The Ultimate Guide to the Best Travel Gear

Best Travel Gear

CONTENTS

Essential Travel Gear | Men’s Clothes | Women’s Clothes

Electronics | Photography | Insurance


After a decade of travel, and numerous stints of nomadic living, I’ve learned how to travel pretty minimally, which means the things that I do buy are exponentially more important to me. It’s taken quite a few years time to learn what the best travel gear is, mostly through trial and error.

My travel gear works for me, but it may not work for you. Because I travel so often, and because I don’t want to be replacing my gear every few months, the quality of what I choose to use is of utmost importance.

Cost is the next determining factor, but I think you’ll find that the items I use are pretty reasonably priced. That said, sometimes I do think it’s worth forking out for a piece of quality travel gear that’s going to last you—quite literally—for your entire life.

I travel carry-on only—with two bags—one on my back and one on the front. For more information on how I pack, and I how I get away with never having to check a bag, you might like this article on how to travel carry-on only or these pieces we’ve put together on the best carry-on luggage and the best carry-on backpacks on the market today.

If you’re looking for what I believe to be some of the best travel gear on the market, look no further than here!

Essential Travel Gear

Let’s start with the basics. The bare essentials. On every trip, you’re going to need backpacks/luggage, toiletries, various tools, and organizational methods to keep it all in one place. After years of extensive testing, these are some of the best pieces of travel gear on the market today.

Osprey Farpoint 40L Backpack (M)

Osprey Farpoint 40 The Osprey Farpoint 40L is, in my opinion, the best all-rounder travel backpack. The best part? It’s sized for carry-on only! If you’re looking for something slightly larger, the 55L version (REI/Amazon ) is another great option (it comes with a detachable daypack) and is also sized for carry-on travel.

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Osprey Fairview 40L Backpack (W)

Osprey Fairview 40L For the ladies in the crowd, the Fairview 40L is the same bag as the Farpoint but built for the female frame (the 55L version can be found here: REI /Amazon )

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Peak Design Everyday Backpack

The Peak Design Everyday Backpack comes in 20L and 30L sizes and is the perfect travel daypack for every adventure. It’s carry-on sized, serves well as an every-day backpack in the city, but is just as well suited to a hike in the mountains. This is like the Swiss Army knife of backpacks, and where many others have failed, Peak Design have come through with a remarkably elegant and functional design. With top and side access points, and removable internal organizational panels, this is one of the most versatile bags you can buy.

Check Price: Peak Design

Compression Sacs

Eagle Creek Compression Sacs The secret to traveling light? Compression sacs! They’re like packing cubes with a vacuum. Put your clothes inside, roll the compression sacs to press all the air out, and seal it shut. You’ll fit a lot more stuff into a much smaller space—up to an 80% reduction in size!

Check Price: Amazon

Compression Packing Cubes

Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Tech Compression Cube Set If packing cubes and compression sacs had a baby, they’d be compression cubes. They’re packing cubes with a compression zipper to shrink the size! Stay organized and save space at the same time.

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Tech Sac

Eagle Creek Pack-It Sac Bag Organizers Keep yourself organized with these see-through travel sacs. Great for organizing cables, toiletries, or whatever other random junk you have rolling around your bag.

Check Price: EAGLE CREEK | REI

Sea-to-Summit Hanging Toiletry Bag

Sea-to-Summit Hanging Toiletry Bag The perfectly-sized toiletry bag, the Sea-to-Summit is water-resistant, durable and has loads of internal mesh pockets. It comes with a shatterproof mirror and easily hangs from any hook which makes it ideal for unpacking and repacking (as in, you never have to unpack it!).

Check Price: REI | Amazon

LifeStraw Go Filtered Water Bottle

LifeStraw Go Water Bottle This 2-stage filtration water bottle system is BPA-free. Whether you’re hanging out at home, exploring your own backyard, or traveling in developing countries, the LifeStraw Go water bottle has a 0.2-micron filter which physically removes 99.9999% of all bacteria and 99.9% of all protozoa. Take clean water with you wherever you go so you can stop buying so many plastic water bottles!

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multi-Tool

Leatherman Squirt PS4 Measuring only 2.25 in. in length and weighing less than 2 oz, the Squirt PS4 is small enough to take along on every adventure. The stainless steel body houses a pair of regular pliers, needle-nose pliers, scissors, 3 screwdrivers, wire cutters, replaceable tweezers, a wood/metal file, straight knife and a bottle opener. Just make sure you don’t try to carry this on, or TSA will confiscate it!

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Petzl Tikka Headlamp

Petzl TIKKA Headlamp Petzl has been a household name for climbing and caving gear since the 1970’s. This headlamp cranks out 200 lumens with a longer burn time in a more compact form. It has three brightness modes, an adjustable strap, and it glows in the dark so it’s easy to find. The Tikka comes with 3 AAA batteries and a five-year warranty.

