Travel gadgets are clever little things that save you time, money, stress and space in your luggage.
I selected some of the best gadgets for travel, that I think are both useful and smart, to make your backpacking trip easier. I’ve included both tech and non-tech gadgets.
When I shop for travel gear, I always look for novel, interesting accessories.
I look for compact, lightweight travel gadgets, because I love minimalist packing and some of these have become essential items on my packing list.
Use these cool travel gadgets to have a safer, simpler trip and to make life on the road more comfortable.
You can also use this list to find cool, original Christmas gifts or birthday presents for backpackers or other travellers you know.
Or, better still, send this post to your friends who are trying to come up with gift ideas for you!
Insect Repellent Clothing
Technical travel clothing can be a lifesaver when you go backpacking.
Check out the BugsAway collection from ExOfficio for women and men.
Their clothes will repel insects, ticks mosquitoes and other annoying bugs, and let you enjoy your trips bite-free.
The are also lightweight, breathable, quick dry and can offer UV protection.
Smart Travel Scarf
If you travel with a scarf, why not make it more useful by using a scarf with hidden pockets!
It’s a smart solution for when you need to carry your passport or phone on you – hide them in a pocket in your scarf.
They’re called travel scarves because the size of the pocket is perfect for a passport, but you can use it for other small items as well obviously.
It’s a good way to hide the things that you need to hide from pickpockets, or just make sure you have everything on you, say when you’re on a night bus or a flight.
The scarves come in a variety of colours and patterns, so you can match them to the rest of the clothes on your packing list.
A Solar Charger
An essential travel gadget when backpacking, and an eco-friendly one as well.
Take a portable solar charger with you to charge your phone, camera and other devices.
As long as you’re in a place with enough sunlight, you can rely on a solar charger and avoid using batteries.
Ideally, pick a solar charger that is lightweight and capable of charging several devices at the same time.
A Collapsible Daypack
Collapsible travel gadgets are incredibly practical things.
A daypack that can fold into a small pouch is one piece of travel gear I always take with me. I just throw it into my backpack in case I need an extra bag.
Eagle Creek make a quality packable daypack, which also features a lockable main compartment and Eagle Creek’s Lifetime Warranty.
It packs away so easily and weighs close to nothing, which makes it a perfect gadget for travelling light. It’s ideal for camping and for urban travel alike.
Camp Stove + Device Charger
One of many cool travel gadgets designed to charge your phone and other devices when you travel, but this one is surprisingly clever:
The BioLite CampStove is a portable, lightweight stove to use for cooking your meals while you’re backpacking, but it also includes a charging port for your devices.
It comes in a bundle that includes a grill, a kettle and a USB powered light, alongside the stove.
You can use it as a device charger while you’re cooking, but it will also store the energy so you can use it whenever you need it.
An essential gadget for music lovers that will upgrade your outdoor adventure
Take a small speaker with you when you travel and listen to your favourite tune anywhere. It’s also great for podcasts and audio books.
Pick a speaker that you can easily charge using a USB port (most speakers provide that these days) and that has a Bluetooth connection to your phone, so you don’t have to carry extra cables.
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay P2 pocket-sized Bluetooth speaker is one of the smallest speakers you can get, with excellent sound quality.
What’s especially cool about this speaker when you’re travelling is that it has some smart voice-activation features.
This clever travel gadget keeps your feet warm and dry, even if you find yourself hiking in the rain.
Charge the battery and put these water resistant foot warmers in your shoes in cold weather. Then use a remote control to activate them and to choose the level of heating.
Water Purifying Bottle
To avoid getting sick when you go backpacking in places where the water may be contaminated and isn’t safe to drink, use a water purifier bottle.
This is especially useful when you go on outdoor adventures or travel in some places in Asia, Africa and Central and South America.
It’s an easy solution that will also save you money on buying bottled water.
Use tap water or any natural water source, but filter it first, using your own bottle, to make sure it’s clean and pure.
GRAYL ultralight water purifier is lightweight , fast and easy to use and comes in different colours.
Find out more about buying a water purifier bottle on the Globo Surf guide.
A Waterproof Case for Your Mobile Phone
This little case will give you more flexibility when you travel.
There are too many situations where your phone could get wet or even fall into the water – Going sailing on a boat, kayaking, snorkelling etc.
It will protect your phone from getting wet and will hardly take up any space in your bag.
Make sure you buy a waterproof case that will also let you take pictures with your phone while it’s inside the case, like the affordable Mpow Universal Waterproof Case , which gives you access to the touch screen and camera.
You can use the same case to protect other valuables from water damage, like your cash or credit cards etc.
A Portable Sink
When you need to wash your clothes or dishes while camping outdoors, the travel gadget you need is a portable sink.
It’s got a clever design, made of waterproof fabric.
It is flat and packs away easily, being a collapsible sink, but when you fill it up with water, it will stand on its own.
The portable sink comes in different sizes, so you can decide which one to buy according to your needs – the larger one is good for laundry and the smaller one for dish washing .
Portable Washing Machine
If you need more than a portable sink to your laundry in, the Scrubba wash bag is a portable washing machine and one of the best gadgets for travel and camping.
It’s a lightweight, compact, pocket size travel accessory that you can use to do your dirty laundry anywhere.
The Scrubba wash bag is easy to use – just add water and some detergents and clean your clothes in a few minutes.
Quick dry towel
This is an essential item on any backpacker’s packing list. Unless you’re staying at a hotel or an Airbnb, you’ll need to take a towel with you.
If you pack a regular towel, it will take too long to dry (you might even have to carry it when it’s damp sometimes…), add way too much weight to your luggage and will take up too much space as well.
The alternative is a compact, lightweight, quick dry towel that folds down easily.
