What to pack - Guide & photos (1 Viewer)


Dec 29, 2013
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This isn't especially relevant to train hopping, but its the basics that work for most situations. I'm in Europe. I've traveled through most all of western southern and eastern Europe, some of Russia and Mongoliaa, Turkey a little of north Africa all by hitch hiking, fare dodging, a lot of walking, some sailing and motorcycling camping at the side of the road and in the middle of forests. I probably sleep outside as much as I sleep inside (I count my van/big canvas tent as inside).

What to SLEEP in


My bivi bag.

Bivi bag

Bivis are my favourite thing to sleep in. It's easy to just throw it down and sleep while everyone fucks around with tents and trying to find a spot. No set up or take down time. If you're stealth camping you fit anywhere you fit. You can even sit up in it if you're waiting someplace cold or while cooking. They'll keep you dry as good as any tent, it's what they're designed to do.

It sucks if it rains for any amount of time, but it does in a small tent as well. Even more when you have to pack all that shit away wet. At least a bivi is small easy to hang or shake dry someplace. They also add degrees to your sleeping bag and you can use it as a waterproof bag in your pack. So getta bivi bag in my opinon.

What other things you can sleep in


If I wasn't traveling I wouldn't mind living in a tent much. But carrying one around doesn't suit me. I sometimes use a tent if I'm sharing it with people and we can split the load. Otherwise I don't see the point unless you want to spend loads of time in it or are planning to set up a camp for at least a few days.

The advantages over a bivi are just space. You can cook in it, read a book, play cards. But if you're in a tent it's because it's cold. If you're cold you're in a sleeping bag. If you're in a sleeping bag you have almost the exact same restrictions as when you're in a bivy.


I don't carry a tarp anymore because I never use it when I do. But again if you're heading some place to set up a camp for a couple weeks having a tarp is a real nice luxury. Setting one up every day traveling is annoying.

Tarps are good to make a roomy feeling rain and wind free space to do stuff in, like relax, cook, dry clothes.. but unless your staying for a while someplace you arent gonna use it and then only if it rains or the wind is a problem. Its one of those things that sounds good but you don't use. I can't remember last time I'm traveling with anyone who put up a tarp. Hell you need trees or sticks in convenient places just to think about putting one up.

SO if you're going to set up a camp yeah bring a tarp because that can be your sheltered living space but still I'd bring a tent or bivi as well to sleep in.

More ideas

You can take a ground sheet with a tarp to protect your sleeping bag from the ground, dew and rain.

Hammocks are very useless most of the time but really cool when they're not. Theyre mostly for places where you don't want to be on the ground (snakes, jungle). Or old pirate ships. Real difficult to set up while traveling, but I know the people who use them swear by them but they mostly live in extreme places.

Bivi bags are also known as bivouac, bivvy or bivy sacks. Or any mix of those words if you're searching them online.

Keeping WARM

(sleeping bags)

For your bag you have the basic choice between synthetic and down then have to chose a rating.

Synthetic bags will insulate even when wet. Are little heavier and compress some less. Cost significantly less. Synthetic fibres are improving all the time and many synthetic fibres are nearing down for insulative properties and compressability while still insulating while wet.

Down is contributing to a cruel industry, useless when wet, requires more care and is way more expensive comparing like for like bags. It is slightly lighter and more compressible.

Temperature and season ratings are inaccurate. General rule of thumb is you need to add 7 degrees at least. Always go for warmer, you can always unzip it.

There are many different shaped sleeping bags but since you'll be carrying it, it pays to go llight weight and mummy bag is much lighter than a straight cut bag.

Sleeping bags usually have a hood and I recommend them. Otherwise all your body heat will escape through your head.

Quilts are a sleeping bag with no underneath.

Sleeping bag liners are used to keep your bag clean or fleece versions are available that add degrees to your bag.

You can get right hand and left hand zip sleeping bags so that you can zip two together and get cosy with someone.

