I get asked all the time what type of gear we use to go on our adventures with. There are so many options out there a traveler could buy. And gear can add up. Good gear is not cheap. We spend a lot of time researching and trying out new products to find the best gear we can. Having the appropriate gear can make or break your trip. Anyone that has spent a night being cold regrets they didn’t bring a warmer sleeping bag. Or have you ever been that person miserably rolling luggage down a dirt street while others confidently stroll past with their backpacks?
No matter what your travel style, whether it be camping or hotel/hostel stays, all travelers have similar needs of good luggage, footwear, clothes and other travel gear. It can be overwhelming trying to narrow down the best gear for the price.
I’ve put together this post in hopes of helping you feel confident that if you spend any of your hard earned money on this travel gear we recommend you will find it makes your life and travel style better. All of these items I am recommending is the gear we currently use, or if a certain style is no longer made, I have listed the next style.
* * *Pro Tip: Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed trying to invest in all of this gear at once. We don’t even do that. Over time, we gradually upgrade and experiment with new gear as we can, when we can, as we get good coupons and free shipping, find items on clearance or a specific trip justifies investing in new gear.
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Here is some of our favorite travel gear:
Which shoes and how many shoes to take always seems to be an issue when trying to travel light. Since finding these Patagonia Drifters my life has changed. They are comfortable like a sneaker but boot enough for average hiking. Now I just pack these, my tevas and a $2 pair of flip flops for the shower. For overall travel and comfort, these boots are the biggest winner hands down!!!
They have womens and mens versions.
Although after two years of heavy use and being slammed around in my big back pack this cup did finally crack a bit, I LOVE my Stanley outdoor mug and bowl cup. This design is brilliant. I have a cup with lid for my drink and a cup for oatmeal or cereal when camping or traveling light. Plus, if I ever have left overs, I can seal them up in the cup with lid part. My traveling and coffee drinking days got a lot better with this cup!
Underwear. Buy Exxofficio. End of discussion. This underwear is as amazing as it says. You can wear and wash and wear and wash and it dries out quickly in all weather. Super light weight and so easily to wash. Mens and womens available and depending on the size and color you want, REI might have the best deal or try here on Amazon. When I need to buy more, I just shop around for the better deal.
Zip off pants. Yes, they are somewhat expensive, but so worth the money. It took me a while to find a pair I really liked that was comfortable, functional and fit me just right. I like these EMS pants because they have all different size options of short, long, etc so I can have just the right fit. So far these are my favorite zip offs and for their functionality and I wouldn’t hesitate dropping the money on these.
I found this style of Columbia woman’s hiking shirt first at a thrift store for $3.00 – it has since become my most versatile travel shirt. Paired with a nice pair of pants, this shirt can also be dressed up for a dinner out. It washes and wears the easiest, is quick drying and smells the least out of all my other shirts when I wear it for days on end – a definite plus! 🙂
Rainpants are an essential piece of travel gear!!! I cannot believe how many people travel without them. All it takes is walking from a hostel to a bus in the rain and next thing you know you are sitting on a bus soaked for six hours. Get rain pants! They are not that expensive and for the comfort and safety they will give you they should always be in your bag.
To save on space I usually don’t carry a travel pillow. Some trips however a travel pillow may be justified, and although I don’t (yet) own this pillow, I traveled over a month with some friends that had this pillow and I was so envious. Next time I invest in a travel pillow it will be this one.
Another often over looked travel item: get a small, cheap umbrella. If you have to get from point A to point B and there is a down pour you and all your stuff will be drenched. An umbrella could save your gear from growing mold. There are expensive “travel” umbrellas out there, I find a cheapie one sufficient.
Without a doubt, this MSR stove is one of the best investments I have ever made. This baby can burn almost any type of fuel and in 14 years I have replaced a tube on it once with my regular maintenance care.
Save money and save the environment from any more plastic bottles! In many places we use our SteriPEN to filter water.
For my big pack, we both go with Osprey. They don’t make the exact style we each currently use now, but I use one very similar to the Osprey Ariel 75 and Chris uses one very similar to the Osprey Aether 85.
If you are trying to go light weight, you cannot beat Therm-a-Rest NeoAir. I was skeptical of this air filled sleeping pad at first, but it holds up well and bottom line, you cannot beat the pack weight of 8 0z and an R-value of 3.2 for the women’s small. Great product and worth the money.
