Rick-Steves-Pack-List-Adapted-for-Adventuros-Travelers-02

Rick Steve’s Packing List – Adapted for Adventurous Travelers

Rick Steve’s and the “Rick Steve’s Packing List” are legendary, nearly perfect for lightweight, minimalist travel – making your travels more enjoyable by taking only what’s necessary and leaving the extras (and your worries) behind. 

Rick Steve's packing list - adapted for adventurous travelers
Rick Steve’s packing list is great…but you’ll need a little extra for Southeast Asia and South America

Unfortunately, Rick Steve specializes in travel to Western Europe, a predictable bit of civilization where things aren’t likely to get “adventurous” or wander off the beaten track. Lucky for you, A Brother Abroad is here to update that epic packing list for nearly any adventure around the globe – far beyond Western Europe.

These days, gap year travel and the average “two weeks a year” are taking travelers to amazing places throughout Asia, riding motorcycles and hiking mountains, trekking through the backcountry in South America, exploring the Mad Max style badlands of the Middle East and Africa, and beyond.  As great as Rick Steve’s original packing list was, the part time explorers of our generation need a few small upgrades to stay ready for adventure…and stay stylish.  Don’t sweat, A Brother Abroad has you covered.

For the last two years, I’ve traveled with a single carry on backpack, with the gear to look good in Portugal, hike to Everest Base Camp, motorbike through Laos, and wander to other awesome locales – all with a single bag of gear on my back.

Read on for the Rick Steve’s Packing List, still lightweight, minimalist, and awesome, but updated to keep you ready for the adventurous travel I hope everyone experiences at some point.

Contents of this Rick Steve’s Packing List – Adapted for Adventurous Travelers

Rick Steve’s Packing List – Adapted for Adventurous Travelers

  • 4 – T-Shirts: Baselayer shirts of wool or synthetic material
  • 1 – Long Sleeve Button Down (like flannel – doubles for insulation)
  • 1 – Rain Jacket (Hard Shell, packable)
  • 2 – Pairs of Pants, one technical for active wear, one Chinos or jeans style
  • 2 – Pairs of shorts – suitable for swimming, hiking, and working out
  • 5 – Pairs of travel underwear
  • 5 – Pairs of wool socks (lightweight or midweight)
  • 1 – Pair of versatile travel shoes – sturdy enough for hiking, stylish enough for citywear
  • 1 – Pair of sandals – “running sandals” or “adventure sandals”
  • 1 – Sarong
  • 1 – Carryon Sized Travel or Backpacking Backpack (~40L to 50L)
  • 1 – Compressible Daypack
  • 1 – Slim Waistpack or “Fanny Pack”
  • 1 – Smartphone (Doubles as a digital camera)
  • 1 – Tablet (For entertainment, E-Reading)
  • 1 – Ear plugs and Sleeping Mask
  • 1 – Universal Plug Adapter
  • 1 – Reusable Water Bottle, 1Liter (Nalgene, Kleen Kanteen)
  • 1 – Packable, Lightweight camping towel
  • 1 – Bottle Bronner’s All Purpose Soap
  • 1 – Minimalist Sewing Kit (needle, nylon thread)
  • 1 – Dry Bag (10L to 20L – For Waterproofing and washing clothes on the road)
  • Basic Toiletries (Toothpaste, Soap)
  • Emergency cash (Hidden, $100)

Apps

  • Maps.Me
  • Google Trips
  • Booking, Hostelworld, AirnBnB
  • Google Drive

Documents:

  • Money Money Money – Cash (US, Euros, or Local), Debit Card, Credit Card

Scanned & Saved Documents

  • Passport
  • Driver’s License
  • International Driving Permit

Optional Items (That I choose not to take…read on to understand why…)

  • Sleepwear
  • Swim Shorts
  • Toiletries

Expanded Rick Steve’s Packing List (to help you pick the right gear)


4 – T-Shirts: Baselayer shirts of wool or synthetic material

Aim for wool or synthetic t-shirts.  You’ll be able to get away with wearing each of these for more washes than cotton without stinking as quickly. Additionally, wool and synthetic shirts dry more quickly and are easier to wash


1 – Long Sleeve Button Down (like flannel – doubles for insulation)

A single long sleeve shirt allows you to switch up your style but also doubles as a layer of insulation when it gets chilly.  I’m a fan of dark colored flannel shirts and great brands such as Patagonia, Columbia, and Eddie Bauer make great, lightweight, technical flannel shirts that dry quickly, keep you warm, and stay warm when wet


1 – Rain Jacket (Hard Shell, packable)

Gore-Tex is great and “softshell” jackets are great too, but a simple, “hard shell” rain jacket, such as the Patagonia Torrentshell packs down small and flat, works amazingly well in downpours regardless of how wet things get.


2 – Pairs of Pants, one technical for active wear, one Chinos or jeans style

Aim for at least one pair of breathable pants that offer a bit of stretch and dry quickly, and one pair of pants that style up.

For the active wear pants, trekking pants are a great option, but jogging pants, such as these pants from H&M work surprisingly well on adventures, hikes, and sleeping in.

For the “good looking pants” chinos are a great option and are lighter and less bulking than jeans

If you have the extra money, its worth stepping it up and getting a pair of travel pants that incorporate stretch, are synthetic, dry quickly.  For instance, for the last year, I’ve been using the Outlier Slim Dungarees giving me a lighter bag while staying stylish


2 – Pairs of shorts – suitable for swimming, hiking, and working out

Ensure both pairs of shorts are suitable for hiking, swimming, and looking good and you’ll lighten your bag quite a bit.  For instance, the Myles Apparel Everyday Shorts, the Columbia Silver Ridge Shorts, and the Outlier New Way Shorts are all great options as they can stand up to any activity in water or on land and still look good.

