This Is The Essential Gear I pack In My Travel Bag

Your day bag and gear are quite possibly the most important pieces of equipment you will have for your entire trip. You will carry guide books and all of your camera gear in here, as well as your money and passport. Your day pack is essential, and can make or break the success of your trip.

I’ve been getting many emails lately asking what my typical travel gear looks like. Today I’ll go through my essential travel gear. Through many trials and error I have now successfully mastered the weight and tools that are worthwhile bringing along traveling with you. Everyone’s gear will be different, but with this guide you can get a good idea of what works for me and aid you in fine tuning your bag to your own needs.

For Capturing it All

This Is The Essential Gear I pack In My Travel Bag
Sony a7

The Sony A7

The 24.3 mega pixel full frame is my camera of choice. I have used dozens of cameras while travelling and I can honestly tell you that this is the best camera for travel in this price range on the market. It’s very light and durable, so if you’re used to travelling with bulky SLR equipment then prepare to be amazed at how light this camera is when compared, and how much weight you can reduce by switching to it.

Don’t even get me started on image quality… Its full frame!! With a full frame sensor and powerful 24.3 mega pixels your images come out so incredibly smooth and detailed. In low lighting the camera works great as well making some of my night shots phenomenal quality.

There are tons of features on this camera as well. It has all the basic SLR settings, but offers features great for bracketing and HDR. The price is also amazing, selling for around 1200 USD with lens it’s significantly cheaper than any of Nikon’s or Canon’s full frame models and a fraction of the weight. This camera is also lightning fast and features a level within the view finder so your pictures come out looking even and properly angled.

I am in absolute love with this camera!

I cannot wait to start experimenting with more from the huge line up of lenses Sony offers. There is also an E mount that can be purchased so you can use almost any camera lens on the market. If you’re even remotely serious about travel photography, this is definitely a camera you should consider buying.

Sony E-mount lenses
35 mm full frame (35.8×23.9 mm), Exmor® CMOS sensor
Approx. 24.3 megapixels
Movies: ISO 200-25600 equivalent, AUTO (ISO 200-6400 equivalent), Still images: ISO 100-25600 (ISO numbers up from ISO 50 can be set as expanded ISO range), AUTO (ISO 100-6400, selectable lower limit and upper limit)
Approx. 270 shots (viewfinder) / approx. 340 shots (LCD screen) (CIPA standard)
XGA OLED, 0.51 in (0.5 type) electronic viewfinder (color)

*Update – I now have the Sony A7 R II and I’m speechless. Check out my Instagram or more recent posts on the blog for examples of the images I’ve taken with it!

This Is The Essential Gear I pack In My Travel Bag
Ona Lima camera strap

Ona Lima Camera Strap

When you have the coolest camera on the market you must equip it with the sexiest gear. This strap is the Cadillac of camera straps worthy enough for serious adventurers. The strap itself is made from Italian tanned leather that is soft and strong, but not bulky like other camera straps. The top shoulder pad is made from waxed canvas and padded neoprene making it comfortable… and hell, you look like a bad ass traveller with this strapped around you. Travelling isn’t all about style, but when something as simple as a camera strap makes you feel even more bad ass then usual, why wouldn’t you.

This Is The Essential Gear I pack In My Travel Bag
Go Pro Hero 4 Black

GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition

The top of the line in the GoPro series is the Hero 4 Black. This should be included in every traveller’s day bag. You don’t necessarily need to have the top of the line GoPro, but its size and ease of use makes it an asset when trying to capture high quality videos and sounds on your trips. The GoPro can also go absolutely anywhere! Scuba Diving? Sure why not; take it into the depths of the sea with you. How about ripping through the mountains on motor bike? Yep that too; in fact my GoPro has survived some pretty nasty motorbike accidents. As far as quality goes, how does 4K resolution sound? The image quality is unmatched by any of the rival companies. The only downside is the sound quality, but this is easily fixed with GoPro’s massive line up of purchasable extras, one being an external microphone. The GoPro also offers a unique fish eye lens that looks fantastic in photos giving your image a more unique personal touch. The GoPro is small and great to carry around. The days of bulky video cameras are long gone and the Hero 4 has come to save us. It takes up no room at all and weighs virtually nothing. My only complaint with the Hero 4 is the battery life. Be sure to purchase extra batteries and keep them charged as it will usually only last 30 minutes or so.

GoPro Hero 4 Black Specs
Camera: 3.1oz (89g)
Camera: 41.0mm height, 59.0mm width, 29.6mm depth
Photo Resolutions
12MP (Default)
Video Resolutions
4K, 2.7K, 1080p

*Update – I also have a new model of the go pro. You can find the newest model here

This Is The Essential Gear I pack In My Travel Bag
Go Pole

The Pole

The best of the extra’s that the GoPro is compatible with. The pole extends up to 24 inches. When it isn’t extended its small enough to fit in any day pack. The pole is great for getting unique videos from distant angles without having someone else video other than yourself. Great for hiking, diving, and getting those awesome videos of yourself walking through a busy market. This pole is also cool because it’s not the selfie stick… don’t get one of those by the way. This pole is easy to use and there is a small mount with a screw to lock the camera into place so you don’t have to worry about it releasing. It also comes with a strap to go around your wrist; very valuable if your hanging your camera out the window of a car.

