Here are 9 items that no backpacker should be without, with useful tips from the experts at Lowe Alpine and other outdoors adventure companies:
1. Sleeping bag liner
Thinner than a sleeping bag but made from hi-tech materials giving them the same insulating qualities, sleeping bag liners aren’t just for outdoors campers. If the air conditioning at your backpacker hostel in Peru is on the blink, a liner can provide extra warmth. If the sheets at that budget hotel in Mumbai are looking a little grotty, it’ll also double as a great bed bug barrier, helping you to stay healthy while on holiday. James Reader, outdoors adventure expert at equipment retailer Snow and Rock says:
“You can even buy liners which are treated with insect repellent for extra bug protection.”
Worried about hostel horrors? Find out what to do if bed bugs are only the beginning of your worries…
2. Portable water purification system
You don’t have to be hiking in the Amazon jungle with your only water source a muddy trickle on the rainforest floor, to need a water purification system. Portable systems, like the Life Straw, are simply bottles which purify water, whether it comes out of the tap in a luxury hotel in Mexico City or a mountain stream in Nepal. Another advantage is that they help reduce the weight of your backpack because you won’t have to fill it with shop-bought bottles of water. James says:
“Whether it’s for keeping pack weight down on multi-day hikes or for emergencies in remote locations, water purification systems are travel essentials. Their compact filters extract harmful bacteria for safe drinking water and some models also remove chemicals for a cleaner taste.”
3. Hiking boots
The best hiking boots will feel comfortable and supportive without squashing your feet. Think about your requirements: are you going to be trekking the Inca trail or going on short hikes in urban areas? Choose your material carefully too. The best material for hiking boots is full-grain leather, which is extremely durable, while split-grain leather is less durable but often used when breathability is a priority. Here’s James again…
“Properly fitted hiking boots will offer maximum comfort and ankle support on rough, uneven terrain. For the best fit, shop for footwear during the afternoon after your feet have swelled naturally.”
Got your boots sorted? Break them in on one of these incredible hiking trails in Japan
We’re hoping you’ll have packed a few pairs of these anyway, but the right technical socks might just make the difference between finishing that long distance hike or having to limp back to your hostel. Wearing technical walking socks will minimise your chances of getting nasty blisters and a knitted loop design will provide extra cushioning. Also, on your sock shopping list should be ones with anti-shock cushioning panels made from a lightweight material like viscose. Who knew bust tootsie warmers could be so complicated?
Whether you’re exploring a cave in Vietnam or staying in a Bali hotel, when the power goes out a headlamp can be a real lifesaver. Consider what your requirements are and don’t waste money on a fancy torch you just won’t use. The light produced by headlamps is measured in lumens, and more lumens means brighter light, therefore, a lower lumen rating might be preferable if you’re looking for a more focused beam. Beam focusing and angle adjustment options might come in handy if you’re on a night trek through the outback, but cheap headlamps are fine if you’re not heading too far off the beaten track. Sam Coffey at outdoor kit manufacturer Black Diamond Equipment says:
“It’s an essential accessory for a round-the-world trip. You never know when you’ll be roaming around in the dark, but it’s also handy for power outages.”
6. Lightweight technical jacket
A light, durable jacket which can be stashed in your day-pack could well turn out to be your favourite item. If you’re on a budget and your main concern is protecting yourself from the odd shower, opt for a water resistant jacket rather than a waterproof one. The latter will cost more because of the increased durability. However, if you’re going to be spending long periods outside in wet weather it’s worth spending the extra cash on it. Sam says:
“It’s important to have an easily packable shell jacket which you can carry everywhere and put on quickly in the event of a storm.
No, we’re not talking about an enormous, extendable three-legged chunk of metal, but a smaller one which will fit in your rucksack. It’s now possible to buy flexible tripods which can be perched on rocks and attached to vertical surfaces – great if you’re on a solo hike to Machu Picchu and can’t quite perfect that all-important selfie. The Gorilla Pod is just one example of this type of model. For more tips on taking the best travel photos have a look here.
8. Duct tape
This may sound like an odd inclusion, but you’ll be surprised just how useful a roll of duct tape can be in a wide range of sticky (sorry!) situations. Use it to tape up rips in your backpack, or as a temporary fix for torn jackets or leaking hiking boots, as well as a way to hold up or fix mosquito nets if you’re staying somewhere without the facility. And, if your travelling companion turns out to be the world’s worst snorer, you can use it to tape their mouth shut, too.
So you’ve got all your kit but what are you going to put it in? We recommend opting for a backpack with lots of different sections (perfect for keeping those dirty socks separate from everything else) and choosing one with openings at both ends – you won’t have to empty your bag whenever you need something from the bottom. We spoke to Martyn Hurn, head of pack design at Lowe Alpine, to get his advice for travellers looking for the best backpack for round the world trips:
“My top tip is look for tough build quality from brands that understand the rigours of round the world travel. Lightweight may be the current mantra but the price to be paid for lightweight luggage is durability, whatever the marketing spiel says.” suggests Martyn.
Pack properly and avoid paying for extra luggage with our 15 best ever packing tips.
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