Camera adventure

The best adventure travel gear for backpackers

Backpackers tend to view the hike itself as the ultimate goal. But on a long journey, whether overseas or domestic, getting to and from the trail – and enjoying the moments in between – is an important part of the experience. Our top picks for travel products will get you safely, comfortably, and efficiently from plane to city to trailhead.

A collection of travel electronics (Photo: Matthew Stacey)

Best portable power bank: Einova Super Fast Power Bank

  • Price: $70
  • Weight: 15.7 oz.
  • Buy now

We would like to know the percentage of outlets in airports and hostels that actually work. Because when they inevitably don’t, the Ultra Fast has more than enough power to keep all the juice going: on a trip to Alaska, it kept our laptop, phone, tablet and other gadgets fully charged between last minute cafes and trail. power up recharges with a massive 20,000 mAh capacity. That’s enough to charge a typical iPhone six times or a Macbook Pro around 1.3 times – plenty for a power bank that’s only slightly larger than a phone itself. The Ultra Fast can fit in any backpack without cluttering up other electronics, and a screen on the front gives an accurate readout of how much power it still packs. You can charge devices simultaneously from two USB-A ports and one USB-C port. Also, after more than a year of use, the canvas-covered exterior shows no wear.

Best phone case for photographers: Peak Design mobile line

  • Price: $40 (cash); $40-$100 (accessories)
  • Weight: 1.4oz.
  • Buy now

Everyone’s a photographer these days, and keeping a phone handy to document a trip is essential for most travelers. Rather than buying a $10 crate at checkout, step up your game with Peak Design’s “Mobile” ecosystem. The smooth nylon canvas phone case is made from durable plastic and is available for a host of Apple and Samsung phones. It pairs with an array of accessories like an (unfortunately expensive) mini tripod ($80; 2.7 oz) that folds up slightly thicker than a credit card (perfect for watching a movie on your set or taking a time lapse on the beach) and a minimalist wallet ($50; 1.4 oz) that magnetically attaches to the case. The case also works with Peak Design’s Creator Kit ($50; 3.8 oz) – a unique mount with interchangeable base plates that will attach your phone to anything from a full-size tripod to a GoPro mount and more. by Peak Design’s Capture Camera Clip. All of the components are surprisingly small, making them perfect additions to your carry-on if you want to bring home a sick vacation edition.

backpack and duffel bag
Exped travel bag and Matador travel bag (Photo: Matthew Stacey)

Best Travel Bag for Adventurers: Exped Radical 60

  • Price: $180
  • Weight: 2 pounds. 5 oz.
  • Buy now

The best duffel bags will swallow up all your gear, carry it comfortably, and won’t fall apart in the process. Exped has redesigned how to achieve these goals with the Radical, creating a roomy gear carrier with backpack DNA. Thoughtful features include a generous zipper (the bag pinches outward at the top, creating a funnel-shaped opening), zippered pockets (big enough for a few pairs of socks) on three sides, and even internal gear loops that can hold climbing gear or organize other odds and ends. But what really sets the Radical apart is on the outside: an asymmetrical shape – the part near your shoulders is wider than the part near your waist – ensures it fits more like a backpack than bulky sports bag. Compression straps on the sides (top and bottom in backpack mode) suck up any loose material, and the padded shoulder straps are plusher than any other duffel bag we’ve used. Plus, they’re removable or convertible into a shoulder bag: perfect for getting from the airport to the trailhead. Water-resistant 420-denier nylon (ends and one side) and 600-denier polyester (bottom) remained intact, even after being regularly tossed around Colorado campgrounds. The Radical also comes in an 80-litre version for more gear-intensive journeys.

Best backpack for adventure travel: Matador Freerain28

  • Price: $125
  • Weight: 12.3 oz.
  • Buy now

Less clutter, more fun: it’s a saying when traveling, and the Freerain28 delivers on that promise. This pack can carry everything you need for a day hike – its rolltop main compartment is complemented by hipbelt pockets, a zipped front stash pocket, expandable side pockets, a reservoir compartment and trekking pole loops – yet it still folds up into an included mesh storage bag slightly larger than a softball. The Freerain28 lacks suspension, but we found its 3-inch-wide shoulder straps and belt to be more than adequate on a 13,745-foot equipped ascent of Fremont Peak in Wyoming. On this trip it served well as a snack bag in the car, compressed inside a larger overnight bag for hiking, and remained sway-free when deployed on its own for the strenuous climb . Major bonus: the Freerain28 is waterproof (but not submersible), so feel free to walk the trail or jump down the city streets in downpours. After all, it’s the holidays, you can do whatever you want.

