for those who love the outdoors

5 July, 2023


No more rummaging in your rucksack!

Living out of a rucksack can drive you mad – it’s the constant rummaging and looking for stuff that will drive you nuts. It's not just what you pack but how you pack, having the right items in your rucksack can make all the difference to keeping your warm, fed, healthy and happy. Here is your checklist of 10 essential items that should find a place in every adventurer's backpack.

Sarah walking

Before you pack your rucksack offload some of the paperwork: Use a shared online document storage like Dropbox and share the link with family. Upload a copy of passport, visa, itinerary, fellow travellers contact details, vaccinations, insurance policy and logins in details for to flight, tours and accommodation websites. 

This is so handy in an emergency or when you lose your phone! Download tickets and passes onto your phone’s wallets, as you may not always have access to WiFi.

1 Packing:

Make sure your rucksack stands out from the crowd and easy to spot. Sew on badges or attach ribbons so you can spot it in a pile of 25 other rucksacks. When packing the key is to be super organised and pack in sections. Lay everything out on the floor and group into piles. Use compression sacks or packing cubes to keep your organised, use a sharpie to write on the contents.

Top Tip: Roll everything and use elastic bands to keep them rolled up (you will thank me for this one!)

2 Handy Clothes:

Pack a waterproof poncho (they fold up super small and can be worn over your rucksack) and flipflops for all those shared showers and tired, wet, stinky feet.

My favourite item is a sarong: don’t under estimate this simple piece of cloth, on your travels it can have multiple uses: towel, sunshade on long bus journeys (attach with duct tape to the window) eye mask, blanket, shawl, bag (tie the ends together) beach mat, emergency sheet (if hostel bedding is a little dodgy) rope and in a medical emergency you can turn it into a sling or tourniquet. Use it as head protection for weather and insects (this can be a godsend when the mosquitoes come out) and if you are feeling sophisticated use it as a picnic blanket.

Top Tip: Buy multipurpose legging (made from swimsuit material) that can act as spares, pjs, sun protection, stops chaffing and can be worn in water activities. Plus, they dry super quick. I use RubyMoons Multi Sports Leggings

3 Food On The Go:

I never travel without at least one mini meal in my bag. So many times, I have been caught out because I am too late, too tired, nothing is open or it is pitch black!

Pack one freeze dried meal: so many delicious ones of the market. My current favourite is Summit to Eat – Custard Apple Crunch. Handy to have are protein bars, nuts, crackers with sachets jam and always carry a water bottle or bladder pack.

Dont' forget a Spork, plate, collapsible mug and sandwich bags

If you fancy a luxury item, pack a little immersion heating element that clips to your cup and gives you hot water for your brew. 

Top Tip: Aluminium lightweight flask is worth it's weight in gold, a cup of tea after a long day or cold drink after a long hike

4 Tech: So many useful apps when you are travelling – Currency Converter plus, Google translate, Google maps, My3 words plus apps for your flights, tours and accommodation. You can try AirTags to track bags or each other!

Take a cheap spare old phone to use in case of emergencies plus spare plug and cables. Mark them all with a sharpie so no one can pinch them.

Top Tip: Take a portable solar charger.

5 Get A Good Night’s Sleep: Pack a pillow case, eye mask, ear buds and travel pillow this will ensure you will be ready to sleep anywhere and anytime. A good night’s sleep will keep you sane and kill those long hours of travelling

Top Tip: Pack a tiny night light with spare batteries – a godsend in shared rooms or strange accommodation with no electricity.

Zoe carroll rucksack Debbie mann Charlotte elizabeth

PHOTOS: Zoe Carroll (Left) Charlotte Elizabeth (Middle) Debbie Mann (Right)

6 Toiletries: Aim for fragrance free (so you don’t attract bugs) and environmentally friendly toiletries. Use soap and shampoo bars as they take up less space. Use roll on deodorant as its smaller and last longer than the cans.

Top Tip: Don’t forget a universal sink plug, travel wash and washing line.

7 Periods: The key here is to develop your own way of managing your period and create your own DIY travel pack. Create your pack and add in bio degradable nappy bags, wipes, hand wash, sanitary products and heat pads. Period pants are a game changer and can add an extra few hours of comfort and confidence. 

