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24 Essential Adventure Travel Gear For Outdoor Trips

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It doesn’t matter if you’re staying in a hotel or a remote destination camping under the stars; the proper travel gear can make all the difference in the world. When I first started traveling, I couldn’t afford much, so I had to figure out how to make what gear I had worked for me.

Lessons were learned. With each new destination, I figured out what I would need, and slowly, I started building a set of travel accessories that worked for me.

For example, I’d much rather use a duffel bag as my carry-on. I tend to do most of my traveling during winter, and I’ve found that rolling luggage doesn’t play nicely with cobblestone streets and snow. My duffel bag has made my life so much easier, and I can still stay organized, just like a traditional suitcase.

As you travel more, you’ll start figuring out what you need to pack and carry to make the best of your adventures. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite accessories to help you on your world travels.

Quick Guide to Adventure Travel Gear

List of essential adventure travel gear

If you’re in the early stages of planning your next trip, you already know how overwhelming it can be. I want to set you up for success!

Whether you’re embarking on your first backcountry camping excursion or a seasoned pro, this article will be your ultimate guide and tell you everything you need to know (and pack). Here’s a good starting point:

Top Recommendation Product Type
Osprey Hikelite 18 Backpack
Jetboil Flash System Cooking System
Merrell Moab 3 Hiking / Travel Boot
Coleman Sundome Tent Shelter
Alox Pioneer Utility Tool

There are so many different types of adventures, so to make things easy, let’s break them down into categories: travel, hiking, camping, and clothing.

Top Travel Gear: General Travel

Most adventures are going to start at the airport (or in a car if you’re on a road trip). This leg of the journey is often overlooked, but when you have the right accessories on the plane, it’ll make your plane ride a breeze…even if you end up in the dreaded middle seat.

Here are some of our best travel accessories to pack for flights, road trips, train rides, and even cruise lines:

1. Travel Backpack

Osprey Hikelite 18 Pack
Osprey / REI.com

Maximize your packing space by including this travel backpack by Osprey as your personal item on your next flight. This backpack can also double as a day pack for any hiking you plan to do, which is a nice perk.

We love backpacks that pull double duty. It features an internal hydration sleeve with a three-liter reservoir capacity, a scratch-resistant pocket for electronics and sunglasses, and stretch-mesh side pockets for smaller items like plastic water bottles and any essentials you want to carry with you on the plane.

See Related: Best Travel Backpacks & Carry-On Options

2. Sherpani Meridian Carry-On Wheeled Luggage

Sherpani Meridian Carry-On Wheeled Luggage
Sherpani / REI.com

You want a carry-on that is as tough as you are, and the crushproof shell on this carry-on by Sherpani is perfect. The 360° spinning wheels are silent and will glide through the airport easily, and it’s available in several colors.

TSA-approved locking zippers and keys will keep your stuff safe and sound, and the slide-grab handle makes it a breeze to store in an overhead compartment. Combine this luggage carry-on with a set of packing cubes, and you’re already ahead of most travelers.

3. Packing Cubes

REI Co-op Expandable Packing Cube Set
REI Co-op / REI.com

Packing cubes were one of the best travel accessories I discovered when traveling more often. Packing cubes keep your belongings safe while keeping your stuff organized and are a superb option for many travelers.

You can keep your clothes in one, shoes in another, and toiletries in the third. These packing cubes from REI Co-op come in three sizes, and they’re both water-resistant and tear-resistant and the expansion zippers let you adjust the size if you need more/less space.

4. Rumpl Stuffable Pillowcase

Rumpl Stuffable Pillowcase in Color Deep Water
Rumpl / REI.com

The stuffable pillowcase by Rumpl is ideal for travelers looking to save space in their bag. This camping pillow clocks in at 16 x 11 inches and weighs 3.2 ounces, so you won’t even feel it when it’s packed away.

The best part is that you can fill this pillowcase with your jacket (or any clothes, really), so you get to snooze town the moment the plane takes off. Take a look at how our managing editor, Kim Magaraci, packs her favorite hoodie in hers:

Rumpl stuffable travel pillow , with a hoodie stuffed inside
Kim Magaraci / ViaTravelers

See Related: Best Travel Products to Combat Flight Anxiety

5. Audio Technica ATH-M50X Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones
Audio-Technica / Amazon

A good pair of noise-canceling headphones is key to a comfortable flight. Audio Technica has been a preferred brand for top audio engineers and gamers for decades, and it’s easy to see why.

These ATH-M50X headphones contour around the ears for superior sound isolation while providing the brand’s signature sonic performance, and the collapsible design makes them easy to pack in your luggage. These noise-canceling headphones will also come in handy if you’re staying in a loud hostel, a train, or really any place you’d like to tune out.

