Below you’ll find a list of the travel gear that we love and regularly use on our world-wide and outdoor tours. Before an item makes it on this list we use it on several trips and make sure that it’s highly functional, easy to use and long-lasting. Ideally it’s also lightweight and reasonably priced.
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Gear for Outdoor and World Travel
- Functional underwear, preferably from Merino wool. This material is incredible: it’s not only really warm, lightweight and soft, but it doesn’t acquire any sweat or body smell, even after wearing it for a week or longer. Even though they are quite expensive, the Woolpower socks, long johns and long-sleeve undershirts are the best. We experimented with cheaper alternatives first, but in the end we spent the money on the real thing and we’ve been feeling warm on our winter tours ever since.
- Down jacket. Ultralight and compressible to a very small size, down jackets are the perfect warming layer. They are not waterproof so we for alpine tours and cold camping nights. We Together with a proper rain jacket we can react flexibly to many situations. We use them independently or in combination if it really gets cold, windy or wet. There are many equally good down jackets available nowadays. We recommend to spend your money on well established brands and to pay attention to the fill power and the weight. We decided for relatively thin light jackets with 700/800 cuin.
- Rain jacket. A must for every outdoor fan. Note that only hardshell jackets with bonded seams and optionally with Gore Tex keep you effectively from rain and wind for many hours. Except for sunny days our Norröna Falketind Gore-Tex jacket and our Marmot Alpinist Gore Tex jacket are always an integral part of our bag or backpack. We think the brand is not important, just get yourself a Gore-Tex PRO hardshell jacket. It will protected you for hours and hours of activity through enduring rain and dries very quickly.
- Rain pants. Whether on rainy days on the bike in Hamburg or on hiking tours with quickly changing weather, rain pants keep us dry – not only from rain but also from wet high grass. Also it’s another layer protecting us from cold wind. For two years no we’ve been using the Vaude drop pant II , which did an amazing job. It has no zippers or velcro like other rainpants, but for us the ultralight weight and the possibility to pack it into a very small size are unbeatable arguments.
- Pants. Haglöfs Rugged Mountain II, McKinley Quick dry
- Serious hiking boot. The Hanwag Alaska GTX are serious hiking boots for serious tours, and we’ve never felt anything other than safe and comfortable in them. Our highest recommendation! Read our full review for more information.
- Small hiking shoe. The small and lightweight Salomon Ellipse GTX for women and the Salomon Eskape GTX for men provide good grip on uneven stones and loose gravel and is equally well suited to hot and humid as well as cool climates. Read our full review for more information.
- Comfortable hiking sandal. In our opinion the TEVA Hurricane XLT is the best option you can get between serious boots and flip flops on warm days. Other than Flip Flops the sandal is designed to stay at your feet and has a good traction, which makes it the perfect alrounder for various outdoor activities, long city walks and at the waterfront. They are also lighter than other sandals so that they are great for world travelers.
- Tent. My home is my castle. We love to camp an spent a lot of time researching about proper tents. Since rain and wind can be involved at any time, quality matters. So informing yourself and spending a little more money will pay off. What exactly you need depends on your needs. We are happy owners of a family tent (Robens Valley Lodge) for camping vacations with a car and a smaller lightweight tent (Robens Voyager 2) for backpacking. Read our full review of the Robens Voyager series for more information.
- Sleeping mat. Portable comfort and independence. Wether in a tent on a camping tour or on the floor of a hosting tribal family, mats, preferanly self-inflating, ensure a good night sleep. With our really light and compact ProLite mats from Therm-a-Rest in our packs we are absolutely flexible, can stay whereever we want and thus raise the chance to experience nature and culture up close.
- Sleeping bag. Nothing is worse than a sleepness night due to coldness. For this reason we opt for down as the only effective material. For over a year we’ve been using Lite Line sleeping bags of cumulus – other than the heat output their light weight and the incredible grade of compression make them the perfect compagnion during outdoor activities. Cool thing for couples: you can order one left and one right zipper bag and combine them :).
- Sleeping bag inlet / travel sheet. They are of multipurpose: We use them as an inlay in our sleeping bags to protect the later from sweat and increase its lifetime. Here it also functions as an additional warming layer. When we travel to warm countries or stay in mountain huts we use them independently. There are different materials with different weights and forms. We decided for the micro fibre inlets as a compromise between light silk and heavy cotton. In Germany the inlets of the brand Meru inlett are a good choice.
