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Travel Packing List For The Outdoors: Essential Items You Must Have!

Travel Packing List For The Outdoors: Essential Items You Must Have!

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travel packing list for the outdoors

Trying to find the perfect travel packing list for the outdoors? We’ve got you covered! Traveling in the outdoors for the first time can be a pretty harrowing experience, especially if you are leaving the state. Not only do you have to map out the area and plan your activities, you also need to stay safe.

Planning is the key to having the perfect travel packing list for the outdoors and fully enjoying your trip. You don’t want to spend extra money when you don’t have to, and you don’t want to forget a vital part of the necessary gear. First, we need to establish some basics about selecting gear and your mindset going forward. Whether you are camping for the first time or doing something more advanced like mountain biking, here’s how to plan for your trip.

  1. Identify where you are going and when you are doing.
  2. Pack universal gear.
  3. Bring gear for hot weather.
  4. Bring gear for cold weather.

Identify where you are going and when you are doing

To have the ultimate travel packing list for the outdoors you must first identify:

  • Where are you going?
  • What time of year are you going?
  • What activities do you plan on doing?
  • Will you be alone or with a group of people?

First, you need to know the terrain and where you are going. Are you going to be surrounded by water constantly? Will it be raining? Is the climate dry and hot? All these types of questions impact the gear you bring. Furthermore, the terrain of somewhere like Big Bend National Park is much different than that of Olympus National Park.

Second, during some parts of the year in certain areas, conditions can change. You need to know if there is a rainy season or cold season. This may cause you to bring a rain jacket or other items to deal with the inclement weather. Not to mention, you should bring safety equipment if there is a chance the weather turns bad.

Third, plan your activities ahead of time. If you know exactly what “big tasks” for the day you will be doing, it’s much easier to plan for instead of flying by the seat of your pants. You won’t miss going on a hike or night time adventure just because you don’t have the proper equipment. Also, if you are traveling out of the country this is monumentally important. You don’t want to be in another country and not know where you are going. Plan ahead. Even making sure you have proper documentation should you get lost is going to help you immensely. REI has a great write-up of travel documentation you may need along with equipment.

Fourth, going alone means you will be reliant only on yourself for all of your supplies. Going in a group means that you can plan items together! Members of the group can expect to pack certain supplies or extra supplies should someone run out. If you are planning an outdoor vacation, we highly recommend that you go on a group outing.

Pack Universal gear

These items are universal gear that belongs on any travel packing list for the outdoors:

  • Lightweight backpack
  • Refillable water bottle (preferably insulated)
  • Flashlight or headlight
  • Belt
  • Rain jacket
  • Moisture-wicking pants, shirts(long sleeve), underwear, socks
  • Shoes for hiking 
  • Hats, sunglasses
  • Bandages
  • Swiss Army knife
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Toiletries
  • Sunscreen and bug spray  
  • Cell phone with a waterproof case, or Sat phone for remote locations
  • Medical documentation
  • Walking sticks
  • Tarp
  • Whistle

Almost all of these items can be used during a hot, rainy, or winter trip. Make sure to check local and federal safety guidelines when traveling in national parks or other areas. Not only will they dictate specific gear you should and can bring, but also defensive items as well. Again, small planning such as this can help make your journey smooth without incident. 

Also, we’d like to re-emphasize a point laid out by Smart Travel about clothes and backpack materials:

“If you’re spending a significant amount of time outdoors, layers that fold up easily are key. Camping enthusiasts will want a backpack, preferably one that’s ultra-light with an internal frame. But even if you just buy a daypack, make sure that you load it and road test before you go. What seems light at home will seem five times as heavy after you’ve been carrying it for eight hours.”

Gear for hot weather

Items such as clothing, a reusable water bottle, and sunscreen are key to surviving the elements. You need clothing that will help your skin stay dry. Moisture-wicking pants, shirts, bras, underwear, and socks all help you stay dry. This is even more important if the sun goes down, you don’t want to wear fabrics that keep moisture and cause you to get cold in the middle of the night.

Also, staying hydrated is of the utmost importance, so bring a refillable water container. Consider something like the Ozark Trail Vacuum Sealed Water Bottle. Some people also bring a small fan that sprays water, although this is not essential. Sunglasses and hats protect your eyes and face from the glare and heat in some locations. Rain can be a factor as well, so carrying a poncho or rain jacket can be vital to staying warm. 

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Shoes are also important and deserve to be on any travel packing list for the outdoors. Buy shoes for the activities you are going to do, whether that’s hiking, biking, running, or other activities. Stable shoes that are broken in are a must for your outdoor adventure.

Gear for cold weather

As mentioned above, layers are the name of the game. Not all winter weather is the same. For colder weather bring:

  • Insulated jacket
  • Outer shell jacket
  • Beanie
  • Insulated gloves (make sure they are waterproof)
  • Thick socks
  • Snow shoes
  • Heat packet for your hands and feet
  • Face mask

All of these items will help you stay warm even during snow. Remember to bring extras, and still keep the base layer of moisture-wicking clothing so you trap heat in your body and not sweat. Do not wear cotton as sweat can easily be trapped on your shirt. Insulated clothing is a must for any travel packing list for the outdoors.

In your insulated container consider bringing a hot drink of some kind, whether it’s tea or coffee. Bring extra water bottles in your pack.

If you are planning on camping in the snow, consider this guide of useful materials to help make your trip a success. 

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