Our Complete Travel Gear Guide
As a couple who have been travelling for almost a decade, often spending years at a time completely nomadic, we are very picky about what gear makes it into our luggage.
Not having a home and living on the road means we need to have absolutely everything we could ever need with us at all times, while trying to be as minimalist as possible.
In addition to ‘living out of a backpack’, we also travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations year-round. We don’t follow the endless summer, and need to be prepared for just about any kind of weather. It’s not uncommon for us to be chilling by a beach one week, then trekking through snow in the mountains somewhere the next. This means our backpacks are filled with technical clothing to match just about anything Mother Nature can throw at us.
While we’re out exploring, we also try to camp as much as possible. So add in a bunch of camping gear to all the clothing that we need, and our bags are starting to get pretty full.
It doesn’t end there. Because we also work full-time as professional bloggers and travel photographers we need quite a large collection of electronics with us as well. Quite an interesting challenge when you’re nomadic!
Still, we manage to fit everything we could ever need in two backpacks each. It’s taken a lot of years, but now we’ve almost figured out the ultimate packing list for any adventure.
One thing we will say is that we have always been firm believers in buying the best quality gear you can afford. We’ve made the mistake of going cheap on clothing or equipment only for it to fail us in the field, meaning we’re then off trying to buy more stuff in a foreign country. Buy the best and have it last.
This is our complete travel packing list that we manage to explore the world on full-time.
Main Gear And Clothes
Inside our backpacks we try to keep a small selection of clothes that can be used in any environment.
Most of our clothing is from Kathmandu in Australia and New Zealand. We’ve been using their products for over a decade and love their style, durability and quality.
As a full disclosure we work as brand ambassadors and influencers for Kathmandu, but we never recommend anything that we don’t personally use and love. We were already big fans of Kathmandu before any kind of professional relationship came about, and we’ll tell you when we use another brand for something rather than just directing you to the Kathmandu equivalent. That being said, we’ve thoroughly tested most adventure brands over the years, and the Kathmandu gear really is superior to just about anything on the market.
Here’s our list of every piece of clothing in our backpacks:
- Merino Wool T-Shirts – We love merino wool shirts because they are lightweight, quick dry, durable and don’t stink. We carry three merino wool t-shirts each.
- Lightweight Fleece – When the temperature starts to drop you’ll need a fleece to throw on. We recommend getting one as lightweight as possible. We carry one each.
- Down Jacket – For the longest time we never travelled with down jackets, but after some below-freezing nights in the Alps and Patagonia we now swear by them. Kathmandu make excellent quality ones that pack into their own pocket, weight next to nothing and are wind-resistant as well.
- Rain Jacket – Having a good quality rain jacket is absolutely essential no matter where you travel. We recommend getting a lightweight shell that can packed into its pocket or hood. Still using Kathmandu for these.
- Thermals – When the temperature is below freezing we use merino wool thermal leggings and a thermal top. For these we’ve always used Icebreaker, and you can wear them for days without them stinking.
- Convertible Hiking Pants – These strong hiking pants have zip-off legs meaning you can turn them into shorts when it’s hot. They also have lots of pockets, many of them with zips, so you can stash gear in lots of different places. Some people don’t like them, but we’ll take practicality over fashion any day. Plus many look quite classy now as well.
- Waterproof Pants – These are a new addition to our backpacks. They are very lightweight, waterproof material that slip over your hiking pants. Great for when you’re trekking in the rain or just need to walk through town in bad weather.
- Swimwear – Alesha always has a bikini and board shorts with her, and Jarryd never goes anywhere without one pair of board shorts. Must-haves anywhere you go, because you never know when the opportunity for a swim will come up.
- Skirt – To mix it up so she’s not always wearing pants or shorts, Alesha also has a long skirt. Great for those hot days where she also wants to cover her knees in conservative countries.
- Underwear – There is no need to travel with a huge amount of underwear. We use sports-style underwear from Bonds and hand wash them when they’re dirty. We carry 4 pairs each.
- Socks – For our socks we use Kathmandu merino wool socks and have 4 pairs each, of different thicknesses.
- Buffs – These thin head scarves are some of the most-used bits of kit in our bags! You can use them as headbands, face masks, neck warmers or hats, and are great for keeping out dust or the sun. Can also be used as eye masks when taking long transport. Honestly we never go anywhere without these. We’ve got standard Buffs for everyday use and Polar Buffs for cold weather. Check them out.
- Beanie/Toque – A nice, warm hat for when the temperature drops. Keeping your head warm in bad weather is very important. Jarryd has one, but Alesha has two to mix up her style.
- Hat – We just use standard baseball caps for when we’re out in the sun.
- Gloves – Having a thin pair of gloves has been great for when we’re trekking in the cold. No need to get a big bulky pair, a decent set of glove liners can do the job most of the time.
