With an overwhelming amount of outdoor gear and travel clothing available, packing efficiently can be an extremely daunting task. What if on your next adventure, while passing through a city you meet a Latin beauty you wish to take out to dinner but have only rugged clothing? Or if on your tour of a charming city you get an invitation to do a small hike but only have heels? Packing to be prepared for every encounter is an art and skill. You should place a high priority in optimizing the use of the items you select for your next trip.

"Skate Pack" by Incase via Flickr Creative Commons

An overloaded and heavy bag doesn't take long to become extremely cumbersome and be a thorn in a traveler's side. More often than not, several weeks into a long trip, travelers are cursing several useless items that they thought so necessary while packing. On the other hand, you may be one tempted to bring less than is smart. Trying to escape a heavy pack, you neglected to bring crucial items.

When preparing for a trip, you have to be an extremely critical shopper. Everything must have multiple uses. Instead of bringing several items that have one specific purpose, search out something that can work in various settings. Versatility is key.

The Wardrobe

  • Clothing: Make sure all of your clothing matches... all of your clothing. Don't get to your last clean shirt and realize it doesn't come close to matching those pants.
  • Leave the Cotton in the Closet. Most of us know that cotton dries slower than other fabrics. But it also holds smell more, and collects wrinkles like they're going out of style. Stick to synthetic materials such as nylon, or polyester.

Quick Tips and Indispensable Items

  • Bring the Bandana. Even if you don't use a bandana at home, its uses on the road are not to be slighted. When in a cold hiking environment keep it around your neck and protect your face from the cold wind. It can be used it as a pot holder when cooking, as a sling for a hurt arm, a sweat rag when hiking, or as a table cloth for a romantic picnic lunch.
  • The Pillowcase. Many outdoor companies sell small, compressible pillows. While they add a nice comfort, the room it takes up in your bag isn't worth it. Instead of a pillow, just bring the pillow case. When it's time to catch some Zs, pull out your coat and some soft shirts and stuff it yourself. Not only does it take up no space, you can store things in it.
  • The Infamous Duct Tape. For more reasons than one can imagine, Duct Tape always seems to come in handy. Whether you need to repair a rip in your bag, water proof your tent, fasten something together, or use it make gators to stomp through the snow, it can save the day. To minimize the bulkiness of a large roll of tape in your bag, wrap several yards around your water bottle to store it and leave the rest at home.