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Congratulations! You’ve done it! You’ve convinced your boss to grant you a sabbatical, your parents to allow you a gap year, or simply jacked in your job to set out on the open road. Who knows what manner of adventures await?

It may sound obvious, but packing for a long-term trip is not the same as for a short break. The chances are that you’ll be limited by what you can carry on trains and buses and up the dozen flights of stairs to hostels. You might well be travelling through several seasons and climates, through different cultures, and be trying your hand at various activities. The opportunities to do laundry might also be few and far between. So what should you pack? After nearly 10 years on the road, living out of succession of bags, here is what I’d advise.

THE BAG


Before you think what you’re going to wear, think how you are going to carry it. The Louis Vuitton trunk may look glamorous, but unless you’ve got porters to carry it, leave it at home. You need something far more practical.
Look for a bag which is spacious, water resistant, and has good straps. Wheels are optional, but a combination of back and shoulder straps are not. The Arc’teryx Carrier Duffel 75 (£115; www.arcteryx.com) and the Eagle Creek No Matter What Rolling Duffel (£108; www.eaglecreek.com) strike a good balance between style, volume and weight. To keep your smarter things looking respectable, and your dirty laundry separate from everything else, Eagle Creek’s Pack-It Specter Garment Folder (£24) and Pack-It Specter Cube (£17) are a godsend.

 

HEADWEAR


Dramatic as it sounds, a good hat can make the difference between life and death. To protect yourself against heat stroke and sunburn, you need something with a wide brim all of the way around, not just over your face. The Outdoor Research Helios Sun Hat (€35; www.outdoorresearch.co.uk), packs down flat and fits the bill. A cotton scarf will also stand you in good stead, as a turban, a neck protector, a towel, a sheet, a picnic blanket, and to cover your head at religious sites.
We all know you lose a lot of heat through your head, so if you’ll be travelling in particularly cold weather, make sure you have a warm hat too. The Canada Goose Shearling Pilot Hat ($225; www.canada-goose.com) looks great, but if it’s over budget or too bulky, Outdoor Research’s Sonic Balaclava (€40) is also a really good option.

 

TOPS



In hot temperatures, it may be tempting to where a sleeveless top, but it’s rarely the best option: you’ll stand out like a saw thumb across much of the world, and will usually be at risk of burning. Instead, opt for loose shirts with short sleeves, preferably in natural fibres, or materials which will wick away the sweat. Columbia’s Cascades Explorer Short Sleeved Shirt (£35; www.columbiasportswear.co.uk) is a good choice for men, and for women I like Paramo’s Ladies Suswa Shirt (£35; www.paramo-clothing.com). Both are made from strong fabrics which don’t crease and put up well with the rigours of hand-washing and being beaten against rocks by an Indian dhobi or similar.
In colder climes, it’s all about layering. Starting at the bottom, thermal base layers are invaluable, and can also double as pyjamas. I particularly recommend Odlo’s Revolution Underwear (from €64.95; www.odlo.com), and the Jack Wolfskin Passion Trail Seamless (£55; www.jack-wolfskin.co.uk).
Your mid-layer should be a fleece or light sweater, and you’ll want to keep this to hand to pull on on cooler evenings, even in summer. The Mountain Warehouse Asgard Merino Zip Neck Top (£79.99; www.mountainwarehouse.com) is well-suited for this.
The real insulation will come from a padded jacket or gillet. These are not designed to get wet, so you’ll still need a waterproof layer (see below), but they will keep you snuggly and warm. RAB’s Nebula Jacket (£160; www.rab.equipment/uk/) is stuffed with Cirrus™ insulation, a technical material which combines the properties of natural down and synthetic fillings, and the Quechua Forclaz 700 (£59.99; www.quechua.co.uk), available for both men and women, is a really good budget option. Your outermost layer must keep you dry: there’s nothing more miserable than getting involuntarily soaked to the skin. Highly recommended are the Keela Ladies Munro (£179.95; www.keela.co.uk) and the Columbia Rainstormer Jacket (£95). 

TROUSERS



Should you pack shorts? It very much depends on when you’re going. If you’re going to be hanging around on beaches, or even on safari, you might well be able to get away with it, in which case the Paramo Atca Shorts (£50) are pretty flattering for women, and Royal Robbins Convoy Shorts (£45; www.royalrobbins.co.uk) are a good choice for men. For ultimate flexibility, especially if you might have to cover up (or strip down) at short notice, think about packing convertible trousers - the kind with zips around the knees. Though not exactly a fashion statement they are, well, practical, and the Royal Robbins Backcountry Convertible Pant (£65) don’t look bad at all. Be sure to throw in a couple of pairs of slim-fitting, quick-drying slacks which you can dress up for a night out, or wear to climb a mountain, as the occasion demands. The Rohan Women’s Striders (www.rohan.co.uk; £79) are slightly stretchy, making them more comfortable, and the Keela Paraguay Trousers (£44.95), which also happen to be convertible, will even pass for chinos, especially if you get them in stone. 

FOOTWEAR


Last but not least, think of your feet. They are going to have to carry you an awfully long way. Flip flops, though fun, are no good for walking in, so instead pick up a pair of hiking sandals with straps, like the Teva Terra F1 Lite (£60; www.teva.co.uk). You can also wear them indoors if the bathroom’s ghastly or there might be creepy crawlies under foot.
For longer walks, and in colder weather, you of course need proper socks (Rohan makes two versions of their Climate Socks - Cool and Cold, and Temperate and Cool - for £16 a pair) and some closed-toe shoes or boots. The Arc’teryx Bora 2 Mid (£275) is seriously sturdy and the ideal choice if you’re planning on doing some trekking, and something like the Berghaus Women's Fellmaster GTX (www.berghaus.com; £140) would also double as a biker boot. If you prefer something lighter and with a lower cut around the ankle, go for the Columbia Men’s Conspiracy III OutDry (£80), which is essentially a waterproof trainer with noticeably improved grip.



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What to wear: overlanding
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