(Last update: Sept 12, 2010)
A buddy of mine that’s going to be doing some traveling and asked me for any tips/advice I had learned, so I wrote this up for him and figured may as well post it on here for anyone else that might use it!
You will likely fill what you have. If you can manage with a 50-55L, take that. I had a MEC Ibex 65+ for my travels thus far and found it a bit too large and bulky, but the space was useful at times and it’s actually a great backpack too! Just picked up an Arc’teryx Axios 50. Brand new model this year with some really nice features and a nice slim form. AFter 4 months of use it’s still a great pack! doesn’t fit as comfortably as my old Ibex, but that’s b/c it has a lot less padding to save weight. A reasonable trade-off in my books.
Either get a waterproof/resistant day-pack or try and get one that can fit under your waterproof jacket when you’re wearing it. I just bought a Black Diamond BBEE Day-pack at MEC. Having one that you can easily roll up / compress to stuff into your main pack is useful which is why I went with this one.
Most people just have pack covers. I’ve met one person that bought a bunch of drysacs (waterproof bags) and put everything in those inside his bag for organization and then didn’t need a cover. I personally like the pack cover (ensure it has a wrap around mid-strap or some way of fully securing both the top and bottom of the cover otherwise wind will just rip it off) as it also is useful for air transport (keeping all the outside straps contained and not getting tangled/ripped off), for buses where the hold is really dirty and it just gets the cover muddy instead of the pack, and for sketchy pick pocket places to prevent access to your zippers.
Quickdry pants and underwear, light waterproof jacket shell and waterproof shoes are all good things.
Clothing Inventory and Layering for warmth:
Layering your clothes for warmth is key. Here’s what clothing I have:
– 3x Socks for warm weather (WrightSock Double Layer Cool Max)
– 1x Socks for cold weather (WrightSock Double Layer Warmth)
– 2x quick dry boxers ($10 per and worth every penny)
– 2x quick dry underwear for hiking/running
– 1x thermal long underwear (merino wool stuff…icebreaker 200 is what i have i think)
– 2x long pants (I’m not a fan of jeans, I just have some gray ultra tough cargos, Prana Stretch climbing pants, that are amazing and dry very quickly and then another pair of really light Royal Robbinn’s khakis that are backups, but almost never wear)
– 1x shorts
– 1x swim shorts
– 4x tshirts (might want to get one or two quickdry easily sink washable ones. Picked up a Nike Dri-fit tanktop in Vietnam, and lets just say i’ve worn it pretty much every day since. Worth every penny!)
– 2x collared shirt (one long sleeve, one short)
– 1x front zip sweatshirt (patagonia better sweater…i have this, not worth the money but still nice lol)
– 1x ultra compressible synthetic fill jacket (Arc’teryx ATom Lt for $200, just got this and it’s great! Got to try at the top of a mountain)
– 1x waterproof jacket shell (Marmot Precip, not a bad jacket, but not the best out there by any stretch)
– 1x gloves and tuke (not necessary, but i keep these anyways for any really cold nights)
– 1x thermal long sleeve top (I don’t have one of these, but would have been useful a few times, if you’re getting the merino wool icebreaker line, again make sure you get at least the 200 and up warmth level)
So for me the thermals and warm socks came out when it got really cold (nights in NZ) and the synthetic jacket is a great addition too. It’s not a ton of extra weight to carry for any cold evenings you might run into and it’s nice security to have.
Waterproof boots are key. However, if they’re waterproofed and breathable (highly recommended), it will lose the waterproofing after about 2 months and require re-spraying. I had the Merrell Moab Gore-Tex XCR Trail Shoes. Great low-cut hikers, and not terrible for warm weather. You’ll run across many other Canadian guys with these hikers! Also had some Teva Sandals as well.
However, as I like to run, for this next part of the trip I’m actually just switching to only some running shoes and going to buy some flip-flops. They won’t be waterproof but I think my wanting to go for runs outweighs that. You might want to take some club-acceptable shoes if you plan on going to nice nightclubs and stuff, but that’s your call, I don’t as it’s just more weight and I shouldn’t be spending that much money on drinks!
I’ve been wearing some Havaiana flip-flops for about 3 months now and they’re worth every penny. The foam barely compresses and they’re still in great shape!
If you have a quad-band cell phone, take it. Really useful for meeting up with people via text and making calls. You can also get some awesome long distance plans with the pay-as-you-go sim cards around the world. (Was paying $0.03/min to Canada from Oz)
Zip Lock Bags:
These are your best friend. Make sure to pick up some of these and have them in your pack, great for waterproofing any electronics or important documents. Don’t have a binder or crap with all your travel papers/passport in it, just throw them into a zip-lock and you’re good to go, and it takes up the minimum amount of space possible.
Sleeping bag vs liner:
Never had a use for a sleeping bag except when I was overnight camping in NZ. Waste of space otherwise. Silk liner came in handy on a few occasions, so I found worth it as it takes up next to no space.
I have a small 3/4 thermarest that I have in my pack. Came in handy a few times for hostels (brutal beds and sleeping on the floor) and all the time while camping. I’ll be bringing mine along for the rest of my travels again. Not essential by any means, but a nice to have if you have the space. A lot of people have the foam pads, they are massively bulky but also dirt cheap.
Always have some deet handy hahah…
Usually useful, but a lot of hostels have them, so not really necessary to buy and carry around for every country. I got into the habbit of just writing down what people told me about and would do that. Would usually spend a couple hours in the hostel going over them if they were available. Having said that, I have electronic versions of A LOT of countries. If you’re interested in access send me an e-mail. Also, wikitravel.org has decent information about countries and cities that I’ve found useful for getting quick overviews about places. I usually keep these downloaded on my iPod for offline viewing.
Travel speakers are amazing and are great for hostel rooms, long journeys, days at the beach and any other time! I have the iHome IHM9 ($15 at walmart i believe) and they last forever on a set of batteries. 4xAA’s, half decent sound, and bulletproof. Battery life is crucial for speakers, and I’ve found these speakers literally go like 100+hours before you need to change them (you’ll hear bass distortion with high volume when the batteries are running low).
Also, make some good playlists to share with others you meet too!
– First aid kit with lots of advil, band-aids, gravol, iodine disinfectant wipe packets and pepto bismal chewables
– Headlamp is definitely useful. Just got a Petzl Tikka XP 2 Headlamp, it’s awesome! Has some really cool features (redlight, lens diffuser) and is tiny.
– Leatherman multitool knife also useful, just remember to keep it in checked luggage….*shakes fist at Amsterdam Airport security*
– Soap holder with a string to put around shower heads is probably the most useful item I got that I didn’t realize would be hahah
– do not carry extras of any toiletries…you can get everything on the road
– mini-tripod with bendy legs to wrap around stuff (gorilla tripod) is great for self shots when no one’s around, just get one of the tiny non-bulky ones
– Also only take clothes you really like, otherwise you’ll probably never want to wear them (my brown mec sweater hahah…)
– Spare passport picture may come in handy
– Toilet paper in a ziplock in your day bag and more in your main pack is always handy…trust me hahah
– Wash your clothes with shampoo instead of soap. It doesn’t leave soap scum and makes your clothes smell pretty after (Thanks Scott for that one!)
So there you have it! My thoughts thus far. I’ ll probably have some more advice as I continue on this next portion of my trip and learn more from really extended traveling =D