Here is some of the travel gear I use. I look for clothing that is not only functional, but also stylish. I also like inexpensive electronics/gadgets that can be useful while traveling.
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Advice. Bring enough to make your trip a comfortable one, but no more. Traveling light is a huge benefit especially over the long term. Carrying your bags on planes, trains, buses, boats, subways, and around the city looking for your accommodations can be a pain with too much baggage. There is also the matter of checked back fees or possibly losing a bag on flights. Smart packing can avoid, or at least minimize, these issues. That said, you may find yourself wanting a few extra things for convenience, especially when first traveling for an extended time. Eventually as you travel more you will learn what you really need and what you don’t. It will be less than you think.
Brands. Uniqlo for underwear and base layers (inexpensive). Icebreaker for t-shirts (worth the money, but look for sales). Kuhl for stylish and functional clothing. Prana for comfortable clothing (pants in particular great for hiking and sitting around for hours like a bus or plane). Smartwool for socks (best fit, look, and durability). ExOfficio for underwear. Merrell for shoes/boots. Teva for sandals (I’ve heard Chaco good too).
Tip. Read the washing instructions! Generally you have to wash most of this stuff cold and either dry on low heat or not at all and instead hang dry in the shade. Otherwise, the material will be ruined and not work as well or may even stop working.
Purchased on Kickstarter, now available for pre-order, this is my favorite belt ever! It fits great and despite all the stuff you can fit inside like money or tools, it's still pretty slim lined. The buckle is awesome quality and looks great for casual or even business attire. Also easy to customize the fit once you get it. Made of nylon type material, it's strong and alternative to leather. I just bought the belt by itself, but as you can see, additional tools/supplies can be purchased separately to put into the belt. Perfect for everyday, travel (hide money, docs, keys), camping, or the wilderness.
After using the same point-and-shoot camera for 9 years, I felt it was time to upgrade. While the iPhone camera is amazing, I sometimes don't want to risk damaging/dropping my phone plus I wanted an actual camera for better quality, additional features/settings/filters, and in my case zoom. The 18MP Zeiss lens (one of the best in the business) quality is amazing, tons of different modes to optimize quality for your environment, manual settings for more advance photographers, and shortcut options for frequently used shooting settings. And the best part is the 30x/60x optical/digital zoom. I've been able to get some amazing wildlife shots as a result. Camera may be pricey for some amateurs, but I was able to find a used one for just over half price.
After several years and much travel with ExOfficio, I found Saxx, which I've come to love. They are more comfortable, less issues with stretched out waistbands, dry much faster, and great odor control. Satisfaction guarantee. They also offer a looser boxer brief (my preference, see below) as well as other styles for everyday wear that are super comfortable.
Probably my favorite pair of pants travel or otherwise. Fantastic style, fit, comfort and durability. Packs up small, has a bit of stretch resulting in no restriction of movement. Quick dry. These are a bit different than the Kontra Konfidant Air in that they are not vented, making them better for cooler climates. Easy to wear a base pants layer under for cold climates. Stealth cell phone pocket super handy and deep stretchy front hand pockets. Tip: Two notes on sizing. They do make a size 28 waist which unfortunately is not sold at REI but is sold on Backcountry or Kuhl's website. Revolvr Rogue is their "tapered" fit which is slightly slimmer from the knees down which is great for skinnier legs and fit over a low cut sneaker. Full is the widest and Klassik is in between.
While tough to beat Icebreaker's merino wool shirts, I've gotten a bit frustrated with their quality as I consistently get small holes after a few months use. I saw this merino/polyester blend Kuhl shirt marked down and decided to try it. I still think Icebreak is a bit better, but I love Kuhl clothing and thought maybe this would hold up better. It's slightly cheaper and also more likely to go on sale. So far fit is great (though a bit long), wicks moisture well, dries quickly (faster than the Icebreaker since it's not 100% wool), and odor control is comparable. Good alternative to Icebreaker if you're considering.
Great style, warm (worn so far in 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit), several pockets, water repellent, wind resistant. Great slim fit, though Kuhl products seem to magically fit all shapes and sizes. Front zippered pockets, utility sleeve pocket, inside pocket, hand pockets. Also comes in a hoodie or vest. Packs up to the size of a football, but can be compressed more. Recommend purchasing a stuff sack. Tip: Don't leave compressed always or will ruin the down/warmth. Wearing with a waterproof jacket will increase warmth, be fully waterproof, and resist wind when in even colder climates. Look for sales.
I actually bought this for my Kuhl down jacket which fits perfectly, but can also be used to hold gloves, clothes, or whatever. Thin, flexible, lightweight, unlike some very thick and rigid stuff stacks that take up too much space.
