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One (plus one) bag travel

As I head out to my conference in Australia, with a stop in New Zealand on the way, I've been planning for how to pack for the trek. Some caveats as a starting point:

  • Although part of my trip involves attending an academic conference, I tend to dress at the causal end of the spectrum for these sorts of things (maybe even outside the range of what is normative). No suits, ties, shiny leather shoes, etc.
  • There will be lots of walking and exploring in the cities, as well as some hiking in the countryside. Much more on the activewear side of things rather than anything formal.
  • I tend to be low maintenance when it comes to toiletries, and am perfectly fine using whatever is found in the hotel. And I don't mind being scruffy and going without shaving for a few weeks.
  • Admittedly, there's likely going to be more photography gear than most would bring. In particular, a second body is a total luxery. But I'd be crushed if I had a problem with my camera and didn't have a backup on a trip like this. And it's not like I'll be carrying two DSLRs...
  • I need to have a pack for day trips with my photo gear and small messenger bag for the conference and walking around Sydney and Melbourne.

I've been reading about "one bag travel," where the goal is to fit everything into a carry-on bag. Given that I'm an avid photographer, I know there's no way I can do this, unless half of the bag is camera gear. Even though I travel with the small(ish) Fuji X-sytem which is lighter than the Nikon DSLR I used to travel with, it's still more gear than most "one-baggers" would carry. Couple that with a (small) laptop and iPad, I know one bag isn't going to happen. But if I could get to "MLC" (maximum legal carry-on; ~40 liters) bag plus a small bag or backpack (i.e., "personal item" on the plane), I'd be going much lighter than the 90+ liter Gregory Whitney backpack I previously traveled with. So here's the plan...


  • Tom Bihn Aeronaut (carry-on). I should do a separate post about the Aeronaut at some point...
  • F-Stop Kenti ("personal item" on the plane) (update: this is a perfectly-sized pack for the gear I took...I love this bag!)
  • Tom Bihn Large Cafe Bag (emptied and packed into the Aeronaut while flying); it will primarily be used for my conference, working in cafes, and/or for a light photography kit when exploring cities.
  • A couple of small Tom Bihn accessory pouches
  • Crumpler Haven (small) insert; packed on one side of the Kenti and then can be easily removed and used in the Cafe Bag.
  • REI/Eagle Creek packing cubes (in the Aeronaut)

Generally, things are set up such that most of the technology and camera gear is in the Kenti and clothes are in the Aeronaut.

Photography gear: 

  • Fuji X-Pro1 body with grip
  • Fuji XE-1 body
  • Fuji lenses: 10-24mm wide zoom; 27mm pancake; 35mm f/1.4; 55-200mm zoom
  • Battery charger and a spare battery (i.e., 3 total)
  • Remote cable for XE-1 (update: never used it on this trip; didn't need to bring it.)
  • Camera to USB cable
  • Apple Lightning to USB and SD card camera kits
  • USB-SD card reader (since the 11" MacBook Air doesn't come with one)
  • A handful of SD cards
  • Lowepro Dashpoint 30 lens case
  • Gorrillapod Focus tabletop tripod (update: never used it on this trip; didn't need to bring it.)

Technology, work, & entertainment:

  • 11" MacBook Air and sleeve. I've successfully vacationed for 3 weeks with only an iPad, but there's some work I'll need to be doing while I'm away...Thus the small laptop. (update: I love this computer.)
  • iPad Air in an Apple SmartCase
  • MacBook Air power brick and Twelve South PlugBug (update: the PlugBug got fried by a power spike in my hotel room. Not sure if it was a weakness of the PlugBug or if it saved my MacBook Air and/or Apple power brick. I've give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it was the latter...I'll order another one.)
  • iPad power brick (update: didn't used this much...I tended to just charge from the MBAir.)
  • Apple airline adapter (not sure if there will be power on the plane, but if so this will be very useful) I checked Seat Guru at the last minute and saw that there isn't power the Air New Zealand plane(s) I'll be on (at least on the longest legs of the trip between SFO and AUK), so this was removed from my bag.
  • Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation XL...when I realized there wouldn't be power on the plane, I pick up this so that I'd be able to recharge my iPad. With this I should be able to make it through the whole flight with power, although it adds nearly a pound to my bag. (update: ended up not needing this (yet). Only watched about 3 hours of video on the plane; mostly listened to music/audiobooks while I tried to sleep. So I my iPad still had more than half of a charge by the end of the flight(s).)
  • Three Apple "duckhead" adapter plugs (2 x NZ/AU and 1 x USA); these are handy because they can be used with a camera battery charger too; one of these came from an Apple travel plug kit, the other from the PlugBug kit. I'm taking the USA plug for use at the airport (I have a long layover at SFO on my way home).
  • iPhone 5; although I have no plans to use it on celluar. Maybe I'll looking getting SIM card in New Zealand for my iPad though. (update: got SIMs for my iPad in NZ and Australia, which worked brilliantly. Used about 1.5GB per 10 days, and found it useful to be able to create a wifi signal to tether my laptop to the iPad data.)
  • iPod Nano (6G...the little square bugger); reduntant with my iPhone/iPad, but it's so small I might as well...
  • 2 USB to Lightning cords; 1 USB to 30 pin cord and Lightning adapter
  • Klipsch Status folding headphones
  • Earbuds
  • Jawbone UP24 tracker and USB charger; I'm curious to see how much walking I really do when traveling.  (update: walked a lot :-)


