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Choosing the right gear for the outdoors and adventure travel can feel overwhelming. There are so many options! And, if you’re like me and have a limited budget, it’s important to spend it wisely on gear that offers high value for the price.
With over 30 years of adventure travel around the world including lots of hiking and camping, I’ve discovered a handful of items that I swear by. These are items I personally use and love.
1 | Rumpl Nanoloft Blankets
Rumpl’s Nanoloft blanket is my favorite piece of gear I never knew I needed. Seriously, I received my first one as a gift and I instantly fell in love. In fact, it’s replaced my sleeping bag when I go camping (read all about why in this post)! But, even if you don’t like to camp or have a sleeping bag you love, Rumpl’s Nanoloft blanket is perfect for around the campfire, for a picnic, on a roadtrip, or to cuddle up on your couch at home. They even have an awesome travel size blanket that compacts down to the size of a Nalgene bottle!
But, here’s the thing – Rumpl’s Nanoloft blankets are also made of a down alternative made of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic! They are a Climate Neutral Certified brand, a member of 1% For The Planet, and a certified B Corp so you can rest easy knowing your money is going to an environmentally and socially responsible organization. The Rumpl Guarantee includes a 100-night risk free trial. Find the perfect colorful design for you at Rumpl or at REI.
2 | MSR Windburner Stove System
After weeks of research on backpacking stoves, I went with the MSR Windburner Stove System (available at REI and Amazon). I couldn’t be happier with my purchase! It’s compact design makes it easy to carry on multi-day backpacking trips. Plus the metal wind shield gives me confidence that I can light it even in windy conditions. The first time I used this I was shocked at how fast the water boiled – in under 2 minutes!
If you love good coffee on the trail, consider purchasing the coffee press that fits this stove!
3 | SmartWool Hiking socks
Taking care of your feet on the trail is essential! After trying many different brands and styles of socks, I keep coming back to SmartWool women’s full cushion hiking socks. They are lightweight and breathable with plenty of cushion for long days on the trail.
For a less expensive alternative, Wildly Goods has great lightweight merino wool socks as well. For me, they did not last as long as SmartWool, but I am pretty hard on my socks so they are great for newer or shorter distance hikers looking for a quality product for less. Wildly Goods is also a member of the 1% for the Planet and donates to a portion of their profits to charities such as Homeless Veterans.
4 | Sunski Polarized Sunglasses
Sunski is literally a unicorn of a sunglass brand. They offer lightweight (<1oz), durable, stylish poliarized sunglasses that protect you from the full spectrum of UV for a fair and reasonable price. Sunki’s sunglasses are made from recycled plastic, making them environmentally friendly, plus they are also members of 1% for the Planet.
My Sunski sunglasses have been put to the test. They’ve gone on hikes around the world, including two days of wind and sand in Wadi Rum desert in Jordan. I’m seriously impressed by how durable these sunglasses are. By my own accident, I dropped my Sunskis and the hinge broke. Their Forever Warranty was so smooth and easy – I even ended up with a brand new pair covered by the warranty!
5 | Hydroflask Water Bottle
Whether for travel or outdoor adventures, everyone needs a good water bottle. There’s a million brands to choose from, but HydroFlask sets itself apart in several ways. First, they offer a lifetime warranty on their products. Their water bottles also come with a leak proof lid design and actually keep your hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. HydroFlask also donates to nonprofits that support building and maintaining parks as well as increasing access to public green spaces. For backpacking try their Trail Series, which is a 25% lighter than their other water bottles.
6 | Sawyer Mini Water Filtration Device
Weighing just 2 ounces, the Sawyer Mini (available on REI and Amazon) is perfect for either off-the-beaten path travel or hiking, anywhere that clean water may not be accessible. It filters out 99.99999% of bacteria and protozoa. Attach it the drinking pouch that comes with it, the tube for your hydration bladder, use it is a straw or screw it onto most disposable water bottles. There are no cartridges to replace. It’s seriously a no-brainer for me. This goes with me wherever I’m adventuring, including backpacking the Superior Hiking Trail.
7 | Solis Portable Wifi Device (previously skyroam)
Sure, I love disconnecting and being off the grid from time to time. But, especially when I’m on a solo adventure, it’s nice to know I can connect to the internet if I need to. This has come in handy when I was on a solo trip in Alaska and driving through Finnish Lapland.
My favorite portable wifi device is Solis. I love that they have unlimited monthly, daily, and per gigabyte passes to choose from. The daily passes for unlimited global wifi come in a pack of 5 for as little as $9 per day and they can be used whenever you need them! // Use promo code THISBIGWILDWORLD for 10% off your Solis purchase!
8 | Trtl Neck Support Travel Pillow
As someone with chronic neck and back pain, finding a comfortable travel pillow seemed like an impossible mission – until I discovered the Trtl neck support travel pillow. It’s completely transformed my experience on long plane or bus rides. The internal plastic frame supports your head and neck and the soft fabric wraps comfortable around your neck like a scarf. The cover is machine washable. This goes with my on any long journey!