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Probably the most important piece of gear you own as a traveller. It’s effectively your home! If you’re on the road long-term, you need something sturdy that’s going to keep your valuables safe and warm. See our guide to the best travel backpacks for a full range of options.
Alex uses the Osprey Aether 70. It’s spacious and comfortable, and after a year on the road is still going strong. The combination of its strong metal frame and foam padding means it’s extremely robust, while staying comfy. At the back it has a suspended mesh panel, which molds perfectly to the arch of your back, and keeps the system ventilated.
Lisa uses the Lowe Alpine Atlas Women’s Outdoor Camping Rucksack. At 65 litres it has plenty of room, and has all the goodies a first-time backpacker needs: great weight distribution, adjustable shoulder, chest and hip straps, plenty of zip compartments, and hydration system compatibility. Like Alex’s rucksack, it’s still going strong a year on. We think it looks pretty neat too!
In addition to our main big rucksacks, we also both carry a smaller ‘day’ rucksack. For this we both have the Berhaus TwentyFourSeven Rucksack; Lisa uses the 20L version, and Alex the 25L version. They’re great for optimising your packing while distributing the weight evenly, and fitted to be compatible with a water hydration system.
We make no secret of the fact that we love the outdoors. Some of our very best travel memories have come from trekking in some of the word’s most beautiful places. Before we set on our journey, we made sure we were well prepared and equipped. Here’s a peek at the hiking gear we use…
For a solid hiking jacket, you can’t go wrong with a 3-in-1. By combining a soft inner fleece with a waterproof outer shell, you can wear the components separately or together to suit the conditions.
Alex wears a North Face 3-in-1 Tri-Climate Jacket. The outer shell is windproof as well as waterproof, which has seen him through challenging conditions in Patagonia and New Zealand. The layer connect and detach neatly by zip, and it’s comfy and breathable.
Lisa wears a Jack Wolfskin 3-in-1 Jacket. Just like Alex’s, it’s performed brilliantly in tough conditions, providing warmth, shelter and ventilation when needed. It’s pretty stylish too, right?
For any serious hiking, sturdy and dependable shoes are an absolute must.
Alex knows this as well as anyone, as he has suffered with feet malfunctions since he was a teenager. After scouting long and hard for the right hiking shoes, he went for Berghaus Men’s Explorer Walking Boots, and they have not disappointed. They fit like a dream, have lasted the distance and have kept Alex’s feet warm and dry and the coldest and wettest of conditions. These have been the length of the Inca Trail in Peru, the W Trek in Chile, the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand and more. They’re still going.
Lisa wears Salomon Women’s Ellipse 2 Hiking Boots. For trekking, you really can’t go wrong with a pair of Salomon – they’re superbly made, comfortable and durable. When times have gotten tough in miserable conditions, the comfort of these shoes has often been the difference.
Camping is a great way to save money on accommodation while travelling, and it enables you to explore some amazing places that would otherwise be impossible.
Our tent is our favourite bit of travel gear. It’s been our home and shelter for 30-odd nights and counting, and we absolutely love it! We use the Urberg 3-Person Tunnel Tent.
This thing has seen us through the heavy winds and rains of Patagonia, freezing UK February nights and the elements of New Zealand. At 3,440g it’s not too heavy to carry around, and having a three-person tent for two of us gives us that extra comfort.
As Urberg is an up-and-coming brand, this tent is a real bargain – the quality you get for the price is hard to find anywhere else. We’ve had no problems at all in some fairly extreme conditions, and we’re sure we have many more nights to enjoy in our Urberg.
Sleeping bags and liners
If you’re staying anywhere likely to dip under 5 degrees celsius or so, you will thank yourself for investing in a quality sleeping bag. We both use the Vango Ultralite. It’s lightweight and so hasn’t been a problem to carry around on our travels, and is impressively warm. It’s not only been great for camping, but has also come in handy occasionally in hostels when the sheets provided just didn’t cut it.
For an all-important extra layer, we also use silk sleeping bag liners. They weigh next to nothing and take up hardly any space in our bags, but were an absolute godsend in the cold wilderness of Patagonia.
For some this may seem a luxurious extra, but there have been times when a good night’s sleep has depended on our Therm-a-Rest Prolite Plus Mattresses. They pack down lightly and efficiently, and have given us in invaluable layer of cushioned comfort when sleeping in the rough. If you are planning to do a lot of camping, you’ll be very glad you bought one of these.
Travel gadgets and accessories
Sometimes people ask what is the one thing in your travel bag you couldn’t do without. For us, like many savvy travellers out there, it’s packing cubes. These things are just amazing! Since we started using packing cubes we’ve been able to organise our stuff better, and fit so much more into our rucksacks.
One thing that’s easily forgotten when packing is a good towel. A standard towel takes up a lot of space and weight, so we highly recommend the MountFlow Microfibre Towel. It is super-light, packs down into a tiny space, and is remarkably quick-drying. Oh, and it comes in lots of pretty colours.
Another gadget in our bags that we now class as indispensable is our hydration packs, or ‘camel packs’. It’s excellent for keeping you hydrated throughout the day, especially if you’re doing a lot of walking, and is the most comfortable way to carry the weight of three litres of water. Combined with our fitted rucksacks, it provides easy-access water whenever we need it. If you do invest in one, we would also highly recommend getting a cleaning kit to go with it.
Alternatively, another convenient way to carry your water around is by investing in a foldable water bottle. These are great for backpacking because they are versatile and pack away easily, and at the same time they help to minimise your environmental impact. A wise choice for the responsible traveller!
Our final nugget of advice on travel accessories – if you’re planning to go anywhere near water – is to get yourself an ocean pack. These are super-neat contraptions that keep your valuables safe and dry when you’re around the wet stuff. Trust us – it’s better than getting your camera soaked by an unexpected wave.