Bethany-Martin VANdal Pacific Beach

The Two Rules of the VANlife Wardrobe

As we contemplate what to pack for our next big trip, we are starting to think about our apparel options. We learned a few lessons from last year’s two-month long road trip…and one of them was that we wanted to spend less time at the laundromat and more time doing cool stuff. Whether you’re packing for a short summer trip or for VANlife-indefinite, you can apply the following two rules so you can pack less and live more.

Rule #1. Cotton is a no-no.

Three problems with cotton. One, wet cotton is the worst fabric for regulating heat. If you get cold & wet, you risk not being able to warm back up. Two, stink lingers longer on wet cotton in a laundry bag since it virtually never dries. This isn’t terrible for us since we can throw our sweaty garments in the VANdal gear garage…but for many a traveler, a stinky, wet cotton t-shirt in a laundry bag is pretty unpleasant. Lastly, you waste more time and money at the wash-n-go because cotton takes an inordinately long time in the dry cycle.

IMG_0244_2Save those quarters and stick to sustainably sourced wool, like Patagonia, Ibex and Icebreaker (you can actually meet the goat who made your article of clothing online!) and quality fabrics designed for use in the water, like Sweet Waterwear.

Fabrics like these are easy to wash in a scrubba bag (a super-cool portable washing machine) and will dry flat in a flash.

Rule #2. Don’t overpack.

DSC_0084Bethany is a consummate rule-breaker on this one… But every time we take a trip, she finds that she’s brought WAY too much. In part, that’s because she has Reynaud’s and gets uber cold without warning (But that’s just another reason to follow Rule #1….) 🙂

Ease up on the number of garments you take. If you only bring enough that you can easily wash regularly and still have enough for every climate you might face, you’ll have less stinky clothing taking up space in a laundry bag. Instead, everything can stay nicely packed into packing cubes like the ones we talk about in this post so you save space, stay organized, and are free to enjoy more of your travels. Moreover, when you pack only the “right” stuff instead of a bunch of stuff, you find that some apparel serves a wider range of temperatures and climates. Wool, for instance, is very temperature regulating. It feels cool in warmer temperatures and keeps you warm when the temps drop. Pretty nifty :).
Packing Cubes for VANlife

For organizing and storing clothing for a long trip, check out these tips, too.

For our 2015 summer trip, our attire will include paddling apparel, running attire, some outdoor/lifestyle pieces that can be dressed up or down, and a mix of both cold weather and warm weather gear. Here are a few of our favorite brands:

Wool Apparel

Paddling/Sun Protection


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