Blankets are alright if you're gonna be in a pretrty warm place, but they're mostly heavier and wont work as good.

Sleeping Mats

The ground will suck your warmth. You have to insulate from all sides but it is real important from below, because the ground holds in the cold. There are many types from scavenged cardboard to the simple lightweight but large closed cell foam mats to inflatable foam mats (thermarest) to inflatable insulated mats. All work. Inflatables are likely to puncture but pack much smaller. It doesn't matter which you get so long as you are comfortable and off the ground.

They are usually rated with an r value the higher this is the more insulating the mat the warmer you'll be.

Eating and drinking


Wood burning grill. I use it more when I'm in the woods and at my van than moving around but its awesome. And my new knife :D

You need something to carry water, eat and drink out of, utensils and something to cook in and on.


To carry water, buy a plastic bottle of water and keep the bottle Or take your pick of the millions of perfectly good bottles, jugs, cartons thrown out every second.

You could buy a water bladder like camelback, platypus. They leak, cost money, make water taste bad and have lots of parts to clean making them more likely to get dirty and harbour bacteria.


It's between alcohol, solid fuel and gas. Alcohol is cheap, readily available but doesn't burn hot. Alcohol stoves can be made from beer cans or purchased for a few £€$'s.

Solid fuel (hexamine, esbit, etc.) is between prices, burns between alcohol and gas in temperature and can not leak or spill but is somewhat toxic to touch. You can flip your beer can alcohol stove over and use the base to burn solid fuel.

Gas burns hottest. Is expensive, canisters are heavy, it requires an expensive but light stove and is widely available.

Wood generally burns hot. Is widely available for free. May attract attention. Can be burned in a wood gas stove for stealthier fires or a wood burning stove for safer, no trace fires.

Whatever you choose you'll need a lighter to set it going as well.


A mess tin or small non stick deep sauce pan will do all you need. Non stick is great if you plan on frying anything. It's hard to evenly heat a pan from a small stove, and food will stick to the hotspots otherwise.


You can bring your stainless steel cutlery from home and that'll work fine.

To cut down on weight and bulk you can consider a camping cutlery set. Or my favourite, a metal Spork (spoon and fork in one) and a multi use serrated knife. The spoon and fork can be used for everything you would use a spoon and fork for. It's comfortable to hold and strong enough not to bend or break. The knife can be used to prepare and eat food, as a butter knife, and to cut rope and other light duty tasks.

Some people also like to use chop sticks and squewers or make them as they go.



Items you should consider bringing that will make your life easier.

First aid kit - Band aids (plasters), butterfly stitches, wound cleaning wipes, micropore tape, antiseptic cream.

Sewing kit

Needle and thread, safety pins.

Rope/Paracord. I carry about 20 meters made into bracelets to keep it neatly wrapped.

Emergency Fire kit - Fire steel, and emergency fire starters.. Cotton wool smeared with petro jelly works and is multi purpose for first aid.

Worth considering a dedicated utility knife if you find your food knife not up to the task. I strugle to cut wood with a tiny multitool saw becasue we can't carry proper fixed blades here.

Electronics - Phone, music. I wouldn't want to pack a laptop or anything much bigger or heavier than a tablet.

Light - I like headlamps. You can wear it, hang it off something, tie it to something or hold it in your hand. Gives you options.

Towel - I often carry a light polyester T-shirt to use as a towel. Works almost as well as dedicated travel towels. Dry quicker, can wear as a tshirt in a pinch.

Emergency blanket - I carry it just in case. I've seen them used to reflect the heat of a fire into a shelter, collect water, as a waterproof and heat relfecting tarp and as a regular old blanket. You can put it inside, on top or underneath your sleeping bag/bivi if water somehow got in, or you were feeling cold. They've got tons of uses but I've only used them a couple times. They're pretty much one use (maybe get a week or two out of it). But dirt cheap.



