How to travel light in 2023: all the gear you need

Discover the art of packing light with these tips, tricks and recommendations

Are you looking for the best gear for traveling light? Learning how to travel light has become increasingly popular in recent years as more people choose not to travel with heavy luggage. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or planning your first trip, packing more efficiently and traveling light has a lot of benefits – including environmental. Here’s everything you need to know about traveling light: 

Why travel light?

There are four main reasons: 

  • Save time at the airport by not having to check in your luggage.
  • Avoid the horror of an airline losing your luggage. 
  • More freedom to explore your destination without having to carry or think about luggage.
  • Your carbon footprint when flying is all about the combined weight of you and your luggage. By taking less gear you’ll use fewer resources. 

How to travel light

Traveling light is all about packing more efficiently. Practically, it means bringing fewer items and using smaller luggage. This is how to do it: 

  • Pack only absolute essentials – no ‘just in case’ gear! 
  • Think ‘wash and wear’ – pack for three days and wash as you go. 
  • Choose versatile, multi-purpose items. 
  • Avoid items that are awkward to pack.
  • Don’t take a spare pair of shoes – just wear what you travel in.

Best travel light gear

Traveling light means building a capsule wardrobe of specialist products that are small, versatile and/or have multiple uses. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of recommended products that are perfect for traveling light. From compact luggage to multi-use travel accessories, these items will help you travel light with ease and style.

These are the best products on sale now that will help you travel lighter: 

1. Best luggage for traveling light: Samsonite Solyte DLX 20” soft side spinner

A great option for traveling light is to use luggage with spinner wheels that you can put in an overhead locker. The Samsonite Solyte DLX measures 22″ x 14″ x 9.5″, (carry-on size), weighs 7.1 lbs, and has a capacity of 32.5 liters. It’s got built-in sleeves for a tablet and laptop and 360 dual spinner wheels. 


2. Best carry-on backpack for traveling light: Thule Landmark Travel Backpack

If you want to take advantage of traveling light by also being as mobile as possible then only a carry-on backpack will do. Ignore traditional hiking backpacks and go for the Thule Landmark Travel Backpack, which opens like a suitcase. That’s crucial if you’re going to be living out of it for weeks. Measuring 9.8 x 13 x 21.5”, it weighs 3.17 lbs and has 15″ MacBook and 12.9″ tablet storage areas.


3. Best compact travel towel: Wise Owl Outfitters Microfiber Towel

No, you cannot pack a full-size fluffy towel and still travel light! It takes some getting used to, but it’s perfectly possible to survive for a few weeks using just a small, lightweight microfiber towel that’s easy to pack and quick-drying. Available in four sizes, this towel from Wise Owl is perfect for traveling light, but also great for camping, hiking, the beach, yoga and gym sessions. 


4. Best compact travel pillow: AirComfy Daydreamer Travel Neck Pillow

Those huge memory foam neck pillows sold at airports are not only too hot to comfortably use on most airplanes, but they become a pain to travel with once you start your trip. Choose an inflatable travel pillow like the AirComfy Daydreamer Travel Neck Pillow and you can use it on the journey and then stash it away for the rest of the trip (unless you’re going to be traveling by bus).  


5. Best men’s travel underwear: ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxers

You take a fresh pair of underwear for each day of your trip, right? Never again! Take three pairs of quick-drying underwear and wash ’n’ wear. Legendary among frequent travelers, these nylon travel boxers from travel light brand ExOfficio come in five sizes and nine colors. Buy three of them and wash one pair in the sink or shower before you go to bed – they’ll be dry by morning. Read TravGear’s review here.


6. Best head-lamp: Petzl Swift RL Rechargeable Headlamp

As useful for finding the camp bathroom at night as for caving, mountaineering, and stargazing. A headlamp or head torch is a traveling light essential. Giving 900 lumens, the Petzl Swift RL is the brightest headlamp around and recharges via USB-C, from the mains or from a portable battery. 


7. Best ultralight lightweight rain jacket: Eddie Bauer Men’s Rainfoil Packable Jacket

A lightweight rain jacket that can be easily packed and won’t add much weight to your luggage is what to go for when traveling light. Similar to what you might wear when running, the Eddie Bauer Men’s Rainfoil Packable Jacket is just enough to get you through a tropical rainstorm and packs away neatly into its own right-hand pocket.


8. Best lightweight crop-sensor mirrorless camera: Canon EOS M6 Mark II 

Cutting back on luggage doesn’t have to mean traveling with just a smartphone camera, but don’t make the mistake of embracing the mirrorless camera and going straight for the best, most expensive one around. What you need is the lightest and smallest. At 0.90 lb / 14.39 oz and 4.72 x 2.76 x 1.93″, the Canon EOS M6 Mar II’s crop-sensor system means it can produce 30 frames per second shooting (using RAW burst mode) and still produce 32.5-megapixel images. It’s perfect for safari and travel photography. 


9. Best lightweight full-frame mirrorless camera: Sony A7 III 

Want to upgrade from a smartphone but can’t stand the thought of lugging s full-frame DSLR around? Weighing just 1.43 lb / 22.93 oz, the Sony A7 III is not only the lightest but the best full-frame mirrorless camera around. Offering full-frame 24.2 megapixels resolution and 4K video it’s got the smallest body around. 


10. Best lightweight travel tripod: Peak Design Travel Tripod

A tripod is essential for many kinds of travel photography. But they’re a pain to pack. Not the Peak Design Travel Tripod, which is short and compact, though reaches 153cm when fully extended. It also comes with a pop-out smartphone clamp. Although it’s also available as an aluminum product – which weighs 3.44 lbs – this carbon fiber version gets that down to a mere 2.81 lbs. Peak Design offers a lifetime guarantee. 