MSR has changed this tent quite a bit over the last couple of years. Honestly I liked the very first model we had way back when. This tent is expensive, but it’s not expensive if you camp a lot. Even with Chris being over 6 foot, we find this tent comfortable for two people. You pay for what you get and what you get is a super pack-able, light weight tent and the meshing is a life saver if you are in hot climates. If you are only car camping and not worried about weight, you could find cheaper tents. If you need to haul your home around the world and on your back, go with the MSR Hubba Hubba.
We’ve gone back and forth on cook ware. Currently, we usually travel with this MSR Stowaway Pot. It is rugged and can take a beating. We also pack fragile things in it when getting from point A to point B. It’s a good pot.
Although I do love my spork, too many times burning my fingers trying to stir a pot of boiling pasta led me to switch to the longer handle of the Alpha Light Spoon – Long. Yes, long. No more burned fingers!
I have yet to find a travel towel that really has impressed me and held up good enough for wash and wear. But, I will say this, bring a travel towel! Do not, I repeat, do not pack a regular old bath towel.
A flashlight, headlamp or torch of some sort is absolutely an essential piece of travel gear I believe – as well as a safety item. If you are at all into night hikes or any situation where you want to see better at night, consider getting a good flashlight in addition to a headlamp. All the pro photographers we meet carry a small, but powerful flashlight in their camera bags!
In the past I have picked some terrible, heavy cotton of sorts material for a money belt. All I can say is, ‘Ew, sweaty and gross.’ I really like this Eagle Creek Undercover Deluxe Money Belt a whole lot better. This belt is comfortable to wear and is made of a more breathable material.
Although a $2.99 box of zip lock bags will go a long way for a lot of my gear storage and packing protection, for expensive cameras and other gear, you want some dry bags if you are going to do any outdoor activities. Going for a in hike in the jungle and an unexpected rain comes and douses your camera could spell disaster for your trip. These bags are cheap and light. Get some and throw them in your pack and day pack.
If you read our post on the Cabot Sock Sale, you know we are partial to Darn Tough Socks. It wasn’t until I really started hiking with crappy socks and then my feet turned disgusting that I appreciated and understood why good socks are so expensive. So look, socks are expensive. If you keep your eyes open and look for sales, pick up good socks here and there when you can you will save a lot of money. I never pay full price for socks. But if you have to, get at least a pair or two to get you going and keep your feet healthy. Then ask for nothing but socks from everyone you know as presents until you build up a supply.
For day bags, we love our Osprey Talon 33. This is a light pack that can store a lot of stuff for bigger days hikes yet also be squished almost completely flat to save on space. It’s a good pack.
I have a rain jacket very similar to this Columbia Rain Jacket. Rain jackets can be a tricky preference. I like more of a double layer style rain jacket whereas Chris does not. The biggest mistake you can make is to not have a rain jacket. If you are unsure what you might like, you might as well start with this one.
For general comfort back packing, I have been so pleased with my Big Agnes Mirror Lake 22 sleeping bag. I love it! I started out buying synthetic sleeping bags, but for the weight difference and comfort I have switched to down. As long as I am packing my bag properly my gear should almost never get wet.
Chris has the Big Agnes Boot Jack 24 Down Sleeping Bag
If you are planning to be at all active on your travels, I highly recommend getting a sturdy sandal. If you are going to hit the trails or the streets you need something with some support. I recently came upon a pair Keen Sandals at a yard sale for $4.00. I love them! So far these shoes have made my feet smell the least.
I have also used Teva and been pleased with them as well. Chris still wears Teva’s.
Oh boy, just writing this post gets me pumped for travel. Buying gear to enable your adventures to be safe and productive is all part of the excitement of travel. Once you get an idea of what you are looking for you can then be constantly on the look out for bargains. Don’t forget to check out links like REI’s outlet and look for the deal of the day. Keep your eyes open at end of season clearance sales, sign up for a companies email updates and you will often receive good coupons. Before you know it you will be on your way to half off gear giving you more money for your trips!
I hope you find this post helpful. Do you have any other favorite travel gear? Please do share in the comments section! We are always on the lookout for the next best travel gear!
Happy shopping and see you out there!
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