Top tips for climbers who want to backpack travel – Molly Thompson Smith

Before my trip to the other side of the world, I struggled my way through pages and pages of blogs and articles on the internet trying to find some advice from anyone who’d mixed climbing and backpacking… I was unsuccessful.

I’m packed and ready to go!

Whilst I was away, I like to think I learnt a fair few things; some tips, backpack essentials, what’s okay where etc… So here’s my attempt at helping any of you who are planning to backpack and climb!

Packing as light as possible – It’s tricky!

Firstly, ropes are heavy, so you’re going to have to pack light clothes wise.

I had a 60L Berghaus rucksack, which was only about half full when I left, and ended up being completely stuffed not long into my trip!

Don’t be fooled, you will definitely end up buying stuff so don’t take anything more than the bare minimum! Your body will thank you after less time than you think for going light too!

Another clothes related tip…

Further to my packing light on the clothes front tip… Not so many clothes and lots of hot countries, or wearing everything because it’s cold means your going to do a lot of washing (or smelling).

So I recommend bring along with you a thin, but fairly long bit of cord to hang up your washing.

Our washing line in a hotel room in India.

You can get away with hand washing everything in your sink but drying is slightly more difficult.

The cord is easy to put up, and takes up virtually no space in your bag – you could even tie it to the outside. It can also have other uses making it a valuable item.

Sharing the climbing kit load…

If you’re going to a fairly popular climbing destination, it’s likely you won’t have the crag to yourself.

I’d suggest taking one piece of kit – maybe some draws or a rope, and you’ll be able to meet new climbers and contribute some kit to your new partnership. This means you don’t have to carry as much and you get to meet new people!

Some destinations/outdoor organisations may run day trips which are a good way to find someone else to climb with whilst you’re in an area.

Two items you shouldn’t be without…

One very important change I made to what I carried on my body everyday were 2 items: both toilet related!

First up, a little bit of medication called Imodium. It’s an absolute lifesaver for the general traveler as well as those climbing traveling as it can block any unwanted stomach action for a few days.

It can make that daylong train or bus journey do-able if you’ve picked up ‘Tonsai Tummy’ (like I did!) or another stomach bug. Keep it in your wallet and don’t be afraid to use it!

The second wallet must-have is a little bit of toilet roll. You’ll be lucky to find toilet roll (or a proper toilet!) in most public toilets in South East Asia so always come prepared to make your experience that little bit more comfortable.

Beware of the midgies!

Most places can get fairly midgey in the evening or even during the daytime, and so my favourite crag essential in Thailand especially was a mosquito coil. Just light one of these coils and set it up nearby to ward off those nasty insects. Bonus if you like the smell of it too!

Books are bulky

Lastly don’t bother taking guide books with you if you’re going to multiple climbing destinations; they’re bulky and heavy and will take up precious space and weight!

Reading a borrowed guidebook in Thailand.

You can generally buy them at climbing/outdoor shops in the area or just use other people and the web as a source!

Obviously there’s a lot more to it than these few things but here are just some examples of the types of things you should be thinking about planning your big trip.