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Cotopaxi Sueño Sleeping Bag

Cotopaxi Sueño Sleeping Bag Made from responsibly sourced 800-fill duck down, the Cotopaxi Sueño weights just 2lbs 13oz and is rated to 15-degrees. This versatile sleeping bag is deal for most climates, including fall, spring, summer and mild winter weather.

Check Price: Cotopaxi | Amazon

Sea-to-Summit 2L Dry Bag

Sea-to-Summit 2L Dry Bag An essential piece of travel gear, a dry bag keeps your valuables safe whenever you’re near the water. Pack a change of clothes or carry your camera, this lightweight dry bag is durable and comes with a roll-top enclosure.

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Pacsafe Prosafe 800 Luggage Lock

Pacsafe Prosafe 800 Lock Lock your zippers to keep your belongings safe, whether you’re checking your bag on a plane, riding the train or bus, staying in a shared hostel room, or simply browsing night markets. Works great on lockers, too, if you ever need to stash your bags somewhere for a day. Best of all, this lock is TSA-approved and you don’t need to carry a key around with you.

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Earplugs

Hearos Earplugs My number one travel accessory! I never travel without earplugs. Whether you’re sleeping on the plane, in a loud hostel or hotel, or just need to block out the world for a while, these are an essential travel item.

Check Price: Amazon

aLOKSAK Waterproof Bags

aLOKSAK Waterproof Bags If you’re going to be near the water, you need a way to keep your electronics and important documents dry. This set of four waterproof bags do everything they’re supposed to—and nothing more. Waterproof to 200ft.

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Universal Power Adapter

Universal Power Adapter The most forgotten piece of travel gear? A power adapter! Make sure your equipped for whatever country you end up in with this universal power adapter that fits every country (on both sides!).

Check Price: Amazon

Men’s Travel Clothes

As a male traveler, myself, these are all my top picks, and the clothes I always take with me when I travel. Everything below is a piece of performance travel gear that will keep you warm, dry, ventilated, or whatever your particular travel situation calls for. We also release a quarterly guide to our favorite travel clothes of the season, which you can find here.

Arc’teryx Zeta SL Weatherproof Jacket

Arc’teryx Zeta SL Rain Jacket (Men’s and Women’s)

The granddaddy of superlight rain shells, the Zeta SL by Arc’teryx is top of the line. Be forewarned, it isn’t the cheapest piece of gear you’ll buy, but this is an item that lasts a lifetime. It’s completely waterproof but also breathable at the same time, which means you won’t drench yourself in sweat (and you’ll actually stay dry). Made to be lightweight and packable, this is the perfect rain jacket for every adventure.

Check Price: Arc’teryx | REI | Amazon

Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody

Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody The Atom LT Hoody by Arc’teryx is one of the best midlayers you can buy, and also serves as an outer layer when weatherproofing isn’t an issue. It’s incredibly lightweight and packable, but versatile and also does a remarkable job regulating your body heat.

Check Price: Arc’teryx | REI | Amazon

Mammut Alnasca T-Shirt

Mammut Alnasca A staple piece of performance gear in any bag, the Alnasca by Mammut was initially crafted for climbing. It’s soft and stretchy and, being made mostly from antibacterial merino wool and polyester, this travel shirt does an excellent job wicking sweat and regulating body temperature. It also looks really cool.

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Bluffworks Chino Travel Pants

Bluffworks Chinos Bluffworks makes pants just for travelers. Though they have a few different versions available, the chinos are by far the most versatile pair. These technical travel pants are breathable, wrinkle-resistant, quick-dry, stretchy, and best of all, comfortable. These will serve you everywhere from the board room to the top of a mountain.

Check Price: Bluffworks

Columbia Ultimate Roc Flex Shorts

Columbia Ultimate Roc Flex Short For a pair of shorts that rock (see what I did there?), the Ultimate Roc Flex shorts by Columbia are the perfect all-rounder short for active and adventurous travelers. They are rain and stain resistant and they feature 4-way comfort stretch technology and multi-functional pockets.

Check Price: Columbia | Amazon

North Face Hedgehog GTX Low Hiking Shoes

North Face Hiking Shoe Hiking boots can be too bulky to travel with, so hiking shoes or trail runners are the next best option. These hiking shoes are lightweight, travel easily, are waterproof with GoreTex membranes and have Vibram soles, some of the best, stickiest soles on the market!

Check Price: REI | Amazon

ExOfficio Travel Underwear

ExOfficio Underwear Ditch your cotton underwear—they don’t serve travelers well. ExOfficio makes underwear just for travel, which means they’re lightweight, ultra-breathable, quick-dry, moisture-wicking, and gosh darn comfortable. You could easily travel forever with just two pairs of ExOfficio’s—one to wear and one that you wash in the sink (or shower) each night.