Oboz shoes

Low Oboz Bozeman (Photo: Matthew Stacey)

Best Adventure Travel Shoes: Oboz Bozeman Low

  • Price: $120
  • Weight: 1 pound 10 ounces (I’m 9 years old)
  • Sizes: m is 8-14, w is 6-11
  • Buy now

If you’ve ever worn a pair of hiking shoes for a long day of travel, you’ll understand the difference between shoes designed for zipping through airports and hitting the trail. The Bozeman Low is definitely built for travel (it’s extremely comfortable and relaxed when you’re not looking for heavy support), but it has the chops to handle lightly loaded day hikes once you reach your destination. We had no problem walking all day in the Bozeman Low on the flowing Dallas Trail outside of Ridgway, Colorado, thanks to the shoe’s finely tuned EVA midsole (soft in the heel but stiff elsewhere) and an exclusive rubber outsole with deep lugs. A low, lightweight nubuck and textile upper, medium volume, and quick-drying recycled polyester lining (since your feet can get almost as sweaty at the airport as on a hike) keep the Bozeman Low nimble for traveling when it’s not. is not on the track. Oboz’s proprietary sockliner also meant our feet were less likely to ache after long days both in the backcountry and on city streets.

Mountain Hardwear and Ibex travel and hiking clothing
Travel and hiking clothing from Mountain Hardwear and Ibex (Photo: Matthew Stacey)

Best Travel Pants: Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Pant

  • Price: $99
  • Weight: 13 oz. (m’s 32 regular)
  • Sizes: m’s 28-46 (short/regular/long), w’s 0-16 (short/regular/long)
  • Buy now

Stretchy, comfortable and versatile materials are essential in travel clothing, and the Chockstone Pant is all three. Its DWR-coated nylon/elastane fabric ensures enough resistance for hiking, thanks to a remarkable thickness: our tester wore it at the airport, then immediately in the Adirondack High Peaks for two days of hiking. (The material also proved stretchy enough for steep Great Range trails.) Good water and stain resistance came in handy when brushing wet leaves on tight trails, and the pants have a built-in belt with a plastic buckle that you won’t need to fumble through airport security. Two deep front pockets (even on the women’s version) and a zipped back pocket keep your items safe. Elastic straps around the ankles prevent trash from entering your boots while hiking. Bonus: With matte tones and a classic straight fit, the Chockstone doesn’t look as silly as your typical technical trail bottoms.

Best Tee for Adventure Travelers: Ibex Merino Tencel Short Sleeve Tee

  • Price: $85
  • Weight: 4.8 oz. (m is L)
  • Sizes: S-XXL for men, XS-XL for women
  • Buy now

You won’t want to take that basic tee off, which means you can get away with packing less. “It’s become my go-to shirt for airports and road trips,” said one tester. Merino Tencel has also become one of our favorites for backpacking and hiking in the Tetons and Wind River Range. Both performance materials – merino wool and tencel, a material made from seasoned wood pulp (45% each, with a hint of nylon for durability) – are ultra-soft and stretchy for comfort on the go, and they allow the shirt to layer well or play well on its own. Wool’s well-known ability to manage moisture and odor allows the shirt to be usable day after day. You can wear the Merino Tencel around town without looking like Rambo: the shirt has a clean cut and comes in much simpler colors than your neon raincoat, so it can pass if that dinner party turns out to be a little fancier than expected. Only downside: it creased noticeably after being rolled up in a sports bag for a week.

GSI Outdoors MicroLite JavaPress
GSI Outdoors Microlite Javapress (Photo: Matthew Stacey)

Best travel mug: GSI Outdoors Microlite JavaPress

Coffee snobs rejoice: the MicroLite will let you brew fresh French-press coffee without having to carry around a ton of redundant equipment. You do not have the time ? Your local cafe barista can refill the MicroLite as easily as any other cup. The container has a heat-resistant plastic cylinder with a mesh filter attached to the lid that slides down into the vacuum-insulated main body, pushing out grounds and leaving you with ready-to-drink coffee. Or, the splash guard unscrews from the carafe for top filling. Our tester loved the 15-ounce MicroLite for those hectic mornings when she wanted to make a quick single cup of coffee and hit the road without leaving a messy French press in the sink. It was ideal for car camping and a rock climbing trip in the Pacific Northwest – she could make a single cup on the tailgate without messing up the dishes, then take it in the car or on a hike. On the road, the MicroLite closes like a regular cup, giving our tester the confidence to put it in the side pocket of his bag and go.