Packing Light for Multiple Climates

Twenty days from now I set off for a trip around the world that could last anywhere from one year to several. If I play my cards right, by keeping to a strict budget and using working holiday visas, I might be able to pull off the later. One dilemma that I have been thinking about for some time is the fact that I can only carry so much in my pack, but I will be visiting both hot and cold climates. By the very nature of how I travel I could end up in very different climates with little notice. That is why I cannot just pack for one distinct location. In this post I hope to give some insight into my thinking behind the pieces of clothing I have chosen.

If my pack were only filled with clothing I would have no problem in any climate, but that’s not the case. I will also be taking a few cameras and their gear, a computer, as well as other travel staples (first aid kit, toiletries, sleeping bag, etc.).

The first leg of my journey will take me to Iceland and Europe during the fall and early winter. For this I will obviously need warmer and smarter attire. I say smarter because to fit in in Europe you can’t just wear lounge clothing (sweats or shorts and a t-shirt) everywhere. As well, many restaurants and clubs have a dress code that prohibits such clothing.

The second leg of my trip will most likely take me to India and South East Asia.   The temperature in this part of the world is rarely anything other that HOT, therefore I will need plenty of shirts to soak and sandals. SE Asia is a particularly good place to go swimming, snorkeling, or SCUBA diving. This calls for beachwear.

Some of you are probably saying “why don’t you just buy the proper clothes when you arrive and go from there?” I have thought about doing that and my answer is pretty simple. If you were traveling on a budget would you want to buy clothes that you may already own?

I will be taking the following articles of clothing to maximize effectiveness and minimize space. (This list is not exhaustive and only reflects my personal preferences. This is just to give you an idea of how to pack for multiple climates.)

3x Smartwool Ankle Socks – WHY? Because merino wool is odor resistant, easily washed, and highly breathable among other things.

2x No Show Socks (any brand) – WHY? Because even when wearing TOMS or similar shoes I still prefer to have socks on.

1x Under Armour Thick Mid-Calf Sock – WHY? When it’s cold outside your legs wont be.

1x Dress Socks – WHY? Just in case.

4x Tommy John 360 Sport Trunk – WHY? Stretches to prevent riding and chafing. Also has a utility pocket to store cash or cards. This is a great feature for travelers. It’s like having a mini-money belt built in.

1x Blue Jeans – WHY? It’s a casual staple around the world. It can be dressed up with a collared shirt or down with sandals and a Tee.

2x Shorts – WHY? It’s HOT in Asia, Africa, and Australia most of the time.

1x Swim Trunks – WHY? Really? I think you know already.

1x Patagonia Quandary Pant – WHY? All-weather, water-resistant, stretch fit, lightweight, easy to pack, great for hiking, can be layered for warmth, 40-UPF-sun protection. Need I say more?

1x Clifford Soft Goods – The Leisure Pant – WHY? They are like sweatpants, but better. They have pockets to keep your valuables in, a hook for your keys, and they could be worn out in public if need be. I will probably use them to lounge around the hostel or sleep in. Also, you could layer these with the Quandary pant for colder situations.

1x Sport shorts – WHY? To lounge around in. Also a good replacement for swimwear if you loose it.

1x Lightweight sweatshirt

1x REI Lightweight Packable Jacket – WHY? It stores inside its own front pocket and can be used to layer with the sweatshirt for more warmth.

3x Icebreaker Tech T-Shirt – WHY? Lightweight merino wool that is quick drying and odor resistant. These shirts can be worn for a few days without noticeable smell. Great in hot climates or on extended plane/train trips.

1x Polo style shirt

1x Button Down Dress Shirt

1x Under Armour Long Sleeve Thermal

1x Havaianas Sandals – WHY? Shoes are terrible in high heat. They make your feet sweat and stink.  While in Asia and Australia these are going to be my primary footwear.

1x Zamberlan Air-Round GTX RR Low Hiking Boots – WHY? Because they look and feel like normal trainers, but with the durability of a hiking boot.  They are made of waterproof Gortex with a tough Vibram sole.

  1x TOMS shoes – WHY? When you don’t need the full protection of a shoe, but don’t want to wear sandals. Easy on, easy off. Perfect for airport security.

Packing these essentials will give you just enough clothes for any climate and most situations.  If you make sure to get mostly merino wool or synthetics then washing and drying will also be quick.  If you need something more specialized by all means pack it, but the picks above will keep your pack pretty light.