11. Best lightweight travel tripod: ULANZI Zero F38 travel tripod

If you’re planning any kind of landscape or night photography then you’re going to need a good tripod. Cue the ULANZI Zero F38 travel tripod, which weighs just 2.4 lbs thanks to its blend of carbon fiber and aluminum. Designed for mirrorless cameras and with a 360º panoramic ball head, it reaches 159cm. 


12. Best ultralight daypack: Osprey Ultralight Dry Stuff Pack

A favorite of TravGear’s, an ultralight daypack takes almost zero space in your carry-on luggage yet can be so useful on a trip. We’ve used one for years as a seat bag for a laptop and headphones, for hiking skiing, shopping, and trips to campsite bathrooms. This one from Osprey has waterproof sealed seams, an external zip pocket, and a built-in storage stuff pocket.


13. Best all-round headlamp: BioLite HeadLamp 200  

There are brighter headlamps around, but if all you need is hands-free illumination when camping then the BioLite HeadLamp 200 will suit. It reaches 200 lumens and goes for about 40 hours between recharges, which are via a micro USB cable. 


14. Best women’s travel underwear: Icebreaker Siren merino wool bikini underwear

Its combination of softness, warmth, and moisture-wicking properties make merino wool an excellent choice for travel clothing. Crafted of 83% merino wool, 12% nylon and 5% elastane, these undies from Icebreaker are lightweight, durable, and can be easily packed, washed, and re-worn again and again. 


15. Best compact travel umbrella: LKYBOA Compact Travel Umbrella 

TravGear goes nowhere without a rain jacket and a small umbrella. Perfect for stashing in the side of a carry-on backpack, the LKYBOA has an Aluminum shaft, ergonomic handle, and a windproof reinforced canopy. 


16. Best ultralight daypack: 4Monster Hiking Daypack

Here’s another option for a daypack, this time from 4Monster. Available in three sizes – 16, 24 and 32 liters – it comes in 10 colors. Water-resistant, weighing just 4 oz and packing into its own tiny stuff sack, it’s a great choice for a daypack that can double as a seat bag on flights. 


17. Best retractable charging cable: Asicen 4-in-1 retractable USB cable

You travel with all kinds of devices, but who wants to stuff all kinds of cables in a carry-on? This 4-in-1 is not only retractable – saving you a tangle – but it includes a couple of Apple Lightning cables, a USB-C, and a micro USB. So it’s good for Apple and Android phones as well as headlamps, portable batteries, and a Kindle.


18. Best compact noise-canceling headphones: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

If you ever want to sleep on a plane, actually enjoy a movie or do some work then noise-canceling earphones are your future. They work by detecting the white noise in the airline cabin and then electronically canceling-them the sound waves by producing the opposite. The result is a near-silence. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II lasts for six hours, though connecting to in-light entertainment systems usually requires using a wireless flight adaptor. Anything is better than double-pin sockets and uncomfortable airline headsets.


19. Best water bottle for traveling light: Vapur collapsible water bottle with carabiner

TravGear goes nowhere without a Vapur. Easy to fill up in airports thanks to its flip-top lid, once empty it collapses down into almost nothing. It comes with a carabiner for clipping to pants or a backpack. It’s available in a wide range of colors and sizes, from 0.5 later/16 ounces to 1.5 liters/50 ounces. 


20. Best USB car charger: TheHitDeal 7-in-1 Car Emergency Safety Tool

If you’re going to be renting a car in your destination and using your smartphone to navigate then you’ll need a way of keeping it charged. The TheHitDeal 7-in-1 car emergency safety tool is mainly a USB charging port while connected to the car cigarette lighter port. However, it also has a knife for curing a seat belt, can be used to break a window and is also an LED flashlight, SOS warning light and an emergency alarm. 


21. Best stuff sacks for traveling light: Frelaxy Dry Sacks

If you plan to travel light or even just squeeze as much as you can into existing luggage then stuff sacks are your friend. They’re designed mainly for water sports, but keeping your things dry is a bonus for those traveling light. What stuff sacks like the Frelaxy Dry Sacks do is keep your gear squashed as small as possible, but also separated into underwear and socks/rolled-up shirts/jacket. Two or three should do it for carry-on luggage.


22. Best portable lantern: LuminAID PackLite Nova

A small portable lantern that charges up via solar power and keeps going all night long in a camp is perfect for backpacking and campervan trips. A solar-powered LED light that reaches 75 lumens, the LuminAID PackLite Nova saves room in your luggage by being inflatable. Recharges in two hours using micro USB, but is best left on a car’s dashboard during the day to recharge. 


23. Best capsule wardrobe convertible pants: Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pant

Why pack pants and shorts when a pair of Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pants will do the same job? Pair these zip-off convertible pants with some swimming trunks and three pairs of quick-drying underwear you’ve got your bottom half covered for all kinds of trips and all kinds of durations. Includes one zip-closure security pocket and breathable and wicking fabric that’s UPF 50 for protection against harmful UVA and UVA rays.


24. Best sneakers for traveling light: Salomon Speedcross 6 trail running shoes

The most comfortable footwear TravGear has ever worn, the Salomon Speedcross 6 trail running shoes quickly replaced walking boots in our capsule wardrobe for all kinds of trips – even hiking trips! As grippy as hiking boots and just as protective on short, medium-grade hikes, they’re ideal for wearing as semi-smart shoes, perfect for walking tours, nights out, the gym and for running. 


25. Best jacket for a capsule wardrobe: Columbia Men’s Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown Jacket

If you’re after a travel jacket for all kinds of trips then consider a lightweight down jacket that packs down into its own interior pocket. The Columbia Men’s Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown comes with Columbia’s own OmniHeat thermal heat reflective interior, is water repellent on the outside and features two zippered hand pockets and an interior security pocket. 


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