Packing in a Carry On: New Zealand

Packing in a Carry On: New Zealand

February 2019

Packing in a Carry On: New Zealand

This two week New Zealand adventure required a lot of planning to accommodate the wide range of activities, including buying a few new items to add to our travel gear collection. We evaluate each item for necessity and reuse potential for future trips, as well as packability for our carry on travel lifestyle.  

The 7 kg / 15 pound limit was tough- definitely the most challenging packing limit we have had yet for our longest trip to date. Some of the “would like” items and even the “must have” items had to get the cut in order to make this strict weight limit. For the purposes of this trip, we had to use a full personal item for assistance. Thank goodness it was winter back home as it allowed us to wear a lot of clothing on our travel day and take some of the bulky items out of the backpack. 

The biggest difference in this trip from others was the hiking component. While we have always done short, local hikes we had not done full day hikes with potential drastic changes in weather due to elevation. Even though it was still technically summer season, it was not uncommon to experience multiple seasons in one day. Most of the new equipment was to ensure the hiking portions of the trip were comfortable in hopes of not ruining the rest of the trip.

Hiking Shoes- Xero TerraFlex Trail Shoe (women’s men’s)

We loved our Xero Trail Sandals (women’s men’s) for our Galapagos trip– they were the perfect lightweight and multifunctional choice for land and water activities! So when we planned this New Zealand adventure, we went right back to Xero for hiking shoes. Luckily, they have the TerraFlex Trail Shoe available! These shoes have grip, traction, and protection all in a compact lightweight fashion Xero is known for. Since it was summer time, we packed the Xero Trail Sandals as well for the non-hiking days.  

Hiking Socks- Darn Tough (Men) Darn Tough (Women)

What good are hiking shoes without proper hiking socks? Merino wool is the wool of choice for clothing in New Zealand (more on the benefits below!) so we purchased two pairs of Darn Tough Merino socks that have cushioning on the bottom. While these socks were more money than I would ever spend on a pair of socks, I was able to get a good deal around holiday sales and didn’t want to suffer from blisters.

Merino Wool Shirts- Smartwool Women’s 250 Base Smartwool Men’s 250 Base Smartwool Women’s 150 Base Smartwool Men’s 150 Base

Everything I read in researching what to bring for this trip pointed to Merino wool. Known for its body temperature regulating properties for warm and cool climates, it is a popular lightweight material for outdoor activities. A bonus benefit of this wool… it does not absorb body odor! With multi-hour to multi-day hikes and unknown duration to a washing machine, these purchases were a good investment. They are very expensive ($90 a shirt- insane!) so I would recommend including these in your gear if you plan on doing more outdoor activities in the future. have not had success in finding “deals” on these brands as I price stalked for several months before biting the bullet and making the purchase. We intend on using the thicker 250 base layer for winter activities such as skiing and the 150 base layer for warm weather activities so we felt like we will get our money’s worth.

Jackets- Stormtech Gravity Thermal Jacket (women’s men’s)

Even though we were traveling at the end of the summer season, the elevation changes while exploring and the unexpected weather meant we needed to be prepared for some cold conditions. Following our pattern for larger items like the  Northface rain jacket and the microfiber towels, we look for lightweight and packable pieces that have the ability to adapt all kinds of trips.

Hiking pants- Nonwe Hiking Pants

I planned on wearing exercise/yoga pants while hiking but Kevin needed something other than gym shorts. Besides weather concerns, I read that sandflies are quite a bother and one technique to prevent the painful bite is to simply cover up. For him, I wanted something lightweight and breathable. I liked these hiking pants because they were quick dry, water resistant and had a draw string option to pull the pants up if needed (may not be the sexiest look but figured it was functional!).

Water bottle- Hydro Flask 40 oz water bottle

I have always included a refillable water bottle on our travels but I was concerned that my 24 oz capacity was not going to cut it on a eight hour hike with no access to water. I felt like it was time to move away from the plastic Contigo 24 oz water bottle I had relied on for years and upgrade to the Hydro Flask 40 oz water bottle. With almost double the liquid capacity, I was ready to put the 24-hour cold promise to the test. Bought a set of keychain carabiner clips to attach the bottle to my pack and I was ready to go.

Also included in this packing were some of the new additions from the Galapagos trip.

Did this all make the 15 pound carry on limit? Let’s take a look! Watch the packing video here!

Full packing list: 

The bag: EBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible

Packing cubes size small, medium and large

Small Packing Cube: Toiletry Bag

  • Medications (Ibupofen, Meclizine, Tums)
  • Deodorant
  • Bar of solid soap
  • Contacts
  • Solid sunscreen
  • Lush solid shampoo
  • Razor / razor head
  • Toothbrush with sanitizer pod
  • Hair Brush
  • Floss
  • Band-Aids/first-aid and Q-tips
  • Hair accessory bag (headband, hair ties, hair clips)

Quart Bag for 3 Ounce Liquids

  • Tooth paste
  • Travel size body lotion
  • Travel size conditioner
  • Travel size face wash
  • Face moisturizer in repurposed container
  • Steroids/Aquaphor (for my terribly dry skin)
  • Triple antibiotic cream
  • Hand santizier

Medium Packing Cube: Small Clothing Items

Large Packing Cube: Clothes


Front Compartment


Side pocket: Rain cover for backpack

Large Compartment


Personal Item: Travel day bag backpack


Camera Bag- packed into Personal Item


Camera- Gopro 5


Sling Bag– packed into Personal Item

  • Chargers
  • Headphones
  • Computer
  • Itinerary and Confirmations folder
  • Gum
  • Lip balm
  • Glasses and case
  • Adventure Bands
  • Eye mask

What I wore on plane:


Weigh in time!

Phew we did it! With very little wiggle room to spare.


Watch full packing video here!

Continue reading about our adventure to New Zealand!

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