If you’ve ever stepped foot inside an outdoor gear shop, it's really easy to get instantly overwhelmed by all the products. There's hundreds of options for everything, and you could easily blow all your money, end up dragging around a massive backpack, and ruin all your adventure fun.
Here's a different approach - a minimalist guide to outdoor gear. Whether you're taking the scenic route, going on a hike, or just out exploring nature, here's the essentials you should consider taking with you. Cut the crap, only take what you need.
Reusable water bottle
The most important thing you should always bring is a high quality reusable water bottle because when you need a drink, you need water. An insulated bottle will keep hot beverages hot and cold ones cold, so it’s perfect for any season. Look for a water bottle that’s lightweight, easy to carry, and with a quality seal you can easily open and close.
In my experience, a faulty or squeaky seal can really ruin your day, by either leaking out in your bag, or making the most annoying loud, squeaky sounds when you're trying to be quiet. So spend some time testing them out to making sure you get the one you want. A quality reusable bottle will last, so it's going to be a long-term purchase.
A flashlight is another essential tool, because when you need it - you need it. Nothing else can do its job. You can use your phone as a flashlight screen, but what happens if your phone breaks or the battery dies, and you need to see. Then you’re screwed.
There have been times where my phone’s brightest setting couldn’t even illuminate when I needed to see, such as a key lock, or door lock, and an extra light was absolutely essential for me to get where I needed to go. There are also times when you're actively using your phone or your tablet, and you physically can't use it as a light at the same time. So grab a tiny, lightweight flashlight with a long battery lifespan, and keep it with you just in case, because you don't need it - until you do.
Protect your eyes from UV damage, have an easier time on your adventure, and look cool doing it. Grab a pair of high quality, lightweight sunglasses to bring along. If you wear contacts, get a pair of prescription sunglasses made, so that you have a backup prescription if you need it. Contacts lenses can’t be trusted, they get scratched and lost, and needing to see clearly is too important to overlook.
Make sure the frames fit your face, and try them them on before purchasing, to ensure a good and comfortable fit. I've made the mistake of buying super cheap sunglasses on a whim on the street, only to find out later that they pinch my ears, or hurt my nose, or even break in half after a few uses. Broken glasses will definitely ruin your day, and all just because you wanted to save some cash.
When you can’t get to water, or wash your hands, a small bottle of hand sanitizer is a handy helper to keep you hands clean and keep you safe. Whether you're hanging out in the city, or out exploring in nature, germs are everywhere, and on everything. Aim for zero waste travel by using a reusable soft travel bottle and simply refilling it from larger hand sanitizer bottles.
These items are some of the essentials that'd I'd recommend to anyone interested in traveling, hiking, camping, or simply just getting out and exploring nature. You want to have a fun adventure and appreciate your time, and these few items will allow to have an easier, safer experience because they are necessary tools when you need them. Think light and travel light. Your mind, body and wallet will thank you.