Okay, as an academic I get to travel to some really cool places and I am incredibly privileged to be able to do that, but whenever I have to travel I do it as cheaply and as sustainably as possible - basically backpacking, because I like to usually do a teeny bit of exploring too in the wild.
This usually means that I will try and get my accommodation bill as close to zero as I can. Usually by wild camping somewhere, is what I have been told you should do, but have never personally done it…#PlausibleDeniability.
I managed to spend just $5 on 10 days of accommodation this year, for AAAI 19, which was in Hawaii. I neither accept, nor deny, that I went travelling for a few days during that conference nor do I accept, nor deny that I may have camped in some very strange places… If you were to guess Canyons, Beaches with Whales, beautiful waves of pure cyclic motion, Green turtles, Hawaiian seals and tropical fish, where there is no light pollution as the sky lights up like a comforting night light, then I would have to state that I have no idea what you are talking about…#NatureIsCool.
In this short post I am going to explain how to pack all of your camping gear into a rucksack suitable for hand luggage on most airlines (easyjet, AirAsia, Peach, Eva, British Airways etc), if not all airlines, so that you too can enjoy what I consider the must luxury accommodation in the world (highly dependent on where you set-up) camping. Explicitly, I will talk about my recent experience in Hawaii. For the airlines listed at the time of writing (April 2019) the lowest volume allowed on board was 56cm x 36cm x 23cm and the following is sufficient for those dimensions.
I will put a disclaimer here, this set-up is most suitable for warmer climates, essentially anything where the nighttime temperature does not go below approximately 10 degrees C. You could definitely go cooler, but getting an adequate sleeping bag that is compact enough will be expensive and you will probably need to wear additional items on the plane. Where the cheaper sleeping bag on the plain? #GreatIdea
Below is a list of gear that I took with me and would recommend others to take too. I’ve attached a brief summary of why I choose each thing, just so you understand why it is important to me. I’m not sponsored, so all the items I provide here are based on my own research and I have thoroughly tested them. Also note that I am around 6ft (1.84m) and so if you are smaller you will have more room to play with. Lucky you!
OEX Vallo EXP 50:60 Rucksack. Click here (£50 when purchased). This rucksack may seem large, but it is perfect. It has a built in waterproof cover, several straps to attach to things, multiple pockets and a back adjustment system. I was able to walk 15km-30km a day with this rucksack at full 60L capacity.
Vango compact mini-stove with a small case, with lighter in the case Click here (£12 when purchased) You can easily fit a lighter in the case that it comes with too. The case is useful as it stops any residue from the fuel getting on anything within the bag. This stove is light weight, robust, portable and very easy to use.
DD 3 x 3 Tarp Click here (£28.90 when purchased). The 3 x 3 is perfect, I could have potentially gone for a smaller size, but this packs down to decent size, even after not folding it perfectly and is relatively light weight. This size tarp is very versatile, hard wearing and provides ample space and protection from the elements.
DD Travel Hammock and Bivi. Click here (£46.80 when purchased) The Tarp and Hammock could instead be substituted with the following (I also own this and I can thoroughly recommend it) Coleman Lightweight Cobra 2x person tent but this is less versatile and you will definitely want a mat, which takes up a large amount of room. Click here (£60 when purchased)
Lixada Portable Outdoor Cooking Set. Click here (£9.99 when purchased)
Dry bags. 2L for phones/cables and other electronics. 5-8L for clothes. I brought some Karrimor ones from SportsDirect. I’ve had them since 2016 and they’ve been incredible. Click here (£5 each when purchased)
Paracord for the tarp and another couple of meters for a washing line + spare. I used around 15m. Click here (£8 for 15 meters)
Fleece sleeping bag (Very thin, brought from Aldi for £10).
Vango Pac 15. Folds really small and great for carrying extra bits. Click here (£8 when purchased) n x Freeze dried meals. If you are going to be out in the middle of nowhere take n number of freeze dried meals with you. Look out for cheap bulk buys on amazon / ebay.
1 x Trekking First aid kit - Always useful to have a first aid kit when you are more remote. Click here (£13 when purchased)
1 x Windshield for when cooking. Light weight, makes the gas canisters easier to light and conserve full. Click here (£7 when purchased)
6 x Plastic Pegs for the tarp. No more than £3-5 for 10. Purchased from GoOutdoors.
1 x Fold away toothbrush - £0.80 from Sainsbury’s
1 x Bar of soap or All purpose soap- £0.50 - 3.99. The bar of soap is much cheaper and can also be used to clean clothes, but make sure you get soap that is friendly to the environment! The all purpose soap is very useful and is environmentally friendly, but slightly expensive. Click here
Note: ALWAYS HAND WASH MERINO WOOL, or put it on the lightest wash setting
I love pure Merino wool. Great in warm and cold weather. I’ve used it for cycling for a long time now, but it is also fantastic when you need lightweight all purpose clothing. Fast drying, super easy to hand wash and stays odourless for a long time.
Mountain warehouse also do a lot of Merino wool stuff, but it tends to be mixed fabrics.
1 x Long sleeve 200-Merino wool top. Click here (Brought on sale at GoOutdoors, £25.)
1 x Fleece jacket. Any good quality outdoor brand will do as long as it fairly robust to light showers.
1 x Foldable waterproof jacket. Mine was £12 from Sportsdirect.com.
1 x Montane Terra GT Converts (Regular Leg Length). I love these trousers for climbing, hiking and camping. They convert into shorts and are super robust to all forms of scapes. Click here (price match minus 10% from GoOutdoors made these trousers £45 for me. It was such a good deal, keep your eyes open)
3 x Standard Cotton Boxer Shorts. You could go for Merino wool, but that will cost you and is overkill. Standard cheap and cheerful cotton ones from any high-street retailer / amazon / camping store will do. They still dry quickly in warm-ish weather after being washed.
3 x Walking Socks. Ideally all Merino wool, if you can get them cheap, or good quality high wicking walking socks. Don’t be afraid to spend £7-9 a pair (GoOutdoors, SportsDirect etc). Good socks are worth their weight in gold (which usually isn’t that much…)!
1 x Karrimor Walking Boots. I’ve had these for both winter in Montrèal and the warm weather of Hawaii. They were fantastic in both environments. Click here (£60 when purchased)
Just in case you don’t believe that you can fit all of this into a bag, here is the picture:
I hope this blog post helps someone who was in the same situation as me back in January 2019!
Here are a few photos from my trip in January to Hawaii: