This is my core wardrobe for travel. It fits reliably (aside from the shoes) in one large packing cube with room to spare. Depending on where we we are traveling I will throw in activity specific items (like a rash guard) or climate specific stuff (like a down jacket). You'll notice I basically have one of everything. The additions usually add one to each category so I can always follow the "Wash one, Wear one" rule.
Mizzen Main makes well fitted and stylish professional wear out of high tech fabrics. Breathable, wrinkle proof and quick dry, this shirt is nonetheless nice enough looking to wear with a suit and tie (as I have done on occasion). This is a superb travel shirt. If I had it to do over, I might look for one in a darker color. As one of my two long sleeve shirts (and my most formal one) it gets a lot of use, the white on the color is getting harder and harder to keep clean.
I bought these used to replace my Ex-Oficio shorts about half way thru the trip I much prefer the cut and fabric on these. I think they also look better, closer again to regular looking clothes. In particular, I’m a fan of Patagonias metal button waist closure. It gives the stability and durability of a jean rivet but without the corresponding pokiness on the backside against the stomach. These shorts don’t breathe as well as the Ex-Oficios and lack a zippered rear pocket for my wallet but dry just as quick. One major design issue is the mesh on the front hand pockets. When my hands are sweaty, they catch on the mesh when I remove my hands from the pockets causing the pocket to pull up and out of the pants, turning inside out. I have to carefully extricate my hands or carefully stuff the mesh back in. So my pursuit of completely reasonable and working travel shorts continues.
I’ve had these pants since I was in the Peace Corps in 2008. The dry quick, don’t stain, have good pockets and really last. They are super light-weight, pack small, yet are really durable. They look a bit techy, but that’s my only complaint. Still astonished at how long these have lasted, though that's why I generally think Patagonia is worth the cost.
This shirt is SOOOO close to looking like a regular t-shirt. It’s some kind of Brook’s running gear. It wears well, dries quick and is good for hot weather. It doesn’t resist odor the way my merino wool tee does, but its versatile enough to wear in multiple climates which means it stays in my bag no matter where we are going.
Do you know why board shorts are so often so long? Because when you sit vertically on your board to look at waves, you want shorts that fully cover your thighs and protect them from the sun.
These serve double duty as my swimsuit and workout shorts. The material is a bit heavier than you'd like to run in, but the pocket is well placed on the upper thigh to stash a phone connected to headphones in. These have taken a serious beating over the year. They may not get worn everyday but the see the most vigorous use and most frequent washing. So far, they still look brand-new.
This is an Asics running singlet. Its cut pretty slim, which I like. It took me a while to find it but I was pretty insistent on trying to avoid bringing any cotton on the trip. I use it for working out and everyday wear and it can go under my Mizzen Main or Icebreaker long sleeve if occasion demands.
Jess and I both have Torrentshell. It's the cheapest, lightest and most packable rain jacket we could find. It's also a vital part of our layering in colder environments like South Africa in the fall or at altitude on the Inca Trail. I chose bright yellow so I can look even more like a gringo at every possible moment.
I hate baseball hats. This one is a little better because its from the summer camp I attended for fifteen years. I do think a hat is super important for a trip like this. We are outside way to often looking at stuff to not protect my face and reduce glare while I see the sights.
Now if someone would just invent a non-stupid looking hat that has a brim all the way around that I can stuff in the bottom of my bag… (And yes, bucket hats look stupid)
What is a kikoy? It’s a towel, a scarf, a pillow, a blanket, an ace bandage, a laundry bag, a wrap and anything else you can figure out to do with it. It’s probably the single most useful thing in my pack and I’ve had one on every single trip I’ve taken for the last five years. Mine is from Lamu, a traditional Muslim community in north eastern Kenya.
The difference between this and a sarong is in the quality of the fabric. These are woven which means its beautiful to look at as well as being softer and more absorbent. If you are thinking of bringing one, try it out as a scarf and a wrap as well. The more you like using it for, the more useful it will be.
Darn Tough has lived up to their reputation. I’ve rotated between three pairs of these merino wool ankle socks for months and they look and feel as good as when I bought them. In fact, they feel better as they were uncomfortably warm the first few times I wore them.
They are wearable even in hot environments, but if you are heat sensitive, have overly sweaty feet or just know you’ll be in a hot environment for the length of your trip, you should consider Darn Tough’s ultra-light merinos.
As I’ve said before, in my experience, merino pretty much lives up to the will-never-smell hype. The only complaint with these thicker mid-weight socks is that on occasion they will fail to dry overnight. Of course, you can still wear them damp.
Seiko watches look good, last a long time and are reasonably priced. I prefer the analog face as it feels appropriate in more situations to me. I find I use the chronograph’s stopwatch a surprising amount for timing workouts to seeing how long the trip from the airport is taking. Mine is waterproof and I invested in a high quality 100% pure silicon band before leaving. Cheap silicon rubs your skin, cracks over time and looks cheap. The real stuff will never smell, looks good and will really last. Worth the extra money in my opinion.
If you haven’t seen one before, a buff is just a tube of elastic fabric that can be used as a variety of neck and head coverings. It works as a hat, a headband, a face mask. It can keep sun off your neck or protect your hand or be soaked in water to cool you down. It’s light, easy to care for and can replace and bandanas you carry with you for random use. I won’t travel without one. This current one is from Gravity assisted biking in Bolivia, the outfitter we used for Death’s Road.
This is a standard webbing belt. It looks a bit techy but is super light and goes with all my outfits. Both of them. The buckle is light enough to go through airport security most of the time without removal. Given how much my weight has fluctuated over the course of the trip, a very adjustable belt (and pants and shorts with belt loops) has been very necessary.
These are Warby Parker glasses and some random case I bought in a drug store cause it was slim. I like my Warby Parkers but don’t think the lenses age as well as pricier glasses. They seem to smear and streak more often now. If you wear glasses, I recommend getting a brightly colored case: easier to find, harder to forget.
Choosing these sandals was a Sisyphian ordeal. If you have an extra 45 minutes you can watch my thought process on Youtube. So far, I’m happy with my choice. These do weigh a lot and they can be a pain to pack, but I’ve worn them rafting in the Sacred Valley in Peru and swimming in the rocky harbor of Cinque Terre in Italy and they’ve always been comfortable, stable and stylish. (Stylish might be going a bit far.)
I was anxious about my shoes. So much of what we do on a daily basis means being comfortable on our feet. Staying on the road for months at a time means something, durable, comfortable and stylish. Well, two out of three ain’t bad.
I don’t love the look of these shoes, particularly in more formal situations. They also are essentially a giant sign around your neck painted: “AMERICAN,” but you can’t have it all.
With the Gore Tex version of these, what I did get was incredibly durable and comfortable shoes that worked hiking the Inca Trail, climbing dunes at Soussusvlei and working in a kitchen in Tuscany. They are decently waterproof, reasonably breathable and not in total shambles despite all the abuse they endure.
When I wear shoes, I’m wearing these. And that’s working pretty well. Thanks Merrell.