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 base layers and jackets (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). Saxx for underwear. Merrell for shoes/boots, or Xero Shoes, or Vivobarefoot for minimalist footwear. Xero Shoes, Teva, or Chaco for sandals.
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.
Already having the R2 in my possession along with the Folio accessory, I added this no frills, high quality bag to my collection in an attempt to get down to one bag travel. This 40L roll top, weatherproof modular bag is just awesome. It's so spacious and maintains a slim profile, expanding upwards as needed with the roll top or strap closure. This is important because it's easier to stuff into planes, buses, lockers like the R2. Most bags are fatter vs taller which can be problematic. Plus they offer all kinds of accessories that can be easily detached to fit in almost any scenario. There are 6 rails total which support all kinds of accessories. The new HTC500 material provides excellent quality and weatherproofing. They offer an assortment of other bags, but they get very pricy. Tip: You can buy extra arkiv clips and make other non-MW accessories into ones that will slide onto the rails.
This was a bit of a splurge since I already had my MW R6, but it was on clearance so I couldn't resist. Such a clever, well made bag. Primarily made for skiers, it's perfect for any type of traveler. I've decided this works best for me for remote work since there's plenty of space, expansion and organization for all my work items. For a square bag, it isn't bulky and the fit is magical unlike other similar bags in this category and shape. It's great for planes since it's protected, compressible, and you can hide the shoulder straps, so easy to check or put in the overhead bin. They also make a canvas version, but the black is weatherproof. Optional waist belt if you can find it. I could only find at their store in Breckenridge, CO. Anther solid candidate for one bag travel offering 35L with expansion to 50L which should be plenty for minimalists.
Spacious yet compact 24L packable daypack. While I love the look of this bag, the weatherproofing, quality, and compactness, I'm mixed on it simply because there is no structure or form to it. You need to basically pack it full and in a particular way so things settle into it and it's comfortable to wear. Additionally, if you have more than a few pounds and hike for more than a couple hours with a thin shirt, it will dig into your shoulders. Other than that and messing with the roll top versus a zipper to get your stuff, it's a great daypack, especially when space is a consideration and also weather. I alternate between this and another packable daypack. A new version of this bag has a way to create some structure.
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.
Nice affordable packable duffle bag that I find useful as an extra bag, especially if going one bag travel. This can be used to separate things if you want to maybe keep some stuff in your room or if you need to check a bag due to weight or size restrictions, but want to keep your main pack with you. I hate checking bags for fear of loss mostly. Tip: With the MW R6, you can just strap this onto the outside of the bag and it doesn't add much extra weight or bulk and you have an extra 40L bag at your disposal. A packable daypack may also suffice, but won't be checkable. Lastly, get some compression straps since this bag has no structure and can otherwise be a bit annoying to carry if not full or have many disparate items inside.
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.
Merrell barefoot shoes are hands down the best shoes I've ever worn. They are durable, sticky bottom for traction, and allow my feet better contact with the ground due to the zero drop (no heal cushion), thin sole, and no extra padding. As a result, I've noticed better posture, less lower back, hip, and knee pain when walking around for a long time, and also stronger ankle strength. For travel, ditch the traditional hiking boots for warm weather excursions, as these weigh next to nothing and take up little space. I much prefer to traditional hiking boots. Tip: It will take some time to get the bottoms of your feet calloused enough to be comfortable, took me about 3 months and now I won't wear non-zero drop shoes anymore. DO NOT run long distances with these until your feet get adjusted and you change your running posture or you will likely injure yourself. Note: The latest trail gloves 5 & 6 are narrower and with arch support and are awful if you want more traditional minimalist footwear. I hope Merrell goes back to the old style which were perfect.
After searching long and hard for minimalist (barefoot) sandals with straps that didn't pierce between my toes and stayed on, I found Xero Shoes. They offer several styles, but these are perfect for me with a bit of added thickness for rocky terrain from the Z Trek as well as adjustable straps for around town, hiking, or running.
Pretty damn close to waterproof, these are one of only a handful of cold weather, waterproof(ish), minimalist hiking boots on the market. They're awesome, comfortable, protective, warm, and kept my feet dry walking through water. They're made of recyclable material which is cool. Vivo also makes another hiking boot. My only two gripes are the stiff piece in the back of the heel which rubs up against your achilles heel which requires wearing thick socks or you'll blister and the annoyance of getting these on an off because of the sock like fit. This is also a pro since they fit like a glove. Note: Link is to a newer version.
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.
Fantastic and relatively inexpensive rain jacket. Very lightweight, thin, and folds into itself. Packs small. Has a loop attached when folded to attach to a hook/carabiner. Zippered underarm compartments help breathability a bit. Adjustable hood.
Packs small, very lightweight, water resistant. If you're in a monsoon, water may enter at the zipper, though I've not had a problem in heavy rains, just testing in the shower. Great little jacket I always bring with me if I'm in a hotter climate where my fully waterproof jacket is too hot. I almost always have it in my daypack in the event it might rain or get unexpectedly chilly (outside or in a restaurant).
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.
Odlo makes some exceptionally warm and comfortable clothing, in particular their mid layer clothing. I have two items, one with and one without a hood (which also has an extra piece to cover your face). I've used in Iceland, Colorado, and always bring if I'm going somewhere cold. You can wear with or without an under base layer, it's quite soft and snug fitting. Note: These links aren't exactly what I have, but they'll get you in the right direction to explore they're clothing.