6. Anker Portable Charger

Anker Portable Charger, Power Bank
Anker / Amazon

No traveler should be without a charge bank, and I personally love Anker’s portable charger. The slim design fits inside your luggage easily, and the charge bank can power up a phone at least twice before it needs to hit the charger itself.

It also holds a charge for a surprisingly long time. You can carry it around all day and have it ready to power up your devices whenever needed.

See Related: Best Travel Accessories and Gear

Top Travel Gear: Hiking & Outdoor Sports

Whether you want to climb to the highest peak or tackle the Appalachian Trail, you’re going to want to be prepared. Here are our top picks for the best hiking gear:

7. Gregory Jade 38 Pack

Hikers with Gregory Jade 38 Packs
Gregory / REI.com

Having the right backpack can make all the difference in the world. We love the Gregory Jade 38 Pack for its adjustable straps, multiple exterior pockets, and fitted rain cover to keep your gear dry.

Its 38-liter capacity offers plenty of space, and the adjustable bungee attachment keeps things like trekking poles or ice axes stored but easily accessible. This is one of the best backpacks on the market right now.

Gregory Jade backpack packed for traveling
Kim Magaraci / ViaTravelers

My advice to you would be not to skimp on big four items like backpacks! This isn’t the area where you want to roll the dice.

8. Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Poles - Pair
Black Diamond / REI.com

Made from 7075 aluminum, these trekking poles by Black Diamond are lightweight yet tough (the perfect combo). Black Diamond is one of the leading brands in the industry, so you can rest assured the build quality of these poles is superior to most.

The foam grips are super comfortable, and the moisture-wicking straps are breathable and dry quickly. Although these poles aren’t adjustable, they are collapsable and available in four sizes so travelers of all heights can easily reach new heights.

9. HydraPak Flux 1.5 Liter Collapsible Water Bottle + Filter Cap

Woman using the Collapsible Water Bottle Hydrapak
HydraPak / REI.com

Staying hydrated is a top priority. For most destinations, you will fill up your water bottle in lakes, rivers, and streams, requiring some type of water treatment before your first gulp.

We love this collapsable water bottle from HydraPak because it includes a filter cap and holds a decent amount of water. It’s 50 percent lighter than a hard bottle, and its collapsable design makes it a breeze to pack. 

See Related: Best Travel Bottles For Toiletries

10. Micro Spikes

Black Diamond Access Spike Traction Devices
Black Diamond / REI.com

If your travels take you somewhere icy, these Access Spike Traction Devices by Black Diamond will be a lifesaver. Inspired by crampons, these micro spikes easily fit over your shoes and give you excellent traction on icy surfaces.

They’re perfect for trails where crampons are overkill, but you just need a little more grip than your shoes can offer. Take a peek at them in action on a hike around the White Mountains in New Hampshire:

Microspikes on Alta weatherproof boots for winter hiking
Kim Magaraci / ViaTravelers

These will also come in handy if you’re visiting a city in the winter and want to walk around without sliding everywhere. Just remember to take them off before you go into any restaurants, shops, or your hotel. 

11. GPS Navigation

Woman using a garmin in a mountain range
Garmin / REI.com

GPS navigation is on the essentials list for hikers taking the path less traveled. The Garmin GPSMAP 66i provides precise GPS navigation (within three meters) and comes preloaded with TOPO maps and inReach technology for two-way messaging (subscription required). It has up to 200 hours of battery life, and you can even access weather forecasts. 

You’ll be happy to carry this travel gear with you because when you need it…you need it. It’s also one of the more expensive travel accessories, and waiting for a sale is worth your while. REI often has deals to save you money, so keep an eye out, and you could get it for half the price.

Top Travel Gear: Footwear & Clothing

Deciding what to wear on your journey doesn’t have to be difficult. After all, it’s not a fashion show.

But you will need to stock up some some proper clothes to tackle the outdoors. These are some of our favorite travel clothing essentials for camping and hiking:

12. Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots

Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots Men's
Merrell / REI.com

A good pair of hiking boots will change the game for you. These hiking boots by Merrell are a fan favorite for their comfort, durability, and waterproof factor.

Merrell’s signature air cushion in the heel provides great shock absorption while adding stability, and the molded nylon arch shanks give you the arch support to easily tackle the roughest terrain. These hiking boots can handle anything you throw at them from sea to summit. They’re comfortable to wear and easily one of the best boot deals on the market.

