It takes a while to perfect the art of packing. And sometimes, you may arrive and still feel that you've over- or under-packed. There are a bazillion articles out there about packing—rolling vs. folding, what to never travel without, best packing accessories, etc. But this is specifically for the adventure traveler:
Choose the bag first to help define your capacity, instead of choosing all your clothes and then picking the bag that they fit into. The biggest factor in this decision should be whether you plan to check said bag. Carry-ons are great for 2 reasons: there is no risk of lost luggage and there's no wait at baggage claim. However, if you are bringing hiking poles, it's best to check.
Choose clothes that are convertible and multi-purpose. Whoever invented zip-off pants was a genius! If you don’t have a pair, get one (or two!)—it’s a packing and traveling game-changer. Pants and shorts in one unit! Windbreakers with zip-off sleeves are also great. These are the first things to pack. Then pack the clothing that can be used at least two ways such as T-shirts that can double as base layers. Everything you pack should be able to be worn more than once and used in multiple ways.
Pack wool or synthetics. Both materials are moisture-wicking. Synthetics will dry quickly, and wool will keep you warm even when it’s wet. Not only will you be more comfortable on the trail, but for synthetics, you can wash and dry them overnight and feel fresh in the morning. This means you can pack less since you don’t need a new shirt each day. Synthetic “hiking” underwear is a great idea, and wool socks are a must (check out Darn Tough or Ibex, two Vermont companies that make fabulous wool activewear).
You can wear the same clothes to dinner multiple nights. No one will judge you—not your guides, nor fellow travelers, nor the hotel and wait staff (they won’t even notice). Everyone knows you have a closet full of clothes at home that you didn’t bring. Plus, after you get off the trail, wash-up, and change, you are only wearing your “dinner outfit” for a few hours each evening. If you want to change things up without bringing several separate outfits, bring a scarf, a pullover, or a vest.
You only need 2 pairs of shoes. Really. You’ll be active for most of the trip, so obviously a sturdy and comfortable pair of walking/hiking shoes or boots is necessary. The second pair is for when you’re in the hotel, exploring town, or going to dinner, you should also make sure you take some type of skin care, since the weather will be changing, it is important to take care of your skin, a dermaroller amazon has the perfect size for traveling and the benefit it gives your are endless. Give your feet a break and have something a bit nicer than trail-worn shoes for the restaurant. Sandals are an obvious choice for warm weather or slip-on canvas shoes are a good option since they can squish easily in your luggage. Wear hiking boots on the plane as they are big and would otherwise take up a lot of valuable packing space. This is especially important for checked bags as it would be awful to arrive for an active adventure without them.
Be ruthless. Do you really need a 6th shirt or 2 pairs of jeans for a week-long trip? Or the fleece jacket and the pullover? Obviously, you want to be prepared but just remember: you’re not going away forever. If you get to your destination and feel you absolutely can’t get by without something you left at home, you can most likely find it locally.
Now, go forth, pack, and have a great trip!