Bradley Gram-Hansen

PhD Student in the OXCSML and Torr-Vision groups

bradley [AT]

Backpacking with Hand Luggage

Panaramic view of beach

Okay, as an academic I get to travel to some really cool places and I am incredibly privileged to be able to do that, but whenever I have to travel I do it as cheaply and as sustainably as possible - basically backpacking, because I like to usually do a teeny bit of exploring too in the wild.

This usually means that I will try and get my accommodation bill as close to zero as I can. Usually by wild camping somewhere, is what I have been told you should do, but have never personally done it…#PlausibleDeniability.

I managed to spend just $5 on 10 days of accommodation this year, for AAAI 19, which was in Hawaii. I neither accept, nor deny, that I went travelling for a few days during that conference nor do I accept, nor deny that I may have camped in some very strange places… If you were to guess Canyons, Beaches with Whales, beautiful waves of pure cyclic motion, Green turtles, Hawaiian seals and tropical fish, where there is no light pollution as the sky lights up like a comforting night light, then I would have to state that I have no idea what you are talking about…#NatureIsCool.


Setting up the rig cheaply

In this short post I am going to explain how to pack all of your camping gear into a rucksack suitable for hand luggage on most airlines (easyjet, AirAsia, Peach, Eva, British Airways etc), if not all airlines, so that you too can enjoy what I consider the must luxury accommodation in the world (highly dependent on where you set-up) camping. Explicitly, I will talk about my recent experience in Hawaii. For the airlines listed at the time of writing (April 2019) the lowest volume allowed on board was 56cm x 36cm x 23cm and the following is sufficient for those dimensions.

I will put a disclaimer here, this set-up is most suitable for warmer climates, essentially anything where the nighttime temperature does not go below approximately 10 degrees C. You could definitely go cooler, but getting an adequate sleeping bag that is compact enough will be expensive and you will probably need to wear additional items on the plane. Where the cheaper sleeping bag on the plain? #GreatIdea

Below is a list of gear that I took with me and would recommend others to take too. I’ve attached a brief summary of why I choose each thing, just so you understand why it is important to me. I’m not sponsored, so all the items I provide here are based on my own research and I have thoroughly tested them. Also note that I am around 6ft (1.84m) and so if you are smaller you will have more room to play with. Lucky you!

Freedom on top of the world

Gear taken on the plane

Fleece sleeping bag (Very thin, brought from Aldi for £10).


Note: ALWAYS HAND WASH MERINO WOOL, or put it on the lightest wash setting

I love pure Merino wool. Great in warm and cold weather. I’ve used it for cycling for a long time now, but it is also fantastic when you need lightweight all purpose clothing. Fast drying, super easy to hand wash and stays odourless for a long time.

Mountain warehouse also do a lot of Merino wool stuff, but it tends to be mixed fabrics.

Optional (I had all 3):

Just in case you don’t believe that you can fit all of this into a bag, here is the picture: Packed bag

Gear you will need to get out there

I hope this blog post helps someone who was in the same situation as me back in January 2019!

Here are a few photos from my trip in January to Hawaii:

Camping Camping Camping Camping Eating food in toilet because of the rain