You’ve cleared your schedule, picked your destination and bought your ticket. Now all you need to do is get on the plane.
Except you forgot one thing: What do you need to pack? Deciding what to wear is not the most critical aspect of any journey, but what you decide to bring — and sometimes just as importantly, what you opt to leave at home — can make all the difference. You need a versatile wardrobe that is comfortable, utilitarian and stylish for an extended trip. This can be tough if you want to enjoy a night on the town and also explore the backcountry, but the following items will make sure you’re prepared for all conditions.
Shoes and Socks
One of the best things to bring on an extended trip is a good pair of trail runners. These are sturdy enough to allow you to hike any mountain while also being low-profile enough to explore the city before you hit the trail. Nowadays, companies like Salomon, Sportiva and New Balance make versions that look better than many traditional sneakers and ensure you are just as comfortable.
Socks are also important. You should pack some thicker, wool pairs for the backcountry, since they soften the pounding on your feet and dry quickly in case it rains or you have to do some stream crossings. But also keep a thinner, lighter pair handy for the city and to sleep in at night when you’re camping. Opt for a material like stretchy polyester that enables you to pack more pairs without weighing down your pack. As long as you have the right insulation, they will keep your feet warm.
Pants and Shorts
First things first: Bring jeans. Although you don’t want to bike or trek in these, they are the most versatile piece of clothing. With the right button-up shirt, you can look stylish at a nice restaurant, or you can dress down with a T-shirt to blend in at a dive bar.
When it comes to outdoors wear, however, stay away from denim and cotton. You want to find something synthetic and light instead. Consider going with convertible pants so you can zip off the legs. It may not be the coolest-looking option, but it beats taking up precious room in your suitcase.
Shirts and Jackets
Flannel is one of the best materials in existence. Whether hiking, mountain biking or meeting a friend for a beer, flannel shirts are as comfortable as they are durable. They keep you warm, they don’t wrinkle and they are cozy enough to sleep in. There is no better option.
You also want to pack a base layer if you plan to trek, bike or rock climb for any extended period of time, though. This means synthetic, light fabric that wicks away sweat and keeps you both dry and temperate. If you can afford it, thin and refined merino wool is a good option. It’s unique physical properties cool you off when it’s hot and keep you warm when it’s cold. Man has tried for decades to replicate this ability, but nothing is better than what we naturally get from sheep.