- Air pillows. Very small in packaging they give us a bit of comfort for a good night sleep on camping trips and during long bus rides.
- Compression socks. Have you ever had thick lower legs after a long flight or a long bus, train or car ride and it took you a day or two to have them transformed into the normal status again? This is a very unpleasant feeling and bad for the health as well. A problem that mainly women suffer from and that can be avoided by using compression socks. They are extremly helpful and nothing that one should be ashamed of. There are many cheap ones that you can buy online but we recommend you to spend a little more money. Cheap ones are of much lower quality and tend to loosen after a while. Thus the compression effect won’t work any more after only a couple of times of usage. Katja is very satisfied with the effect of her Varilind Travel socks , but other other high quality travel compression socks might be good as well.
- Toe warmer. If you quickly suffer from cold feet during cold camping or mountain nights, on long night-bus rides or on long flights, this product will make your life more enjoyable. After activation fix the pads under your toes (above the socks) and you will enjoy 6 hrs of comfortable warmth. There are different brands which are probably equally good. You should consider buying a big package of toe warmers because they are much cheaper than single pads. Just inform yourself on amazon about other users experiences and choose one with good recommendations.
- Waterproof bag. Purchasable in different sizes these bags prevent your valuables from getting wet during activities that involve water. Packed into your backpack they also keep your valuables from rain in case (after many hours of walking in rain) the backpacks rain-coat is not working any more. We use the lightweight Ortlieb drybags and are convinced about the quality. If weight is no issue there are more robust (and heavier) products on the market as well. When deciding for a size think of the rolling-up part.
- lightweight pocket knife. When camping and hiking a sharp knife is an essential tool. When traveling, especially backpacking you will also be grateful for a very lightweight knife. With only 27 g our Baladeo G-series pocket knife 27 is super light and definitively recommendable. Another one that we use is the Opinel Outdoor knife. It’s a bit heavier but more stable.
- Stable multifunctional knife. Light my Fire FireKnife with steel
- LED headlamp. Strapped to your head this lamp gives you full freedom for hands-on activities in darkness. We’ve used our Litexpress Liberty 111 headlamps on many camping and backpacking trips and for climbing mountains in the middle of the night. We are very happy with them and can fully recommend them. There are many other lamps offered by liteXpress which are probably equally good. When deciding for a lamp look for a high light output (30 lumen or more) and several modes to control it, a long battery lifetime (up to 94 hrs when using low light output), a tilting function and water resistancy. Our tip: Use rechargable batteries, and always have an extra replacement pair with you. You can also read our detailed equipment test of the liteXpress Liberty 111.
- Water filtration system. Sawyer MINI water treatment
- Cooker, pots and pans (all in one): Primus Eta Power
- Dishes. Light My Fire MealKit 2.0
- Cutlery: Light-my-fire Spork
Gear for World Travel
- Travel towel. No matter if we hike in the alps or backpack around the world, a microfibre travel towel is always part of our backpack. It’s compact, light, absorbent and quick drying. We are satisfied with our Meru sport towels but any other lightweight microfibre towel that can be packed to a small size will do as well for your trips.
- Electricity adapter.
- Gaiters. Gaiters prevent ice, mud, scree and rocks from entering into our shoes when we hike in mountainous and alpine areas. Since they are very robust they also protect our ankles and lower legs from dense underbrush, thorns etc. and even from the spikes of our crampons. We use gaiters from VAUDE, but any other brand will do as well.
- Crampons. Crampons give us an amazing traction when walking on glaciers and icefields and thus the security we need for such serious adventurous tours. Two things are of major importance: The right attachment system and the quality. Since our Hanwag Alaskas are not stiff enough and not designed for the step-in binding we use the G12 strap-in one from Grivel. In our opinion it’s the best compromise in terms of quality, pricing and weight. We testet them for example in the Alps 2014 and fully recommend them for boots without welts.
- Ice axe. Other than crampons and ropes one or two ice axes are always part of our equipment on alpine tours in frozen conditions. This important tool helps us to stabilize and balance, to cut steps in the ice, to help ourselves after having fallen o slided downhill and to free compagnions who fell into a crevasse. Most brands are equally good. We recommend to go for a solid one with a hand grip to prevent you from slipping. With or without leash is a matter of taste. Before buying also inform yourself about the right size.
