Over the years I’ve honed my packing to a fine art. A lot of my globetrotting clients ask for my advice on what to pack and even though each client is given a detailed packing list, I thought I would share a suggested list with you all. Obviously it depends on the country and the climate you’ll be riding in, but this list is a great starting point.
***Oh and don’t forget, if you’re keen to invest in some new gear, check out our online store here. GT Apparel is functional, hard-wearing, stylish and true to the art of horse travel. We’ve personally road-tested all of our products and stand tall knowing that they’re the highest possible quality.
- Firstly, pack in a soft, canvas bag like our very own GT Safari Bag – see my previous post about chopper bags – hard suitcases with wheels are great when you’re travelling to Tokyo or LA but are hopeless when you’re on safari. And with most rides your transfers are either via small plane or minibus, so the more malleable the bag the better. Leave your suitcase with wheels in the cupboard for city breaks. You can get soft bags with wheels if you’re a solo traveller and don’t have the muscles to lift your bag – here is our recommendation.
- Travel packing cubes – these ingenious little cubes ensure that everything is easy to find when you need it, not to mention easier to pack! They’re especially wonderful on rides where you’re moving to a different location each night and unpacking and repacking on a regular basis. Instead of your luggage exploding out of your bag, you can just unzip one or two little cubes.
- Cotton scarf – love these! Perfect to ride with especially when it’s dusty, as they prevent dirt moustaches! Don’t laugh, I’ve seen plenty in my time. When worn with a singlet or a long sleeved shirt, they protect your face from dust clouds if you happen to get stuck behind the group at the canter. They also come in handy at night when the temperature drops. Or at lunch time when it’s tabasco-hot, you can dip your scarf into a river and cool yourself down.
- Riding pants – in general, it’s best to pack three pairs. I ride in Argentine bombachas and they are the duck’s nuts! Made from durable cotton fabric, so they’re resistant to the pesky hook thorns that can be found in Africa. For hot climates they are incredibly cool and can also be worn as dress pants. I get so many comments on these pants and could sell them twice over to fellow riders. A friend also recently put me onto Kerrits which I must admit I am now a big fan of! And the other ones to try are Irideon riding tights. So if bombachas aren’t for you, check out our blog posts on Kerrits and Irideon tights.
- Padded bike shorts – a pair of padded bike pants underneath your riding clothes will prevent many a sore bum if you’re riding up to six or seven hours per day, and can serve as a cheaper alternative to a seat saver. Consider slipping a pair under your riding pants if your horse riding holiday involves long hours in the saddle.
- Long sleeved cotton shirts, with a closed front. If you’re in a sticky environment (think Africa, Brazil, Australia) these shirts are awesome for sun protection. And for colder climates you can wear a vest over the top or thermals underneath. Our GT Apparel store has some available for both men and women. If your horse riding holiday is in Africa, be sure to get subdued colours – stay away from red or hot pink. I’m a sucker for blue, khaki or green.
- Thermals – the trick to riding in cold or unpredictable weather is to dress in layers, and thermals make the perfect base layer! My favourites are Icebreaker thermals made from the natural fibres of merino wool, perfect for ALL weather conditions. Check out this post for more information.
- A vest is also an essential on my packing list. We love this item so much that we’ve even designed our own style available in both black and navy!
- A rain jacket is always a good idea if they aren’t provided by the outfitter. If you’re going somewhere especially prone to wild weather, waterproof overpants can be a lifesaver, too.
- Gloves – to protect your hands from the elements (and those nasty leather burns) and give you extra grip on the reins, make sure you throw some riding gloves into your bag. Check out this post for our recommendations on lighter gloves, and this post for warmer ones.
- Ladies, be sure to pack bras that are tried and true! There’s nothing worse than enduring a day’s riding in an uncomfortable or unsupportive bra. We’ve written a guide to finding a good riding bra and listed some of our favourites here.
