Gear Kits

The Great Wall and Beyond: Essential Gear for Exploring China

Be prepared and pack light as you venture into the Far East.

Curated by Michael Gabbert

When traveling internationally, I've found that the key to solid gear and packing centers around versatility and weight. Adventures throughout the Far East echo these keys even further. When hiking, camping, and exploring a variety of landscapes, ensuring you have everything you need in something as small as a backpack can be a difficult task. Over the past three years I’ve been lucky enough to camp on the Great Wall, hang out with and observe Cormorant Fishermen on the Li River, and hike the Rice Terraces of Longji across the vast Chinese landscape. While I’m not as hardcore as Mr. Kyle Obermann, this is my go-to gear when backpacking in China. 

Whether it be the long flight over, traveling within the country, or sleeping on the rocky ground of the Great Wall, a little comfort in the form of a travel pillow is a downright necessity. The Aeros Pillow packs extremely small, but is still hella comfy.

Light, compact, and everything you would need for a comfortable camping mattress.

When hiking an unfamiliar area, you never know what you’re going to run across. This clip is unbelievably useful, overall inconspicuous, and allows your camera to be at the ready whenever you need it.

If I’m bringing one pair of pants, these are the ones. Great for hiking but versatile and comfortable enough for travel, exploring cities, or taking a chill day.

The Outbound T-Shirt

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It truly amazes me how many people have inquired about the shirt during my travels. It’s serves as a great icebreaker. I’ve met some amazing people and shared some great stories with this shirt being a catalyst to these conversations. The cotton/polyester blend is ridiculously comfortable as well.

My attempt is to always pack all of my gear, clothing, etc. into one bag. The LowePro bag has a built in camera and computer compartments, which help me separate accordingly. The sizes helps me keep my packing in check.

The key to packing is multi-purpose. I look for a baselayer which can be worn on its own if needed, can dry quickly and pack small. This Smartwool layer checks all three boxes for me.

A simple and relatively affordable backpacking bag. While it’s not ideal for when temps drop below 40, it’s a fantastic 3 season bag which weighs less than 2 lbs.

Each trip I take want to resist the temptation to bring a tripod. They tend to take up far much space for the amount of time I actually use them. This MeFoto tripod is perfect as its compact (the size of a Nalgene bottle) and serves my needs. It only extends to 36” tall, but I’m more than willing to sacrifice height for the added space savings.

A camera is a no-brainer. But the other no brainer for me is a wide angle lens. With the sweeping, panoramic views and unique, surreal landscapes abound in the Far East, the wider the better. I really dig this Sigma lens from a price to quality ratio.

Small, compact, and an essential piece of gear if you should encounter any delays or any down time in general.

If you’re in one location, it’s nice to have a day pack for excursions to avoid lugging your larger pack around. This day pack is no frills, but is cheap while getting the job done.