When it comes to gearing up for an adventure vacation, most guys worry most about the weight of their bag. The current obsession with the lightest backpack, shoes, and shirts almost borders on neurosis. We don't sweat the pounds so much. Instead, we focus on three qualities: utility, durability, and mobility. If an item doesn't function well, hold up, or pack easily, it doesn't belong in our bag.
With those requirements in mind, we set out on a weeklong international adventure trip. We camped, stayed in hotels, trekked, ran, and saw sites without ever putting down our pack. Sure, it was a few pounds heavier than our buddy's featherweight setup (we'd prepared for the trip with squats), but we were better prepared. And we eliminated things as we went in order to leave ourselves with just the essentials for the ultimate adventure travel kit. Here's what we couldn't bring ourselves to leave behind.
North Face Nuptse 2 Vest
If you're headed to an area where it might be cool but never below freezing, favor a vest over a coat. A good vest keeps heat around your core – the key to staying warm – yet saves you space. Our pick: North Face's tried-and-true Nuptse 2 Vest. Packed with 700-fill down yet not bulky, it packs down to the size of a large Tic Tac. What's more, it can take a beating; we snagged it on a branch and came away unscathed. [$149; thenorthface.com]