These are a Few of My Favorite Things – Gear Guide December 13th, 2017 • by Matt Holmes Here at the Boundless Journeys home office in Stowe, Vermont, we often get questions from guests about what to pack, how to pack, and what we always bring for our own travel adventures. While every trip is different, here is a quick guide to some gear favorites. (Please note we have not had been paid to recommend these items. They are products we have found to be tried and true on numerous travels and adventures.) Toe Socks Recommended for: All of our walking, hiking, and trekking toursFor years I tried to prevent blisters. I wore thick socks and then switched to thinner, wicking ones. I bought sturdier boots, then lighter hiking shoes, then laced them differently, then tried a new brand altogether. I used foot powder, tape, and moleskin in more combinations than mathematically possible. Nothing worked. Was it me? Were my toes too close together? As a last resort, I tried the ridiculous-looking Injinji socks—better known as “toe socks”—that are reminiscent of a 90’s fashion fad. But, they worked. I backpacked through the Grand Canyon for five days without even a hotspot. More recently, I completed our Spain: Hiking the Camino de Santiago tour and remained blissfully blister-free. As a bonus, they are equally effective alone or under a thicker sock, depending on shoe fit, temperature, and how much padding you want for longer days on the trail. Binoculars Recommended for: Any of our Nature and Safari toursWhile technology has become ubiquitous and made nearly every moment Instagram-worthy, there is something to be said for just watching. Observing. Experiencing the moment. For this, we strongly recommend a great pair of binoculars. Whether you want a closer look as the drama of a predator-prey chase unfolds on safari, or are trying to spot a special bird in Palau, distant wildlife is best viewed with help from a zoom lens. Not sure which pair to buy? Generally, something relatively compact and lightweight will be less of a bother around your neck, and a 10x magnification will bring nature’s magic into view. We like this post from our partners at Wilderness Safaris for more information on choosing binoculars, but if you have a pair you like, bring them! Waterproof pants Recommended for: Any hiking and trekking tour at higher elevation or in a cool, wet climateI used to think rain pants were silly—it would have to be raining sideways for your legs to get wet, right? Wrong. My greenhorn status once left me soaked after a Wyoming summer storm during which I was wearing—gasp!—denim. I vowed to never again be so ill-prepared. Rain pants are waterproof and windproof (keeping you both dry and warm) and are compact to pack. From hiking along the coast and highlands of Scotland to trekking at high altitude through the Alps, you want these in your daypack. If layered properly (with long underwear and warm pants underneath, no cotton) these could even be a substitute for snow pants on our Iceland: Northern Lights Adventure. They should fit loosely, since they are designed to be worn over other clothing; if you are between sizes, opt up. Hiking poles Recommended for: All of our hiking and trekking toursEven if you hit the trail every weekend and exercise daily, your body will likely feel the cumulative fatigue of our more strenuous trips. After all, how often do you hike full days multiple days in a row? Hiking or trekking poles are a personal choice, but offer some definite advantages. Two extra points of contact on the ground help with balance on uneven terrain, relieve the stress on your knees as you descend steep singletrack, and keep your arms moving—preventing swollen hands and fingers. Most poles are lightweight and collapse easily, so you can strap them to your daypack for flat sections of the trail, or when you want your hands free to take photos. Rash Guard + Reef Safe Sunscreen Recommended for: All of our snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking tours.Long hours of exposure can do a number on your skin—and it would be unfortunate to lose a day of adventuring to a bad sunburn. While sunscreen is necessary for some areas of your body (think ears and hands), a rashguard is a better option for your torso. Why? First, it pulls double duty, protecting you from UV rays and microscopic stingies in the water that can lead to uncomfortable (though harmless) skin reactions. Additionally, most sunscreens damage fragile reef systems, a concern for our tours in Palau. Check out this link for more information on choosing the rashguard right for you. Quick-Dry, Synthetic Clothing in Light Neutral Colors Recommended for: All of our tours The benefits of quick-dry fabric are endless, as are the benefits of packing light. Less is more when you are on the go! But, packing light requires wearing the same clothes…a lot. Quick-dry material clothing can easily be handwashed in your hotel sink, and completely dry overnight (even in humid climates). Light, neutral colors are easy to mix and match, keep you cooler, and even help keep mosquitoes away (they are attracted to heat retained in darker colors). We like to think of the look as “safari-chic.” But, feel free to bring one or two favorite tops to wear for a few hours in the evening and at dinners. Of course, this list could go on much longer. I could wax on about how useful and versatile Dr. Bronners soap is—for washing hair, body, and hiking clothes. I know from experience to never travel without lip balm, ibuprofen, and a well-stocked first aid kit. Plan ahead and pare down to just the essentials—the less you have to pack and unpack, the more you can relax and enjoy your trip! Happy packing and happy trails, and feel free reach out to our staff of travel experts as you prepare for your next adventure with Boundless Journeys!