- Hiking Boots – As we spend a lot of time outside and hiking, we always travel with a pair of hiking boots. For as long as we can remember we’ve used Salomon GTX mid-ankle Gore-Tex shoes. They are light enough for walking general walking around cities, and strong enough for most trekking options.
- Sandals – Alesha uses a pair of Crocs sandals, and Jarryd uses a pair of Teva sandals for when we don’t want to wear our boots to get around town. We also have flip flops with us as well.
- Slip-On Shoes – Alesha also has a very light pair of slip-on canvas shoes for going out at night. Her brand of choice now is Toms.
Besides our clothes we also have a range of other essential travel gear to go in our backpacks.
- Main Backpacks – Obviously the most important thing is our backpacks. We choose to travel with top-loading trekking backpacks rather than general travel backpacks for two reasons – they have much better harnesses on them and they are more durable.
Jarryd has a Kathmandu Interloper gridTECH 70L bag (he left the small day pack behind) and Alesha has a Kathmandu Altai 50L pack.
- Day Pack – We use a Pacsafe VentureSafe Gii 25L for our general ‘kicking it around town’ bag. This is great as it has a bunch of anti-theft features such as slash-proof straps and material, as well as lockable zips. This means we can walk around town without being worried of it being pick-pocketed, or we can lock it to a chair or table and someone can’t run past and grab it or steal it while we sleep on a bus. Before this we had an Osprey Talon 22L, and to be honest we liked it better because the harness was solid. But with all our electronics we feel safer with the PacSafe now.
- Small Side Bag – PacSafe CamSafe V4. Rather than having a handbag, Alesha has a small that she can put one of her cameras in, or we can fill it with random things. Has all the same cool anti-theft features as the larger bag.
- Leatherman – This multi-tool is one of our favourite travel essentials ever. We’ve used it to chop firewood, cut fruit and vegetables, fix our motorbikes and a whole range of other things. Can’t imagine travelling without one. We’ve got the awesome Leatherman Charge TTI.
- Plates, Bowls, Cups And Cutlery – For those days when you just want to have a bowl of cereal in the morning and make a sandwich while out exploring, we have flat-pack plates, bowls and cups from Sea To Summit (just one set between us) and camping cutlery.
- Aluminium Water Bottles – Rather than buying plastic water bottles everywhere we go, we have aluminium water bottles that we can fill up out of streams or taps. Saves on waste, and saves money. We have carabiners on the lids so we can clip them to our backpacks or belt loops.
- Toiletries – This can be quite personal depending on the person, but besides the general stuff everyone needs like toothbrushes and soap, Jarryd has an electric shaver and Alesha has some cosmetic creams. We also always, and we mean always, have a roll of toilet paper with us. Don’t expect every public bathroom around the world to have some.
Our Camping Gear
One thing that we always travel with that most people might not consider is camping gear. However when the opportunity to camp on the Great Wall of China or at the edge of remote lakes in Mongolia comes up, you’ll be thankful you have it with you!
- Tent – After years using the MSR Mutha Hubba 3-Person Tent, we finally swapped out to a Kathmandu Bora 2-Person Tent. We’ll be honest in saying we absolutely loved our MSR tent, and even told our friends at Kathmandu that they had big shoes to fill if they wanted us to promote their tents over our current one. We ended up testing the Bora 2-Person Tent on our 5-week trip to New Zealand and…..we’re converted! The Bora is an incredible tent, lightweight (less than 3kg), durable and surprisingly spacious. It’s very easy to set-up, even for one person, and can be fully erected in under 5 minutes. In bad weather we can fit our big backpacks inside with us, or in good weather we leave them in the large vestibule to give ourselves a bit more room to move around. It’s also about half the price of the MSR one, so it ticks all the boxes! We love, love, love our tent!
- Sleeping Bags – Even if you’re not planning on camping, travelling with sleeping bags can be a good idea for long-term travel. Some places charge you extra for sheets and blankets, or you might end up Couchsurfing with someone who doesn’t have spare blankets. We use and recommend the Kathmandu Pegasus 3-season sleeping bag for men, and the Kathmandu Columbus sleeping bag for women. They are super warm (we’ve used them in below-freezing conditions), light and pack down pretty small.
- Sleeping Mats – There’s a bunch of different options when it comes to sleeping mats, and it’s possible to just use yoga mats. But for proper comfort and insulation we use the Kathmandu Ascent series. Alesha likes to be a little comfier and warmer at night, so she uses the 35mm. Jarryd sleeps much easier, so he uses the 25mm version.
- Sleeping Bag Liners – For a touch of luxury, and extra warmth, we recommend getting some silk sleeping bag liners. You can use them in your sleeping bags or on their own for warm nights, as well as sleeping in them in case you stay somewhere that may have questionable cleanliness. We have Sea To Summit silk bag liners, and they’re so small and light we don’t even know their in our packs.