Great for kayaking, boating, water festivals, or inclement weather. Protect your clothes, towels, and electronics. Strap makes carrying easy. Free waterproof cell phone protector, but I personally would never bring my cellphone directly in contact with water. Bright color may be useful if you get stranded out at sea. Only worth taking to tropical climates or scuba diving, otherwise you can usually buy at your destination and in SE Asia they are cheap. Of course, don't know about the quality.
Replaced my first gen Google Nexus Tablet which no longer worked. This inexpensive tablet is a great, cheap alternative for reading, streaming, and browsing the web. It's not the fastest or best on battery life and even has ads on the lock screen, but you won't cry if you lose it or it gets stolen. Expandable micro SD card slot for music, movies, app offload, etc. The 7" screen size is my preference because it is smaller and fits into a small backpack or even large coat pocket easily. Tip: Purchase screen protector and case. Amazon has bundle deal.
Comfortable, breathable, quick drying, and long lasting (had mine for 3+ years). Great in the heat and anti-microbial. Tip: Wring them out, roll into a towel, and then step on it. The extra water will be absorbed and they will dry faster.
Exceptional, lightweight, breathable, anti-microbial, moisture wicking, quick dry. "Ultralight" is cushion thickness thinner than typical socks, good for city, park, and shorter distances, or if you prefer less sock that's more breathable and makes your feet a bit less sweaty. "Micro" is sock height and is perfect for wearing shorts if you like the "hidden" style. Tip: If you sweat a lot they will smell, but generally keep pretty fresh. Wash in the sink/shower. Ring out and roll in a towel for faster drying time.
Exceptional, lightweight, breathable, anti-microbial, moisture wicking, quick dry. "Light" is cushion thickness similar to typical socks, good for hiking and walking long distances on asphalt to provide extra cushion for feet. "Mini" is sock height and is perfect for hiking to avoid dirt getting stuck between your socks, ankle, and shoe rim which can cause rubbing and blisters. Also good if you have mid boots or just prefer this style. Tip: If you sweat a lot they will smell, but generally keep pretty fresh. Wash in the sink/shower. Ring out and roll in a towel for faster drying time.
Exceptional, lightweight, breathable, anti-microbial, moisture wicking, quick dry. "Light" is cushion thickness similar to typical socks, good for hiking and walking long distances on asphalt to provide extra cushion for feet. "Crew" is sock height and is perfect for hiking to avoid dirt getting stuck between your socks, ankle, and shoe rim which can cause rubbing and blisters. Also good if you have boots or just prefer this style. Tip: If you sweat a lot they will smell, but generally keep pretty fresh. Wash in the sink/shower. Ring out and roll in a towel for faster drying time.
Lightweight, breathable, moisture wicking, quick dry. Much better than cotton, perfect for the beach or generally tropical climates.
I use as a base layer for core warmth in non-tropical climates. Lightweight, moisture wicking, quick dry, does keep you warm. Perfect for layering.
Lightweight, breathable, moisture wicking, quick dry. Cheaper alternative to merino wool and way lighter, better for tropical climates or fitness based activities.
I was resistant to Icebreaker clothing, and merino wool clothing in general, at first. It’s expensive for one and I thought it would be itchy. Ended up buying on sale for half price, and after traveling with two of these, I am sold. Moisture wicking is impressive and never stays wet for long after sweating. Super comfortable and slim fitting as opposed to most travel clothing. Occasionally gets a bit itchy, but I think it’s not common with most people and it’s not really bothersome. Pretty durable. After wearing 3-4 times/week for 6 months, I got a couple small holes in one, but it still functions fine. Tip: Look for sales on Amazon or an Icebreak outlet store. Search around for your preferred style.
Mix of polyester and cotton so dries quick. Super comfortable, fits great and looks cool. Perfect for nightlife or just casual wear. Pretty inexpensive too. Tip: Polyester blends are more breathable, less heavy, and dry faster than cotton. Often just as comfortable. Bamboo is my favorite but tough to find and usually expensive.
Base layer for core warmth in non-tropical climates. Lightweight, moisture wicking, quick dry, does keep you warm. Perfect for layering and sleeping.
Perfect, versatile base or mid layer. Wear by itself, over thin t-shirt, and/or under jacket. Fleece makes it super comfortable and warm, yet breathable. Nice alternative to merino wool if you're skin is sensitive. Great for hiking or traveling. No movement restriction during activities which is pretty amazing. Hood and zip up neck covers everything but your face to keep you warm. Moisture wicking, very quick drying. Thin, light, packs up small. Zip pocket great for keys or phone plus hand pockets for warmth. Perfect alternative to traditional hoody. I wear this all the time at home casually or during activities as well as traveling. Tip: It's meant to be tight and won't fit like a regular hoody. Tighter against your skin will keep you warmer, but order up a size or two if you want it to be a bit looser.