See Related: Best Hiking Shorts for Men and Women

13. Merino Wool Socks

REI Co-op Merino Wool Lightweight Hiking Quarter Socks
REI Co-op / REI.com

If you’re not packing merino wool socks into your bags, you’re doing it wrong. These merino wool socks from REI Co-op are easy on the wallet and will keep your feet cushioned with every step.

Not only are they moisture-wicking, but they also have thermoregulation properties, and they’re naturally antimicrobial. That’s a lot to ask from a sock, yet here we are. 

14. Hiking Pants

REI Co-op Sahara Convertible Pants Women's
REI Co-op / REI.com

These convertible hiking pants from REI Co-op are an excellent choice for year-round hiking. They’re water-repellent, but if you take on a downpour, they’ll dry quickly thanks to the lightweight nylon design.

The drawstring waist lets you adjust easily, and the six pockets will have you storing things like a chipmunk. We love that the zippers on the legs are color-coded, so you’ll always know right from left, and being able to convert these pants into shorts gives you the flexibility to wear them year-round. 

15. Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoodie

Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoodie Men's
Patagonia / REI.com

Kiss your cotton t-shirt goodbye because it won’t do you any favors on your adventure. Proper hiking clothes start with the material, and for hiking and camping, you’ll want to trade cotton for a moisture-wicking fabric like polyester, nylon, or merino wool.

This long-sleeved hoodie from Patagonia is lightweight and odor-resistant, plus the deep hood gives you additional coverage from the sun or any bugs that may be joining you on your travels. 

See Related: Best Winter Travel Clothes for Cold Weather

16. Columbia Bora Bora Booney II Hat

Columbia Bora Bora Booney II Hat
Columbia / REI.com

Never underestimate the power of a good hat!

The peak design of this brimmed hat from Columbia provides UPF 50 protection from the sun, while underneath, the polyester sweatband and mesh interior wicks away sweat. There’s even an adjustable chin strap to keep the hat locked in when the wind picks up.

The three-inch brim is especially helpful for keeping the sun off the back of your neck and comes in five different colors. 

Top Travel Gear: Camping

Investing in the best camping gear will save you money in the long run. Your tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and backpack are the “big four.” Ensuring these items are solid will make or break your adventure. Here are our top picks for camping gear:

17. Coleman Sundome Camping Tent

Coleman Sundome Camping Tent
Coleman / Amazon

This camping tent by Coleman comes in four sizes, ranging from a two-person tent all the way up to a six-person tent. As one of the most affordable tents on the market, you’ll be surprised at the quality Coleman put into this budget-friendly tent.

Canyon Campground in Yellowstone National Park
Coleman Tent at Canyon Campground, Yellowstone National Park (Kim Magaraci / ViaTravelers)

Set up is a breeze; large windows and a ground vent give superior ventilation, while the Polyguard material keeps you nice and dry, even in the worst conditions. This thing can withstand 35+mph winds, plus it breaks down easily into its bag so you can pack it away.

18. The North Face Wagon Bed 20 Sleeping Bag

The North Face Wawona Bed 20 Sleeping Bag
The North Face / REI.com

This sleeping bag by The North Face has a rectangular design, which is great for stretching out. The shell is made with recycled 50-denier ripstop polyester and lined with a similar polyester taffeta to keep you cozy all night.

The sleeping bag has a temperature rating of 20 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it a great year-round sleeping bag. The regular size fits up to 72 inches, but if you’re taller than most, I’d advise the long version, which can fit up to 78 inches. It comes with its stuff sack and can easily shrink to fit in your backpack.

See Related: What to Bring on a Camping Trip with Friends

19. REI Co-op Helix Insulated Air Sleeping Pad

REI Co-op Helix Insulated Air Sleeping Pad
REI Co-op / REI.com

A good sleeping pad will ensure a good night’s sleep, and this sleeping pad by REI Co-op checks off all the boxes. Made with 30-denier ripstop polyester with TPU lamination, you can rest assured (pun intended) that this sleeping pad won’t tear on you.

But even if you do manage to spring a leak, a field repair kit is included. Its three-inch pad thickness gives you a mattress-like feeling, and its insulated interior keeps you warm in colder climates. 

20. Jetboil Flash Cooking System

Campers using Jetboil Flash Cooking System
Jetboil / REI.com

Even in the middle of nowhere, you can still enjoy a hot cup of coffee with the Jetboil Flash cooking system. It can boil two cups of water in 100 seconds, and its design is compatible with any isobutane-propane canister with a Lindal valve.

Dimensions are 4.1 x 7.1 inches, so it won’t take up much room in your pack, and it even comes with an insulating cozy with a handle so you don’t burn yourself trying to eat that tasty freeze-dried meal.