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Cool Mesh II Wrightsock

Cool Mesh II Wrightsock Wrightsock doesn’t have any fancy marketing, but they make one heck of a sock. Though they produce a lot of styles, the Cool Mesh—their best selling— is a breathable, lightweight double layer sock designed for a minimal feel. They’re great travel socks that serve well for running, walking and hiking. Best of all—they dry really fast!

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Women’s Travel Clothes

The female members of the TravelFreak team weighed in and provided some recommendations of their favorite travel clothes. Similar to the men’s section, these are all performance items as opposed to fashionable ones.

Arc’teryx Zeta SL Weatherproof Jacket

Arc'teryx Beta AR - Women's Invest in quality gear once and you’ll save money over time. The Zeta SL by Arc’teryx is the epitome of this mantra. It’s a top-of-the-line, superlight rain shell that you’ll use for the rest of your life. Though it comes with a heftier price tag, it’s the only one you’ll ever need, which means you’ll save a lot of money in the long run. This is, by and far, the best rain jacket for travel I’ve ever owned.

Check Price: Arc’teryx | REI

Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody

Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody - Women's The Atom LT Hoody belongs in every traveler’s bag. It’s a warm yet breathable mid layer that also serves as an outer layer when you’re not dodging the rain. Surprisingly lightweight given its warmth rating, there’s a reason Arc’teryx is one of the best outdoor clothing brands on the market.

Check Price: Arc’teryx | REI | Amazon

Ably Polly T-Shirt

Ably wicking shirt for women The ultimate travel t-shirt, the Polly by Ably is a made from 100% premium cotton but treated with Filium. It’s a revolutionary technology that makes fabrics water-repellent and stain- and odor-resistant. Wear it for days on end and nobody would be able to tell!

Check Price: Amazon

Athleta Stash Pocket Leggings

Athleta pocket leggings A pair of leggings are a must for any female traveler, but a good pair of leggings will elevate the entire travel experience. You want leggings that will last—and these ones will. Built with breathable, moisture-wicking, quick-drying fabric, these Athleta leggings have light compression properties and a buttery soft feel with 4-way stretch for full range of movement. Perfect for hikes, yoga or long plane rides.

Check Price: REI

prAna Isaline Sports Bra

Prana Sports Bra prAna makes some of the best clothes for active adventurers, and the Isaline sports bra is no exception. Made from recycled polyester, this sports bra is moisture wicking, comes with removable modesty cups and features a wide racerback with lattice straps. Great for jogs, yoga, relaxing and even summer hiking.

Check Price: REI

ExOfficio Travel Underwear

ExOfficio Women's Underwear Ditch your cotton underwear—they don’t serve travelers well. ExOfficio makes underwear just for travel, which means they’re lightweight, ultra-breathable, quick-dry, moisture-wicking, and gosh darn comfortable. You could easily travel forever with just two pairs of ExOfficio’s—one to wear and one that you wash in the sink (or shower) each night.

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Cool Mesh II Wrightsock

Cool Mesh II Wrightsock Wrightsock doesn’t have any fancy marketing, but they make one heck of a sock. Though they produce a lot of styles, the Cool Mesh—their best selling— is a breathable, lightweight double layer sock designed for a minimal feel. They’re great travel socks that serve well for running, walking and hiking. Best of all—they dry really fast!

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Columbia Redmond Waterproof Hiking Shoes

Women’s Redmond Waterproof Low Hiking Shoe Since hiking boots are bulky to pack, hiking shoes are the next best option with a sneaker-like low profile. The Redmonds by Columbia are waterproof yet breathable which means they’re perfect in the rain—or any time, really! The soles are sticky and, above all else, these won’t cost you an arm and a leg (you wouldn’t be able to wear shoes without a leg, anyway).

Check Price: Columbia | Amazon

Electronics

Running a travel blog means I have to travel with slightly more/different equipment than most. Weight and size of electronics are big factors, but everything here easily fits into my two bags. What you see below is essentially my mobile office!

MacBook Pro 13″

MacBook Pro 13" Big enough for professional work but small enough to carry everywhere you go, the 13″ MacBook pro is the best option for professionals who travel or people who need to get work done on the road.

Check Price: Amazon  | B&H

Unlocked Google Pixel 3 XL

Google Pixel 3 XL Sporting the best camera in any smartphone available, the Google Pixel 3 is also one of the best overall smartphones you can buy. It runs pure Android, which means it doesn’t come with any extra software installed (a.k.a. “bloatware”) that might slow down your device.

Check Price: Amazon  | B&H

LaCie Rugged Mini 4TB

LaCie Rugged Mini Hard Drive Hard drives have a habit of breaking or crashing when on the move. Luckily, LaCie makes a drive with a patent pending rubber casing that protects the drive from drops and heavy-ish abuse. Inside the casing are Seagate drives which are some of the best and most well-respected drives in the industry.

