Individually, Scott and I have been traveling the world for about 10 years. As a couple, we have been traveling for about 5. My traveling style has evolved quite a bit over time.
To give you a bit of an idea, in 2009 I arrived at Logan airport an eager Peace Corps volunteer about to depart on an international journey to change the world, bring about world peace and end global poverty. I was ready for anything that came my way, literally. I packed 2 full-sized suitcases, 1 personal item, and 1 carry on which happened to be a guitar I did not yet know how to play. After two years, I came back and worked a little, wandered a little, and then six years later I was off again. This time, I arrived at Dulles airport an experienced traveler ready to take on grad school in the UK. I had one Osprey backpack and one personal item.
In those six years that had passed, I had learned to appreciate quality over quantity. It is better to invest in a few quality items that will last you a lifetime, rather than waste money on more things that will fail you when you need them the most. Thanks to Scott, I also discovered light-weight packing and the magic of multi-use items. Scott and I now pack strategically when we travel both internationally and domestically. As light-weight packers, we have to be picky about what makes it into our luggage.
This article will serve as a live resource for some of our best adventure travel gear. It will be updated regularly so that you will have access to our best finds, so read on and check back often.
Garmin VivoActive 3 Music –
The VivoActive 3 Music is a GPS Smartwatch with music storage and playback. With the capacity to store up to 500 downloaded songs, there is no need to carry your phone with you when you run, strength train, or whatever else you decide to do. The VivoActive also pairs with your cellular device allowing you to view calls, texts, calendar alerts, emails and more. There are over 15 preloaded sports apps including yoga, running, swimming, and strength training.
For the habitual adventurer, there is no better option than the Garmin line of watches. I personally selected the VivoActive 3 Music to wear for my marathon. I loved how simple and easy the interface was to manage. With fewer options than other smartwatches like with Apple or Samsung, I had only the necessities allowing me to focus on what matters most. I used the watch for the entire duration of my marathon (3 hours and 54 minutes) using both GPS and music and it lasted long after I crossed the finish line. I highly recommend the VivoActive 3 and any other Garmin.
Where to buy it: Amazon
Clothing and shoes:
Nike Flyknits –
There are several versions of the Nike Flyknit shoe for both men and women. What characterizes this line of Nike shoes is the high-strength fibers providing both lightweight and targeted support. The shoe mimics the feeling of a sock, hugging the shape of your foot while maintaining maximum breathability.
I originally purchased my Flyknits for a half marathon. They did a fine job of getting me through those 13. 1 miles, but I decided to retire them for normal use after exceeding their recommended mileage. I began using them as travel shoes due to their lightweight and flexible features. Nike Flyknits are incredibly easy to pack in your luggage while taking up minimal space and weight. They are flexible and pack flat making them preferable to solid shoes that take up precious luggage space. Scott ended up purchasing the men’s version and never leaves on a trip without them.
Price: $120 – $250
Where to Buy it: https://www.nike.com/
Airhole Facemask –
Whether buying a balaclava, tube, or mask, the specialty air hole is standard on all Airhole products. This feature is designed to “allow breath to escape freely, avoiding the buildup of condensation to keep you dry, warm, and goggle fog-free.” The materials are quick-dry, water-resistant, and block 98% of harmful UV rays. Better yet, many of the Airhole products use yarn that has been made from recycled PET plastic bottles thereby reducing the impact on the environment.
We used the Airhole Facemasks while climbing Kilimanjaro. It was great protection against the clouds of dirt and dust whirling around at the lower altitudes. Higher up, the facemask provided much-needed warmth as we hiked past snow and ice-capped peaks. The best part for me was the ability to breathe freely. I have used the multi-functional Buff tubes on several occasions but always find them uncomfortable to wear after long periods of time. Condensation builds up making it wet and difficult to breathe.
While summiting Kilimanjaro at 19,341 feet above sea level, I was already having difficulty breathing due to the low levels of oxygen at that altitude. I was thankful for my Airhole facemask that kept me warm, dry and breathing comfortably. Since Kilimanjaro, we have used our facemasks snowboarding, hiking, and even just walking to work on those really cold days. They are highly practical and are one of our favorite adventure travel purchases.
Where to Buys it: Amazon
Sea Eagle 370 Pro Inflatable Kayak –
Sea Eagle has been selling inflatable kayaks since 1968, so their products are some of the best when it comes to portable watercraft. In addition to kayaks, they sell canoes, fishing boats, and boards all of which are inflatable and easily portable making them convenient for all of your travel adventures.
We were given the Sea Eagle 370 Pro as a wedding gift (thanks Ben!) and absolutely love it. Although it is a bit heavy to carry, it is easy to transport in the canvas bag that is provided. Rather than having to secure it to the roof of a vehicle, you can just throw it into the back of any car.
Once you figure out how to do it, set up only takes about 10 minutes. Deflating it takes maybe 2 minutes. The kayak itself is surprisingly stable but also comfortable. We have taken this kayak everywhere from the Potomac River to the Chesapeake Bay.
Where to Buy it: Amazon
Osprey Fairview 40/Farpoint 40:
Osprey is without a doubt our favorite line of packs. Every single item is made with high-quality materials making them both durable and comfortable. Osprey’s all mighty guarantee is the icing on the cake. “Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday.” Collectively, Scott and I own about 6 or 7 different Osprey packs, however, our recent favorites have been the Farpoint and its female counterpart, the Fairview.
The Farpoint was named the “Best Overall Travel Backpack for 2020” by US News & World Report. The frame suspension transfers the weight of your pack from the harness to the hip belt, alleviating some of that strain on your back and shoulders that many packs often create. A mesh back panel improves ventilation on your backside reducing all that gross sweat that can sometimes accumulate. Talking functionality, there are plenty of compartments on both the inside and the outside of the pack to carry all of your travel essentials. At 40 liters, this is one of the largest packs that you are permitted to use as a carry-on. Other great features of this pack include stowaway harness and hip belt, exterior “straightjacket” compression straps for added stabilization, 2 internal compression straps, and a laptop sleeve.
The Fairview was designed as the female equivalent of the Farpoint. Having compared the two extensively, there is little difference between the two with the exception of the fit. Because the Osprey Fairview is designed specifically for a woman’s body, the shoulder straps are set lower on the back allowing the bag to sit higher on smaller body frames, and they curve into the body rather than going straight over the shoulders. This results in a fit that I found noticeably more comfortable.
Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Day Pack:
This ultra-light day pack won the 2017 Backpacker Editors’ Choice Gold award, and for good reason. It is well built with reinforced stitching and bar-tacks around stress points; comfortable with ergonomic should straps, and durably made from water-resistant 30D Ultra-Sil CORDURA Nylon. Best of all? This day pack compacts into a convenient carrying pouch roughly the size of a tennis ball. This day pack is an essential adventure travel gear.
Where to Buy it: Amazon
What are some of your favorite adventure travel gear? We would love to hear about your best finds in the comments below.
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