Cotton trousers or combats are great, as are plain T-shirts and shirts. Take a large, cotton scarf to cover your head, shoulders or any other cheeky bits should the necessity arise. A long skirt is essential: it’s modest, suitable for smart occasions, keeps you cool and is handy for loo-breaks. Let me explain: in a lot of countries, sit-down toilets are not the norm. If you have to squat over a hole in the ground, it’s much easier to stop a skirt from touching the less-than-lemony-fresh floor than it is to protect your trousers. Of course, there’s a dead simple solution to these fashion dilemmas. When you reach your destination, go to your nearest market, buy some fabric, take it to a tailor’s stall and get a local-style outfit made for you. In a matter of hours, you’ll have a unique, bespoke little number all of your own, and you’ll know it meets local standards.
The Eternal Question: Should you buy a backpack or suitcase? I have a confession: I hate suitcases for long trips. If you’re traveling around the world, your luggage is going to get thrown about and piled high on buses in random countries. It will get used and abused and it’s simply hard to walk up hills and stairs with your suitcase bumping everywhere. Try carrying a suitcase up five flights of stairs in a tiny place in Italy! It’s a pain! Suitcases are great for weekends away or if you’ll be staying in one place for a long time. I always use a carry on suitcase on my short trips. But, if you are moving around a lot and backpacking around the world, it is far better to have a proper backpack. They are simply more versatile, easier to carry up flights of stairs, pack into tight places, and overall, they just make life simpler. I don’t need to pick them up when getting on the escalator. Or drag them up a flight of stairs or across cobblestone streets.
If your pack doesn’t have two zippers, you can always get Pacsafe (www.pacsafe.com), which wraps a lockable metal mesh around your whole bag and can be tied to a large object. It means that not only is no one breaking into your stuff, no one is walking away with it either. Pacsafe is a good form of protection for your bag, especially if you are going to be somewhere where your bag will be unattended for a long time. One thing to remember about Pacsafe is that this metal mesh also adds a lot of weight to your bag and it can be burdensome to carry around. Most people I know who use Pacsafe are photographers who carry a lot of expensive equipment around.
Hiking gear : The second layer, or insulation layer, is a versatile layer and can be used in your layering system over your base layer, or indeed as a standalone layer that you wear over your trekking shirt when temperatures start to drop. They also come in great use at night when it can get very cold out. Our preferred second layers consist of synthetic mid-weight Polartec fleece materials. These are great for warmth and comfort, but also provide brilliant breathability. Polartec fleece jackets come in three main types: 100s, 200s and 300s. The 100s are super light but not warm enough, whereas the 300s provide great warmth but are a little heavy. We recommend going for a 200 Polartec fleece jacket.
Backpacking Essentials : When buying a sleeping bag, decide which climates you’ll most often be camping in, and purchase a bag to suit your needs. 35 Degree bags tend to work great for most of the year, with a 20 degree or 0-degree bag for really cold weather. It’s hard to get away with just one sleeping bag if you want to backpack in all seasons. On most trips I use the Mountain Hardware Lamina 35 Degree Bag. If it’s really cold I use the Kelty Cosmic Down 0 Degree. Hiking shoes : These range from mid- to high-cut models and are intended for day hikes or short backpacking trips with light loads. They often flex easily and require little break-in time, but they lack the support and durability of stout backpacking boots. Materials impact a boot’s weight, breathability, durability and water resistance. Split-grain leather: Split-grain leather is usually paired with nylon or nylon mesh to create a lightweight boot that offers excellent breathability. Split-grain leather “splits away” the rougher inner part of the cowhide from the smooth exterior. The benefit is lower cost, however, the downside is less resistance to water and abrasion (though many feature waterproof liners).
Minimize your jewelry. Instead of piling your wrists with watches and bracelets, keep your accessories to a minimum. Nine times out of ten you will be asked to remove everything before going through airport security.
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