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The Nomad’s Guide to Gear for “Micro” Camping (UPDATE)

Digital nomads and trekkers alike have the ability (read as “tendency”) to get overly excitable about their gear, most often to the displeasure of those within ear shot/beer shot of their proclamations.

Each ounce of gear that can be avoided is viewed as a major victory. Minimal/micro is the ultimate goal. And yet many aren’t willing to “go without” and suffer for too long. We here at knowmadic news are no different.

With that in mind, we have attempted to put together a (rough) guide to the gear that can save you both weight and inconvenience.

And while the focus here does lean toward motorcycle touring, much of the gear is equally useful whether hiking in China or working remotely in Asia.

camping gear display

(Links below are for convenience only. Prior to any purchase, we suggest looking at several of the larger outdoor specialist sites, such as REI, as they have major sales events 2–3 times each year, often with specials of 30% off.)

1    TENT
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3
After taking home and testing 7 (of the top 10 reviewed) tents, it quickly became clear that Big Agnes stood out from the rest. The one- or two-person model will readily suit the needs of most, while the 3-person model is perfect for those who prefer a bit of extra room and are planning on a travel partner. Which model is best for you? That depends largely on whether you will be carrying it on your back or strapping it onto your motorcycle.

Most of the company’s tents also come in a mtnGLO version:


2    TARP

Grand Trunk Parasheet
Having a tarp on hand for use outside the tent entrance is always a good idea. The Parasheet is one of the better ones available as its lightweight, durable, and mildew-resistant. If durability/longevity is not much of a concern, disposable blue tarps can usually be found at discount shops for a fraction of the cost.


3    LINER

Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Extreme Liner
When traveling in warmer climates, a good liner can easily take the place of sleeping bag. Weighing just 14 oz (400 g), this liner takes up almost no space in a pack.


4    SLEEPING BAG

MontBell Super Spiral Down
For colder climates, something along the lines of the Super Spiral Down is a good starting point from which to look at warmer or colder rated bags, depending on your destination. For those not familiar with MontBell, the Japanese company was established in 1975 and gives the bigger names in outdoor gear some serious competition (often at a cheaper price point). For those over 6’2″ (190 cm), it is probably wisest to try the bags at a store before buying. Or if not, then at least do your homework, reading every online review possible.


5    SHOWER

Sea to Summit Pocket Shower
Adding just an extra 4 oz (115 g) to your pack allows you to remain “civilized.” Amazing.


6    ROPE

Always useful to have in a pack.


7    SLEEPING PAD

Therm-a-Rest ProLite Mattress
One word: Self-inflating. This function alone makes it a game-changer for most. Other options include Sea to Summit’s Ultralight insulated mat and Exped’s DownMat 7 (with its integrated pump system).

tent camping mountains

8    WATER STORAGE
Platypus Collapsible Bottle
How everyone doesn’t already know about these is a wonder.


9 & 10    WATER FILTERS
MSR SweetWater Microfilter 
/  Frontier Emergency Straw
Although a few ounces heavier than the absolute lightest filters out there, the ability to throw the nozzle into the water and pump from a distance (from smaller and siltier sources) more than justifies the extra weight. Always good to have along as a redundancy is Frontier’s emergency straw.


11    STOVE

WhisperLite  /  Dpower  /  Esbit Ultralight
If traveling extensively overseas, then type of fuel (and accessibility to said fuel) might be a major concern, and for this reason the multifuel WhisperLite has been the “go to” stove for backpackers and hikers for decades. For the majority of trekkers, however, the lightweight (and super cheap) Dpower should easily suffice. Prefer the ease of solid fuels instead? Then Esbit’s Ultralight is probably for you.


12    COOKING

Snow Peak
Unless your plan is to eat out of packages the entire time, you are going to need something.


13    HEADLAMP

Black Diamond Spot  /  Petzl Tikka RXP
Both are solid buys. Major deciding factors? Cost. Also, the Spot is powered by 3 AAA batteries while the Tikka RXP is only chargeable via USB cable.


14    LIGHTING
Several small watch battery-powered LED “candles” always prove useful around a campsite. Perhaps also look at the Luci. Compact, solar-powered, inflatable. Or if you happen to have a transparent water bottle handy, just make do with your headlamp.


15    MICROFIBER TOWEL

Shandali
While there are plenty of branded ones available, there really is no need to spend more than this amount on one.

RAIN GEAR
A very real consideration on the trail as well as on the road is lightweight rain gear. And in this area, we simply cannot praise MontBell enough. The fact that the MontBell Versalite costs roughly half of most other brands makes it all the more likeable. In colder climates, these rain jackets can easily double as a shell over an ultralight down jacket.


“EMERGENCY” BAGS

Sea to Summit 20L Daypack  /  Sea to Summit 40L Duffel Bag
So perhaps “emergency” isn’t the right word, but how else to describe that these bags are there when you need them and practically unnoticeable when you don’t? Having one of these in a pocket, a backpack, or stored under your motorcycle seat makes your day-to-day all the more easier. While the backpack version is used on almost a weekly basis, for the “one bag carry” crowd the duffel bag could prove invaluable at the end of a trip when returning home with shirts, carvings, or omiyage.

To give a better understanding of just how collapsible these bags truly are, pictured below are an IPhone 6s, a 40L duffel bag, a 20L backpack, and a standard USB flashdrive.

nomad travel gear