Since I left UK 2007, I have been now living homeless person life over a decade. I went with 70l back bag, but have now downsized my life to 30l. My experience shows, that around 30l is enough to own and live as you have to carry everything with you.
Here is a list of things I’m always carrying with me.
Most import items for me has been a sleeping bag and durable back bag. Usually I purchase those at least once a year with budget around 100 EUR. Yes, you can get at least sleeping bag free from some charity or red cross and twice I have had such kind of experiences.
Once, it was children one made for summer camping and obviously I didn’t fit well to sleep in it. Second time, it was the cheapest one and my legs where always cold when trying to sleep during winter temperatures.
Even temperatures does not go much below freezing where I have been.
Two years I have had huge sleeping bags, something 2 kg in weight and those where bigger even, than my back bag. Yep, those where very warm to sleep inside, but when those get wet, it takes very long time to dry. And you won’t notice rain while sleeping. So, the siding gets fully wet before you woke up and afterwards you have to manage with your totally wet sleeping bag.
And it was difficult to get out from this warm place inside a bag during cold mornings.
Therefore, some normal size (1.6 kg) 0 temperature sleeping bags have been most usable for me. Yes, you can buy a special mountaineers sleeping bags for hundreds of euros, but I’m satisfied with something that costs me only 30 EUR range. As they are made in China, so threads starts to furcate, therefore it will be nice to have a new one each year.
My current back bag is “Brandit 35”. To be honest, I already broke part of one strap seam and tried to fix it without much luck. But it still holds and I’m now more careful how do I get my bag off and on from my shoulders.
Cheap Chinese made back bags are not useful at all as they usually last only a week-two. Once, I had even experience of branded “Mc Kinley” back bag purchased from Intersport. The body strap broke within a week and you can’t much fix such kind of problem with usual stitches. Therefore, I avoid purchase back bags from Sport shops, even some extra expensive could be stronger and last longer. I had “Queucha” once and at least this one didn’t broke in a week. But shit happened as I had food in it and sleeping somewhere unknown place, rats tried to get in. So, instead opening the bag properly, they just eat holes to the bag to get to my food. And this wasn’t first time rats have been destroyed my bags. The standard hikers back bag seems to be over 50l, costs hundreds of euros and as I do not need so much space, I have chosen cheaper ways.
Past years, I have found some eBay sellers selling exactly the right products for me for little bit less than 40 EUR and I have been frequent customer for them. Those has been camouflage and military style, so not much visible for robbers during night and fit with my dark clothing and my military boots.
I use my back bag as my pillow for sleep. I never understand, why I need a mattress and inflatable pillow to carry extra weight!
Once I tried sleep on thermorest, but found myself sleeping outside of the mattress area, when I woke up.
The back bags has usually side pockets and a upper pocket. On one side pocket I carry toothpaste, toothbrush, a soap box with soap and small packs of shampoos, scissors, a spoon and most important thing for me – a wine bottle opener. I also carry my hitchhike pen (marker) and normal pen.
When you try to get to hitchhike autoroute, then obviously you have to write down your destination visible way for drivers to see. I’m always surprised that some hitchhikers are desperately drying to stop cars without a sign, where they want to go.
I have hidden my knife, because it seems to be illegal in EU countries to carry it. Police or Security guys will take it immediately, when they see it. I assume, that frequent terrorist attacks are to blame. I have now sometimes even problem entering to library or shopping centre with my camping or lighter gas bottle as there are security checks everywhere nowadays.
Another side is for my lighter gas, salt and pepper, some tea packs, sewing kit, flints for my lighter, metal filters to my pipe, etc.
I have my camping gas bottle with my cup and 1,5l water bottle usually attached outside the bag.
Somehow, I lost my stainless steel cup, so currently using some smaller aluminum one as haven’t yet found a shop to buy new stainless steel one. Hopefully will get it sometimes somewhere. At least they are not selling those on eBay. Only titanium especial camping cups, which are worse than my aluminum one. The problem is, that metal get’s too hot to drink from it, takes longer to get water boiled and I finally my drink has aluminum taste.
