HUGE DISCLAIMER: None of this stuff is necessary for travel. It is after all, just stuff. You can always pick up what you need along the way. Hell, we spontaneously added a 2 month Vietnam motorbike adventure to our itinerary and Allison picked up all her protective wear the day before we left in HoChi Minh. We're completely assured that we avoided a few headaches and uncomfortable nights because we had the right clothes for any type of weather, but at the end of the day, I think it's more important to put your money toward extending your trip rather than having some specialized expensive clothing. The Vietnamese men's riding pants, apart from being 3" inches too short, fit Allison just fine.
As a guy, it’s a little bit weird for me to talk about my clothes. Bros just don’t do that. I’m breaking the rule here though, because I can use the excuse that for a long term trip, clothes become more akin to being equipment or gear.
And we know gear is a perfectly reasonable thing to discuss among dudes. If you were looking to nerd-out, check out the full tech packing list here. You won't find gadgets below.
Osprey Porter 46L Backpack
You’ve seen this bag all over our website. Why? Simply because it’s one of those few items in life where you feel like the high-ish price tag is well justified. I can’t explain how much we beat the ever-loving piss out of our Osprey Porters. The two months alone spent on the rebar luggage rack during our Vietnam motorcycle ride would have shredded a lesser bag.Here we are, closing in on two years later, and they look brand new. Oh yeah, and you can use this bag as carry on luggage.
Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes
I laughed when Allison first suggested buying these. I wasn’t going to spend $30 for cute little bags for my socks. Truth be told, packing cubes are the shit. The big one held underwear and board shorts, and the small one held socks and bandanas. The packing cubes compress your clothes so they take up less space and make sure that when you pull a t-shirt out of your overstuffed bag, that a bunch of other crap doesn’t come spilling out.
Sea To Summit Small Toiletry Bag
Yes. Along with getting the same cubes and backpack as Allison, I also got the same dop kit. I know, it’s adorable. We had different colors at least. Dop kits really dropped in usefulness in a post 9/11 world as security is always making you separate liquids and gels into a clear ziploc bag. When we were overseas, I found the rules to be a little less stringent and suddenly security didn’t need to see your toothpaste and deodorant anymore. My dop kit stayed pretty full the entire trip with your expected toiletries such as toothbrush, floss, etc as well as a mini med center filled with miscellaneous prescriptions we picked up as we gallivanted across the globe. As a side-note, you can get some AMAZING hangover medicine in Vietnam that contains codeine.
below the waist
Yes, pants has its own section. Now I’m completely committed to writing about clothes….I only brought gray pants. Gray hides dirt well and it means you can wear any pattern or color of shirt/sweatshirt/tank up top. While I’m proudly American, I knew better than to pack a pair of bluejeans. Aside from making you stick out from the crowd, bringing jeans on a long trip is a heavy endeavor. Instead of jeans, I brought a pair of wool travel slacks and a pair of synthetic athletic pants. No- not sweatpants. More like Yoga Man Pants (if that's a thing)
Bluffworks Classic Grey Mens Travel Pants-
These are travel pants that don’t look stupid or fit like they’re from Costco. There are no zip off leg sleeves or huge zippers- just subtle hidden pockets and a great modern fit. I wore these a lot in Europe when I wanted to look a bit more presentable for dinner or the random museum. That’s not to say that they also didn’t serve plenty of time as my rough and tough exploration pants. They are made out of a breathable wool and I wore them for the majority of our Vietnam motorcycle ride as well. They’ve been hiked in, soaked in mud countless times, and they are still in great enough shape to wear to dinner still.
One last bonus worth mentioning- They dry really quick and are wrinkle resistant. I didn’t iron them once the entire trip and they still managed to be presentable every time I took them out of my pack.
Lulu Lemon ABC Pant-
Now I’m really in dangerous territory, but yes, I have to heavily endorse a Lulu product (not sponsored, but ... available!) as a man. I’ve never been the type of guy to wear sweatpants, but for long plane rides, car rides, and just as a comfortable replacement for jeans, these pants fit the bill. The ABC pant is really stretchy but also made of a tough, durable fabric. The cut is athletic without being too tight. Finally, these pants too put up with being worn nearly every other day for a year and still looking brand new.
Billabong Crossfire X Submersible Shorts-
Stetchy, comfy, ultra light, and super quick drying. Also purchased in plain grey so they can be worn with anything. These were a godsend in South East Asia because they breathed so well and could dry out in just a short while out in the sun. I originally brought another pair of khaki shorts with me but ditched them after realizing I was literally only wearing this specific pair of shorts. When it came time to wash them, I knew that they could dry 4x over by the next morning.
I wasn’t marching around in European cities in my trunks, but by the time we hit South East Asia I really lived in my board shorts and the Billabong submersible shorts I mentioned earlier.
