The jungles and islands of South East Asia are a paradise for a traveler who is prepared for a little adventure. We decided to unplug for a little off-grid exploring and boarded a plane for Bangkok to do a some Thailand island hopping in search of the best beaches in the world, as well as track down the perfect shrimp curry. From hauling gear through airports, on boats and buses, to trekking down tourist laden beaches, we put this short list of essentials through a two week test endurance test to find the best gear for a jetsetter on a budget.
Osprey Atmos AG
The all new Atmos AG (Anti-Gravity) pack is easily our favorite backpacking gear hauler ever made. The completely redesigned 3D suspension lifts the load off your shoulder and back without the use of heavy padding or foam. This gives you unparalleled comfort whether you’re hauling a load of camping gear through the jungle or wrestling your pack down a long airport concourse to catch a flight. If we keep one pack forever, this one will be it.
Nemo Equipment Hornet 2P
This ultralight backpacking tent is the perfect piece for travelers who are logging long miles. Ours saw duty in Thailand’s northern mountains and on a couple of secluded beaches in Ko Lanta and Phuket. Weighing in at only two pounds, it is the lightest two person tent we’ve ever used, and incredibly durable. The No-See-Um mesh body was very welcome when the bugs came out, and the fly was breathable enough that we didn’t slowly cook in the tropical heat. The best part was the easy set up and take down – a short few minutes to get it loaded into our packs and onto the boat for the next island.
Camelbak All Clear Bottle
We made a point to only drink bottled water while on the ground in Thailand, but you can never be too careful. The All Clear system from Camelbak provides a UV drinking purifier. The light turns any clear water source into safe drinking water in one minute. Its controls are simple enough that a child can navigate them, and with battery power delivering 80+ purification cycles to a charge, you won’t run out of clean water any time soon.
From protecting us from less than sanitary hotel and hostel bedding, to providing ultralight sleep systems on the beach, the Cocoon TravelSheets we took with us were worth every ounce. The silk-cotton blend was always cool feeling and very breathable. We took two and were able to dock them together for larger hotel beds. They’ll double as sleeping bag liners for colder climates, not only keeping your body oils off your bag, but adding a little extra warmth on cool spring and fall nights in your tent.
Ex Officio Apparel
We took a few different shirts from our friends at Ex Officio to test out on the road, but we kept reaching for two pieces over and over. First, the Minimo Plaid shirt has become our favorite travel shirt. Weighing in at only five ounces, and able to pack into its own chest pocket, the Minimo is the lightest way to have a change of clothes handy in any situation. This was especially handy when we spent a couple of days marinading in our own sweat on the trail. The Bugsaway Sandfly Jacket was also a life saver. This mesh jacket features an Insect Shield chemical treatment that repels mosquitos, ticks, flies, and midges. It was comfortable and cool in the heat, and protected us on more than one night on the beach when the mosquitos were swarming.
Photo Courtesy of Austin Parker/Green Goat Group