I own a small camping stove, so I have been very happy to make my coffee and soups. The problem is, that small camping stoves are using “Coleman” gas, which is again rare in Europe and expensive sold only in some special hiking stores. So, I find adapter to use more common CP gas bottles with my stove. I purchased it from China and to my surprise, it arrived and fit well. Previously I had ordered a special tube to fill “Coleman” gas bottles and even the “Coleman” part fits, I haven’t yet found any big gas bottles fitting to other side where to take the gas. Probably Europe has different gas connectors standards than in China or US. Otherwise a big gas bottle for home costs here less, that small “Coleman” gas for camping. I’m still carrying it along with a hope, that somewhere somebody sells gas using that standard.
Without a stove my coffee addiction started to cost me a lot. Spending a little bit over 1 EUR several times a day for a coffee in bars was too expensive, so now I can make myself a full week of coffee for that price.
And when hiking or traveling around, I love to make warm soups myself. Those are easy to carry and cheap to buy. Just get some bread with it and you are well eaten during a hike.
I figured out, that creaming my boots is a essential to do when you expect those to last more than few months. So, I have to carry my boots cream in my back bag. After a rain, I always try to remember to cream my boots.
My current boots are French military ones, so those are lasting now second winter. Maybe it’s because of creaming or maybe those are more durable, but I do not afford to take any risks. Good boots could be very expensive. My grandmother teach me, that when keeping your feet dry, you never get a flue and she is right. I can’t afford to be sick with my homeless traveller lifestyle.
The main pocket
The main thing in my middle pocket is my computer. It’s MacBook mid 2010. Past years I had MacBook Pro mid 2010 and I liked it more than this white MacBook. Expected to be more durable. However, I still replaced hard disk cable (was damaged in one morning) and later I probably damaged the motherboard as one morning it just didn’t switch on anymore. First time it showed some dump during boot, I switched it off and afterwards pressing power button didn’t had any effect anymore. Sad, that I had just replaced a new battery. As I got my current MacBook half of the price, that new motherboard for my Pro would have costs, I decided to take it.
Even I’m carrying it in special protective and heavy laptop bag as those old computers somehow do not like my traveling lifestyle. For this MacBook I just had to replace TouchPad. Actually, it would have been only TouchPad cable to replace, but somehow I didn’t figured out how to secure the cable to pad, so during this process I damaged the pad connectors and purchased a full kit to replace.
For computer repairs, you need tools, so I constantly buy new screwdrivers, pincers, etc. I’m not sure why Apple has designed their products to use so many different screw standards.
I own very limited amount of clothes. Two pairs of jeans, few t-shirts, some underwear and socks. I can use the washing machine free in France every month and in Barcelona, they exchange your clothes on those free shower places, so no need to own too much clothing items. However, I never find free jeans to my fit from those places. Besides separating used and clean items in separate bags, it’s practical to distribute those more to small plastic bags to place those to the bottom of bag. My previous back bag broke from bottom, because corners where straps fastened had too much empty space. So, now I’m trying to fill corners with clothes and seems, that my back bag even fits better to my back.
Previously I tried to carry my winter pullover during summer period, but it’s much easier to give it away in spring and ask new one from some charity for winter. Saves space. I still sometimes have to carry my jacket in hot summer days.
And then there is my food bag on top. I was so exited with my stove, so I once decided to start to make myself eggs and bacon. So, purchased a small pan. But eggs are sold 12 or more pieces in packs and are not suitable to carry in back bag. Also do not take any free yogurts to your back bag. I feel sad to throw the pan away, because I really loved to eat bacon and eggs.
At the moment, I’m considering to buy myself a small camouflage tent. It was out of the question in Barcelona, as setting up a tent in public park is punished by 400 EUR fine. So, you have to sleep there in your sleeping bag only and take cover, when it’s raining. But rainy days where rare there.
But, as I’m now staying in Southern France for longer period, weather is much windy and rainy here. First, I was considering only a tarp, but as tarp costs same in eBay and weights same as some mini tent, obviously tent would be easier to setup and more comfortable to stay inside. What do you think?