Packing for a Trip With No Bags

I'm heading to Japan and will quickly find out how well my setup works. My big questions are less about the amount of stuff I'm bringing than what it will be like traveling from Point A to Point B with all my luggage on my person.
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I leave for Japan on my No Baggage Challenge for Charity on Wednesday. In my first installment I told you about why I'm going to Japan for 10 days and what lead me to use Scottevest clothing to travel without any checked or carry-on baggage. The idea is that I can successfully travel in one of the world's most culturally neat countries (by which I mean clean, not just cool), visit museums, fine restaurants, and bars, and get by only what I can fit in my Scottevest clothing. Today I'll tell you exactly what I'm packing with me and how I'll be able to do it.

With the exception of my socks (and the cat, who isn't coming with me nor is he clothing), every item of clothing I'm taking with me is made by Scottevest.


My main piece of clothing is the Carry-on Coat. It's a large overcoat with 33 pockets. I'm lucky to be one of the first people outside of Scottevest to wear this coat (read a recent review in the Chicago Tribune). It's set to going out to customers later this month. Even though I'm bringing a full extra set of clothing and an iPad, I'm not coming anywhere near filling this jacket to capacity. It's really well made, with waterproof material and very clean lines. I've never worn an overcoat like this before and the style is definitely different from my usual garb. That said, I'm actually really liking this jacket. The pockets in the lower half of the coat are massive. To help keep the clothes I put in them from bunching up, I'm using pieces of thin cardboard and folding the extra shirts, pants, and underwear around them. I'm still perfecting my folding technique, but this prevents bulges and really makes it hard to tell how much I'm carrying with me. I probably wouldn't want to go on a three mile run with the jacket fully loaded, but the weight distribution is excellent and it's easy to forget how much I have with me when fully loaded.

I'm also bringing the Tropical Jacket/Vest. This will be my mid-layer under the Carry-on Coat while in transit and my main jacket when I'm not traveling between cities. I've been wearing this for a couple weeks now and it's fantastic. The weather in Japan while I'm there will range from the upper-mid 60s during the day to the 40s at night. Layering will let me regulate my temperature well.


I'm bringing two pairs of pants with me. The Flex Cargo Pants are probably my new favorite pants. They have 11 pockets and are made of soft cotton. The Carry-on Coat has plenty of space for an extra pair of pants, so I'm also bringing the Sev Travel Pants. These are thinner and lighter than the Flex Cargo pants. They fold up small, but look like a regular pair of khakis and will be great for more formal settings on my trip. The Travel Pants have a built in belt with a plastic clip buckle, but the Flex Cargo Pants don't have a built in belt. I'm using one that's made of nylon webbing and has a plastic buckle, so I won't have to take it off when I go through airport security.


My main base layer will be two short sleeve Performance T-Shirts. I'm also bringing a long sleeve Q-Zip and a TEC Shirt, which is a more formal button-down shirt. I'll likely alternate between the TEC Shirt and Q-Zip as my top layer each day, though if it gets colder I can easily wear the TEC Shirt over the Q-Zip.

Underwear & Socks

I'll be bringing three pairs of the brand new SeV Travel Boxers. These just arrived in the mail and they look awesome. The fit and construction is excellent and from first wear, they seem to be better than other similar travel underwear. They also have a hip pocket that can hold an iPhone or iPod. I'm not sure that I'll actually use this pocket but, hey, another pocket! I'm also bringing three pairs of lightweight wool socks, the only non-Scottevest clothing I'm taking. Two pairs are Smartwool crew socks, one is pair of ultralight Patagonia ankle socks.


I'm wearing OluKai Moloa shoes. They're slip-on and have a reinforced heal that can actually be folded down to wear like a clog. I've been told to expect to have to take my shoes on and off a lot in Japan, so these seem like an easier option than a pair of boots or lace-up sneaker. They're black leather and while casual, can also pass in nicer situations. I've also waterproofed them, so my feet will be dry if I get caught in rain. Most importantly, they're one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes I've ever owned and are great for being on my feet all day.


My plan is to shower twice each day to keep my body as clean as possible, thereby reducing the risk of my clothes getting funky while I travel. I'm staying in hotels throughout the trip, so I'm not bringing shampoo nor soap. I have poor eyesight, so I'm bringing contact lenses, contact solution, a travel case, a pair of eyeglasses and a pair of non-prescription sunglasses. Other toiletries include toothpaste, a folding travel toothbrush, and deodorant. I'll buy a razor and shaving cream in Japan when I decide I'm ready for a shave, but I often rock some stubble, so I might even pass on shaving while I'm traveling.

I'll be washing my socks, underwear and t-shirt every night. I'm bringing concentrated detergent and a small clothes line to help the clothes dry quickly.

Tech Gear

My iPhone 4 and my iPad will be the devices that I use to shoot photos and video and post blog entries to the web. I'm bringing a charger with me, as well as a set of earbuds.

Other Stuff

The only other things I'm bringing are a handkerchief, my passport, a drivers license and credit cards, a small notebook and a pen.

If I need anything else along the way, I'll buy it. But this should be enough stuff to keep me clothed and clean, as well as keep my clothes clean and my blog updated, for 10 days. I'm taking substantially more stuff than Rolf Potts and he did a trip that was more than four times longer than mine. But the Carry-on Coat lets me have a more stuff, without being weighed down by it. For my trip, an extra pair of pants and a nice button down shirt are going to make me feel much more comfortable in the environment I'm visiting.

With the exception of my passport, credit cards, and handkerchief, everything I'm taking is going to be in my Carry-on Coat. Going through security should be a total breeze. I'm also going to be spending a fair bit of time traveling in Japan by train. Once I'm on either of my flights or any of my trains, my plan is to stow my Carry-on Coat in an overhead bin and just hold onto my phone and iPad. I honestly can't wait to have this light a setup, free from concern of lugging around a suitcase and struggling to fit it overhead or under the seat in front of me.

I head to Japan on Wednesday and will quickly find out how well my setup works. My big questions are less about the amount of stuff I'm bringing - I'm confident that I will have plenty of clothes for my trip - than what it will be like traveling from Point A to Point B with all my luggage on my person. Will the loaded Carry-on Coat stay comfortable? Will I run into problems at security or customs? What situation have I not prepared for? Despite these outstanding questions, I'm chomping at the bit to head to Japan and experience traveling with no baggage for the first time.

Update:Scottevest CEO Scott Jordan has more about my No Baggage Challenge for Charity at the official Scottevest Blog.

Disclosure: My No Baggage Challenge for Charity trip is being partially sponsored by Scottevest. I received some of the clothing I am using, including the Carry-On Coat, Tropical Jacket, TEC Shirt, Travel Boxers and Flex Cargo Pants for free. I am also using other Scottevest clothes that I've purchased myself: Q-Zip, Performance T-Shirts, and Travel Pants. Scottevest is making a $1500 donation to Students for a Free Tibet in honor of my trip and will raise their donation to $5000 if videos I shoot on this trip reach 10,000 views. I am covering all other trip costs.

If you would like to make a donation in support of Students for a Free Tibet, please click here.

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