Packing A Go-Bag | How-To

Adventure seldom waits for you to be ready, so always be ready.

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How many times have you gone on a weekend trip and realized that you overly packed again? If you’re like me then it happens every single stinking time. I find myself lugging around more gear than any human actually needs for a few days away. To combat this I have decided to create my own go-bag in advance of any late notice trips. The goal is to fill this go-bag with the ESSENTIALS for a weekend getaway, things you, or I, would only need to survive and keeping it LIGHT.

I’ve broken down the essentials into a couple of different categories so you can fine tune them to your own needs (women needs won’t be the same as men):

  1. The Bag
  2. Money/Forms of ID
  3. Clothing
  4. Toiletries
  5. Electronics

Often the most overlooked piece of kit in my opinion is the actual bag in which you put all the essentials into. Over the years I used to carry all my stuff on my trips via a Nike gym duffel which did its duties well. The more I travel now though the more I realized how cumbersome this duffel really was. I ditched the over the shoulder sling along with the outdated design and materials (take this with a grain of salt as I did use a gym duffel as a travel pack, ha) and went with The North Face Base Camp Duffel.

Now before you say that I got another duffel to replace my last one the beauty of this TNF Base Camp one is that it has shoulder straps to act like a BACKPACK. Everything loads like a normal duffel but now you can evenly distribute the weight via the backpack straps, genius if you asked me. I grabbed a small duffel as it was the perfect size for carry-ons, a very important factor if you’re flying away for a weekend. The bottom is constructed with a tough liner material that can withstand what the user throws at it without fear of it basically ripping apart. Ample storage space in the main compartment with a zipper line smaller one behind the opening will definitely fit all your gear. I have taken this new bag on its maiden voyage for a weekend in Nola and it served my needs immensely.

Forms of ID/Money
You should always have these on your persons of course but it’s good to stash some other forms of ID (safely) into your go-bag. If you’re in a rush to get things together you’re bound to forget something, ID is normally one of those things, ask me how I know. A passport while traveling in the States isn’t really necessary until recently as some states no longer accepts driver’s license of other states as valid IDs. Personally I think this law is garbage but I don’t make the rules. Check the places you’re going to be at and see what they are doing and stash that passport nearby.

No form of ID trumps your passport – just don’t forget where you put it.

We know how hard it is to save money during our every day lives but take $40-$50 out of your pocket and put it with your IDs in your go-bag. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you go to reach for your briefs and find a couple of extra $20s in there. Trust me, just do it.

Now we’re getting into the meat and potatoes of this how to: clothing. The bulk if not the entirety of your go-bag’s weight is made or broken here. Before I would pack *counts on hands how many t-shirts and pants* X amounts of clothing items only to not wear 40% of them. What a waste of both space and added weight to a bag that could’ve been lighter. 

For a weekend away I would suggest no more than three (yes 3!) outfits to carry you through the adventure. For the women they can get away with adding one or two more since their articles are smaller in size compared to men’s clothing. Rule of thumb is to pack by outfits so you know what you’re wearing without having to add things you don’t need or dig for them.

  1. Two pair of pants, pair of shorts
  2. Two t-shirts and one button up
  3. Socks and underwear minimum for 3 days
  4. One Pair of boots (that you will wear), light running shoes if need be, one pair of sandal (if you’re going somewhere beachy.)
Plenty for a weekend away!
Nice and tidy.

Let’s be honest the list above mentioned is VERY MINIMAL but you would be surprised at how little clothing you need when traveling for a few days. If you must do it for the Gram then pack accordingly and add a few more outfits. Just know that you might not even wear half of it!

Everything packs neatly into the small duffel that I even have almost 50% more room leftover! Packing tip though: roll all your clothing items into burrito style. This packing method can save you even more room in your bag.



Personal hygiene doesn’t stop because you’re without all your things from home while traveling, that’s why they made travel size! I will admit that this section I tend not skimp on but I have dwindled it down to the basics I NEED. Women and men will differ here as the former knows what they need in forms of toiletries so I will leave that up to you. For the rest here is my list of basics that will get ya’ll through a weekend:

  1. Travel Toothbrush/Paste
    1. If you can find a collapsible one then even better but if not a toothbrush dedicated to the pack is a must. Keep this separate from your other things because in the end it goes into your mouth. I got one that came in a separate bag with its own head cover, win
  2. Hand Sanitizer
    1. Keep your hands clean especially when a sink is not nearby.
  3. Shampoo/Conditioner
    1. Itchy scalps and oily hair is no fun, grab a 2-in-1 so you have less fuss of carrying/looking for the other bottle.
  4. Baby Wipes
    1. Why? Because now one likes wiping their ass with leaves in the forest.
  5. Body Lotion
    1. You don’t know what the weather is like where you’re going, best bring a small bottle of your favorite lotion just in case. Dry skin sucks but not as bad as ashy elbows.
    1. I am not your mother but I will be here. Bring a small one, stores have ready to go packs, that has band-aids and sterile paper for the small on the go injuries. Add some Neosporin and you got yourself a basic ‘I hope I don’t die on the way to the ER.’

You’re going to want want to bring your camera to capture all the moments you have during the weekend of course. In goes the DSLR and five kit lenses, a couple of  Go-Pros, a tripod, a selfie stick, an external hard drive and your laptop to upload all of them, oh don’t forget about all the charging cables you’ll need. Well that went from 0-100 REAL QUICK didn’t it. Let’s take a step back here and reevaluate what we’re jamming into the bag.

Pack your DSLR and choose a one or two lenses at MOST that you want to bring, or the very least the most versatile ones you have and leave it in the bag. I always bring just one Go-Pro with me if I get too lazy to lug around my DSLR, it shoots videos/photos so why not. Stash your selfie stick and a battery pack (fully charged) in the bag and just forget the rest. Back up and clear your memory cards so you can start with a fresh couple of hundred photos, leave the hard drive and laptop at home (upload when you’re back in the comforts of your bed.) The more electronics you bring with you the more headaches you’ll have, trust me on this.

There you have it folks you have just created your first ready go-bag. Now when the next adventure comes about all you need to do is book that flight, fill up the gas tank or hop into shotgun formation and you’re ready for a weekend getaway. Just don’t forget to grab the go-bag or you’ll be surely screwed!

If you have any recommendations on how I can make my go-bag become more efficient don’t hesitate to leave me a suggestion in the comments!

Until the next adventure!

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