How to Travel Light as an Adventure Enthusiast

Packing for any kind of trip can be stressful so trying to pack light when going on an adventure trip can seem even more daunting. However, over the years, I’ve developed a pretty good packing strategy. Packing used to take me 1-2 hours + but now takes me 30 minutes at most. If I’m going on a super technical trip, I’ll start off by making a packing list but most of the time, I don’t even end up using it since it’s become such an automatism. Here are some tips for those of you hoping to improve their packing game!

What my carry-on looked like on my most recent trip to Alberta.

1) Pick the right suitcase. I used to lug around heavy large suitcases but in the last two years, I travel with a carry-on suitcase 99% of the times. The main reasons being:

a) you always usually pack way more than you actually need so it forces you to pack smart
b) carry-on suitcases are free of charge on most airlines
c) light carry-ons are way easier to travel with especially when out adventuring

I’ve been using MEC’s Rolling Continent Carry On Pack because it’s the perfect combination between a rolling suitcase but can also be transformed into a backpack if needed. It’s also incredibly lightweight (only weighs 2.35 kgs) and is filled with tons of different pockets and compartments, helping keep your suitcase organized at all times.

2) Compartmentalize. The best way to stay organize and travel light when bringing tons of adventure gear is to divide everything up in different compartments. That way you can always know where all of your gear is and only bring the essentials.

I used to put everything in different bags but lately I’ve been using MEC’s Packing Cubes, that come in different sizes and colours. What’s key about these cubes is that they’re water-resistant, which is a must when you’re putting muddy or wet gear back into your suitcase after adventuring. The clamshell lid also allows for easy access of it’s content plus there’s a nifty little handle that helps with carrying or hanging. Plus, it helps keep your clothes wrinkle-free!

It’s hip to be square. Keep the contents of your luggage organized and wrinkle-free with this package of three lightweight packing cubes. They are also useful for keeping shoes and dirty laundry separate from the clean stuff.

These cubes come in different sizes.

3) Bring Layers. The best way to keep clothing and things at a minimum when adventure traveling is packing layers. No matter where I’m going, I’ll always bring with me both warm and cool clothing. I’ll focus on pieces that I can layer as depending on the weather and destination, the weather can change in a heartbeat. I also always bring a few pairs of warm socks (which I stuff in my shoes, so they take up less space!) I’m also one to pack 1 “fancy” outfit for any post-adventure dinners or potential outings. Layers also allow you to mix and match your clothing plus, the thing I’ve realized over the years is that you don’t need a different outfit for every day you’re away. I used to bring WAY too much clothing and realized most of it would go unused.

4) Essential Tools. Depending on what kind of adventure you’re heading out for, there are certainly a few essential tools that you will want to bring with you. If you’re heading out camping, hiking, trail running, a multi-tool will be your best friend. Bringing a backpack or water pack or trail running is also a must for almost any kind of adventure. A rain layer is a necessity no matter what you’re doing.  I’ve been packing MEC’s Stuffit Long Jacket because it’s water resistant and packs up into its own pocket. If you’re going cycling, bring a tire repair kit, wilderness camping bring a water filter and a map/compass. I also always bring a headlight, whistle, ear plugs, waterproof dry bag, first aid kit, portable phone charger and a bathing suit, especially if I want to go open water swimming.

This MEC backpack is super easy to pack into your suitcase. It even has a pouch for hydration at the back.

5) A Good Pair of Shoes. The trickiest part of packing for me remains footwear. As someone who likes to trail run, hike as well as road run, do gym workouts, go to the beach, swim, surf, etc. footwear is always the trickiest part because it’s also the heaviest and what usually takes up the most space in a suitcase. I now always pack the following:
a) hiking shoes/boots (depending on the kind of trails I’ll be doing)
b) running shoes (either trail running or road running shoes)
c) sandals/flip flops (for the beach, pool or lounging around)
d) city shoes (heels, slip ons, etc.)

These Keen Targhee III are the perfect lightweight hiking boots to bring with you on a trip.

A few additional tips:
-wear your bulkiest/heaviest items if you can
-roll your clothes instead of folding them
-buy travel size toiletries or put them in reusable travel size containers (less than 100 ml)

Happy Adventuring!

This article was written in collaboration with MEC but all opinions are my own.