Just like any trip, having the right equipment can go a long way in making your trip awesome. Before we departed we spent hours upon hours researching other travel blogs, reading books, browsing reviews and annoying the nice employees at REI.
These are things we finally decided on bringing:
Let me preface this by saying that those who know me thought the idea of me traveling with a backpack for an indefinite amount of time was laughable. It’s just so decidedly not me. I was determined to prove them wrong though and set out to find the perfect pack. Immediately I had a tough time finding one that fit my short frame (I’m 5’1) and that didn’t flare up an already existing lower back injury. I ended up going through 2 within the first month of traveling (thank you, REI return policy) and finally settled on the Gregory Deva 70 X-Small Pack when we visited the flagship REI store in Seattle. It fit well, and seemed to have good lumbar support which was crucial. There are so many awesome compartments in this thing that came in handy numerous times. My favorite part was that you could access the main compartment from a middle zipper rather than always having to go through the top of the bag. And the color is so fun and bright! Overall, this pack had good intentions, but honestly when it came down to wearing it I had a tough time. Either it was heavier than it should have been or my bad back was not made for long-term backpacking trips (or both) but I constantly complained about the thing. It’s a good pack and I would recommend it, but it wasn’t for me. In the future I’m going to look into backpacks with rollers on it. That way I can roll it the majority of the time but still have the option to wear it as a backpack when dealing with adverse travel conditions (such as walking up 7 flights of stairs to your Airbnb flat). Click here to see what other people are saying about it.
The Deuter Transit 65 was the perfect solution for me. I did hours and hours of research on packs. There was some specific criteria I was searching for which included having a detachable daypack. I obviously wanted it to be rugged enough to handle the airports, the constant travel abuse and the homeless man spit on a subway. It’s got a super handy shoulder sling for quickly hauling it around, the ability to pack away the straps to make it more airport friendly and a separate spacious compartment in the bottom for dirty shoes, a sleeping bag or the Czech liquor you’re trying to smuggle into the United States. I literally used the detachable daypack every day, and it became so handy in my day-to-day adventures. That little thing held my computer, point and shoot camera, various cables and power adapters, a thin jacket… and that’s just in the daypack! The one and only drawback I can think of is that when the main pack is filled up, it’s impossible to also attach the daypack, which would be ideal. The zipper is midway up the side of the daypack, so that when both packs are filled up it won’t work. I ended up wearing the backpack normal and then slinging the daypack around my shoulder. All in all though, I’d definitely give the bad boy 4/5 stars. Click here to see what other people are saying about it.
We both used a set of these, and they went a long way in keeping us organized. Packing cubes are one of those essentials for backpacking and travel. Having one for clothes, another for underwear and a third for toiletries was perfect for our new lifestyle and keeping our packs tidy. They’re rugged, and took a lot of beating. Click here to see what other people are saying about it. Click here to see what other people are saying about it.
Shelly – I used a set of Specter cubes to organize my clothes – one for shirts, one for bottoms and one for unmentionables. It’s amazing how much you can pack into these and they compress beautifully! They also mold well and can be smashed into your pack without worrying about having a block sized space to fill. Click here to see what other people are saying about it.
A clean dirty cube does exactly what it sounds like. It’s divided into two, with one side containing clean clothes and the other side containing dirty clothes. The dirty side is mesh so that you can air out your gross, smelly clothes. Don’t pretend like you don’t musk up your clothes, it’s natural. Click here to see what other people are saying about it.
1. We each had an umbrella that especially came in handy during our rainy three-month stay in Prague, Czech Republic. Both of them were purchased at J. Crew while we were traveling for about $15 each.
2. The Eagle Creek Travel Pillow has a pretty cool concept. Neck pillow for when you want to catch a few Z’s on that long airplane flight. Then when you want to use a normal pillow, you unzip the top, push the little beads through the hole and it reshapes into a comfortable little pillow. Shelly brought hers on her trip to Italy and loved it, but unfortunately we weren’t able to bring them along for our most recent trip to Europe. Click here to see what other people are saying about it.
3. We each carried a water bottle that we used when touring cities or, even more important, when we hiked for a total of 12 hours up and down Trolltunga in Norway. Jimmie’s was a random $8 purchase somewhere. You can read more about Shelly’s under number 12 below.
4. We also each carried an Eagle Creek Pack Towel. These things are super absorbent and we used them for everything from showers to mopping up messes. Click here to see what other people are saying about them.
5. Jimmie – I used the Moleskine Pocket Notebook for the sole purpose of jotting down things that happened while we were traveling. How else are you supposed to remember all of the details from the time we climbed Trolltunga? I’ve also carried one while hiking the 2,182 mile long Appalachian Trail in 2012, so you know they’re up to the challenge. Click here to see what other people are saying about them.
6. We each had passport holders, and for no other reason than that they looked awesome. We would have to take them off whenever going through airport security so keep that in mind if you’re thinking about getting one, but for us they offered another level of protection necessary for this all-important document. Jimmie’s was purchased at J. Crew.
7. Eagle Creek TSA locks were used for a bit of extra security when we would check in our packs at the airport or leave them at a hostel. They have a little keyhole in the bottom so that TSA can unlock them and not have to cut them off, and it uses a four number combination to unlock. Click here to see what other people are saying about them.
8. The travel-size Adventure Medical Kit is one of those items you hope you never have to use, but is a bit of insurance in case you do have to. The little kit includes antiseptic wipes, various bandages, wraps, moleskin, and is all contained in a waterproof silnylon bag. Click here to see what other people are saying about it.
9. Jimmie – Work gloves. I literally just stole them from my dad, but they were extremely handy for when we were splitting firewood in Canada.
10. Shelly – My day to day travel purse. I purchased this literally 3 days before leaving and I had kinda wished it were bigger the entire time. It was great for when we got to a destination to carry around town but when we were traveling it was stuffed so full it ended up being a huge pain to get to literally anything inside.
11. Shelly – My passport holder, which I got as a gift from my mom when I was about to embark on my first trip abroad in 2010. It’s been through a lot and while it gets annoying having to take it on and off when entering a new country, I think it’s worth it in the long run.
12. Shelly – This is the Camelbak Chute .75L Water Bottle. I preferred the twist off cap to the mouth suction type – less germs harboring on the mouth piece I feel like? This was great for every day use and fit perfectly in the bottle holder on my pack. Just be sure the water you’re filling it with is clean and sterile and you’re good to go.
We only went camping once on our most recent trip to Canada, across the U.S. and to Europe. Once we got to Europe we actually ditched all of our camping gear and sent it back home, but it was certainly fun while it lasted. Here’s some of the gear we had.
1. Jimmie – This was the same Black Diamond Spot Headlamp I had used on his hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2012. In fact, most of the stuff here in the Camping section is, so I’ve had plenty of experience using them and know of their qualities. This one has lasted me for a few years in conditions you can’t even imagine. I noticed that the batteries tended to fade quickly and the red light was pretty much worthless, but at this point it’s almost got sentimental value. It’s also fantastic value for the money as these things can usually get pretty pricey.
2. This little guy is called the Ultrafire Cree Q5 LED, and it is as bright as the sun. Helpful for any situation you can think of, very lightweight and considering it is less than $5 on Amazon, there is simply no better value.
3. The Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter is pretty much all you need to be a man. When your lady is chilled and you want to impress her, just make a few (fire) sparks and watch as she melts from your masculinity.
4. You may or not be camping too much while you’re traveling, but if you are then clean water is essential. The Aqua Mira Water Treatment Drops couldn’t be easier to use and only take 5 minutes to prepare as opposed to the normal 30 minutes for other drops. Mix Part A with Part B, wait 5 minutes and woila. Clean water, with a slightly lemony taste.
5. Jimmie – The Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45° is one of my favorite pieces of camping gear that I own. I carried it approximately 1500 miles on the Appalachian Trail and really stunk it up, but the thing is only the size of a football and is super lightweight. I would highly recommend this piece of gear!
6. Jimmie – Another one of my all-time favorites, the Lightheart Gear SoLong 6. It’s one of the largest single-person tents you can buy, and is so spacious that you can fit all of your gear inside along with yourself. Very airy with large vestibules and a bathtub floor design… if it can withstand thousands of miles of hiking, then it can withstand most anything. Camping in Colorado, it fit both of us (although Shelly would argue that we didn’t, in fact, fit at all.)
This is another form of water purification that has really come into its own the last few years. It is a pen-like device that uses UV technology to sterilize your bottle of water and only takes 60 seconds. Super easy and super popular for a reason. The only downside of this Adventurer Opti model is that it uses CR123 batteries which are expensive and more difficult to find. Steripen has models that uses AA Lithium batteries which are still not cheap but are easier to find.
Shelly – I purchased this right before we started our trip, and I only ended up using it once in the mountains of Colorado. It unexpectedly got cooler than 40 degrees during the night (it can be pretty unpredictable up in the mountains) so I was quite chilly, which is my fault for not getting a lower rated bag. However, it’s made out of a nice comfortable material, is only $90 on Amazon and will do just fine for it’s 40 degree and above rating! The only downside for traveling is that it doesn’t pack down very small. If you’re not too worried about that, it’s a great bargain!
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