This Is The Essential Gear I pack In My Travel Bag
Ona Camera Bag

Ona Camera Bag

Expensive bag, but worth the money. This is my favourite side bag I have ever used. Made from waxed canvas and Italian tanned leather, this bag is incredibly stylish but most of all, durable and strong. The inside has extra padding and adjustable compartments designed to keep your camera safe without a second camera bag. I have personally taken my bag through rain, snow, and sand storms all while my camera has been kept perfectly safe and in perfect condition. There are also small compartments inside the flap that are great for passports, mp3’s and other small items. On the inside of the bag I set the divider to keep my camera tight and secure and it left tons of extra room for my GoPro and guide books. Other side bags I have used the strap tends to break after a month or two of intense traveling, but not this bag. This bag has survived over 7 months of rough travel and still looks great. I highly recommend spending extra and getting this bag as it will last you longer and save you money after time.

This Is The Essential Gear I pack In My Travel Bag
Fjallraven Rucksack No.21

Fjallraven Rucksack No.21

My day pack of choice. This Swedish company makes some of the best quality and durability small bags on the market. First of all this bag looks like an explorers bag, giving that extra “I know what I’m doing” look to it. This bag is made from quite possibly the strongest waxed material I have ever seen. This bag can go through hell and back no problem. The inside of the bag is loaded with different pockets and compartments but has a nice simple open concept that is great for storing my camera and such. The top entry is tightened closed with a drawstring so no need of worrying about a zipper breaking while travelling. It’s also fairly water proof and has a soft pad insert in the back for extra durability. The straps are canvas and leather with adjustable buckles so once again there are no worries of anything breaking while traveling. This bag is simply awesome and I won’t travel anywhere without it!

This Is The Essential Gear I pack In My Travel Bag
Keffiyeh Scarf

Keffiyeh Scarf

The Keffiyeh scarf has been used for generations by explorers, military personal, and anyone who is wants to look much cooler than Mr. Headband over there. The Arabs have used this scarf for years! It’s practical for covering your face during sandstorms, wrapping your head for cover from the scorching sun, covering both head and face for warmth. This scarf should be a tool all travellers take advantage of. I will never travel without mine. Let’s be honest, it looks really cool as well. Slap this baby around your neck and take charge of one of my favourite traveller tools.

Lonely Planet Phrase Book

Some countries you travel and can get by with only speaking English. Some countries you travel and need to speak some of the local dialect. This is true for a tourist, but we are travellers. Travellers always come prepared with at least basic knowledge of the local language. It earns you respect and impresses the locals. Come on this is what separates us apart from regular tourists! Now that you have the hunger and motivation to learn a language you can start with any of Lonely Planet’s language phrase books. They literally have a phrase book to every single language on this planet. So you want to learn Swahili? Sure it’s there, how about Tibetan… yes they have that as well. The guide books are not just great cause of the variety, but they also break down the words so us English speakers can properly pronounce difficult tones and sounds. They also provide you with the alphabet and every phrase is also written in the local alphabet if you find yourself not being able to pronounce any of the words. I never travel without a phrase book as you should not either. Be a traveller!
This Is The Essential Gear I pack In My Travel Bag

Guide Book

Some days when I travel I leave my guide book at the guest house. Most days when I travel I carry a guide book for its maps, food, sights, tips, the list goes on and on. Travelling without a guide book does not make a lot of sense these days. There are countless brands and everyone has their own opinion on what they like, but the best thing is to just take the book that speaks to you. The authors of these guide books know there stuff. They have made all the mistakes for you and provide you with tips on how to have a more full travel experience. The guide books also give you great ideas on itineraries and lots of “off the beaten track” tips to get away from the tourist trails. I like two kinds of guide books. My favourite is Lonely Planet. I love Lonely Planet because of it’s in depth look at a country. There books are so detailed that I often find myself reading them at home when I am not even travelling. Lonely Planet makes a HUGE variety of books, I have even used Lonely Planet guide books in Afghanistan! I recently did a post that focuses on Lonely Planet’s books and how to use them better. My second favourite guide book brand is named Bradt. I don’t particularly like Bradt as a guide book, but they make books for really unknown destinations. For example I have the guide books for Mali, Yemen, Sudan, and Congo. Lonely Planet does not make guide books specifically for these countries, but Bradt does. Whatever your preference of guide book is; it becomes an essential tool that you should carry with you most of the time.

