Gear for Your Gap Year
Taking some time off after graduation? Here's all the gear you need to travel the world.
Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
If you have the funds and the time, traveling before you start college can give you important perspective and real-world experience. So go, travel the world—but bring these key items.
Osprey Farpoint 55 backpack ($180)
The foundation of any successful trip is a rock-solid pack. The Farpoint 55 is stocked with features to make your trip easier, like a detachable smaller daypack, hideaway shoulder straps, padded top and side handles, and a dedicated laptop compartment.
Goal Zero Flip 10 portable charger ($25)
Away from an outlet? This lighter-size cordless charger can restore your phone to full power. It attaches directly to a USB port and takes about three hours to juice up. The best part: you can charge your phone and the Flip 10 simultaneously, thanks to a smart two-way USB port.
REI Co-op Multi Towel Lite ($15)
Impromptu swims in a remote river or lazy afternoons at the local pool call for a lightweight packable towel. We love this one from REI because it’s inexpensive and absorbs up to eight times its weight in water. After drying off, simply wring it out and clip to the outside of your pack and it will dry in minutes.
Marmot Precip rain jacket ($100)
No matter where you’re traveling, we recommend always bringing a rain jacket. The waterproof Precip has pit zips, which let you dump excess heat. Plus it packs into its own pocket.
Pacsafe RFIDsafe Bi-Fold wallet ($25)
If you’re traveling through large cities where scam artists frequent, it’s a smart idea to have a wallet that blocks RFID scanning devices, which can steal your credit card information from afar. This bi-fold wallet is large enough to fit five cards and a few bills.
REI Co-op Travel Kit toiletry bag ($20)
Keep your grooming items in one place for easy transport. This bag is compact, with an interior zippered pocket for organization. The sides and bottom are padded for extra protection.
Therm-a-Rest Compressible pillow ($25)
Don’t rely on dirty, drool-stained hostel pillows. Pack your own, like this compressible one from Therm-a-Rest. It rolls into a built-in pocket and easily stuffs into a corner of your pack when not in use.
ExOfficio Give-n-Go underwear ($20)
A favorite among avid travelers, the Give-n-Gos are made from a nylon-spandex blend with an antimicrobial treatment, so you can wear them for days. When it is time for a wash, throw them in the bathroom sink with some soap, wring them out, and they’ll be dry in minutes.
Sea to Summit Expander travel liner ($30)
A travel liner provides a necessary line of defense against bedbugs and unsavory stains often found on hostel beds. The poly-cotton Expander liner is antimicrobial, and the square shape is much less constricting than many mummy versions.
REI Co-op Universal Adapter plug kit ($15)
Probably the most crucial item on this list, this plug adapter fits electrical outlets in 175 countries, so you can keep your electronics charged no matter where you go. If you need a three-prong adapter, we recommend this one.