Travelling with a 20 litre backpack 5kg, ultralight minimalist packing

It’s time to revive my travel blog! Mostly because I’m mega excited about my 20 litre backpack. So to summarise I will give my full packing list and gear choices. In a few days I will post breakdown of my trip, which could not have been booked without the amazing site The Man in Seat 61: 👌 all the info you need to book a Trans-Europe train journey.

Back in 2015 I travelled to Asia with the 35 litre Lowe Alpine Eclipse weighing 7kg, read my original packing list post. It was reasonable but I did reduce along the way, posting stuff home, read about that drama here.

The gear detailed in this post would be the same that I would take for a 6 months or year trip so don’t let the week in Europe trip dissuade you. I won’t need to wash this time but for a longer trip that’s what I’d do.

It has always been my dream to travel with the bare minimum and last week I acquired a deuter speedlite 530, 20 litre bag. Just a note here, I am a serial thrifter, car booter and charity shopper so this was of course second hand.

Deuter speedlite 530, 20 litre bag:

It’s very basic inside with no pockets which is fine for my purpose. There is a front section where you can stuff you coat or jumper. It also takes a water bladder but I won’t use that for this trip.

I say it seems good quality and even worth the money new, although I paid next to nothing for it.

What I can fit inside:


-7 t-shirts:

-3 are ROHAN ultra silver T excellent, thin, roll to a tiny tube, not cheap at £30 a pop but I got one in charity shop (which is how I discovered them).

-2 are Quechua from Dec4thlon but I got in a charity shop

-2 other similar cheap equivalents

-2 pairs of shorts:

-One grey and one tan from Dare2Be. Love these, they don’t crease too much and look like normal fitted shorts but are light. I can’t stand cotton or cord shorts anymore. Also deep pockets.

-7 pairs of underwear:

-4 pairs are Under Armour, high quality technical wear, actually branded as shorts but are great underwear

-3 being other brands but similar long leg so no chafting

-1 pair of black patterned swim trunks by Speedo that pack into a pouch that doubles as a back pocket

-1 grey merino wool jumper – bought in a car boot for £1.50 about £30 new but worth it

-5 pairs of trainer socks but hope to be in flip flops most of the time

Other items (shown in images below):

-iPhone and chargers



-Travel adapters

-Wash kit (in detail below in next section)

-Notepad and pens

-Book – Death in Venice! As will be going there!



-Waterproof or umbrella (can’t decide yet but both would actually fit if I wanted them)


-Flip flops

-Travel towel

-Travel neck pillow from Muji love this as it clips shut in a ring for the traditional U shapes neck pillow but also goes flat as a sausage (as pictured below)

-Hidden waist money pouch

-Obvious stuff like passport and money

How I’m packing.

So I have a handful of packing cubes, many I’ve had for years. I could say if you have to use compression cubes you are packing too much. Also they shrink size but not weight, so you will be filling your bag with more weight than it is designed for. They seem to work for some people though.

My cubes are pictured here with contents:

I mainly use Travelon cubes which I buy from a shop called Lakeland but can also be bought from Amazon. I like them because they hold a rectangle shape and slide in and out nicely.

Pants split into two, socks in another, my seven t-shirts split into two. Shorts, one pair I will wear and the other loose. Jumper loose and swim trunks loose.

Other cubes hold my chargers, and outside is the power bank which is a must for an iPhone, as much as I love them the battery life is sh*t.

One cube is my wash kit which I will outline next, as it is very minimalist and may give you some ideas.

Wash Kit (in smallest Travelon cube):


-Packable flannel (outside)

-Foldable toothbrush

-Mini travel toothpaste

Salt deodorant! Best thing ever! I discovered in Thailand and use all the time, at home as well. One stick lasts a year! And costs approx £4 and huge saving and environmentally it cuts down on a lot of spray cans or plastic deodorant sticks

-Universal travel plug (not pictured)- I recommend the flat kind because some traditional plug shaped ones don’t fit all sinks

-Travel clothes line (not pictured) – basically a piece of twisted elastic – needs no pegs

-Clothes washing soap sheets

-Mini razor set

-Ear plugs

-Eye mask

-Folding mirror

-Scissors and nail clippers

-Mini Nivea cream and a bar of soap

All fits in this fab tiny cube! The size of my hand.

I am also taking a zip case of games for the train, Hero Realms, Dobble and Pit. Will also add some dice for Yahtzee.

If this wasn’t being packed I could take more items, for example one pair of jeans if it was going to be colder.

Finally I will be taking my awesome ROHAN Transit 10 litre satchel. Which holds tons!! I actually won it at the Travel show at Olympia last year. I’m still counting this as a 20 litre holiday as this bag actually fits inside my main rucksack. I will have it out for airport and daily use. Also we will be going to the spa baths in Budapest! So will need swim stuff and a towel with me during the day.

The only things I would add if this was my RTW packing list would be:

-Silk sleeping liner – I used this so much much in Thailand, rectangle not the mummy shape as then it can be used as a sheet and even a towel when desperate, packs the size of a fist.

-Travel hammock – for Asia or beach trips, same size as above and a luxury really but something I like to have, most hotels in Thailand had them included and this would not be useful for Europe anyway.

So excited as this will be the lightest I have ever travelled, it’s only 5kg!

Related posts: lightening the load and the Thai postal system.

Packing light, 35 litres for three months in Asia.

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