Sometimes I tell people I wear the same thing every day and they misinterpret it to mean something like “I wear the same style.”
It’s not the style. I literally wear the exact same shirt every day. Same with pants, socks, etc. Everything fits in one small backpack and US customs stops me because they don’t believe anyone packs like this. Also, I’m suspicious. I do not have any other clothing.
To me this bare-minimalism feels completely natural, but I know it’s not the norm. I’m writing this post because it entertains me and it might inspire you to try cutting down on your stuff. I’m including photos of my items, prices and where relevant why I chose these over other options.
Here is a picture of everything together:
I do have a few more items at my apartment in NYC, like houseplants, a desk and an external monitor, but I’m very intentional about minimizing those items too.
Alright, let’s get into it…
Wool & Prince Shirts
I have two shirts. One is a crewneck long sleeve that I wear outside, and the other is a v-neck short sleeve that I sometimes wear at home. These shirts are made out of merino wool, which is anti-odour, warm, breathable, light weight and dries fast. I hand wash the long sleeve every three weeks or so, and really it just needs an armpit scrub. These shirts are from Wool & Prince and I highly recommend them as the most comfortable, highest quality, best looking wool shirts in this price range ($68 to $84 USD).
Link: Wool & Prince
Outlier Slim Dungarees
I have one pair of pants, Outlier Slim Dungarees. I tried a couple of different colours and settled on Bluetint Gray because they look good with black and I can easily switch out all my tops. I used to wear Makers and Riders, but found that the pants sagged a little around the waist and crotch. The Outliers stay tight, repel water and stains, and are super comfortable. My only complaint is that I’d like the inseam to be about half an inch longer. The pants are $198 retail, which IMO is a great investment and they will last a long time.
Custom Exercise / Vacation Shirt
I had this sleeveless shirt custom printed by TEEPUBLIC for a recent trip to Costa Rica. I wore this shirt about half the time and the v-neck the other half. I’m keeping this shirt because it rolls up super tiny and I might wear it to yoga or go somewhere else hot. Approx. $20.
Generic Blue Shorts
I change into these generic blue shorts as soon as I get home and also wear them for exercise. I don’t know what brand they are. I chose these shorts because they are very light and have a comfortable stretch, and they can do double duty as a bathing suit. I would happily switch these shorts out for something even lighter.
Icebreaker Anatomica Briefs
I wear Icebreaker Men’s Anatomica Briefs because they are comfortable and roll up super tight. Underwear is the thing I wash the most, and because this is made of wool you can wash it in the sink and it air dries super fast. I have two pairs that each cost $35 or so retail, and I think I got them on sale. I acknowledge that It’s weird to post pictures of your underwear online.
Darn Tough Socks
I wear these socks every day unless I get flip-flops when travelling. The socks are made by a company called Darn Tough and come with a lifetime warranty. I first tried a thin pair that tore within a month, and then got these thicker socks. My first pair of thick socks wore out after a year or so and Darn Tough replaced them right away, you just pay the $2 shipping or whatever to send the torn pair back. Original cost of $15 or so.
Link: Darn Tough
Vivobarefoot made a limited run of these Winterized Primus Lux shoes, which I like but don’t love. Vivobarefoot makes shoes with a very thin sole and wide space for your toes. If you haven’t worn “barefoot” shoes before it will take you some time to get used to walking in them. I want to switch this pair out for something that looks a little more formal and is more comfortable. Vivobarefoot does a lot of sales, promo codes, etc., so I got these for about $140. These shoes are very durable and last a long time.
I also tried Allbirds this year, which are runners made out of wool. Allbirds are the worst shoes I have ever worn because they don’t have side support, which means they often collapse when you step on an uneven surface like a sidewalk crack or a curb. The CEO didn’t respond to my email and customer service said I should just walk more carefully, so I picket their SOHO store every time I walk past it. I was outside the 30 day trial, which Allbirds did extend for me because I was out of the country.
The item on the left is a Lululemon down jacket that stuffs into its own pocket. This jacket is very light and doesn’t take up nearly as much room in the backpack as other jackets would. I like Lululemon because they make clothing that fits well on tall, lean people. I bought this jacket a couple of winters ago for maybe $100 on sale and it is holding up well. I would consider switching this jacket out for something even lighter if it also fit well.
The item in the middle is a heavy Lululemon sweater made out of 100% merino wool. This sweater is super comfortable to wear on its own, but I usually put it over the long sleeve tee when it is very cold outside. The jacket is fine by itself to around 0° Celcius, and past that I need the extra layer. This sweater technically fits in my backpack, but it almost never goes in because I am either wearing this or leave it at home. $80 or so at end of season sale, and Lululemon doesn’t make it any more. Random: Lululemon price tags in Canada are identical to those in the US, so you save $$ on the exchange rate.
The item on the right is a pair of Icebreaker glove liners. The closest match now seems to be the $25 Oasis Glove Liners. These liners are super thin and wouldn’t be warm enough for a long trek or similar, but they are great for city life. I carry these liners all year round because I don’t like touching the poles on public transit with my hands. These liners are also made of merino wool.