Probably more efficient to bring convertible pants, I think it’s worth bringing a normal pair of shorts. Super cool look, a bit water repellent, a bit stain resistant, quick dry, very well ventilated and plenty of pockets. Tip: For breathability, pockets are mesh so rough edged items might catch on the material. Cheapest prices at REI during sales. Note: Don't think they make the "Ambush Cargo" anymore, but you can find a model that's similar.
Board shorts used for swimming. Deep side pockets and zipper back pocket so they double as regular shorts as well. Super comfortable, fit great, and a bit stretchy. Tip: Prana sizes are a bit strange, so you might need to buy a size down.
Very cool looking, great fitting, functional pants. I wear these when traveling and at home. Mesh hand pockets for breathability, two small side pockets for smaller items like a cell phone, and on the thighs there are zippered front pockets on each side with mesh inside you can open for breathability or to keep documents hidden. Quick drying. Tip: For breathability, pockets are mesh so rough edged items might catch on the material. Cheapest prices at REI during sales. Note: Konfidant Air and Kontra Air are similar.
Down material, water resistant, folds up into a compressible pouch slightly bigger than a soda can, and weighs next to nothing. Warmth down to 50 (tested by me) and 30 (claimed by manufacturer). Great as an alternative to a thicker, heavier jacket, especially when trip is primarily around warmer climates with a short time in a colder place.
Minimalist running shoes with zero drop and minimal cushioning in the sole. Do provide a bit extra protection on the bottom of the sole ideal for running/hiking on rough terrain. Super comfortable, fit great, weigh next to nothing, and take up little space.
Nice looking, good sun protection, fold up into your pocket which helps avoid breakage.
Imperative to have a hat for sun protection, especially while traveling in tropical climates. Fitted hat, breathable, quick drying, and nice looking. Has ear covers that fold underneath for use in the cold. I cut mine out though.
One of the best multi-purpose items I have in my bag. I got this mainly to protect my neck from the sun since I get burned really easily there. But it also works as a mask which is helpful around smelly areas or blowing dirt. Bandana for sun protection. You can dampen it to cool you off. It is moisture wicking and dries quick. I always take this with me hiking and other adventures. I have both a lightweight one for hot climates and a polartec fleece for cold.
Stylish and functional. Digital and analog displays, (useful when traveling across time zones). Alarm, stopwatch, backlight. Fits skinny wrists nicely. I got during a phenomenal flash deal. But style/function is the key here to help you find something similar.
One of the most important items in your pack is a lightweight, packable, quick dry, odor controlled towel. After trying several, I finalized decided to spend a bit extra to go for the Matador. It's super lightweight, doesn't feel awkward against your skin, dries fast, and packs small, even includes a case to attach to the outside of your pack when wet. Tip: as good as odor control can be, you still have to wash these regularly, but never put in a dryer.
Pretty amazing. Self cleaning, I have never washed it. Dries in less than an hour and never smells. Use it in the shower or to clean off dirt from shoes or pack. It's not soft, it's a bit rough like a loufah. Something you probably wouldn’t think to bring, but I find it very handy.
Impressive sound, clear with decent bass. Compact, fits well, especially if replacing the tips, and crazy cheap so you can buy several in case they break while you're away. Note: Link is for 2-pack. Get a backup.
One of the best electronics related purchases I’ve made. Super comfortable and blocks out noise very well. No need for expensive, large, uncomfortable over-the-ear noise canceling headphones. Use with any ear buds that have removable silicon tips. I can literally wear headphones all day. Plus being able to now use ear buds saves a ton of space. The silicon tips are uncomfortable, but these are game changing.
Great tiny ear bud holder. Hard shell provides protection and has netted pocket to keep cable under control when opened. Carabiner useful to clip on bag or belt loop.
Fast, reliable SD card I use in my main camera. Depending on camera resolution and if you take video, should fit at least a few thousand pictures, several hours of video, or a combination of the two. Flash memory is cheap, the best value is around 32GB and 64GB cards. Not a bad idea to bring an extra in case you lose one, want a backup, or simply need additional space.
Fast, reliable SD card I use in my action camera. Depending on camera resolution and if you take video, should fit at least a few thousand pictures, several hours of video, or a combination of the two. Flash memory is cheap, the best value is around 32GB and 64GB cards. Not a bad idea to bring an extra in case you lose one, want a backup, or simply need additional space.
Use this to backup your photos, contacts, and music without taking up valuable space on your iPhone. If you have a 16GB iPhone, a 16GB Leef iBridge will give you the same storage space for $50 less than upgrading to the iPhone 32GB version. Also comes in larger capacities. App allows for automatic backup and streaming from the device to listen to music, view photos, or any other documents you put on there since it just's a flash drive with a lightning connector.