Eagle Creek offer an excellent quick dry towel that’s also soft and lightweight.
This cool travel gadget keeps your outdoor mat or blanket sand-free.
The CGear Original Sand-Free Outdoor Camping Mat is made of made of a water resistant, quick drying material and will stay clean of sand, dirt, and dust, no matter where you use it.
It’s the ultimate beach and camping accessory and it comes in different sizes for 3 – 14 people.
I use my noise-isolating earphones daily, listening to music and podcasts, but they become an even more essential gadget when you need some peace and quiet.
Their most obvious use is on flights with crying babies or screaming children. You’ll be very grateful you have them with you.
I’ve also used them on buses and at noisy hostels. I even used them at a music gig once when I couldn’t find my earplugs.
The model I use and recommend is Creative Outlier One, which I found after some rigorous online research and I’m very happy with it, in terms of sound quality, noise isolation and value for money.
If you prefer wired earphones that you can plug into the headphone jack on your phone, have a look at Symphonized NRG 2.0 Earbuds.
Hidden Pockets in Your Undergarments
Pickpockets are sophisticated, but if they start reaching for people’s private parts, they are more than likely to be noticed.
That’s why undergarments can be the best place to hide small valuables.
How do you hide things in your undergarments? Inside hidden pockets of course 🙂
SCOTTeVEST make clever men’s underwear with hidden pockets, where you can hide your small items like your credit card, keys and the like. Couldn’t find the same for women, do let me know if you find any.
Handheld Rechargeable Pocket Fan
A compact fan is one of those travel gadgets that’s always good to keep in your daypack if you travel in hot weather,
It is so small and lightweight, it will hardly take up any space in your bag, but it can be a lifesaver, especially in humid places.
GeekAire make a great rechargeable handheld fan which comes with its own power bank and can work for 3-9 hours (depending on speed) after every charge.
Foldable Water Bottle
This is one of the items on this list you’ll probably use every single day.
I’ve been using them for years and find them extremely handy!
A folding water bottle can fold flat when empty. It takes minimal space in your day bag and is so lightweight you won’t even notice it’s there.
Folding bottles normally come with a clip, so you can attach them to your bag when hiking or walking.
I recommend you get a 1L foldable bottle that’s not too big and not too small.
Fill it up when you need to and fold it flat when you don’t use it. It can even fit inside your pocket when folded.
I also use them back home when I’m not travelling, to avoid buying bottled water.
Solar-Powered Inflatable Light
This is such a great invention… the kind of gadget that’s so simple and so clever at the same time.
LuminAID is an inflatable light that gives you up to 16 hours of LED light when charged.
The charging is solar – it has a built-in solar panel, so it’s useful when you go backpacking or camping in places where there’s enough sunlight. Just attach it to your backpack when you’re hiking and it will charge the battery.
It’s an inflatable light, so it’s lightweight and portable.
You can use it for safety when camping, as a lamp inside your tent, and it can even provide enough light for reading.
Portable Safe Bag
You want to hide any valuables, travel gadgets, electronics, gear and important documents while you’re travelling.
One way to do that is with a bag that’s actually a safe.
Pacsafe Travelsafe comes in two sizes, 5L and the 12L.
It looks like a canvas bag, but it is made of stainless steel wire mesh embedded into the fabric and includes a combination lock.
You can use it while backpacking and also on city breaks or in destinations where you’re not sure whether you can leave your valuables in the room.
Hotel safes and hostel lockers are not always the safest places to keep your expensive gear. Staff members may be able to open them and you need some extra safety measures.
A Clever Compact Tripod
It’s very annoying to come home and discover some of your holiday photos turned out blurry.
A tripod for your camera keeps your camera stable and lets you take good pictures and selfies, even during sunset and after dark.
However, a tripod is way to big to carry around if you want to travel light.
It’s strong and durable, easy to set up and will cleverly provide stability on different types of surfaces, including uneven terrain.
Solar Camp Shower
If you’re going on long backpacking trips, it’s a good idea to take a portable shower with you.
Portable showers usually work with a foot pump you use to activate them and to regulate the water pressure.
To have a hot shower, choose a solar camp shower that will use sunlight to heat the water.
You can also use the portable shower to wash dishes or dirty gear.
The Nemo Helio Portable Pressure Shower gives you a 5 minute hot shower in a lightweight, collapsible system with a carrying case.
Hanging Toiletry Bag
When you go camping or when you don’t know what the bathroom you’re going to use will be like, a hanging toiletry bag is your friend!
This is a simple gadget, but it’s ever so useful when you travel. It’s made to be super functional.
A hanging toiletry bag lets you organise your toiletries in various pockets and hang the bag so you can have access to everything easily.
These bags are strong. I’ve been using one for about a decade now and it still doesn’t show any signs of wear.
One of the most essential travel accessories when you’re backpacking id a good flashlight.
The ideal flashlight should be durable, lightweight and waterproof.
Coast’s Polysteel Waterproof LED Flashlight comes with a lifetime warranty. It is not just waterproof, but also drop-proof and crush-proof, so it will survive any kind of camping trip.
A spork is a spoon and a fork (plus a tiny knife) in one piece. It is a clever non-tech tool that I’ve been taking with me on my travels for years now.
It’s an ever so useful outdoor eating utensil, especially if you like street food or enjoy picnics when you travel.
Sporks are small and don’t take up any space in you day pack. Just carry it everywhere with you in case you need it.
They are great eco-friendly travel accessories as well, as you’ll won’t have to use disposable plastic utensils.
You can find sporks in different colours, usually made of plastic, but I also found one made of durable titanium with an anti-slip grip.
This list could go on and on… there really are a lot of cool travel gadgets out there! I picked the ones I found most useful and hope you will too 🙂