While travelling to the earth’s most remote corners with a guide, backed up by a reputable travel company, is a lot safer than simply winging it alone, there are ways you can make the experience even better. The guides are sure to have basic medical kits with them, and puncture repairs can be done on the spot if you are cycling long distances, but sometimes you just need a little more. If you pack the right adventure gear, you are sure to be covered, and comfortable, come most common situations. Here are our suggestions for the top ten items to pack to improve any adventure, cycling, or hiking holiday:
Increasingly people are relying on their phones to take over the role of a camera on trip and this is a huge mistake. Firstly it puts your phone at risk of being lost, stolen or broken, and when travelling that life line that is your phone is too valuable for simple camera work. Secondly no matter how good the camera on your phone is, it’s nowhere near as good as many of the lightweight cameras you can pick up cheaply are. Gone are the days of fuzzy pictures as even the most rudimentary cameras come with impressive zooms, colour balances and saturations that your phone could only dream of. It’s also harder to take a selfie on a camera so you will have to make friends if you want to get a picture of yourself pouting in a bathroom.
9) Your Phone
Smart phones with the right apps are hands down the single most useful tool in the modern era. With a connection to a network they can act as your compass, keep track of the distances traveled, teach you basic languages, or give you directions to the nearest grocery store. Even without a connection they can act as torches, replacement cameras and notepads. And while yes, it is a good idea to turn them off to avoid your emails, phone calls from friends, and really enjoy your holiday, when an emergency comes up you will very glad you packed one.
Okay so people look at you a little oddly when you buy these and aren’t carrying a baby or nearing a hundred, but trust us, they are brilliant. They can be used to freshen up after a long ride, or hike, wipe down your gear, or clean out scratches. They can double as toilet paper, shine a pair of shoes, clean fingerprints off phone screens or remove makeup. US marines are said to use them in the middle east, cause they are great for getting sand out of difficult to reach places. Basically they are like a really soft multi-tool.
7) Ear Plugs
Sleeping badly is probably going to make the next day a misery. If you are travelling in a group, or staying somewhere with thin walls, such as camping, then the chances are high someone in the group snores. Ear plugs will drown out traffic, the sound of the train’s wheels as the clatter on the track, the roar of a waterfall, or even that loud Australian girl who insists on playing Rachel Platten’s Fight Song all night.
6) Dry Bags
Remember the old Nokia 5210? The one with the rubber cover that could basically be thrown across a room without breaking? Well phones aren’t like that anymore. These days style seems to have overcome function in the development of almost everything, and so modern technology often needs a little protecting. The key enemy here is the elements. Add to this the fact that all your important documents such as your passport, and hotel vouchers, are still made of paper, and you start to see the benefit of protecting things from water. Take a dry bag and put your phone, passport and any other valuables in it whenever you are not using them. You will thank us after you get caught in a storm, or fall out of a kayak.
5) Leatherman style Multi-tool
A simple multi-tool has, wait for it, multiple uses. They can cut food, saw wood, file your nails or even crack crab shells. When you pack it, you will never know what you will use it for, but chances are you will be glad you packed it when you find out.
4) Water Bottle
Water is something many of us take for granted, right up until that minute we don’t have it. If you are planning on cycling long distances, hiking to the top of that volcano or even catching an overnight train through Russia, having a secure source of water can be a lifesaver.
3) Duct Tape
It fixes tears in absolutely everything and can even be used to do a temporary fix on a broken strap. It can help build shelter, or, if enough is used, strap extra luggage to the outside of a backpack. As an added bonus, and if you are careful, it can also work as an airtight plaster in an emergency.
2) A Bandana or Buff
If you are hiking, cycling or sailing, a bandana is an essential piece of equipment – mainly cause it will keep your hair out of your face, help with holding your sunglasses in place, and make sure the top of your head doesn’t burn in that really annoying way it can cause it’s impossible to apply sunscreen there. The lowly bandana does a lot more however. You can use it to filter water (or wine when the cork breaks – you never know), wrap up sandwiches, do the dishes, or in a pinch, bind an injury.
1) A quality jacket
Usually if you read the term “quality jacket” anywhere the article is referring to a wedding suit, but here we are much more serious about clothing. Now these outdoor, hiking jackets may seem expensive at the time, but on their own they will take the place of a number of other items. The right jacket will be warm and will protect you from wind, rain, mist, and snow. Look for the phrases “Waterproof” and “Windproof” and ignore the ones that promise they are only “Water resistant”. Resistant just means you will get wet slightly slower. The right jacket with a hood will be your friend on hikes, on horseback, and on long distance train journeys, while also allowing you to enjoy those arctic sled-dog rides, and cold evenings camping in Nepal. Totally invaluable.