Practice in them first! As long as you have your DIY pack you can cope with any environment, whether you are on a long-haul flight, up a mountain, crossing deserts or running across glaciers.

Top Tip: Add pain killers and chocolate to DIY pack. A little treat will lift your spirits.

8 Medication:

Before I go on adventures, I always get a check-up at the doctors, to check blood pressure and replenish prescribed medications. Book a visit to the dentist for a check-up (I once had a loose filling on a glacier at -10 and it was horrible)

Pack probiotics tablets to keep your tummy happy when things go South! Keep a copy of any medication in your Dropbox file and know what the medication is in the local language.

Top Tip: Pack rehydration tablets – these can be a game changer when you are ill.

9 Beware Of The Mossies: Take this one seriously as lots of mossy bites will ruin you day and stop you getting a good nights sleep. Pack a mosquito repellent, long sleeve top, hat, cotton scarf, trousers with elastic on ankles. Or use elastic band or hair scrunchy to gather material at the ankles. When things get really bad you can wear a mossy netting over your head.

Top Tip: Use Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

10 Go Old School: Pack a book, a sharpie, penknife, duct tape, tweezers, head torch with spare batteries and a pack of cards. Cards are a great way create a natural social connection with your fellow travellers.

Top Tip: In case of emergencies keep in your bra or wallet: medication, painkillers, Piriton, Imodium. This has saved me on several occasions on packed boats and trains when you can’t get to your bags.

Kit laid out on floor jpg 2 Camino rucksacks Kit laid out on floor

Lastly don’t forget your Lucky Charm: I always take with me my lucky Lego lady, that my kids made and a little llama. They make me smile when I feel homesick.

I hope these tips ensure less rucksack rummaging, ensure you are one step ahead instead of two behind, never hungry and ready to face those travelling curve balls which will undoubtly come your way.

Thank you to everyone that contributed to this blog:
What I have learnt when researching this blog is that every rucksack comes with a story. Thank you for sharing your photos and stories with me.

Special Thank you goes out to Sarah Williams from Tough Girl Challenges - check out the Tough Girl Podcasts

Photos from Debbie Mann, Zoe Carroll and Charlotte Elizabeth (listen to her Tough Girl Podcast)

NICKY 48 0 R8 A4708 Daisy gin 2 SPT06616

Nicky Chisholm

Contributor Images 33

My very first adventure was on a Tall Ship called The Sir Winston Churchill when I had just turned 18.

I have loved adventures ever since. Although I still get seasick 30 years on!

I would describe myself as an everyday adventurer. I try and squeeze adventure into my every day from walks, swims and runs to film, podcasts and books. I am always on the look out for communities to connect with and adventures to be found.

I have just hit 50 and my adventure journey has changed so many times over the years, from a 20-year-old canoeing and sailing instructor, to a Mum with young children teaching them to embrace the outdoors through camping, building dens and cooking on open fires, to a mum of young teens when we surfed, coast steered, climbed Ben Nevis and swam in the North Sea!

My boys are in their late teens now and are slowly flying the nest, it is here I find myself now, ready to embrace the next stage of my adventure journey.

Embracing my new found freedom and loving being outside, I am ready to do some exploring!

My adventure journey has included Moonwalks, marathon walks along Hadrians Wall and the South Coast, firewalks, abseiling down castles, coast steering, a cross country ski marathon in the Arctic Circle, a wing walk and training in an Environmental Cold Chamber at the University of Sussex at minus 20!

I have just come back from running a 1/2 marathon in Greenland - the biggest and most extreme event I have ever taken part in. This Arctic adventure has definitely left me with a fire in soul for more adventures.

This year I am off trekking in Peru, visiting the Amazon Rainforest, hiking around the Isle of Wight and organising a mega sea swim for over 500 "mermaids" to celebrate International Women's Day.

When I am not on an adventure I am working with my beautiful VW Camper Van called Daisy on photo shoots - if you want you or your business to stand out from the crowd then its time to book a branding shoot with Daisy.

See what DaisyVW has been up to

Photo Shoot Dates: Private shoots also available on request

Check out The Big Mermaid Dip for International Women's Day in Brighton - March 11th - Watch out for March 2024 Dates

Happy Adventuring

Nicky Chisholm aka #PinkNicky

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