Backpacking Gear | 10 of the Best Bits of Adventure Travel Kit
From cameras to backpacks, waterproofs and even a guitar, here are ten bits of backpacking gear you shouldn't be without when you travel
“What do I need to go backpacking" is a question a lot of people will be asking themselves right now, whether you’re backpacking in Europe, traveling to Asia, or looking for adventure in America. It’s the time of year when the British weather is turning grey and cold, and towns are filling with a new crop of university students, which is enough to make anybody want to escape, book that backpacker hostel, and enjoy some overseas adventure travel.
Check out the adventure travel gear in the latest edition of the Outdoor 100
The best things to pack for outdoor adventure travel can vary depending on where you’re headed. Deciding the best way to fill your backpack is also a fine balancing act. There will be the temptation to take your whole life with you, but do you really want to carry those old ice skates around Manilla with you? Are you going to take everything on sale in the camping store? Probably not.
But fear not. We’ve found ten of the best bits of gear for backpacking and adventure travel you can find. Some items are more essential than others, and again, whether or not you pack flip-flops depends on whether you destination is Anchorage or Andalusia.
Lowe Alpine Kulu Travel Backpack
Price: from £135
More Info: lowealpine.com
Looking for the best backpacking bag, or searching for the best luggage for traveling can be pretty confusing, with so many different bags supposedly designed for so many different activities. Happily, the activity that the Lowe Alpine Kulu backpack is designed specifically for travel and adventure itself.
The hipbelt on the Kulu, designed to make the load more stable and comfortable when you’re wearing, actually flips up when you want to stash it on an aeroplane, or in cargo.You can then put the rain cover over it, and you’ve got a compact, protective bag that even the most vigorous airport chucker would have a hard time ruining. Depending on this size you go for, it can hold up to an impressive 75 litres, which should be enough space to carry everything you need for a lifetime of travel.
Also being water resistant when protected by the rain cover, and made out of the kind of tough materials you’d expect from a Lowe Alpine pack, this really is the perfect companion for your travels.
Nikon D5600 DSLR Camera
More Info: nikon.com
Traveling the word is all about creating memories that will last a lifetime, so you’re going to want to capture some photos along the way to keep those vivid slights alive long after you’ve touched down back at home. That’s why we’re packing the Nikon D5600 DSLR camera.
At just 415 grams before you add a lens, it’s more compact than your average DSLR camera, yet still packs enough photographic magic to ensure you’re going to get really high quality images, whether you’re the next Mike Blabac or the next Mike Bassett. In terms of tech, this is either a top-end amateur camera, or a entry level pro camera, depending on how you look at it. The 24.4 megapixel sensor is capable of capturing really fine details, and the D5600 works really well at night, should you be after those Blade Runner-esque neon-lit shots of Asia.
The flip-out screen makes it good for shooting at any angle, high or low, and really nice for taking selfies when your mum leaves a passive-aggressive message on your facebook wall about not hearing from you for three weeks. The Nikon D5600 can also shoot footage up to 1080p, at 60 frames a second, which is more than high enough quality for those sleek travel videos that will make your friends back home in Stoke-on-Trent envious.
Joby Griptight Pro iPhone Tripod
More Info: joby.com
One of the easiest ways to make your travel photos or videos take on a more polished, professional appearance is by having a steady camera. It sounds so simple, but this little tip can make a world of difference. Joby have been making flexible, lightweight tripods for camera for over a decade, and their Grip Tight Pro Video GP Stand makes for the perfect backpacking tripod.
Designed to hold your smartphone (although we can’t see any reason why you couldn’t wedge an action camera in its jaws as well), this tripod weighs in at just 282 grams, and packed down is only 30 centimetres long, so you won’t even notice when it’s in your bag. But take it out and a whole world of pro-looking mobile phone footage is your for the taking.
The flexible rubber-coated legs offer a solid platform to work from, but they can also wrap around just about any surface, be that a tree branch, handlebars, a fence post… whatever. The best part is the mounting head - the bit where you pop your phone in. It moves really smoothly, so you’ can get those nice panning or tracking shots. It also locks off really easily for when you want to keep things static.
Fjallraven Abisko Eco-Shell Jacket
More Info: fjallraven.co.uk
Your best friend when you’re traveling will always remain close to you, protect you, keep you warm, occasionally get a bit grubby, sometimes get a bit stinky, and when you dont need them, you can stuff them in your bag out of the way. We are, of course, talking about the absolutely indispensable travel jacket. And when it comes to the best jackets for backpacking, the Fjallraven Abisko Eco-Shell is a truly worthy investment.
This tough-wearing, water resistant jacket is breathable and cool in warm, humid conditions and, of course, will keep you warm when the evenings get cool. It’s clever design makes it super functional, but the fact it’s made from recycled material and fluorocarbon-free means it’s also good for the environment. It’s also dripping in style, just as you’d expect from a Fjallraven jacket. In short, we love it.
