It’s me, your friendly neighborhood dirtbag named Cartwheel! Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2021 changed my life. So much so that I’m now on another epic adventure, this time traveling through Europe on a shoestring budget for several months.
When it comes to both backpacking Europe and thru-hiking you need to curate the perfect gear list to figure out exactly how little you can get away with carrying, while still keeping yourself comfortable and adequately prepared.
In Europe the main concern is allowing yourself enough clothes to get by in well-dressed urban settings, plus packing hygiene essentials. For thru-hiking the main focus is survival gear such as a tent, sleeping kit, cooking essentials, etc.
I was able to repurpose several items from my thru-hiking kit as travel gear. This is my essentials-only list of travel items that I previously used hiking the PCT. I’m sharing what I am currently using as well as what I wish I had.
What I am using: ULA Circuit Backpack that I used on the PCT, as well as a Gregory Juno 25 liter, which has been ideal as a carryon bag for budget airlines, but is a bit rigid for hiking.
What I wish I had: The glorious Palante V2. It’s seemingly an in between hiking/day pack and a hair bigger than my Gregory Juno 25L. I think this would be the perfect size for a Euro trip, for an ultralighter who wants to collect a few essential souvenirs along the way without alarming the budget airlines.
What I am using: Anker 20000mah, this is a bit of overkill for the PCT (and very heavy) but perfect for the city and touristing around Europe. I am using my phone all day for pictures, maps, translations, etc. so having a beefier battery bank has given me a lot of ease.
What I wish I had: I had a few friends on the PCT rave about Nitecore’s ultralight battery banks. They say they still use it in their day-to-day. While the NB10000 is an ideal choice for thru-hiking; for traveling I’d go for the NB20000.
Charging Adapter Converter
What am I using: A cheap amazon travel adapter. It has two USB imports and a US plug adapter. It's perfect for charging multiple devices at once. If you are like me and have a battery pack, airpods and your cell phone. You need a single outlet to do a lot of charging and fast.
What I wish I had: The same! It was cheap and is easy to use and has lasted!
What I am using: REI packing cubes x2. They are great but I wish the zippers were a bit more idiot proof. I ripped both zippers. I have probably one too many clothes articles for each square… So it’s not entirely their fault.
What I wish I had: Six Moon Designs Pack Pods. They’re affordable, quality and well-reviewed …. enough said.
What I am using: A blue one I got from my dear friend Augustina, who knew before I did that I would need a packable quick dry towel. It’s a Bulgarian brand.
What I wish I had: I wish I had a smaller one. My blue one is great, I just wish it was a smidge thinner and more packable. I found this stellar one with a convenient case on GGG.
Minimal Small Toiletries
What I am using: As with trail, you don’t need too many toiletries while backpacking Europe. I have a travel toothbrush & toothpaste, small shampoo bottle (Dr. Bronner’s), bar soap, Diva Cup (for menstruating persons), razor (I know, I know, controversial for trail but I did carry one), tiny Nivea travel lotion container (I refill it every time I hit a decent town), and basic medicine (cold, headache, pain).
What I wish I had: I wish I had planned for all my toiletries to be in bar form (shampoo, conditioner, body soap). And I wish I had those tiny toothpaste tablets. I think that would have saved me a decent amount of plastic and been kinder to my wallet as well as the environment. Everything else, I have no regrets about.
What I am using: My ever faithful classic Teva’s, which are great for a backpacking sandal as well as shower/ hostel sandals. The only issue I have with them is when I wear them as shower sandals they take a bit of time to dry.
What I wish I had: These Mayfly Ultralight Sandals would be a great dedicated shower shoe, so I would not have to wear damp teva’s during the day. Super light and so easy to dry and pack!
Hopefully this is a great jumping off point for your hiking-to-traveling evolution. Happy packing!
Until next time :) Ciao! Gule Gule! Tchuss!