropeÖand that about covers the next couple years, so I donít know how far beyond that I can even think. No doubt, we will still be traveling.
In our time, we are planning to do lots of work exchanges, i.e. planting trees in the jungle, building natural houses, learning boat maintenance, etc. In other words, Iíll be getting really dirty and sweaty! In addition, we might end up with real teaching jobs in Vietnam or Turkey, which would require some level of presentable dress. We plan to SCUBA dive and have lots of beach time. We want to go trekking in New Zealand and go to base camp in Nepal. Etc, etc.
As you can see, this incorporates a wide variety of activities and environments. It would be easy to just grab a 70L bag and fill it with everything I might need, but that goes against my mindset of minimalism. Iíve traveled enough to have a good idea about what I require in a flexible wardrobe. What I donít know is what bag to keep it in.
On my last backpacking trip, I one-bagged it for 2 months with an MEI Voyageur with an Eagle Creek Packing Folder. This is a really nice bag that was just ill suited to my needs.
Iíve been researching bag options for months and dreaming of my next trip to REI when I get back to the States (Iím teaching in Korea now). But then came that fateful day when I saw a review of the Tom Bihn Synapse, and I became slightly obsessed. I knew I had to ask you good people for advice.
Hereís my packing list for reference, and please keep in mind that my clothes are really pretty tiny when rolled up. I also have a travel policy that I need high-quality amazing-fitting staples of shoes and bottoms (pants, shorts, skirts), but I can pretty much wear my tank tops, shirts, and dresses out and replace as necessary. (Makes for better trip photos to have a rotation going anyway.)
Clothes including travel outfits:
1 dress Ė dressed up or casual
1 maxi skirt - can also be worn as strapless dress
2 leggings Ė first: thicker black/gray reversible that can be yoga pants, layer for warmth, or regular day-to-day pants; second: thinner black cropped pair for modesty under skirts, or sleeping
1 capri Ė workout pant that can be easily dressed up and worn day-to-day
1 running shorts Ė working outdoors, working out, sleeping, etc.
1 long-sleeve tee Ė basic black
1 long blouse Ė breezy ĺ sleeve, can be used as cover up or top
1 sweater Ė black shrug, goes over everything
1 lightweight sweatshirt Ė [Yet to be purchased, waiting for a trip to Lulu Lemon.]
1 tee shirt
6 tank tops Ė small items, good for layering, working out, sleeping, working outside, etc.
1 regular bra Ė multi-strap adjustable
2 sports bras
8 or 10 underwear
1 rain jacket
1 thin leather belt
3 Shoes - black Reef flip-flops, Mizuno trail runners, TOMS classics
13Ē Macbook Pro + cord + Incase neoprene cover
iPod Nano + headphones + cord
Apple international adapters
Nikon point and shoot + cord
Kindle Touch + cord
Sea to Summit pack towel
Coolmax sleep sack
Nalgene water bottle + [Considering SteriPen]
Molskine notebook + pens
Important Documents + copies
[Considering bringing some small utensils and food storage because Iím a vegetarian and some places are tougher than others.]
1st aid kit
toothbrush + paste + retainers
Lush shampoo bar
coconut oil (as moisturizer, eye makeup remover, conditioner)
Burtís Bees lipgloss
blush gel stick
So what are your thoughts? As much as Iíd love to have one carry-on bag, I donít know if it is possible. I like both the Smart Alec and the Synapse; what do you think about the combo used together? If you have experience with other brands, perhaps I should look into a conventional Osprey or Deuter pack in conjunction with a smaller TB bag for a daypack? Maybe Iím being overly optimistic about my space requirements, but I think Iíve got it down to the minimum for as many places as weíre going, as many activities as weíre going to do, and as long as we are going to be traveling.
However, I have one additional concern that I havenít seen TB bags address: safety. I know the bags are made of the highest quality material, but are they slashproof? Iím leery of trusting my MacBook and other essentials to a Synapse whenever the zippers arenít even lockable. I donít want them to be quiet! Maybe Iíll put bells on there, haha. Have the lack of safety features been a problem for anyone?
Sorry this is so long, but if Iíve forgotten to include anything that would be helpful, please donít hesitate to ask any questions. I welcome any input! Thanks, guys!