Ounces matter: Mashing up business travel and minimalist camping

December 9, 2015

In 2015, I traveled roughly ten weeks for work and went on some solo backpacking camping trips for pleasure and sanity. Backpacking alone was new to me and it really turned me on to minimalist camping where ounces matter. I missed having my husband/manservant lugging all the big, heavy stuff about 3 miles into my first hike. I had no idea! So selfish! After that first solo camping experience, I became an avid (maybe rabid) consumer of small, lightweight things and quickly learned to separate critical items from unnecessary items like deodorant.  As a result, I dropped about a third of the weight of the pack. I used the experience to lighten my business travel bag. Here’s what I’ll be grabbing from my camping backpack when I travel to New York City next week. I haven’t gone to the extreme of cutting the handle off my toothbrush but I’m getting there.

Item Rank I Like Weight Cost
Winter Coat Critical Packable Calvin Klein down coat Shipping weight is 11 ounces Around $100
Rain Jacket Suggested Packable Guide Series rain jacket Estimate at 10 ounces Around $25
Day Pack Optional Packable Hikpro backpack 6.5 ounces Under $20
Glow Stick Suggested Any like this 1.6 ounces Pack of 2 for $2
Sneakers Critical Skechers GOwalk 4.2 ounces each shoe for women's size 6 Under $50
e-reader Optional Kindle Paperwhite 7.2 ounces Around $120
Portable Power Critical Jackery Mini 2.72 ounces Less than $15
Sleep mask Suggested Alaska Bear silk sleep mask Shipping weight .6 ounces About $10


  • Winter coat: My home airport is Syracuse NY where the average low temperature in December is 22 degrees F / -5 C. In the past when I’ve traveled in December, I left my “real” winter coat in the car and traveled with something too light. This packable winter coat packs into a little bag the size of a football and can be jammed into the corner of my bag no problem. It looks good on and it’s warm but not too warm. Plus I’m going to a NY Rangers hockey game and I can safely tuck it away in the bag and avoid spilling beer on it. My daughter tells me people bring these to frat parties (maybe for the same reason).
  • Rain Jacket: I prefer a rain jacket over an umbrella. It’s hard to walk in crowds with an umbrella, especially when you’re short like I am. I’ll take someone’s eye out! This packable rain jacket comes with a little carrying bag and can fit inside a shoe.
  • Day Pack: I love this little backpack. It rolls up into one of its own pockets and is about the size of a pack of cards. Open it, stuff your jacket, purse/wallet, purchases, water, and explore handsfree. You’ll feel like a magician when pulling this out in public and packing it up.
  • Glow Stick: If you’re ever in a hotel when there’s a power outage, this will help you get around and may help others exit the building.
  • Sneakers: Hands-down the most comfortable, lightweight shoe for walking – whether the streets of NY or a conference. I have the GOwalk 3 slip-on walking sneakers. Not super attractive but I’m over 50 so practically invisible anyway. 
  • e-reader: I read a lot. A lot. This is so much less bulky than the iPad and better reading. I bought the wifi only.
  • Portable Power: This is powerful and tiny (3.7 inches).
  • Sleep mask: Super smooth and lightweight. Blocks the light and no one will bug you on a redeye. Doubles as a blindfold. Just sayin’ ; )

I have yet to bring my one camping luxury on a business trip – a portable French Press – but am considering it. Coffee’s kind of a non-negotiable for me. What space and weight saving tips do you have for business travel? Note: I received absolutely nothing for linking to these products. I share specific products because I did a little research and relied on the ratings and reviews of others.

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