  • 3 pairs of pants (one "convertible" with zip-off lower-legs); lightweight...no jeans.
  • 1 pair of shorts/loungewear...Could double as a swimsuit if needed.
  • 2 short sleeve button-down shirts (this is my "conference wear")
  • 2 long sleeve Smartwool merino wool shirts
  • 1 long sleeve lightweight REI baselayer
  • 3 T-shirts
  • 1 short sleeve wicking T-shirt
  • 1 REI Tech sleeveless shirt
  • Light nylon belt
  • Wool stocking cap
  • Outdoor Research Radar Pocket Cap (a lightweight folding cadet hat)
  • 1 pair of Smartwool merino wool long underwear...Since it will be winter in NZ/AUS, I'm going supplement lightweight pants with long underwear as needed.
  • 2 Smartwool boxer briefs; 5 lightweight boxers
  • 7 pairs of socks (Darn Tough and/or Smartwool)
  • Lightweight Rain jacket
  • Lightweight Icebreaker wool hoodie (probably wearing this on the plane)
  • Lightweight Kuhl jacket (the idea is to layer combinations of the hoodie, jacket, and rain jacket as needed)
  • Patagonia Activist canvas shoes
  • Chaco Tedinho leather boots (wearing on the plane, at least until I can kick them off)
  • Wearing shorts and a t-shirt on the plane
  • update: generally, this above clothing worked perfectly. With AirBNBs we generally had access to laundry every 3-4 days, and did sink laundry in hotels. The only problem I found was that without a heated drying, my cotten t-shirts (a) took forever to dry and (b) stretched out and were huge after a couple of washings. Have ordered a few Icebreaker wool shortsleeve t-shirts for my next trip. 


  • Insulated Hydroflask 24oz. water bottle, strapped to the front of the Kenti in an orange crampon pouch I got at REI with F-Stop Gatekeeper straps. The Gorrillapod is also in that pouch.
  • A few Clif bars
  • A small toiletries bag; other than an electric toothbrush, dry toothpaste pill, and deodorant, there's not much in there.
  • Leatherman Style PS; supposedly, this is carry-on compliant since it doesn't have a blade. (update: no problems carrying this on.)
  • Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack...It packs down to not much bigger than a ping-pong ball and will make a good laundry bag.
  • Seat to Summit packable laundry line
  • Some sink-sized packets of laundry soap

 Things that didn't make the cut: 

  • A larger tripod...Even though I have a lightweight tripod, it added too much weight and took up too much space. So the tabletop tripod comes instead.
  • Flipflops...These were originally in the bag, but then I decided that they wouldn't get used enough to warrent their inclusion (since it's winter there!). (update: this was a good choice...I wouldn't have used these much.)


Reader Comments (2)

Hey there, could you post a pic of how you arrange the Kenti for you Fuji? I'm looking for a bag that has a small enough camera compartment, and big enough "general" compartment to fit stuff I need on the airplane (ie noise cancelling headphones, medications, toiletries, book, etc). Most bags don't seem to work for both things (huge camera compartment, or lots of space but no dedicated and easily accessible camera bit. I wish I could try the Kenti, but hey are not really available in Australia...

July 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkb

I've already unpacked my Kenti after my trip so I don't have a picture, but I carried the following in it on the plane on my recent trip:

-X-Pro1 with 27mm lens (left compartment)
-X-E1 with 35mm lens (right compartment)
-55-200mm lens (left compartment)
-10-24mm lens (left compartment)
-11" MacBook Air (laptop slot)
-iPad Air (back-accessed hydration compartment)
-Klipsch Status headphones (roll-top)
-Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation XL (right compartment)
-A pouch for MBAir power brick, Lightning cords, etc. (roll-top)
-A small pouch for SD cards, USB cords, etc. (right compartment)

In my estimation, about 70% of the volume of the Kenti is in the side-accessed camera compartments and ~30% in the upper compartment that is accessed via the roll-top. But a Fuji camera and lens or two will fit in one of the side compartments, and the other side compartment can but used for other stuff. I have my Kenti set up with the divider in the lower section slightly off-center, so that the left side-accessed compartments is a bit bigger than the right side.

BTW, in a past post I showed how the Kenti was packed with Nikon/Fuji gear: http://www.benjaminle.org/blog/2013/4/7/f-stop-kenti-whats-in-there.html

Also consider the F-Stop Guru and one of the smaller ICUs (micro or small) which will give more room for other stuff along with a minimal camera kit.

Hope that helps!

July 20, 2014 | Registered CommenterBen

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