Updated: Dec 22, 2021
Whilst traveling, choosing the right clothing for your trip is incredibly important. Every item you wear should be durable, practical, and light. See this checklist to make sure you are well prepared for all eventualities.
Find underwear that is made of breathable, comfortable, odor-resistant, and quick-drying fabrics. If you want to pack as ultralight as possible this will mean that you can wash one pair while you wear one (yes two pairs are enough) and the freshly washed pair be dry within a few hours.
Merino wool or synthetic hiking socks (two pairs so that you can wear one, wash one). Merino wool is the best for socks as they are comfortable and are resistant to odors so you can wear them multiple times before they need a wash.
Two pairs of silver sock liners (optional) sock liners prevent rubbing so they are especially useful if you are prone to blisters. Make sure you get the ones with a silver weaved in to keep your toes nice and toasty.
Your base layer consists of thermal clothing. This layer is for sleeping in or wearing under clothing in cold climates. Merino wool is an especially good fabric for base layers as it is incredibly light, warm and does not absorb smell as readily as many other fabrics.
A pair of merino wool leggings and a long sleeve top are essentials (you can also get synthetic versions).
DAY TO DAY WEAR
One to wear, one to wash. It may be useful to make sure these items are made of fast-drying fabrics and protect you from the sun if you are going to be spending most of your time outside.
Lightweight shorts and hiking trousers that give you lots of room for movement are perfect. They should be quick-drying and give lots of ventilation. You can layer these with thermals if you get too cold.
You’re going to spend more than long enough outside to need some protection from the sun, even in cold environments. Choose something light and easily packable or something you can clip onto your backpack.
One pair of waterproof trousers and one waterproof jacket. These fellas will hopefully sit at the bottom of your pack for most of your journey but when they are required they are well worth carrying. Lightweight versions either come in incredibly cheap throw-away types or more expensive durable types that will last you a lifetime.
In colder environments, you might want both trousers and a rain jacket however, in warmer environments it might be easier to just carry a jacket, wear shorts and dry your legs off when it rains. Being wet can reduce your body temperature very quickly which can be very dangerous, so make sure you are equipped for the environment you are in.
If you are going to spend a bit of money on any of your kit I’d recommend you spend it here. All environments get cold… surprisingly cold, especially at night. Lack of sleep can be incredibly dangerous when you need your wits about you.
You will need a down jacket or the equivalent if you are in environments where the temperature gets cold at night. Down jackets are incredibly useful. They pack into tiny spaces, are very cozy, and can be used as a pillow if it is too warm to wear them. When buying a down jacket you need to look at the ‘fill power’ of the down. The higher the fill power the lighter it will be for the warmth you’re getting. You will regret skimping on this. Don’t treat warmth as a luxury, it is essential to your survival.
Washing down is not recommended as it will damage the feathers and decrease the warmth of the jacket so make sure you wear something as a barrier between you and the jacket.
If you don’t agree with the ethics of down (which are pretty grim at the best of times) you can also get synthetic quilted jackets. Annoyingly you will pay for this in warmth and weight. If you are heading into very cold environments I would recommend you carry both a down and synthetic jacket. The synthetic can be worn under the down jacket and act as a protecting layer that can be washed.
Fleece items are warm and can be fairly inexpensive. You can get a fleece jumper for when the temperature dips a bit and a fleece balaclava if you are camping regularly.
There are lots of great lightweight hiking gloves on the market. Just consider what environment you are going into before choosing them. It might be worth considering something waterproof as wet gloves are not very good at keeping your hands warm. Your hands are super important tools and should be well looked after especially if you are out in the wilderness.
One warm hat. If you have a fleece balaclava then you may not need a hat too. If you do want one try and get something that will cover your ears and keep you warm, but make sure it is not too heavy and bulky.
One pair of trainers. Hiking boots are bulky and heavy and will just weigh you down. "a pound on your feet equals five pounds on your back". Basically, your feet are being picked up and put down constantly. This means you use more energy carrying weight on your feet compared to on your back. Therefore it’s much better to use trainers or trail runners if you plan on doing a lot of walking.
Choose something comfortable and hard-wearing. Some shoes have Gore-Tex linings which keep the shoe waterproof. These are good for cold environments however if you are in hot environments it’s best to go without - even if you’re going to be getting wet feet occasionally. Waterproof shoes mean that water can’t get in or out and if you are sweating a lot you are going to create a hot wet environment in your shoe which will more likely give you blisters and be generally uncomfortable.
There are loads of brands to choose from but choosing a pair of insoles that fit your feet properly is a real luxury. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time on your feet it’s well worth considering getting a good pair.
These should be super light pumps or flip-flops depending on the environment you’re heading into. This pair of shoes is to ensure that you have something dry and comfortable to wear when you take off the shoes you have been walking around in all day. A bit of luxury maybe but this is one item that is well worth the extra weight.
Did we miss anything on The Essential Adventure Clothing Checklist? Let us know in the comments.