- Inflatable Pillows – For the longest time we used to just get our fleeces, roll them up and stuff them into the drawstring cases for our sleeping bags. This year Alesha bought us two inflatable pillows from Sea To Summit, and now we’re hooked!
- Multi Fuel Stove – When it comes to camping stoves you have two options – using standard gas canisters, or going the multi-fuel option. Around Central Asia, China and Mongolia we wold use multi-fuel setups because finding gas could be difficult. You can use any flammable liquid to operate these, from white gas and pure alcohol to gasoline and diesel. Problem is they are bulkier and burn dirtier. We now use the Kathmandu Backpacker Titanium Stove, as it’s so small and light you pretty much forget it’s even in your bag, and it burns gas very efficiently.
- Camping Pots And Pans – You’ll need something to cool your food in, and you’ll need them to be lightweight and packable. We have the Kathmandu Ascent Pot and Fry set it’s great. It comes with a fry pan and pot, lids, and elastic bands to keep them together. We wrap our stove in a bandana and leave it inside so we don’t lose it.
Our Photography Equipment And Electronics
Working as professional bloggers and travel photographers means we have to carry quite a lot of electronics with us at all times. When it comes to packing light it’s not ideal, but it’s a small price to pay to live a life of location independence.
Here’s a list of all our camera gear and electronics.
- Laptops – We carry a 15-inch Macbook Pro fully specced out for video and photos, and a 13-inch Macbook Pro Retina ti run our online businesses.
- Cameras – We carry a whole variety of cameras with us at all times. Click here to read more about the best camera accessories, as well as the best cameras for travel.
- Sony A7ii – This is our main camera, and is a full-frame mirrorless setup. Buy it here.
- Sony A6300 – This is our second body, and main vlogging camera. We also use this for general street photography when we don’t want to carry our A7ii around. Buy it here.
- GoPros – For all our action photography and underwater stuff we use 2x GoPro Hero 6’s, one GoPro Hero 5 and a GoPro Hero 4 Silver. We also have a collection of mounts for these.
- Insta360 Nano – This is our 360-degree camera that attaches to our iPhone. The quality isn’t amazing, but for social media it’s quite fun. Buy it here.
- DJI Mavic Pro – We used to own a DJI Phantom 4, but it was just a little too large to travel with, so we’ve now bought a Mavic Pro, and love it. The image quality isn’t as good as the P4, but the video is good you can’t beat the portability.
- Lenses – For our cameras we currently travel with 4 Sony lenses, which are interchangeable with both cameras.
- 16-35mm F4 – This is our wide angle lens, great for capturing landscapes, architecture and hotel rooms.
- 55mm F1.8 – This fast prime lens is excellent for portraits and street photography.
- 70-200mm F4 – This telephoto lens is amazing for wildlife, portraits and compressing/isolating scenes.
- 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 – This kit lens came with the A6300, and we use it mainly for vlogging and street photography.
- Filters – We carry a few different filters with us to get a particular photographic style with some of our shots. We use Nisi Filters, and have their 100mm filter kit with 2 different grad filters, as well as 6-stop and 10-stop ND filters (you can buy the whole kit here). In addition we also have a Hoya Pro1 Circular Polarising Filter.
- Cleaning Kit – To keep our camera gear clean we have a blower and general cleaning it.. An absolute must when you’re out in the field!
- Camera Bag – Alesha has been through quite a lot of camera bags over the years as her kit continues to grow. Right now she is using a LowePro Fastpack BP 250AW, and so far she loves it. She can fit her A7ii and all 3 lenses in, as well as all her filters, a laptop and other bits and pieces.
- Smartphones – We travel with two smartphones.
- iPhone 7+ – This is the first ‘high end’ smartphone we’ve ever had, and it is simply amazing. The camera is excellent and we manage a lot of our business from it when we’re on the go. Buy it here.
- iPhone 8+ – Lesh now has the model up in the iPhones, with the 8. It’s a bit better than the 7+ in terms of processing and speed, and the camera is a slight improvement.
- LifeProof Case – To keep our iPhone from getting damaged we keep it in a LifeProof NUUD case. This is drop-proof, waterproof, dustproof and snowproof, which is perfect for us because we’re always in crazy climates. Buy one for your phone here.
- Storage – We carry 3x 4TB portable hard drives from WD for backing up our images, as well as 10x 32GB SD cards and 5x 32GB microSD cards. We backup all our images to the cloud using Amazon Drive and Dropbox paid plans.
- Tripods – Being photographers we need to carry tripods with us as well. We have an excellent travel tripod from Vanguard (read about it here), and use a Joby GorillaPod as well.
- USB Power Bank – To keep things charged while we’re off the grid we have a 20000mAH power bank.