- Hats- I strongly recommend riding in a helmet. I ride in a Dublin Pro which is super comfy, light and breathable. And you can’t go wrong with an Australian Akubra. Make sure it fits well, especially if you’re choosing to ride in it. Check out this post on hats and also my new favourite hat. Oh, and you know that if you lose your hat on a ride, whether it’s at a canter or a trot, you have to shout a carton of beer to your fellow riders for the inconvenience! We’ve also got some black or navy trucker caps available for when you’re out of the saddle enjoying lunch in the sun – easy to fit in your saddle bags!
- Boots – I ride in ankle boots and Ariat half chaps. This is a good option as your inner leg is protected from rubbing when you’re notching up long hours in an unknown saddle. And for beach rides, machine washable mesh chaps are a godsend. If you can’t decide between ankle boots with chaps or long boots, here’s a comparison.
- Other than your riding boots, you’ll want to pack some lightweight shoes that you can slip on at night around the campfire or for a walk in the afternoon. These can either be thongs (flip flops), which aren’t that great in Africa when you step on a thorn, or slip-ons such as TOMS, espadrilles or alpargatas, which take up next to no room in your bag and are comfy as.
- Head torch – an essential if you’re on a pack trip or safari in Africa. I’m an avid reader at night, and head torches are perfect for this. Or if you need to pee during the night and you’re in the middle of the bush, with your trusty head torch you can shine a light in a lion’s eye – great deterrent.
- Water bottle – save using plastic bottles and take your own. My favourite is the Camelbak (the water bottle, NOT THE BACKPACK) which holds 1L. Plus, it doesn’t have a lid – you don’t want to be on horseback and screwing a lid on and off to take a drink of water.
- Travel thermos – for those of us who love a hot cuppa with our lunch, we recommend taking a travel thermos. Our favourite is this Kathmandu bullet flask.
- Sunglasses with a strap – dorky or not, you won’t lose your sunglasses when you need to take them off on horseback. Sunnies also help to ward off dust when you’re cantering at the back of the pack.
- Portable battery pack – for those of you who are heading off on a globetrotting adventure that involves some nights camping, you might want to consider packing a portable battery pack for your smartphone and camera so you don’t miss a chance to capture the perfect shot. You can read our suggestions here.
- A travel adapter is essential if you are heading overseas for your globetrotting adventure. We love the universal adapter here.
- Noise-cancelling earphones are great if you want to get some shut-eye on the plane on the way to your ride. After all, you don’t want to start the ride tired!
- A seat saver – for rides where you’ll be spending LONG hours in the saddle each day, especially Mongolia where the saddles are a bit harder than we’re used to, we recommend packing a seat saver. Especially for those who aren’t all that riding fit, this will be a real lifesaver.
Wash bag essentials
- Roll-on sunscreen – again easier to apply while riding along.
- Lip balm – make sure it has sun protection, and again, no screw lids for easy application on horseback.
- Skin-coloured zinc sunscreen – my all time favourite is the Dermalogica 20+ tinted moisturiser, which acts as my foundation, daily moisturiser and sunscreen.
- Wet wipes – especially for the horse riding holidays that don’t offer camp showers every day, these are a godsend in helping you feel clean and refreshed until your next shower. Just make sure you have somewhere to stow your used wipes until you return to civilisation.
- Chafing cream – save yourself the pain of raw skin after a long day of riding by coming prepared with some anti-chafing cream. Check out our recommendations here.
- Dry shampoo – a game-changer. Check out my thoughts here.
- Nurofen or Ibruprofen – if you suffer from any muscle soreness from riding, these will help. Take two tablets an hour before you ride if you’re suffering from aches and pains.
- Paracetamol – self-explanatory.
- Gastro-stop – make sure you have plenty of these, you never know if food doesn’t agree with you. Keep them in your top pocket for swallowing if the need arises.
- On the subject of medication, we’ve put together some comprehensive articles with the help of our fellow globetrotter and medical professional, Anna King, about staying healthy on your horse riding holiday. We strongly recommend you give them a read: before you leave home and on the road.
This is a good start. Anything I’ve missed, globetrotters?