Wanderers But Not Lost

What to put in a backpack

IMG_8446A major concern for travellers is what to put in their backpack. Of course, depending on the season or climate of the region where you travelling to, the content of your backpack should be different. There are, however, things that should always go in your Arcteryx backpack. Here’s the list.


Large backpack

– Hiking Boots (wear them, to avoid taking up space in the backpack)

– Hawaiian slippers

– Bikini / swimsuit

– Underwear

– Cap

– T-shirt and leggings pants (boxers for men) for sleeping

– Pen and external disk for recording pictures

– Lighter and Swiss Army Knife

– Head lamp with battery

– Sunglasses

– Sunscreen

– Pillow (inflatable)

– Sleeping bag

– Ultra absorbent trekking towel

– Lock

– Toilet paper (1 roll)

– Hygiene Bag


Bag or small backpack

– Camera and lenses (with charger, spare batteries, memory cards and cables)

– Passport and visa

– Photocopies of all documents (passport, visas, insurance)

– Photos for visas

– First aid kit

– Waist bag

– Guides and maps (for us still indispensable)

– Logbook and pen

– Book

– Mobile phone

– Laptop or IPad


Specific things for specific destinations:

– Water purifying tablets (trekking trips)

– Isolating mattress (trekking trips or involving camping)

– Cutlery, stove and pan kit (trekking trips or involving camping)

– Tent (trekking trips or involving camping)

– Dry bag for maps (trekking trips)

– Mosquito repellent (tropical countries)

– Insect screen (tropical countries)


Clothes for cold weather (dressing in layers)

Take enough warm clothing and do not underestimate low temperatures and their effect on your body. The bioclimatic discomfort can ruin your holiday. Always dress in several layers:

Base layer: thermal insulating clothing. Take the largest possible number of pieces of the first layer, since they are cheaper, allowing you to invest in thermal underwear of higher quality for the other two layers. Take several first layer pants and sweaters in order to change them often. Choose base layer fabrics with technical specifications such as Underwear Polar as they warm the body as well as absorb perspiration. An example of this kind of fabric is Power Stretch® of Polartec.

Mid layer (insulation layer): Polar or thermal heating. This layer allows you to adjust the garment to the outside temperature. You should wear polar liners to maintain body heat. One of the most used fabrics is Polartec. Choose high values Polartec (300) since the higher, the greater the heating capability. If it is too cold, wear more than one layer. You can also use the fabric Climashield APEX, an efficient product, ultra light and excellent insulator. In Svalbard and Greenland we used Tilak pants with Climashield insulation, and a jacket of the same brand.

Outer layer: outdoor and waterproof layer. This is the most expensive part of your clothing. You should always choose good quality clothing for this case layer, or otherwise you will suffer. Choose Gore-Tex and Windstopper fabrics as the wind and snow will be part of the journey. Winter winds can bring down the temperatures of for a much lower thermal sensation compared to registered temperatures. With these temperatures you will not want to be outdoors, unless you are well equipped. So investing in clothing is essential for a successful trip. For added comfort, it is recommended to take a goose feather jacket (or synthetic fibres, for example Climashield® Contur or Climashield® Prism). Keep in mind that when goose feather jackets get wet, they lose their thermal insulation capacity. If practicing sports, the heavier jacket should be replaced by a lightweight technical jacket, thermal and comfortable. You can use the Climashield® HL material.


Clothes for summer or warmer climates

Travelling in summer is much easier. However, if you’re doing technical trekking or more technical activities, you will have to take similar care with clothing since there are places where the temperature during the night can also be low. Dress also in layers. With regard to the base layer go for Coolmax® fabric and the system of Polartec Power Dry®, as they best absorb perspiration. You may however choose between two options:

– 1st option: Bringing a mid layer coat and do not take outer layer; something we did for the Santiago Way and on our trip in southern Africa. We took a Cumulus jacket with Climashield insulation. The jacket is lightweight (330 gr) and takes up very little space, going into a small bag. It is ideal for trekking trips in hot environments, but where the nights can be very cool.

– 2nd option: Do not use mid layer as this is the insulating layer and as such you will probably not need it. Choose not to invest a lot in the outer layer coat, wearing only a waterproof jacket to keep the rain and wind out.


Sleeping bags

If camping or trekking in winter environments, take a good sleeping bag, able to withstand freezing temperatures, since cold nights can be very tough on your body. Recently we got the best sleeping bag we’ve ever had. This is the Snow Leopard from The North Face with Climashield insulation. We have different sleeping bags, depending on the climate demanding, but we can now say that we found the right “stuff” for environments such as Svalbard, Greenland or Iceland. This sleeping bag made all the difference during our travels in these areas with arctic climate.


Rui Pinto

I was born in Oporto, in Portugal, and I have a degree in Physics. But the taste for travelling began with an InterRail around Europe in 2006. Journeys to India, Nepal, Bolivia, Mongolia, China and Russia followed. A few years latter I realised that I became addicted to travelling.

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