The next time you go hiking, camping, or set off on a backpacking trip around the world, don’t pack useless items of clothing.
I couldn’t help but laugh when I recently saw a photo of a woman standing in front of Machu Picchu in a floral-red dress with brown-suede sandals. Girl, we all know you didn’t hike there wearing that. The worst part? She, or her boyfriend, literally had to lug those clothes all the way there in their hiking pack.
While I’m well aware many of these shots are paid posts and the clothing is more-often-than-not supplied by the label, it’s important to make your weekend get-aways easier by not packing useless clothing.
So, here are a few pointers to help guide you while packing for your next backpacking trip or multi-day hike.
1. If you’ve never worn it before, it won’t come to any use in the bush
If you’ve ever whispered to your wardrobe, “I haven’t worn this before, but it might look cute in the Simpson Desert,” consider this.
There’s a reason you haven’t put it on: it’s uncomfortable, the material makes you sweat, it doesn’t fit, or deep-down you wish you never bought it.
Therefore, no. It won’t be of any use in the outback.
2. It all comes down to the material
When it comes to choosing the best gear for travel, camping, hiking or life in general – the type of material is everything. Here’s a little guide to what you should look out for:
Merino Wool: This magical fine wool will help you stay cooler in the heat, and warmer in the cold. It wicks moisture away from the skin, which is ideal for trekking and/or running down the airport to your connecting flight. Plus, because it’s natural, you can wear it longer without it smelling. When you do finally get around to washing it, it’ll dry quickly in the shade.
Nylon and Polyester: These moisture-wicking fabrics will help keep your skin dry, and they’re quick-drying. They’re also wrinkle-resistant and lightweight, which is great for those who don’t fold clothes!
Waterproof: Careful with this one. Lots of outdoor-wear spruikers claim that their waterproof pants will survive floods. Be sure to check that this isn’t just water resistant, and that you won’t be wearing a set of pants that are drenched in the rain. Of course, Gore-Tex is the best, but it’s hella expensive. To suit a smaller budget, read up on this advice to find what’s right for you.
Cotton: Cotton is the devil. Avoid it at all costs if you’re going for a hike. You’ve been warned.
3. Your clothing choices don’t just look silly, but you’re seeding bad ideas into people’s minds
When a first-time hiker sees a photo on Instagram of someone sitting at the summit of Mount Solitary wearing ripped jeans, converse shoes, and an off-the-shoulder top, they’re likely to assume they too will get away with tackling a Grade 5 track in clothing they’d wear to Sunday brunch.
Not only do you look like an idiot, you’re actually spreading bad advice to those who trust everything they see online.
4. Comfort comes first
Be selfish. Put your comfort and personal safety first. Who cares if you look like a dork at Everest Base Camp? You’re doing better than the on-looker who’s sitting at their grandmothers house swiping through Instagram wishing they were there.
5. Pack smart, pack essentials
Make your quick camping getaways easier by packing clothing that will benefit you. There’s no need to pack denim shorts that give you a wedgie if you’re going camping in the bush.
Actually, you’re better off packing a pair of shorts that are easy to move in – especially if you’re going to have a few beers by the fire, that way you can collapse into the swag and not have to get changed.
Same goes for travel overseas. You might not know this, but those people you’ve never met before don’t care if you wore that grey t-shirt yesterday, and they probably won’t care if you’re wearing trackie-dacks at their local shops, either. Pack clothes that can easily be layered, mixed-and-matched, and washed – that way your clothes will dry faster, and the layers will create an illusion that you’re wearing something different.
Moral of the story: you aren’t going to look cute in that velvet, pineapple-spotted dress. Not now, and certainly not at the top of Mount Kosciuszko.
At the end of the day, nobody cares if you’re in gym tights with holes around the crotch, paired with a t-shirt that’s got sweaty-arm-pits and coffee stains from 3 days ago – you made it to Machu Picchu. Own it.