USB 3.0 so, it's fast. Very small so you can throw into a small pocket or attach to a key chain. Tons of space for pictures, video, files, audio, anything really. I used it to back up pictures, but also kept some movies on it that I could use with the OTG cable to watch on my tablet, extra music, downloaded podcasts, and also to print documents from hotel/hostel front desks for boarding passes, travel documents, visa approvals. I preferred this to sending these sensitive documents to them via email when they can just print from the flash drive. More secure and easier.
Wall charger for USB chargeable devices. Provides surge and short circuit protection from power surges and is smaller/lighter than a mini surge protector. Tip: Takes the place of multiple adapters and only needs one country adapter for the wall. Also a version is available with 4 USB ports.
A must have for emergencies with a smartphone or tablet. Useful during trekking, hiking, or other remote places with no power outlets. Small, but charges an iPhone 5 about twice and Nexus 7 once. Takes a few hours for it to charge up, but very quick to charge a device. I got one with an extra iPhone cable so I have the powerbank, 1 micro usb cable, and 1 lightning cable all together and those are the only charging cables I need. you can get without the lightning cable for a few dollars less.
On The Go (OTG) adapter I used to connect my tablet to flash drive to back up pictures. In my case, this worked on a Nexus 7 tablet with the Nexus Media Importer app.
Better than a razor if you hate shaving and like stubble. Has a guard useful for sideburns or hair. Battery operated. No power conversion/charger needed. Waterproof to work in the shower. Pretty powerful if not shaving a full beard.
Very handy. Use at home, hiking, and traveling abroad. I looked around a lot for an all encompassing water purifying option (there are many). Works like a French press and has interchangeable filters, one for the tap (blue - removes metals), one for hiking (green - removes bacteria), one for international travel (orange - removes viruses). There is a flip top lid for drinking or an attachment with a loop to connect to a carabiner. Water when purified tastes great. It’s a bit heavy, but I think a great travel companion. Easier and cheaper to make your own water than buying, plus you can avoid plastic bottles which is better for your health and the environment. In many countries, especially Asia, bottled water is cheap and plentiful though. I always travel with this.
This is a must if you like to carry a water bottle. A great complement to the Grayl where once you have clean water, you can fill this water bottle up and throw it in your day pack. Collapsable, so as you drink, it gets smaller unlike a plastic water bottle. Easy to store when empty. Never seems to smell from old leftover water (amazing). Just let it air out once in awhile.
Small and compact push button extendible umbrella. Bit small, but extremely useful, even with a rain jacket which only protects your torso. Protects your pants too, mostly.
Compact, but fits everything you need. Soft material makes it malleable to easily fit in your bag. Three zippered pockets for organization and a hook to hang in the bathroom or your room while using. Ladies will probably want something that holds more. After trying various toiletry kits, this one is my preferred.
Fantastic, cheap ear plugs. Keeps sound out really well. Great for hostels, buses, trains, planes, and noisy cities. Tip: Replace once they stop expanding fully in your ear, usually a result of use and ear wax.
Not as efficient as just rolling your clothes and putting them in by themselves, the real benefit is organization. Keep like clothes together, separate dirty laundry, and pull clothes out without unravelling if folded. Different sizes/sets available. I found no need to use for underwear and socks, they are good filler and also can protect electronics or a snorkel/diving mask. Tip: Figure out what to bring and how it will get stored, then you’ll know what size packing cubes to get. For me, it's two medium and one slim/small.
High quality, zippered, waterproof. Perfect for dirty shoes, dirty laundry, small items, or an alternative to packing cubes.
Exceptional quality, well designed, extremely comfortable, light even when loaded with hip belt, adjustable for perfect fit, and expandable to fit an extra 10L. Anything over 60L is overkill. Top head pocket with outside and inside pockets, main mid compartment that holds hydration bladder or laptop. Bottom compartment for shoes, sleeping bag, dirty laundry, etc. that can be opened to lengthen main compartment. I used to prefer a small backpack with carry on rolled suitcase, but this is my new preference as it's lighter, more organized, and easier to carry around on non-paved roads. Load this with packing cubes for better organization and easier access.
Lightweight durable daypack that folds into itself and takes up very little space. Several compartments for organization, spacious at 35L, even holds a 15" MacBook. Two mesh side pockets for water bottle, umbrella, etc. with compression straps to keep from falling out and also keeping the pack tight. Great for day pack, overnight/trekking bag, or supplement to main pack if have to split the weight to carry on. Note: 35L is pretty spacious and will be more like a regular full backpack, while the 20L is better if you just want something small for a few items for brief excursions. I got the 35L to transfer some stuff from my main 50L pack to more evenly distribute weight if there are airline restrictions. Used to have a 20L daypack which was fine for day use.