Craghoppers NosiLife Cargo Trousers
More Info: craghoppers.com
A good pair of trousers when you’re traveling are an underrated thing. Granted, all of those social media updates may be in boardshorts or swimmers, but a solid pair of trousers will be what you wind up living in most of the time. In fact, none other than Bob Dylan summed this point up when he sang “The jugglers and the clowns when they all did tricks for you, you never understood the importance of trousers,".
These NosiLife Cargo Trousers by Craghoppers will become your best friend when you’re backpacking. They’re super light at just 305 grams, and are made from super tough polyamide. But the real magic of these Craghopper NosiLife trousers is that they’re protective against mosquito bites.
That may not sound like much when you’re in the UK, but in hotter climbs, keeping those malaria carrying bugs at bay can quite literally be a lifesaver. Throw into the mix that there are nine pockets built into these cargo trousers, and you’ve got just about just about the perfect pair of slacks for whatever the world can throw at you.
Hanwag Anvik GTX Boots
More Info: hanwag.com
So often, style or performance is a compromise we all have to make. Do you got for the style of Noel and Sandy, or the performance of Mel and Sue? Happily, when it comes to the best boots for backpacking. Hanwag have got you covered.
The Hanwag Anvik GTX boots are the real lookers of the outdoor walking world. It may be a German made boot, but it’s steeped in classic Italian style. But the Anvik mountain boot isn’t just a looker. Made from high-end Nubuk leather which is not only hardwearing, but incredibly comfortable as well, so you should spend the first two weeks of your travels painfully breaking them in. The Michelin V-Rough sole also works to make this one of the most comfortable boots we’ve ever worn. Tough as nails on the outside, but purring like a kitten when they’re wrapped around your feet.
Obviously, these will stand up to schlepping around various airports, but when things get more rugged, the Anvik’s will still keep on going. They’re built for long walks and can handle winter conditions with ease, so you can rest assured that they’re just as tough as you are.
Arc Teryx Carrier 55 Duffel
More Info: arcteryx.com
One of the most important things when you’re traveling in flexibility. You’ll want to be able to divert from the plan from time to time, be that staying in one place longer, extending your travels, or going to areas you never even thought about. That’s why we love this Arc Teryx Carrier Duffle bag.
At 55 litres, it’s a really spacious pack that’s ideal for two or three days worth of trekking - perfect if you’re venturing out from your main base on a mini adventure. At 600 grams, it’s really lightweight, but also durable, and water resistant. The adjustable straps also mean you can carry it a whole bunch of different ways.
What we really like is that, when you’re not using it, it packs town to a really tiny size - about the same as a fancy gift bag that you get your bottle of rum in at Christmas. This make it perfect for stowing in your main backpack when you’re not using it.
More Info: lifestraw.com
When you’re traveling around the world, you’ll realise it’s a gloriously diverse planet that we live on. However, if there’s one thing that unifies humanity on every single corner of this globe, it’s that drinking dirty water is the quickest way to, at best, a couple of days locked in a toilet, and at worst, slow and painful demise that involves so much molten poop that the icy cold touch of the reaper will be a sweet relief. But how can you guarantee that the water you’re drinking is clean when you’re traveling? By using a LifeStraw, of course.
The LifeStraw is ideal for taking backpacking with you, because it can turn any source of water, whether that’s from that rusty tap in Thailand, a muddy river in Marrakech, or a drinking fountain in Stoke-on-Trent, into a bottle of clean drinking water . The LifeStraw doesn’t need any power from things like batteries, and it can clean up to a 1000 litres of contaminated water.
This little lifesaver can remove 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, so it’s an absolute must, wherever you are going in the world.
LifeVenture SoftFibre Words Print Travel Towel
More Info: lifeventure.com
Did you hear the one about the backpacker who went traveling without a towel, got wet and couldn't get dry again? No, of course you haven’t. It sounds awful. Almost as bad as going traveling getting wet and… you see where this is going. This travel town from LifeVenture may not be the flashiest bit of kit you’ll pack, but it may well become your favourite.
It’s lightweight, and packs down to a tiny size, which makes it ideal for travel. But that’s not to say it compromises on performance. In fact, it’s super soft, so won’t rub your skin red raw, and it absorbs nine times it’s own weight in water, drying you up to eight times faster than a conventional towel. To be frank, even when you’re back home, you’ll still have the LifeVenture Softfibre travel towel stacked up in your airing cupboard, ready for everyday use.
Fender CT-140 SE Acoustic Guitar
More Info: fender.com
It may seem a little odd taking a guitar backpacking with you, but if the nights get lonely, or the cash runs out and you need an income, you’ll be glad you packed this little beauty. You know, assuming you can bash at least one tune out. This Fender CT-140 SE is the perfect guitar to take traveling around the world with you.
It’s a really nice electro acoustic guitar that Fender have scaled down in size, so it’s not going to be too bulky. For less that £350, you’re getting a really professional sounding guitar, similar to the kind Noel Gallagher wrote Talk Tonight and Wonderwall on.
The frets are high and narrow, making it really easy to play, something where other scaled down acoustics and struggle. Being electro acoustic, you can play it just about anywhere and wow the crowds with your version of Here Comes The Sun which, if you’re not familiar with, was written by me, working under the pseudonym George Harrison.