Soap.. I use super concentrate shower soap mix mixed with lemon and tea tree and put it in a mini spray bottle. Use it to wash, as deodorant, to brush my teeth, clean my clothes, instead of bug spray and anything else. Bicarbonate of soda is also useful to mix in for teeth, or to clean something really dirty or sprinkle in anything that smells bad like shoes.

You also get these little bags of silica with electronics and they basically suck in moisture. I don't have any but if I come across some I'd keep it in my pack and maybe my shoes at night then dry it out and repeat. Some people keep this kind of thing in their sleeping and bivi bags to keep them dried out. I try to hang mine for 5 minutes if its dry and that does the same.


Dress for your environment. You probably already have what you need. Don't pack your whole wardrobe. Carry as little as possible.


Synthetic insulated jacket, can be worn in sleeping bag for extra warmth.

Base layers. Wick away sweat to keep you warm.

Thick socks.

Synthetic materials will dry much quicker than cotton. It wicks away your sweat which would have a cooling effect on your body. Cotton absorbs it and doesn't dry easily holding the sweat next to your body making you cold. The quick drying is also invaluable when washing clothes.


Wear what you want.


In case of showers you can pack a rain jacket and pants which will take up a lot of space. A poncho will take less. An umbrella less still.

Common sense if you're in a rainy place you'll wear a rain jacket.


Wear what you want and what's comfortable. Own one pair of shoes they are very heavy and cumbersome to pack. Lightweight hiking shoes and boots are good. Running shoes also. Waterproof boots are not great unless you will only be walking after rain in shallow puddles. If you get them wet they will stay wet. They don't let water in or out. Light running shoes will dry in a few hours. Waterproof boots will take days.



View attachment 16922

Thats my bivi, sleeping bag which compresses to about half that size, my pot, my stove (in pounch), my clothes (underwear x 3 socks x 3, bandana type thing, T-shirt, swim shorts), multitool, first aid and sewing kit, fire starter and some fat wood, emergency blanket, lighters, mini compass,ear plugs, water bottle.

Still room:

You need to put all this stuff someplace, gather your shit so you know how big of a bag you need and get a bag that fits.

Framed packs are heavier than a frameless, but feel much lighter to carry. Framed packs are unlikely to be low quality. They are built for serious use. They are more difficult to stow because you can't squish them in places. My pack (pictured) is a pretty new model osprey I got second hand online. I've wanted one a while and had it now about 3 weeks, just got back a few days ago from 2 weeks moving through Italy. Loads of walking in heat and its the most comfortable bag ever.

You can consider going frameless, if you don't have much to carry. Many higher quality frameless packs have an internal piece of stiff plastic or foam to act as a support in place of a frame. These are a good compromise. Make sure it's got a hip belt so you don't ruin your back.

So maybe that's useful to someone if anyone can be fucked to read it, and ill finish it off one day. Really the only way you'll really find what works for you is to get out and use stuff and everything's really individual but it works good for me.
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We sell all kinds of other stuff in our Etsy store!


Feb 2, 2014
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The North
Hey man, what do you do with your pack when you're sleeping in your bivvy?
I've always tied them together in hopes of if someone or something tried to take my pack it would wake me up.


Dec 29, 2013
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Hey, so I usually put a pillow made out of my clothes and the waterproof stuff sack my bivi comes in and put the pillow on my almost empty pack and sleep on it like that.

I keep any valuable shit inside my sleeping bag.

If I'm somewhere sketchy or its raining heavy I can fit my pack inside my bivi. I usually sleep on my side so it just lies beside or behind me and keeps it propped up. At that point my pack only has my stove and a few other things so it's not fat and it's not a big pack to start with.

If it were bigger then yeah I'd probably tie it around my bivi or put it in a trash bag or something.

I don't worry too much about it, like I don't think its much of an extra step for someone to sneak or cut into your tent and steal your stuff. I'm also a real light sleeper now.

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