Under Armor Mesh Boxer Briefs-
If you cared at all, now you have the answer. No wool boxer briefs for me. I’m completely sold on Under Armor mesh. Breathable and extremely fast drying after laundry day. I could even swim in boxer briefs and my billabong shorts and dry out completely in a reasonable amount of time.
$20 cheapo vest with hood, again from KMart, was a welcome addition to my outerwear while in New Zealand. Not something I would have wanted to have in my bag for the entire trip.
Bring 3. I mean, THREE tshirts. They’ll be plenty of places to pick up cool new shirts while you’re abroad and you'll probably be wanting one anyways.
Why did I not bring this on the trip? I was so concerned about having a bulky rain jacket that I brought a water resistant windbreaker. This ended up not being a huge deal in places like South East Asia, but a terrible problem in wet cold environments like New Zealand. I spent the six weeks in New Zealand in a cheapo rainjacket from KMart while my trusty North Face rainjacket sat at home hanging nice and dry in my closet.
Asia Rain Poncho
Why was not having the rain jacket in South East Asia not a huge issue? Just because we threw down about $3 USD and picked up some sick scooter ponchos. They were perfectly sized and designed to be worn while driving a scooter, and even had a little clear panel for your headlight to shine through. Absolutely essential if you're doing a motorbike trip.
A Bunch of Wool
How sick are you of reading about merino wool on travel blogs? It doesn’t stop here….
I first heard about Icebreaker when I was living with a couple Kiwis while working at a ski resort. They went on and on about how warm it was and the high quality of Icebreaker in particular. I broke down and bought my first long sleeved base layer that winter and have never looked back. Not to be redundant to everything that merino wool markets itself as, but its warm, its comfortable, it doesn’t stink, it dries quick, and it’s light. In particular I left with the following:
Icebreaker Tech Light T Shirt-
Great, athletic fitting t shirt that I wore constantly. It disappeared when I dropped it off at a laundry somewhere in Thailand.
Mens Everday Long Sleeve Crew-
Amazing base layer that you can wear countless days in a row. Think I wore it 6 weeks straight in New Zealand and would have been freezing otherwise. Black, while boring, can then be worn under a tshirt or hidden more easily under other top layers.
Icebreaker Quantum Long Sleeve Zip Hoodie-
The one hoodie I took on the trip! So warm and with roll out sleeves for your hands and thumb to go through. Though expensive, I’m glad I made the investment. I knew this would be my outer layer most of the time so I made sure it was an annoying orange color to stand out in landscape pictures. And stand out, I did.
Brought two pairs of merino wool socks with. Just like everyone else says-they don’t get smelly too easily, they breath, and they dry fast. I also brought a pair of thick wool socks that are for snowboarding- exceptionally warm and made by Burton.
Hi-Tec: V-Lite Walk-Lite Witton in Dark Chocolate-
Never heard of this company before I started looking for shoes to last me a year and be versatile enough to wear to dinner or go hike New Zealand in. I was amazed at how many brightly colored, gaudy as hell hiking shoes exist. If you want plain brown leather waterproof shoes, your choices are very limited. Fortunately, I found these shoes on Zappo and couldn't have been happier. They lasted the entire trip, were extremely light to pack when I didn’t need to wear them, and I’m still wearing them as knock-around shoes almost two years later.
I own a nice pair of leather sandals, but planned on picking up a pair of cheap flip flops while abroad. Turns out it was a great plan. You’ll want something the dries fast and can be used for hostel showers and beaches alike.
You can find generic buffs on Amazon and ebay for less than two bucks. Our use for these was nothing earth shattering. We used them as dust masks for our motorbike trip, headbands, hats, and sometimes as just a cloth to wrap a camera in. Huge fan of buffs.
I grew my hair out like a hippie. Eventually, getting ready in the morning just consisted of brushing my teeth and tying my hair out of my face with a bandana. No haircuts was one of my favorite secret features of traveling for so long.
Sorry ZZ Top- I despise cheap sunglasses so I brought my Revo Stern Xs along. They took a proper beating from deserts, boats, beaches and miles and miles of motorbiking. They eventually got too scratched up and I had to give them a hero’s burial in the Philippines.
Just a $2 stocking hat from KMart in the New Zealand rounded out my cold weather collection for comfortable hiking.
This is probably not the first packing post you've read. Most likely they've all mentioned this too: pack half of what you think and leave room to pick up a few things while you’re abroad. Listen to everyone's advice. You’re going to run across a shirt you love or an awesome hand-made scarf that you’ll want to take home with you. I wasn't one for sentimental items or souvenirs but inevitably the weather will be different than you expected or you'll "be in the mood" to wear something different and for $20 you can grab what you want - you just don't want to have to throw something out just to add one thing in. No reason to leave home with your backpack overflowing.