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.
Another lightweight performance pair of pants but mixed with sweat pant like material which still keeps them mostly lightweight and quick drying with a bit of extra strength and warmth.
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.
A pair of performance jeans with hidden pockets! A bit heavy for warm climates, these jeans have a bit of stretch, are more performant than typical denim, and contain multiple hidden pockets. Perfect for more casual, stylish travel. There are several brands out on the market such as DU/ER, Outerknown and Western Rise, but I found Bluffworks to be the best fitting, looking, and priced.
Multifunctional casual, hiking, or work pants. Weather resistant like soft shells, but feel and fit like normal pants. Side zipper pocket, cinches at the hem to fit over boots snugly in bad weather. Bought these on a whim at a fantastic price and wore them straight for a week. My new go to if I think I'll need more dressy pants when traveling, though Kuhl pants still work.
These affordable rain pants are not only great for keeping your lower body dry, but they also help protect from the cold due to the water and wind proofing when added on top of your normal pants. I did just this in Colorado and had no issues with the cold up in the mountains in the fall. They pack up into themselves to the size of a small football, have pockets, and only make a sightly crinkly sound when you walk. Available in quarter or full zip. Tip: If you wear bulky hiking boots, go full zip, if thinner hiking shoes, quarter zip is fine and less zippers means less chance for water to get in.
If you're traveling somewhere cold, wear base layer pants under normal pants vs. opting for heavier pants. Wearing layers is more versatile, cheaper, and space/weight saving. I've worn these camping and kept me warm in Iceland during the day. There are many brands, I opted for REI because they're cheaper, especially co-op discounts, and I don't travel to cold places often.
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.
Having a button down long sleeve, breathable shirt with sun protection is a versatile piece for your required I never travel without. This one even has hidden zippered pockets! Fits great, casual or semi-dressy. Have worn hiking in the Texas sun and felt pretty good and also out to dinner. Most Kuhl shirts run long on me, but this fit great. Tip: Buttons are stiff initially, but are fine after a couple washes and usage.
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.
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.
Lightweight, breathable, moisture wicking, quick dry. Cheaper alternative to merino wool and way lighter, better for tropical climates or fitness based activities.
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.
Base layer for core warmth in non-tropical climates. Lightweight, moisture wicking, quick dry, does keep you warm. Perfect for layering and sleeping.
Lightweight, breathable, moisture wicking, quick dry. Much better than cotton, perfect for the beach or generally tropical climates.
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.
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.
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. "Light" will add more padding and warmth. "Micro" is sock height and is perfect for wearing shorts if you like the "hidden" style. "Mini" will be ankle height and help keep dirt out of your shoes. 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.
These 2-in-1 gloves are thin and insulated for cold weather, you can still reach into your pockets and use your phone. They have a pocket that holds a waterproof glove shell or hand warmers. Clever and versatile. I coveted this gloves for a couple years, never really having a need and not wanting to pay the extra for them. A good pair of gloves in cold weather is crucial.
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.
This being my third tablet, I probably should've just picked up an iPad, but the mini was just a bit too big, at least the 1st gen. This 8" tablet is perfect for me after getting fed up with the Kindle Fire which is great if you just want something cheap and don't plan to do much on it. The Samsung is quick, responsive, small enough to fit in your bag, purse, or large pocket, while large and clear enough to read or stream. I prefer this over a Kindle so I can have internet in case my phone dies and I don't have my laptop. Having a tablet is a great alternative to lugging around larger, heavier, more expensive laptop (unless of course you need it for work).
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.
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.
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. The tip replacements are key, as they significantly improve fit, comfort, and sound over the included silicone ones. I can wear these for hours, much more comfortable and compact than more expensive over the ear headphones. Note: Link is for 2-pack. Get a backup.
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.
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.
Comes in large or small and offers all the conveniences of other toiletry bags but smaller footprint, more features, and a bit more flexible. Tip: Pair with a clear, silicon toiletry bag for easier passage through airport security and/or extra space where you can separate these to better organize your bag, instead of one larger toiletry bag.
This towel is unbelievably thin and absorbent and feels pretty good on the skin, one of the drawbacks of other kins of microfiber towels, which this is not. Also comes with a nice little carrying case easy to attach to your back. The loop is great to hang anywhere to dry out which it does so quite fast! Very compact. Better than the cheaper towels in my opinion.
Perfect for the beach or park. Much better than drying yourself off with a sandy towel. Fits in your pocket. They make a really tiny one, but the slightly larger one is noticeably more spacious and still fits in your pocket. Pockets for sand, stakes for grass so it stays put. Easy to clean and get dirt/sand off.
Not a fully sealing dry bag, but a nice little bag to have on you for wet or dirty clothing/shoes. Easily attaches to your keys pack.
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.
Received in a bundle package with the Nomatic travel backpack, it's worth calling out their packing cubes because the dimensions, dual sides, and compression/expansion zipper make this an exceptional packing cube on its own. I have a previous version. Tip: Packing cubes can help you organize and keep together clothes, shoes, gadgets, etc. and even separate clean from dirty. A must have for any seasoned traveler.
Nice looking, good sun protection, fold up into your pocket which helps avoid breakage.
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.
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.
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.
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.