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15 things

2011-05-04 19:36:50.887418+00 by ebradway 8 comments

In 1997, my wife spent six months hiking the Appalachian Trail. She carried everything she needed on her back. It's a source of frustration for her when she thinks about the clutter of stuff that fills our three bedroom house.

Andrew Hyde is a tech startup advocate and serial entrepreneur formerly from Boulder. He embarked on a personal experiment reducing everything he owns to 15 things. Of course, the number 15 is somewhat arbitrary because it doesn't itemize the contents of his toiletry bag or apps on his iPhone 3GS. But Andrew can carry all of his physical belongings in his backpack (which does count as one of the 15 things) as he explores the world. His Twitter updates are like Uncle "Traveling" Matt's post cards to Fraggle Rock.

If you had to reduce your life-stuff to a minimal number of things, what would be on the list?

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-05-04 20:07:33.985829+00 by: Dan Lyke

A good pocket knife or multi-tool. But if I didn't have that I'd figure a way to make it, and once I had that infrastructure I'd be unwilling to let it go.

For my purposes, I think the question is perhaps better expressed in two parts:

Right now our space constraints in our 768 square foot place come largely from materials for Family Build Night.

When my life has been cluttered in the past, it's largely been because my possessions have been centered around dreams, "I'd really like to use this some day", than realities.

Gonna have to let this one sit for a while and see if any insights burble out of my subconscious.

#Comment My problems with traveling light made: 2011-05-04 20:25:17.380936+00 by: spl [edit history]

This is related to a recent experience of mine. I just went to Poland for a week. I've always wanted to travel light, but I've never actually done it. So, I decided this would be good opportunity to experiment.

I bought a lightweight carry-on-sized suitcase and tried to pack all the supplies I needed in 10 kg (the typical limit for carry-ons). I nearly succeeded (at 10.5 kg) but that left out several major items that I generally consider crucial for traveling.

I carried these in a backpack and a camera bag. Since I already had carry-ons and the suitcase was over the weight limit, I just checked it.

All the stuff in the suitcase? Clothes. I didn't want to wash something every day. I also needed different types of clothes for different things: dress wear, gi for training, etc. I could have minimized the number of outfits, but that meant I would spend more time washing: a trade-off.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-05-05 00:01:29.574059+00 by: meuon

I do pretty darn well for a couple weeks with a big laptop bag fun of geeky goodness and a Patagonia MLC bag. Nancy and I talk about living/home basing in a small trailer/camper and traveling a lot more... it gets really temping sometimes, but it is also nice to have a place to call home.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-05-05 07:09:59.623871+00 by: spc476

My best friend just lost his apartment in Tuscaloosa, due to the tornado that ripped through the town, and from his story, he managed to get to safety with less than half a minute to spare. He's happy to be alive, and to have a damn good excuse to get out of Tuscaloosa.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-05-05 11:53:38.210294+00 by: Larry Burton

I would not want to get so minimalist that I was limiting myself to fifteen items but if forced into doing so..... let me see:

And that is fifteen things. I guess I would have to throw the multi-tool in with the toiletries in the toiletry bag. If I limited my possessions to twenty things the next five things would be: But then that would also require a plate, a mug and a fork or chop sticks. I'm guessing that Mr. Hyde eats out every meal or stays with someone who has more than 15 items.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-05-05 12:22:48.651432+00 by: Larry Burton

Giving more thought to this I think the shirts and socks should be made of merino wool. That ought to allow for an extra day of wear before washing. I think the pants would need to be a heavy khaki and probably charcoal in color. Since I'd rather have the other items than a belt the pants and walking shorts would need to be beltless. I'd really like to add my netbook to the list.

Would a Bic pen and a spiral notebook be considered a possession?

#Comment Re: Larry made: 2011-05-05 12:47:41.24319+00 by: spl

Definitely go for the merino wool stuff. (Unsolicited advertisement: I love my Icebreaker t-shirt, long- sleeve shirt, and long johns.) Also consider pants that can be turned into shorts.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-05-05 15:25:09.665262+00 by: ebradway

Andrew counts his undergarments as a single "thing" (or maybe two: socks and underwear). He also counts a pair of shoes as one thing. So Larry's list is actually pretty darned close to Andrew's.

One of the points of extreme minimalism is that you save enough money to be able to eat out every night. And yeah, he does stay with friends and family who own more things. So there's a bit of a conceit there.