Packing the Perfect Adventure Bag

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Packing your adventure bag isn’t easy. And Colombia has been the most difficult destination to pack for thus far!

The mission? One carry on back pack ( + one personal item) each, fit for 3+ weeks on the road in the various climates of Colombia.

The Problem? Cartagena is a beachy warm paradise, Bogota has a high temp of 60*F, and the Amazon…. 90*F and pouring rain. So we basically have to pack everything.

Here’s our definitive guide on what to pack when you have no idea what kind of weather you’ll be up against!!

The Packs

Evan wears the Dueter ACT trail Pro 34. It’s packed to the brim with pockets and easy open pouches. Super durable and cinches up slightly tighter and smaller than mine.

I have been sporting the Tortuga carry on pack for years now. They don’t sell my exact model anymore but their bags are all great. Waterproof shell included and the square shape makes it easier to use as a carry-on.

We also use a daypack for beaching, camera gear, and holding water/maps while we inevitably get lost. Topo Designs is our go to. We actually have two of their bags.

If you have camera gear to worry about go with the Core Pack + Camera Cube. Sometimes they have package deals for the two together. The cube holds our DSLR securely as well as an extra lens so we don’t have to worry about them banging around in our pack.

No camera gear? Use the Klettersack! It’s a neat looking bag that is SUPER durable and flexible enough to pack up neatly in our larger bags.

Camera Gear

DSLR Camera+ Lens: Nikon D3400 is our camera of choice. It’s a great camera for beginners and there are tons of compatible lens to up your game as you get better. We always bring two lens while we travel one all around lens for day to day shots. And the other a zoom lens for plant and animal photography.

  • Tripod. This is how we get good couple shots. We got ours off Amazon!
  • Wall Charger for Camera Battery
  • Extra Camera Battery. Sometimes you’ll have to go a few days without reliable outlets so it pays to have a backup.
  • Extra Memory Card. I try and travel with around 70gb of free space between the two cards.
  • Camera Rain Cover. Because the Amazon, Duh.
  • Cleaning Equipment for the Lens and Camera. Adventure travel can get messy so I always bring the basics to clean my lens just in case.

Go Pro Hero 4: Go Pro is the best when it comes to travel cameras. 4K video and some great free easy to use video editing software.

  • GoPro Arm Extension. For all our underwater videos.
  • Extra Memory Card. Vital for long trips.

Electronics

  • Our Phones. Obviously. Even though we don’t tend to use them much while abroad.
  • Portable Charger. This comes in handy because of the unreliable charging I mentioned.
  • Extra Charging Cord. It’s the one thing I have lost every single trip. Hostels just eat those things.
  • Head Lamp. If you plan on camping or hiking at all it’s a good idea.

Clothing

I pack super minimalistic. Saving room on clothing ensures that I have space for my camera gear. I also shop solely at thrift stores for my day to day clothing, so there likely won’t be links to most of my clothes.

  • 2 Long Sleeve tops. One for normal day use. One breathable athletic style shirt to cover me while hiking in the Amazon.
  • 2 Tank Tops. My normal go-to shirts. Flowy basic tanks that I can throw on at the beach or wander around town in.
  • 1 T-Shirt. For layering when it’s cold. Or wearing out and about. Or sleeping in. Very versatile.
  • 1 Jumper and 1 Sundress. My favorite travel clothes. Comfy and casual enough to wear every day but also still make me look presentable for a night out drinking/ exploring the cities.
  • 1 Pair of Jeans. Black and go with everything.
  • 2 Pairs of Shorts. One denim or patterned and another flowy and comfy.

The Small Stuff

  • 1 Pair Lulu Lemon Leggings. For hiking or when I want to wear stretchy pants on a long bus ride. SideNote: I bought these pants literally 7 years ago now. At 90$ a pop they are super nice and obviously durable but it’s still pretty spendy.
  • 2 Bralettes, 1 Sports Bra, 10 pairs of underwear. I don’t do real bras. Like not even for work in real life.
  • 1 Swimsuit. Make sure it’s practical. I love strappy swimsuits but think about the tan lines!!!
  • 3 Pairs of Socks. One thick tall hiking socks. 2 pairs of normal lowcut ones.

Shoes

  • Merrel Hiking Boots. These are the most comfortable, waterproof hiking shoes out there. They didn’t need breaking in and they have tons of ankle support for my weak ankles.
  • Sandals. Strappy brown or black sandals that go with everything. I have some great brown Steve Madden ones I live in.
  • Vans or Allbirds. For all the walking!! I currently use vans because I have the high-tops but I will be upgrading to the Allbirds for their SUPER sustainable and eco-friendly products.

Essentials

Toiletries, packing sleeves, and all that extra stuff you should have with you to make any backpacking trip a little more comfortable. Check out my post on Health and Safety Abroad for a complete list of vitamins/medications to bring depending on the country.

  • Active Roots Quick Dry Towel. This towel folds up super small, dries quickly, is budget-friendly, and a portion of the profits goes to elephant conservation.
  • Shampoo/Conditioner/Lotion/Aloe Vera Travel Size
  • Reef-Safe Sunscreen (the kind without oxybenzone)
  • Tripped Travel Packing Cubes These handy little sleeves not only organize your bag but they compact everything! I can fit twice as many clothes in my pack with these babies. Super durable and waterproof too!
  • Lifestraw Water Purification Bottle. Literally a lifesaver and a big win for the eco-friendly travelers (no more plastic bottles!!). This bottle filters out all parasites, bacteria, lead, and anything else that may contaminate the water in underdeveloped countries.
  • Compostable Trash Bags. Just one roll will do. Bring one every time you go on a hike or to the beach and pick up trash you find. It’s a great way to help keep our planet clean. Check out the @adventurebagcrew initiative for more information.
  • Bug Spray Don’t forget it.

On My List

  • Journal I have a recycled leather bound one. Click here for eco-friendly options.
  • Book. For those long bus/plane/train rides. This time I’m bringing Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Lonely Planet Guide Book. Even while focusing on off-the-beaten-path destinations, I always bring Lonely Planet. It’s a great starting point for planning your day, filled with maps and up to date information, and even has accommodation options if you end up somewhere with no place to stay.
  • Copies of Important Documents. Bring a copy of your passport, previously booked hotel reservations, flights, and bus tickets. It doesn’t take up much room and it’s always better to have a hard copy.

With this equipment you are all set for whatever mother nature decides to throw at you. You’re packed and ready to get off-the-beaten-path!

Long term travel in various climates? Here's how to pack the perfect backpack for carry on only!

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