The Adventure

Packing Tips for the Adventure Traveler

Posted by Jane Carswell on Mon, Jul 18, 2011

by Ellen Barone

packing tips for adventure travel   suitcasesIf there’s ever a time when less is more, it’s packing for a trip. For many, however, choosing what to include – and what to leave behind – can be the hardest part of leaving home. Here’s some advice, plus a few travel-tested recommendations, to help you keep things light for your upcoming summer adventures.

1. Be a savvy consumer. Not all luggage is created equally. Not even close. Be a savvy consumer and set out with a suitcase that’s as tough as you are. Patagonia and Eagle Creek are two adventure travel brands you can’t go wrong with. With styles and accessories for every type of adventure, their bags are built to go the distance. Better still, they stand behind their products with lifetime guarantees. My faves? To Carry On – Eagle Creek Tarmac 22. To Check – Patagonia Freewheeler.  

2. Layer for any climate. It’s been said that there’s no bad weather, only bad gear. No matter what the weather forecast, be prepared by packing a few essential all-weather pieces. Even hot places can become cold at night, or at altitude. Layer up with adventure-friendly fabrics like merino wool, fleece, silk, down, and GORE-TEX. Today’s outdoor manufactures offer adventurewear that’s lightweight and packs down to nothing.  Be sure to pack one key piece for each critical layer – wicking base, core insulation, and outer protection. Leading outfitters include ExOfficio, Icebreaker, Outdoor Research, REI, and Patagonia.

3. Be ruthless. Only you know what you can’t live without. But how much of the stuff that you lugged around on your last vacation returned home unused? Be ruthless. Eliminate anything that isn’t multi-purpose. Traveling with a mobile phone? Then, leave the travel alarm at home. Do you really need two pairs of tan pants? Choose one. Downsize your daily toiletries into TSA approved containers. Pack quick-dry clothes you can wash at night and wear the next day. Choose versatile, well-crafted footwear, like KEEN, that can take you from the trail, to a museum, and dinner afterwards.

4. Become an efficiency expert. Fill every nook and cranny. Stuff shoes with socks. Tuck battery chargers and electronic cords into pockets. Bundle your clothes using crisscrossed layer folds – largest to smallest. Use packing cubes and stuff sacs to organize and segregate items. Use Ziploc bags in place of bottles. Pack collapsible duffels and backpacks within your larger luggage for day use once you’ve landed – or overflow on the return flight. I carry an Eddie Bauer small duffle, Osprey Momentum pack, and Eagle Creek Pack-ItÔ accessories.

5. Be prepared. Stuff happens while you’re out there exploring. Blisters form, mosquitoes bite, downpours soak, and stomachs rebel, and more often than not in places where supplies aren’t readily accessible. So, be prepared and carry a stock of your favorite remedies. I don’t leave home without COMPEEDÒ blister patches, Neem oil bug repellent, waterproof bags, crystallized ginger and NutriBiotic GSE®.

What about you? How do you pack for adventure? Share your tips below. 

Travel expert Ellen Barone knows a bit about living out a suitcase. She and her husband, action/adventure novelist Hank Barone, are currently enjoying a yearlong romp through Latin America. Read her latest travel news, tips and reviews at

Photo by flint knits

Tags: Adventure Travel, For Fun