This Is The Essential Gear I pack In My Travel Bag
Manfrotto Tripod

Manfrotto Tripod

The tiny Manfrotto Tripod is my favourite mini Tripod. This is simply because of its size and sturdiness. It’s tiny, but very sturdy. Standing only around seven inches or so high it doesn’t give much use if you are trying to take a photo in a flat area, but plant it atop a car or hand railing and you have yourself a eye level sturdy tripod. My larger tripod is great, but let’s be honest, nobody wants to haul around a big heavy tripod, it’s just not practical while travelling. The base connection of the tripod is on a kind of ball swivel axel. So even if your tripod is not level, you can just adjust it to whatever level you need to get that perfect shot. So if you’re willing to look around for places to put your tripod on then you will save yourself much room and weight from your bulky tripod.

This Is The Essential Gear I pack In My Travel Bag
Vanguard Veo 204AB Tripod

Vanguard Veo 204AB Tripod

When the little tripod won’t cut it and I have to bring in my heavy duty gear I use the Vanguard Veo Tripod. The Veo is a sturdy aluminum tripod with great features. The top connecting base can be completely flipped around making the entire unit quite small in comparison to other tripods. For being a larger tripod it is also fairly light at 2.8 pounds and can extend to a total of 53.1 inches! It’s good for cameras up to 8.8 pounds, so most camera models will have no issue unless you have some serious lenses. The Veo’s rubber feet also make sure your tripod doesn’t slip on smooth surfaces. The main reason why I like this tripod is because of its size when folded up. It fits great in my backpack, but hangs out the side of my day pack. I only bring my big tripod when I’m trying to get a very specific shot otherwise I am not a fan of hauling heavy equipment around. This tripod however is tolerable enough even for me to haul.

Side Bag or Day Pack?

Ah yes, the do I bring a side bag or day pack saga. I enjoy both to be honest! I tend to use my side bag a lot more than the day pack although. This is because I find the side bag more functional. It is easier to get at, better for security as it’s difficult for thieves to get down this low without you noticing and to be honest once you get used to carrying a side bag its very comfortable. My day pack is great for when I’m not in a crowded market or city and out in the country side hiking or in a remote area. The day pack is better for when you don’t need to access it as much; this being when you’re out for a long hike. The day pack in longer hikes is definitely more comfortable and getting over or under obstacles like rocks is so much easier with a day pack rather than the side bag. The day packs major flaw is since it’s on your back there is a major security threat from not being able to see it. Having to take it off often to get your camera or wallet is also a hindrance. So if you do as I do and use both strategically you can get the most use out of your side bag and day pack.

Jade Fish Hook Pendant 

Every traveler has there good luck charm. The Maori style fish hook has been known as the travelers good luck charm. Creating positive energy and believed to provide safe journey over water. Therefore it is considered a good luck charm by travelers, Sea voyages, fishermen and surfers. This Fish Hook is very special to me, because it is made from solid Canadian Nephrite Jade from Northern British Columbia. So not only does this travelers good luck charm appeal to me because it looks good, it also represent the country I am from! I never leave home without it. The company Jade Mine, is a Canadian owned company who makes these beautiful fish hooks. Check them out here!

Other Things I Carry (or don’t)

Spare SD cards – Spare SD cards are very important! It always happens you say “I won’t need more GB” Then you are I the middle of Mongolia with the closest electronic store being 1000KM away and out of space on your SD. It’s always a great idea to bring more SD’s with you.

Music – Don’t get me started on how important this is. Be prepared! Stock your MP3 with lots of music and get yourself a good set of headphones. It will help with those 30 hour bus and train rides. It’s also fun to let others listen to music from your home! Great conversation starter.

Passport – Make sure to carry your passport. While I was in Kyrgyzstan I decided not to carry mine after I was told to. I was arrested and detained. Lesson learned. Always carry your passport!

Go Wallet Free – That’s right I don’t carry a wallet. Wallets are just easy targets for thieves. It’s just asking for trouble. What do thieves look for? A place where you store all your money, cards and ID. Do yourself a favour and don’t carry a wallet. Roll your money into a bundle and carry it front pocket. Put your credit card with your passport and your debit in a book or pouch somewhere. This way you always have a backup plan, plus money is super easy for you to access, but incredibly awkward for a thief to get at without being noticed.

Pen and Notebook – Quite possibly the most useful travel tool is a pen. I however always seem to lose mine and am constantly asking people for one. Try to always have a pen. Many times customs will not have any and will take away precious travel time while you search for one. The notebook is great for jotting down phone numbers, directions or drawing that funky dude in front of you when you’re bored.

What’s in your bag? Tell me below in the comments!

Stephen Gollan

Uncharted Backpacker is a glimpse at the past eleven years of globetrotting I have done. Now at over ninety countries I share my travel knowledge for you so you too can travel the world and see what wonders it has to offer.

View stories

Leave a reply

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