21. REI Co-op Skyward Chair

REI Co-op Skyward Chair
REI Co-op / REI.com

If you don’t already have a good collapsable chair, this camping chair by REI Co-op is a solid deal. It comes with a cupholder plus a drop-down pocket for small valuables, has a weight capacity of 300 pounds, and collapses like an umbrella when it’s time to go.

Not only are these types of chairs great for camping, but you’ll find yourself bringing this chair along to your kid’s sporting events, parades, cookouts, and more. 

22. Black Diamond Spot 400 Headlamp

Black Diamond Spot 400 Headlamp
Black Diamond / REI.com

This headlamp by Black Diamond offers a 400-lumen beam, a red light function, and several settings, including dimming, strobe, and lock mode. Light is one of the “10 essentials” for hiking gear, and headlamps are the easiest way to light your path.

The headlamp takes either 3 AAA alkaline batteries or rechargeable BD 1500 lithium-ion batteries and is waterproof enough to operate at least a meter underwater for 30 minutes. This tiny but mighty headlamp has a beam distance of 100 meters, allowing you to see far into the distance on a night. 

See Related: How to Pack For a Camping Trip [Step-by-Step Checklist]

23. First Aid Kit

Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight 7 Medical Kit
Adventure Medical Kits / REI.com

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. You never know when you’ll end up with a blister or maybe even a worse injury while out on an adventure, and having a first aid kit with you is crucial.

We love Adventure Medical Kits and have even included them recently in our best travel accessories article. They offer a few different sizes, and the small one has all of the essential supplies like bandages, antibiotic ointments, antiseptic wipes, and medications, should you need them.

24. A good Multi-Tool

Swiss Army Alox Pioneer X Multi-Tool
Swiss Army / REI.com

This multi-tool from the Swiss Army Knife Company will come in handy on your next adventure. You can’t top a good Swiss Army knife, and this one features all the basics, including precision scissors, a sharpened reamer, a bottle opener, a can opener, a wire stripper, a screwdriver, a lanyard ring, and a versatile steel blade.

Its stainless steel blade construction will hold up for years, and the entire thing (when closed) clocks in at a mere four inches, so it’s super convenient to pack in your gear. Despite the name, the Swiss Army has never issued them.

Importance of the Right Travel Adventure Gear

Person packing a yellow suitcase
Sebra / Shutterstock

Few things will take the wind out of your sails faster than not having the right travel gear. Or worse, having the wrong travel gear.

Having the right gear can be a life-or-death situation. I’m not discussing what to bring on a five-mile hiking trail in a popular National Park. I’m talking about those multi-day treks through some of the most remote destinations in the world, where your cell phone is useless, and you’re filtering water from wherever you can find it.

I’m willing to bet those who have not enjoyed their outdoor adventure probably had the wrong gear. Think about what a difference just having a good pair of hiking shoes makes!

Packing the right travel gear is important, and doing your research on your destination is also important. No one wants to spend an evening soaking wet after discovering their stuff wasn’t waterproof!

How to Choose Adventure Gear

Choosing the right gear is important, and there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

First, where are you going, and what’s the weather like? I know weather forecasts can change on a dime, but you want to be ready for anything. Plus, if you’re traveling light, every ounce counts, so you want to ensure you’ll actually use everything you pack.

I assure you, you’ll be miserable if it starts raining and your gear isn’t completely waterproof. The same thing goes for wind!

I was beyond happy I splurged on waterproof and windproof outerwear for my plane ticket to Iceland. If I didn’t have that, I would have been seeing Iceland from the comfort of the rental car.

Maintaining Your Adventure Gear

Once you’ve shelled out the money for the best gear, you need to take care of it so you can use it for many years.

Since most of us don’t use our travel gear daily, it tends to live in a closet or a garage for most of the year. This is fine, but you may want to take some added measures to ensure your travel accessories are ready to rock when needed.

Keep it Clean!

The best way to maintain your travel gear is to clean it after each use. This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised! And I get it…the last thing I want to do when I get back home is clean my gear, but it’s important!

One of the best travel tips we can give you is to read the tags on your gear before you clean it. Many tents, for example, require a spray with a hose, and they’re good to go. Don’t add unnecessary chemicals to the cleaning process; they could do more harm than good!

While we’re on the topic, inspecting your gear well while cleaning it to ensure it doesn’t sustain any damage is vital.

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself!

Inspecting your gear before your adventure is a great idea so you’re not lugging around broken stuff. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting to your campsite and discovering your sleeping pad has a hole or your water filter has sprung a leak!

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