Check Price: Amazon  | B&H

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite No bag is fully packed without an eReader, and the Paperwhite is arguably the gold standard. Featuring a paper-like reading experience and a crisp 300ppi display, the latest Paperwhite is now waterproof, which means no more worries in the bath or by the beach!

Check Price: Amazon  | B&H

JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth Speaker

JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth Speaker Bring the party—or the chill—everywhere you go. This bluetooth speaker is incredibly rugged and durable (it’s fully waterproof!) and has sound that might surprise you. Bring it to the beach, start the party at your hostel or listen to podcasts in the shower—it’s all good with the Flip 4. Plus, the cylindrical shape means it fits perfectly in your water-bottle pocket, so it’s extremely portable!

Check Price: Amazon | B&H

Universal Power Adapter

Universal Power Adaptor The most forgotten piece of travel gear? A power adapter! Make sure your equipped for whatever country you end up in with this universal power adapter that fits every country (on both sides!).

Check Price: Amazon

Travel Photography Gear

If you’re interested in my photography equipment, these are the mainstays of my kit. For some extra photography accessories, plugins, and courses, check out my post on the best equipment for travel photography.

Fujifilm X-T3

Fujifilm X-T3 The most compact, pro-level travel camera you can buy at a very reasonable price point. You won’t find a better bang for your buck than the X-T3. For other options, check out this post on the best mirrorless cameras for travel.

Check Price: Amazon | B&H | Adorama

Fujinon 16-55m f/2.8

Fujinon 16-55mm Lens The elite “standard zoom” for the Fujifilm X-mount series with a fixed f2.8 aperture. It’s a pricey lens, but if you’re serious about your photography, you’ll definitely want this one in your arsenal. Because Fujifilm cameras have a 1.5x crop factor, this lens is equivalent to 24-82mm, which is similar to the industry standard 24-70.

Check Price: Amazon | B&H | Adorama

Fujinon 10-24mm f/4 Wide Angle

Fujinon 10-24mm f/4 Wide Angle Every travel photographer needs a wide angle lens, and this is, without question, the best one available for the Fujifilm X-mount. Because Fujifilm cameras have a 1.5x crop factor, this lens is equivalent to 15-36mm (similar to the standard 16-35).

Check Price: Amazon | B&H | Adorama

3 Legged Thing Punks Corey Travel Tripod

3 Legged Thing Punks Corey Travel Tripod You may or may not have heard of 3 Legged Thing, but they’re a company to watch. The Punks Corey is made of aluminum, weighs 3.4lbs and is just 13.7″ when folded. It’s lightweight and compact but expads to a full 58″ high. It even turns into a monopod when the situation calls for it. Ballhead included.

Check Price: Amazon | B&H | Adorama

DJI Mavic Pro 2

DJI Mavic Pro 2 Without question, the Mavic Pro 2 is the best drone for travel photography. With 31 minutes of flight time and a range of up to 4-miles, you’ll be able to capture any aerial you want. The Pro 2 features a Hasselblad camera with 20MP CMOS sensor for optimal image quality. Highly recommended are the Fly More bundle (extra batteries and propellers) and DJI Care Refresh (warranty)—which you will most definitely be using.

Check Price: Amazon | B&H | Adorama

GoPro Hero 7 Action Camera

Everybody knows GoPro, and for good reason. They make the best action cameras on the market. Their latest release, the GoPro Hero 7, ships with some of the best stabilization technology I’ve seen, which means you can film without a gimbal! The 12MP sensor shoots at 4K and, like the Hero 5 and 6, has a touchscreen LCD.

Check Price: Amazon | B&H | Adorama

Rode Video Mic

Rode Video Mic Go Any videographer will need an external mic, and this Rode shotgun mic fits the bill. It’s an excellent all-rounder microphone and it won’t break the budget.

Check Price: Amazon | B&H | Adorama

Vello ShutterBoss Wireless Intervalometer

Vello ShutterBoss If you plan to shoot tripod selfies or long exposures longer than 30 seconds, you’ll need an intervalometer. Vello makes the best and this one is wireless up to 250 feet!

Check Price: Amazon | B&H

Travel Insurance

We never leave home without travel insurance. In the same way you’d insure your home, health or car, it’s equally important to insure your trip. Whether your trip gets canceled, you get injured on the road or your smartphone gets stolen, travel insurance covers your back. It could, literally, save you thousands of dollars.

At TravelFreak, our insurance company of choice is World Nomads . Just fill out the form below for a free quote, or click here for a comparison of the top travel insurance companies out there.

For more travel gear recommendations, click here to check out our articles on travel gear, including reviews, round-ups and more.