Adequate gear is essential to a successful trip, but what exactly do you need?

10 December, 2020 | Reccy Guide

Your whole trip is planned, and you feel ready to hop on that plane. Flight tickets? Check. Hotels? Check. Adventures? Check. Gear? Che… Wait, gear? You have packed your backpack, but is everything you need in there – and should it be? Gear is an essential part to any trip, but sometimes it can be overwhelming. We know what it feels like, so let us walk you through the essentials and get into the buying vs renting face off. Ready? Let’s start.

The Must-Haves

No matter where your trip takes you, there are a few elements that you will need to put into your luggage. 

  1. Luggage

The right choice of luggage is crucial to have the experience of a lifetime, so take the time to think about the kind of trip you will be taking. A suitcase is a great option for a hotel stay, while a backpack or rucksack is better if you plan to be on the move or embarking on a hike. When it comes to backpacks, the best option is to go to an outdoor store and try a few on – different brands, different capacities. This will allow you to find the one best adapted to your body shape. In addition to your main luggage, you will want to consider a daypack for an adventure of one or a couple of days, during which you do not want to carry your main luggage around, or in case of a longer duration hike where your operator arranges for transport of your main luggage.

  1. Clothing

Your needs in clothing will depend on your destination, adapted to warm or cool temperatures. In any case, you should bring clothing that can be layered – this is useful in any climate. A rain jacket and waterproof pants is always a good idea as you never know what surprise mother nature can bring. Overall, make sure that you bring clothes respectful of the culture of the place you are visiting.

  1. Footwear

Footwear is, arguably, the one item that will make or break your trip. Walking around with blisters or risking a foot injury is nothing that you want on your adventure and choosing the right pair of shoes will significantly decrease the chances of this happening. Trying them on is essential in order to choose the right size, grip, and degree of waterproofing. If you are going on a specific trip, such as hiking or climbing, you might also need to consider buying boots on which climbing crampons can fit.

  1. Accessories

Sunglasses (preferably UV) and a hat are essential accessories, as well as a water bottle or camelbak to keep hydrated in all circumstances. In addition, do not forget to include a first aid kit and a few standard medicines such as those for cold, diarrhea, and any medicine you regularly need or have been prescribed.

  1. Activity specific gear

It is likely that you will be embarking on an adventure of some sort, so make sure to pack any specific gear you may need. Trekking poles, ice axe, carabiner, helmet, harness… the list is endless and depends on your activity. If you are unsure about what exactly you should pack, ask your tour operator for a detailed list.

Renting or Buying?

You do need some trip-specific gear, and your tour operator has given you a list of what you should pack. You don’t own most of the things yet and are wondering whether you should buy or rent. Let us give you the pros and cons of each.

Renting: why?

Renting equipment can be a great option for some trips that include activities such as camping, trekking, diving… So why exactly should you rent gear?

  1. It’s more practical for a ‘once in a lifetime’ adventure. When you go scuba diving, you would never think about buying your own oxygen tanks right? The same argument applies to gear such as tents, sleeping bags, trekking poles, skis… 
  2. It’s cheaper. There is a big difference between buying a $300 tent and renting one for $30. Sure, you won’t have the tent anymore once your trip is over, but if n1 applies to you, it shouldn’t matter.
  3. You don’t have to store it or carry it. Some gear takes a lot of space, and maybe you don’t have the storage required at home. Or maybe you don’t want to check in overweight luggage, in which case you can rent it when you arrive at your destination and avoid some hefty fee from the airline.

Where to rent?

The first option when it comes to renting is to rent the gear before your trip, from your home base. If that is your choice, you can easily find online rental companies specialized in certain equipment. Rental companies are different based on countries, so make a quick google search and you should find what you need.

The second option is to rent your gear on arrival. You can ask your tour operator beforehand if they have equipment available, as many trekking companies for example will be able to provide you with trekking poles, tents or sleeping bags. You can also rent it from local rental companies, which might be a good option as the equipment is likely to be more adapted to the local conditions – such as intense cold/warmth, etc.

Buying: why?

Even after reading our last points about renting, you are still considering buying your own gear. So what exactly are good reasons to buy?

  1. You pay once and can use it as much as you want. This is great for those planning to use the gear regularly, for example if you are wanting to go camping several times a year. If you maintain your gear in good condition, it will make the investment worth it.
  2. You can choose exactly what you want. You have eyed the last snowboard of your favorite brand and are dreaming about riding the slopes while looking stylish from head to toes. Unfortunately, it is not available to rent yet… It might be time to buy.
  3. You get more options and more gear. While renting can be great, everything is not always available. There is some gear that you will need to buy for yourself as you might not be able to find them to rent.

Where to buy?

You can, of course, buy your gear before your departure. That will enable you to take the time to choose and to have the option to return to the store if anything turns up to be defective or not as expected. You can also decide to buy your gear on arrival if you have sufficient time. In many countries, this may prove to be a cheaper option – and you won’t have to carry it in your luggage on your way. If you decide after your expedition that you don’t want to bring the equipment back home, you can also decide to sell it to another traveler in need.

We hope that this guide helped you put some clarity in what gear you might need and whether you should rent or buy it. If you have any doubt, it is always a good idea to ask your tour operator or, if you have the possibility, to ask friends who have had a similar experience in the past. So now that you are finally 100% ready, take that plane and have fun!

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