Carry-On Packing List For Ultra-Light Travel

Text by: Cian Byrne

. Carry-On Packing List For Ultra-Light Travel

Flying has become a regular occurrence for a lot of people these days. From weekends away to travelling for work, it seems like we’re always travelling. This has led to some of us becoming pros at ultra-light travel. 

I’ve been travelling for most of my adult life and have learnt what essential things to pack and how to pack light. Choosing the right clothes to travel in is very important. Lightweight, breathable fabrics can leave you feeling fresh after a long flight. And by using carry-on luggage we can avoid expensive baggage fees and the risk of an airline losing our bags. Finally, by only packing key accessories we can save on space without sacrificing functionality.

Ultra-Light Travel Clothes

When deciding what to pack for ultra-light travel it’s important to be selective. I like to pack clothes that are both useful and look good in any situation.

Packable Jackets

Travelling with the right jacket is important when it comes to ultra-light travel. I need my jacket to be warm when I’m wearing it and easily packable when I’m not. That’s why the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody is so highly rated. Arc’teryx makes stylish, highly practical apparel, and this jacket is no different. 

It’s warm enough to be used on winter trips to the mountains thanks to it’s goose down filling. In the city, its minimal styling will look great with any outfit and the DWR coating protects you against light showers. And when you’re rushing through airports you can easily compress the jacket and pack it into your bag.

Shop Cerium LT Jacket

Travel Pants 

My hiking pants have quickly become one of my travel essentials. I wear a pair of Arc’teryx Lefroy pants and I think they’re perfect for flying. The lightweight and flexible pants can help make even the most cramped budget airline seats a bit more comfortable.

The Lefroy pants are also extremely practical too. They’re made from a durable Aequora AirPerm fabric blend that’s built for jumping between metros, buses, taxis and planes. They’re even stylish enough to be paired with a casual jacket for when I’m working from the cities hottest café.

Shop Lefroy Pants

Travel Shoes

Shoes are an often overlooked part of the travel wardrobe. But they can play a big part in travelling comfortably. I like to wear a lightweight, breathable shoe that can be quickly slipped off when going through airport security. The Vans Ultrarange Rapidweld does all this and more. The seamless inner and cushioned midsole provides great comfort and helps reduce the chance of blisters.

Shop Ultrarang Rapidweld Shoes

Travel Socks

On longer flights, it’s very important to get up, walk around and stretch your legs. It helps prevent stiff muscles afterwards and also boosts circulation. On long haul flights, I always wear a pair of compression socks. The 2XU Flight Compression Socks have graduated compression. This is a great way of improving circulation which can help reduce swelling and stiffness.

Shop Flight Comp Socks


I like to stay comfortable and feel fresh while travelling by wearing a merino wool baselayer. Merino wool has the unique ability to regulate your body temperature. It can cool you down when you’re warm and warm you up when you’re cold. Smartwool makes some of the best merino wool base layers available. I love their Merino 250 Baselayer Crew which I’ve been using on my travels for years now.

Shop Merino 250 Baselayer Crew

Minimalist Backpacks and Luggage

I believe that a good backpack is the cornerstone of minimalist backpacking. They need to be adaptable, functional and most importantly – fit in the overhead bin. Having all your things in one backpack allows you to be a flexible traveller who can move quickly and easily.

Travel Backpacks

The Black Hole Pack 32L from Patagonia fits these criteria. 32L is large enough to pack all your clothes for a weekend away. And the well-designed interior of the backpack makes organizing your things very easy. The exterior of the pack is made from a tough polyester ripstop that’s finished with a weather-resistant laminate – making this pack from Patagonia great for any adventure that takes you off the beaten path. The padded shoulder straps and moulded back panel will also keep you cool and comfortable on your travels.

Shop Black Hole Pack 32L

Arc’teryx features here again on our list with the Blade 28 Backpack. This backpack is fantastic for a quick city visit. It’s slim profile and muted colour palette allows it to match most outfits making it a great choice for work trips. The clamshell design makes it easy to access your stuff once you get to the hostel. The pack is also compact enough to easily slide under your seat or into the overhead bin on your flight.

Shop Blade 28 Backpack

Duffle Bags 

Duffle bags are easy to recommend for people who are travelling without luggage. They hold enough for a long weekend away while still being classified as a carry-on item. Put all your travel essentials into your bag, sling it over your shoulder and you’re ready to travel the world.

