All the clothing you will ever need can fit inside a single backpack.
Karol Gajda traveled for 100+ days carrying only an average, modestly-sized backpack. His main clothing consisted of three shirts and a single pair of pants, leaving extra space for electronics and other gear.
Some minimalists refuse to even carry a backpack. Rolf Potts successfully traveled the world without bringing a single piece of baggage. Over the course of 6 weeks, he explored 12 countries on 5 different continents, yet all his clothing fit within the pockets of his pants and travel vest. (1)
You, too, can thrive with far fewer clothes than you have today. All it takes is a simple change in mindset.
- 2 pair of pants
- 4 shirts
- 4 underwear
- 2 Hand towels
- 1 handkerchief
- 3 pairs of socks
- 2 pairs of pajama pants
- 1 beanie
- 2 sweaters
Here’s how I survive with so little clothing:
I layer my clothes. I carry several thin shirts and pants, which I can use during both cold and hot weather. When it’s hot, I just wear a single shirt and pants. When it’s cold, I wear several shirts underneath my sweater, and I wear pajamas underneath my pants. Sometimes, I will even wear two layers of socks. By layering, I avoid carrying redundant clothing, like a thick jacket where several thinner shirts will suffice.
I re-use my clothes. I don’t sweat much, and if I shower daily, I have no detectable body odor. When I air out my shirts, they can last for two days without washing. I won’t wear sensitive clothing like underwear for more than 24 hours, but my pants will remain odorless for at least 4 days.
I do the laundry frequently. I currently do the laundry once every 3 days using a tiny washing machine and a clothesline. You could also hand-wash clothes each night in the sink or shower by scrubbing them with soap or detergent, wringing out water, and then drying them on a clothesline. (4)
Minimalist clothing is not just for travelers. It’s an easy way for anyone to reduce his environmental impact. If today we stopped buying extra clothes, we would instantly conserve natural resources and energy while saving time and money.
We already have what all we need; we just need to realize it.
How much clothing do you need?
3 This list doesn’t match up exactly with the list I made a month ago. I added extra clothes at the last minute, just in case. But it was a mistake; I really should have brought less, because the extra clothes made my backpack bulge.