- Bivouac sack. The bivy provides a wind- and waterproof and warming shelter in case you have to overnight outside without a tent. In extreme situations – like if you got caught on a mountain in bad weather for example – it might save your life. We hope we’ll never use it, but it’s definitely a must on alpine tours and optionally on any other hiking tour. There are some advanced products on the market, but for now we decided for the very small Mountain Equipment Ultralite Bivi as an emergency survival bag.
- Shoe grippers. Fitting for any shoe these light crampons are great for non-alpine hiking tours in winter which might involve crossing frozen puddles, rivers, mud, wet gras or lakes. On our wintertour to the Lofoten we used them quite extensivly. They prevented us from slipping all the time and made the whole trip even more enjoyable.
- Inner gloves. Preferably from Merino wool these thin gloves are worn inside your normal or thick gloves. This extra layer will give you additional protection against coldness, which is especially important during activities in the mountains. We can recommend the Icebreaker Inner Glove as a thin layer in your gloves.
- Multifunctional bandana. This thin, lightweight and breathable cloth is practical in many situations. We use it during mountain activities where much icy cold wind is involved. While (sun)glases protect the eyes this cloth protects mouth, nose and cheeks from the ugly weather. We use one from Buff, but any cloth with the functions mentioned will serve the same function.
- Portable computer. The ultimate laptop for digital nomads is the Apple MacBook Air ! It’s small, light, plenty powerful, and it’s always there when you need it (it wakes up extremely quickly and the battery lasts seemingly forever). At first we were unsure if the 4 GB RAM / 256 GB hard disk version is powerful enough to handle all our texts, tables, e-books, e-mail accounts, WordPress installations, graphics and images — but it can, without any hesitation! Lightroom too runs very smoothly, even on our large RAW files.
- Tablet computer. This small multifunctional device is incredible for travels. You can read ebooks (kindle application), listen to music, take notes, do researches, bookings or socializing online, download detailed interactive maps, take panorama pictures, use a calender, an alarm clock and much more. We just used all these advantages on a world trip. If you don’t have to type long texts or edit pictures we would recommend it any time. Our Apple iPad Mini is probably the most expensive example available on the market but the application is very intuitive, the battery is very efficient and the system ran without a single problem.
- GPS. With this device we can really get off the beaten track and still know where we are and where to go next. The really cool thing is, that once we tracked our way and provided the details you can retrace our steps and make the same unforgettable experience. Our new companion for all of your future outdoor adventures is the Garmin Etrex 20 Handheld GPS . We’ll test it the following weeks and let you know if we share the excellent reviews on the internet. If you are looking for one yourself, pay attention to a long battery life (at least 20 hours), a display that is easy to read in sunlight, a waterproof body and a highly sensible GPS receiver, so that you can locate your position even in dense forests and deep canyons.
- Action Camera. For every action-intense activity you have to use a small, lightweight and waterproof camera that (with the appropiate equipment) works without using your hands. The leader on the market clearly is the company Go Pro. There is a Go Pro for every kind of client but they are not cheap and it is hard to decide which one is the best suitable for you. If you suffer from the same problem, we created the perfect solution for you: take less than 5 minutes and click through our very quick and easy step-by-step Go Pro Buyers Guide to find out which Go Pro Camera fits to you.
- Professional camera equipment. This is interesting for you if you are driven by a serious interest in photography, because for a high quality outcome and getting most out of your special moments you need have more know-how and carry around more weight than just a Go Pro. For years and while traveling we’ve used cameras of different well known brands and came to the conclusion that the Olympus OM-D E-M5 [Body Only] (Black) with the equipment mentioned below is the best option for travel photography. On www.pcurious.com you can learn about the reasons and for more technical details.Additional equipment:
– Basic lens: Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 all-around zoom
– Wide angle lens: Panasonic 7-14mm f/4.0 extreme wide-angle
– Tele lens: Olympus 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 tele-zoom
– Functional camera bag: Tenba Discovery Photo/Laptop Messenger Mini – Lightweight stable tripod: Gitzo 6X Carbon Fiber Tripod