The North Face makes equipment for exploring every corner of the world no matter how tough the conditions are. The North Face Base Camp Duffle Bag – S is known for being extremely durable and highly practical. The exterior of the bag is also coated in a weather-resistant laminate. This makes it very suitable for when your travels expose you to the elements. Handy cinch straps allow you to compress the bag down to fit most carry-on luggage requirements. To make things even easier, The North Face has made the bag in small, medium and large sizing for your travelling convenience.

Shop BCD – Small

Shop BCD – Medium

Shop BCD – Large

If you want a stylish duffel bag that will last a lifetime then check out the Filson Small Duffle Bag. Filson has been making tough, long-lasting products since 1897. The twill fabric of the duffle bag will stand up to any abuse it receives, and look good at the same time. The leather straps and handles add to the heritage look of this classic bag.

Shop Small Duffle Bag

Rolling Suitcase

A rolling suitcase is best suited for city breaks where you want the freedom of not carrying a backpack. You can easily zip through security and between airport terminals without breaking a sweat. The North Face Rolling Thunder 22” is a rugged rolling suitcase made with tough nylon and durable handles.

Shop Rolling Thunder Suitcase

Packing Cubes

I started using packing cubes this year and can’t believe the difference they make. They’re smaller bags that go in your backpack and make travelling much easier. On long trips, I like to organize by type. Shirts in one cube, socks in another. This means no more unpacking everything to find my favourite t-shirt. 

On a 3-day trip, I organize by outfits. This means I can quickly pull out a complete change of clothes to go meet friends or catch up with clients. The Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cube Set also compresses your clothes, fitting more into your carry on luggage.

Shop Pack-It Specter Compression Cube Set

Ultra-Light Travel Accessories

When travelling light it’s important to only carry crucial items. Space and weight are often at a premium so it’s best to only pack things you need and use on a regular basis.


Hopping between cities and countries can be thirsty work. Keeping hydrated will make you feel better in the short term, and is also proven to help combat jet lag. The Hydro Flask 24 oz. Standard Mouth Water Bottle is perfect for travelling. It keeps cold drinks cold for 12 hours and hot drinks warm for 6 hours. Using a flask will help keep thirst at bay, while also creating less waste.

Shop 24 oz. Standard Mouth Water Bottle

Toiletries Bag

I love having a hot shower and brushing my teeth after a long day of travelling. It lays the groundwork for a much needed great night sleep. A compact toiletries bag with enough room for all my essentials is a must-have. The Base Camp Travel Canister from The North Face is a smart choice and my go-to on the road.

Shop Base Camp Travel Canister


One of the best ways I free up some space in my luggage is by swapping a regular towel for a packable towel. The PackTowl Personal Beach Towel is a micro-fibre towel that’s quick-drying, lightweight and packable. This towel from PackTowl is very useful when backpacking and staying in hostels.

Shop Personal Beach Towel


Hopefully, your travels will take you to bright, sunny destinations. If so, you’ll need a pair of sunglasses. Sunglasses can be quite a personal choice, but I like to choose a reputable brand and a polarized lens. The Oakley Reverie sunglasses have an ultra-light and sleek frame that’s made for an active lifestyle. With grippy nose pads and a lens that filters out reflected glare, these sunglasses excel in any conditions.

Shop Reverie Sunglasses

Ray-Ban built on the heritage of their iconic Wayfarer sunglasses to create the Justin Classic. This striking silhouette is teamed with a polarized lens that features a gradient which helps reduce eye strain. 

Shop Justin Classic

Ultra-Light Travel is the Way to Go

If you ask me, ultra-light travelling is the only way to travel. It’s a cheaper and quicker way to see the world. There are many brands that now cater to this market, so you have a lot of choices when it comes to products. Remember to choose lightweight products that are durable and functional. To see Altitude Sports’ full range of travel products head over to our travel section.

Author: Cian Byrne

Born and bred in Ireland, Cian Byrne is a former professional soccer player turned writer for the outdoor sports industry. Moving to Whistler in 2012, he quickly fell in love with skiing and mountain biking. His clients include Bianchi, KOMBI Canada, and Tourism Whistler. Read more of his work at

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