For more ideas, check out our list of the 5 best shorts for travel


5 – Pairs of travel underwear

Travel underwear are amazing, in that you can wear them longer without washing – without them getting funky too quickly.  Additionally, travel underwear dry quickly making it much easier to wash them on the road using a dry bag


5 – Pairs of wool socks (lightweight or midweight)

Wool socks keep your feet dry and comfortable without getting funky, unlike cotton.  They’re well worth the investment.  Any well rated wool socks on Amazon will be worth the price and make your life much easier.


1 – Pair of versatile travel shoes

There is no perfect travel shoe, but it is possible to find a shoe perfect for your travels.  Consider the extent of activities you’ll be doing (walking tours, trekking, playing in the rain) and check our list of best travel shoes for some great ideas that will fit your adventures and still look good.


1 – Pair of sandals – ideally “running sandals” or “adventure sandals”

Though you could just bring flip flops, having a sandal that is ready for adventure is perfect for hot weather adventures, such as in Southeast Asia and South America, and doubles as a shoe for the shower.

I have used and loved the Xero Trails for the last year.  Luna Sandals are another great option as well as Chocos if you prefer a sturdier hiking sandal


1 – Sarong

An extremely useful item considering how much space it takes up, doubling as a towel, a beach towel, a scarf to keep warm, and a tool for changing clothes in public.


1 – Carryon Sized Travel or Backpacking Backpack (~40L to 50L)

A 40L to 50L backpack will fit this entire packing list perfectly, while still fitting the size restrictions of airline carry on baggage.  Traveling with only a carry on saves you hours of hassle at the airport, eliminates the risk of losing your bag, and saves quite a bit of cash on paying to check bags on budget airlines


1 – Compressible Daypack

A compressible, packable daypack such as the REI Flash 22 is perfect as a daypack, as it compresses and fits at the bottom of your bag between uses


1 – Slim Waistpack or “Fanny Pack

Perfect for stowing valuables and keeping them close but much more stylish than the classic “money belt”

This fanny pack is the one I use, is fairly cheap, has a nice slime profile and actually looks really good as far as waist packs go.


1 – Smartphone (Doubles as a digital camera)

Smartphones are ubiquitous these days and make travel much easier.  Keep your bag light by using your smart phone as your digital camera too


1 – Waterproof, Shockproof Smart phone case

Adding a decent waterproof case like a Lifeproof Case can save you hundreds of dollars on a broken phone and also turns your phone into a cool, waterproof adventure camera, saving the trouble of buying/bringing a digital camera


1 – Tablet (For entertainment, E-Reading) + Bluetooth Keyboard

A good, compact tablet can take the place of a laptop and e-reader, especially if you pair it with a cheap, portable Bluetooth keyboard

I highly recommend the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 7” for under $100 as a great, budget friendly, versatile tablet to take as a replacement to your laptop and e-reader.


1 – Ear plugs and Sleeping Mask

The world can be loud and bright…especially when you’re trying to sleep.  Get a nice set of ear plugs and contoured eye mask will do wonders for your sanity via sleep.


1 – Universal Plug Adapter

In many places in the world, you can purchase a power adapter cheaply, but having your own, universal adapter saves you the money and ensures you can charge your electronics on layovers around the world.


1 – Reusable Water Bottle, 1Liter (Nalgene, Kleen Kanteen)

Plastic is killing the planet right now and is especially a problem in adventurous destinations where waste disposal is still being figured out.  Avoid contributing to the problem by bringing your own refillable bottle.

The Nalgene and the Kleen Kanteen are my favorites as they are durable and easy to clean


1 – Packable, Lightweight camping towel

Invaluable during travel as it takes up minimal space and a towel is pretty much necessary


1 – Bottle Bronner’s All Purpose Soap

Dr. Bronners is the perfect all purpose soap as it is great for everything from washing clothes, to skin, to even being used as a bodywash.  Carrying a small bottle keeps you ready for more situations than you think


1 – Minimalist Sewing Kit (needle, nylon thread)

Needles and heavy duty, nylon, black thread will come in handier than you think for replacing broken gear when you’re too far away to purchase a replacement


1 – Dry Bag (10L to 20L – For Waterproofing and washing clothes on the road)

For adventurous travelers, a cheap, decent dry bag is perfect for waterborne adventures, rainy days, and even washing clothes (instead of using the hostel/hotel sink). 

Pickup a dry bag on the cheap on Amazon


Emergency cash (Hidden, $100)

You never know what might happen, but carrying a single $100 bill can get you through most circumstances


Apps

  • Maps.Me: Valuable for offline maps and recording recommendations from other travelers
  • Google Trips: Great for travel research and recording itinerary info
  • Booking, Hostelworld, AirnBnB: Essential for booking accommodations anywhere
  • Google Drive: Perfect for storing files and accessing them on your tablet or smart phone

Scanned & Saved Documents

  • Passport
  • Driver’s License
  • International Driving Permit

Optional Items (That I choose not to take…read on to understand why…)

  • Sleepwear: I prefer to save space by using jogging pants or a pair of shorts
  • Swim Shorts: Picking the right travel shorts will save you the trouble of carrying dedicated swim trunks

Great Related Minimalist Packing Content

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *