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10 essential items on your packing list

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What to pack on a camping trip?

I go on a trip and take with me: my backpack, sleeping bag, tent, toothbrush,…. We have an extensive packing list for cycling, hiking, canoeing and skiing. There are a few items in our packing list that have great added value for us when travelling. We want to travel light, in different weather conditions, temperatures and with different means of transport. The more multifunctional a product, the better. These are our ten essential products that we always take, no matter what adventure (except the Birkenstocks in winter).
1. Waka Waka solar charger

On the front of the handlebar bag or on top of the backpack, from the first ray of sunshine we ensure that our Waka Waka solar light charges. In the evening we use the Waka Waka in the tent as a light source or to charge our electronics. At the lightest setting it will give light for about 12 hours. Waka Waka is a social enterprise that uses its profits to take solar chargers to villages in critical situations, which was a motivation for us to purchase one. The battery capacity is limited (3,000 mAh), so we mainly use it as lighting and to charge small electrical devices such as our Sigma GPS and e-reader.

2. Rain poncho

Raincoats are fun, but sweating makes you as wet on the inside as on the outside. We have a good raincoat, but only use it for cold and wind or when we are not moving and it rains. A poncho, on the other hand, has much more room to ventilate. It works perfectly during cycling and hiking, only during canoeing you don't use the legs and a raincoat with rain pants is a better option.

3. Sleeping bag liner

A sleeping bag liner has multiple functions. It ensures more hygiene of your sleeping bag because the sweat is absorbed in the liner instead of in the sleeping bag. It provides extra warmth depending on the thickness and material of the liner. And it is ideal as a replacement for the sleeping bag in warm climates. Without a sleeping bag it is sometimes just too cold, with a sleeping bag too warm, but a liner gives an ideal temperature. In normal temperatures we use a silk liner, but for winter camping we have a Sea to Summit cold weather cotton liner.

4. Cutting board

To cut our vegetables or to prepare our wraps, we always use a plastic place mat as a cutting board. No sand or grass in the food, and no blunt knife by cutting on a stone. It hardly weighs anything, takes up almost no space and has the perfect shape for quick storage in the back of the backpack or the Ortlieb bicycle panniers.

5. The right tent

If you travel around the world by bike, you will come in hot and cold climates, in storms and heavy rains. The freedom of the bicycle is to be able to pitch your tent anywhere and then you would like to sit dry and warm. For winter camping, canoeing and traveling by bicycle we use a Hilleberg Nallo 3GT, a four season tent, which is like our house. We chose the GT version, which has an extra vestibule where we can put all our panniers inside and always sit dry ourselves. As a result, the tent is slightly heavier, but we are happy to carry that extra weight. When hiking and travelling in the summer, we use The North Face Talus 2, a lightweight two-person tent. The biggest advantage is that it can stand alone and has very good ventilation.

6. Spotify subscription

With our Spotify premium subscription, we always have music available. We always have some playlists that we can listen offline, and if we have internet we can download a new playlist. We can also make our own playlist with all the music we get to know in the country. For example, we made our own playlists pedalear in Sudamerica en Route du Quebec, which bring back wonderful memories all the time.

7. Birkenstocks

We cannot take a lot of clothes on a world trip and certainly shoes take up a lot of space. So the shoes you have with you, better be comfortable. That is why we vow, in addition to our walking shoes, to Birkenstocks. They last much longer than five-dollar-beach-slippers and are healthy for your feet. You can walk on it all day without pain on your heels, and even an easy mountain hike or a full day of cycling is no problem. Our feet are happy with it!

8. Kobo e-reader

We cross many countries and have enough time in our tent to read. With the e-reader we can easily take a thousand books with us and enjoy reading with the backlight. The battery will last for at least a month and it is so light that your arms won’t get tired. With the English dictionary, reading English books is even fun. In addition, you can put different file formats on the ereader, which means that we are not limited to books, but can also read travel guides, reports and articles more easily.

9. Lightweight handsaw

We carry a saw in our backpack and that comes in handy in a wet forest. You won’t find dry wood on the ground because wood that has been there for some time and retains water. You look for fallen and broken branches and trees that are not lying flat on the ground. These are dead and dried out by the wind, even in a rain-drenched forest. Often fallen and broken branches are still attached to the tree, but with the help of a saw you can quickly build a campfire. It is one of the secrets of making a fire. Our handsaw is a Wolverine foldable handsaw with an 18 centimeter saw blade.

10. Foam seat pad

A foam mat to sit on in wet and cold weather, or on dirty surfaces. Perfect for keeping the buttocks dry, warm and clean, but also as a pad to put things on when the ground is wet. It is one of Zoë's favourite items and has been in our packing list from day one. After a lot of rain the first days on the Appalachian Trail, Olivier decided to make one himself out of a sleeping mat he found. We used the mats for much more than we could have foreseen and it became one of the most essential tools in our packing list.


  1. Robert Steen says:

    Roughly 40 days out from Springer and both pumped and anxious. Hardly a novice at this camping lifestyle, nonetheless. your article was as thorough as anything I’ve read about the Trail. Thanks a lot for that.

    • WeLeaf says:

      Hi Robert! That’s great to hear. Did you start hiking 40 days ago in Springer, in the middle of the winter? Respect!! Happy trails 🙂

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