Minaal Daily Backpack
I carry a Minaal Daily Bag in Aoraki Black, because it is light, durable and has lots of pockets to organize my things in. The backpack retails for $249, which is by far the most I’ve ever paid for a backpack, and IMO worth it. If you are new to living out of a backpack I had an Incase bag for a while that was pretty good which I bought for $56 when Jet.com was taking losses on investor money to build market share.
I printed this hat on Logo Sportswear for about $30. I love this hat because I very much believe in the message that child slavery is a solvable problem. Also, this hat fits my big head, which most hats do not. The exact model is “New Era Snapback Trucker Cap Embroidered OSFA” in black. I got this hat to protect my face from the sun in Costa Rica and don’t usually wear it in NYC.
Link: Logo Sportswear
There is nothing special about these glasses except that I got them when I started wearing glasses six years ago. I need a new prescription and will replace these glasses soon with something ideally foldable and with a much more compact case.
I am super excited about these shades. I used to carry Ray Bans but the foldable Wayfarers don’t reach my ears, so I had a larger model that didn’t fold. These glasses by Roav fold up to be extremely compact and feel almost weightless on your face. It is hard to tell in the photo how small these are, but the rubber case is roughly 2” x 3’ x 0.5”. The glasses feel durable and high quality. I chose this model and colour because they are the best looking option that are also polarized. Retail price is about $145, so less than most Ray Bans and IMO similar or better quality.
Macbook Air, iPhone, Etc.
I use an 11” Macbook Air with max upgrades for processor and RAM. I like OS and do everything on this computer including writing, coding and design. I will likely trade up for a Macbook in the future because they are lighter, have better screens and a smaller power adapter. With tax this computer was $1265 or so.
I have an iPhone 7+ which a friend kindly gave to me. I had an iPhone 6 before this that believed it was in China so I could download unlimited free music using a Chinese app. I love the quality of photos that I can take on this phone. In the future I will likely switch back to a smaller iPhone.
Headphones. I have two sets because the iPhone and laptop have different inputs. I will consolidate to one pair soon. I used to carry an audio splitter because it’s fun to listen to music with your honey bunches.
The Aukey dual USB charger is great because it charges your devices much faster than even the Apple branded USB charger that comes with your phone. Price: $11 on Amazon. The USB cable is from AmazonBasics for $7.
The black bag is from Muji and fits everything with room to spare. Here are quick notes on everything else:
- Pure Pitz. This deodorant is made from essential oils and it works well. I also like that Pure Pitz comes in size tiny. $14+ and worth it to not put crappy chemicals on your body. Link
- Fuchs Travel Toothbrush. I don’t like this model, but the brush is fine. I don’t have a strong preference for Colgate toothpaste, it just happens to be the one I picked up. Link
- Hearos earplugs. These earplugs are pretty good for sleeping in louder places, and I sometimes combine them with a fan or white noise app. Link
- Atetion Mini Humidifier. This is the little white donut item and is by far the smallest humidifier I could find. You just plug the humidifier in, set it in a cup of water and it starts working. I don’t use this gadget very often so will probably remove it from the pack. Link
- Tweezers, scissors, clippers, toothpick. Nothing special about these. I will probably downsize to higher quality and more compact items.
- Mickey Mouse Band-aids. I got these band-aids in Costa Rica after a surfboard cut my arm. I wasn’t even surfing. Band-ads are super light so I’m just holding on to these for future emergencies.
- Burt’s Bees Lip Balm. I don’t have strong feelings about this brand. I carry lip balm because my lips get dry after I shave.
I haven’t found a travel-size electric razor I like, so I usually just buy a razor and shaving cream. I don’t use shampoo, so that saves room.
I carry these around all the time. I generally take enzymes with every meal, and then various vitamins throughout the day. Also included: fish oil capsules. If you are interested in knowing what brands of supplements I buy, just let me know.
The square cards are for Werewolf, which is a fun game you can play with larger groups. I took these on Team China Trip 2017 and we easily played 40+ games. You don’t really need official cards to play Werewolf, you can just write out roles on paper, but these are fun to have. I got these cards at a Chinese grocery store for $5 or so.
The other cards are just generic playing cards which I mostly use to play Rummy. I have an idea to compact these down.
In the summer and on trips to warm places I carry a frisbee.
Cards & Documents
The front of my passport wore off so I now I keep it in a ziplock bag, which also protects it from water. I wish passports were more durable and waterproof because they are a pain to replace.
I carry more cards than I want to because I have bank accounts in the US, Canada and China. I also have a MetroCard for NYC. I don’t use a wallet and instead just keep the card for whichever country I’m in at the time accessible in the top pocket of my backpack.
I have more important documents, like my Will, back home in Canada.
My outfit works for anything up to business casual and I feel good wearing it. I work from home and if I have an in-person meeting it is usually with my colleagues. If I worked in an office I would still wear the same thing every day. The only foreseeable scenario I am likely to be in where my clothing may not be formal enough is a wedding.
I started living like this because I move and travel a lot; it’s nice to pack quickly and have everything I need, and to not have to haul stuff around. Other benefits include never having to think about what you are going to wear, and never doing a load of laundry because it’s all hand washable in the sink.
Living out of a backpack is not a static thing. I am regularly removing items and testing new ones. I like when friends recommend options that could be better than what I already have. I am happy to pay for value, which to me is utility and quality.