December is a good time for a gear post, because this is the month when we all buy each other stuff. And if your family is like mine, everyone is responsible for assembling their own wish list (and sometimes purchasing their own gifts). And if you travel full-time like me, you understand the dilemma — on the one hand, you DO want stuff, because yay new stuff. But on the other hand, the logical part of you is going like EEEEEK NO NOT MORE STUFF HALP, because more stuff = heavier luggage. Either that or leaving behind recently received gifts and feeling guilty about it.
So here is a list of things that adventure travelers need, the sort of things that not only will you bring with you, but that you’ll use every day.
1. Carry-on luggage or a backpack that you love. And I mean LOVE. You can’t just like your luggage. You can’t be lukewarm about your luggage. You have to love it deep down in your heart of hearts, otherwise it will cause you far more misery than happiness. If you go the backpack route, make sure you get one that fits you properly. I know this is a “duh” moment, but seriously, you would be amazed at how many people pick out backpacks based on color. Personally, I prefer rolling suitcases, because there is less bothering around with straps and digging to get to the bottom involved, but there are some great backpacks for digital nomads out there as well.
For the past two years I’ve been using the Osprey Packs Shuttle 22, which is the largest possible carry-on size. And I love it. I mean, I really adore this pack. It’s light, which means I can bring more stuff, and the wheels are seriously heavy duty. I roll this guy over cobblestones, through muddy fields, and on one memorable occasion, through six inches of snow. It’s awesome. I have abused it in every way possible and it still comes through for me. Love your luggage, just do it.
2. A way to make coffee that will see you through the apocalypse. Back when I was a young buck (read: under 22 years old), I would occasionally go on trips without some way to make my own coffee. WORST IDEA EVER. I have finally learned that being prepared leads to better adventures, and being able to make coffee, anywhere, at anytime, under pretty much any circumstances, is crucial. I now travel basically everywhere with my Jetboil camp stove, a plastic coffee filter, some paper filters, ground beans and a travel mug. These are all pretty small things, but they make me all kinds of happy on a regular basis, so, totally worth it.
3. Go anywhere, do everything clothing. You don’t have room in your suitcase for ten different outfits if you’re planning an adventure trip. Space is sacred, so save it for fun stuff, and invest in some clothes that can do it all. My standbys are my favorite Patagonia dress (best thrift store find ever), and my Shredly shorts. Shredly is a small company out of Colorado that makes rad hiking/biking/everything shorts for women, all in spectacularly crazy patterns. You can surf in these, do yoga in these, mountain bike in these — and then go to the bar. It’s awesome.
4. Shoes that don’t hurt your feet. Every time I see a backpacker tramping around in ballet flats or some equally ridiculous type of footwear, I cringe and want to shake them until they promise to never do it again. This is largely because I have terrible feet and couldn’t walk ten feet in ballet flats without being miserable, and also, because wearing prissy shoes is a great way to limit the activities you are able to do on short notice. Wanna go for a hike? Yes, oh wait, nope can’t do it, because my shoes have no discernible sole. Bummer, unless you have hobbit feet and can hike in crocs, like my dear boyfriend.
Everyone’s feet are different, so what works for me, probably won’t work for the next person. The point is this — don’t sacrifice comfort for style, especially when, with all the awesome companies out there making cute outdoorsy shoes, you can actually have both no matter where you are hiking in the world.
These are the adventure gear items that I can’t live without — but what about you? Did I miss anything crucial? Share your ideas in the comments below!