Travel Like a Pro: Carry on Your Camp Kit + Must-have Medicines - Backpacker

Travel Like a Pro: Carry on Your Camp Kit + Must-have Medicines

TSA-approved camp kit carry-on items. Plus, meds you might need abroad.
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Carry on Your Camp Kit

Pare down your gear to fit a weekend-size pack (no larger than about 45 linear inches, the standard carry-on limit), and you can skip baggage-claim hassles. Key products: these TSA-friendly backcountry essentials.


At less than 4 inches, this bladeless Style PS Leatherman ($20; 1.6 oz.; is approved for carry-on luggage, but has eight stainless-steel tools including pliers, wire-cutters, scissors, a file, and tweezers. It’s TSA ready, but this tool still cuts it in the backcountry.

Water purification

SteriPEN Traveler 3-in-1 ($50; 5.7 oz.; uses UV light to kill illness-causing bugs in questionable drinking water from hostel faucets or wilderness streams. It also fits in small-mouth water bottles, and uses easy-to-find AA batteries. Read a full review of SteriPEN’s USB-rechargeable version, the Freedom.


TSA is clear: Stoves are OK, fuel is not (print a copy of the regs from to hand-carry through security). Research canister availability on forums such as; if you can buy fuel in-country, pack a compact canister cookset like Jetboil’s Zip, shown, ($70; 13.8 oz.; If canisters aren’t available, consider a wood-burner like Vargo’s Titanium Hexagon Wood Stove ($60; 4.1 oz.;

Pack These Meds

Supplement your first-aid kit with scrips to self-treat.*

» Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) A broad-spectrum antibiotic that treats serious traveler’s diarrhea (bloody or accompanied by fever) and urinary tract and bacterial skin infections. “Expect to see an improvement, but not full resolution of symptoms quickly,” says travel specialist Arthur Dover, M.D. “Cipro may kill an infection, but inflammation takes time to heal.”

» Azithromycin This oral antibiotic may cure fever-causing upper respi-ratory infections and bronchitis (but not colds, influenza, or viruses). It’s also effective against diarrhea that doesn’t improve with Cipro.

» Ibuprofen Prescription-strength doses (800 mg or more) of this OTC painkiller are as effective as prescription medications like Vicodin or Tylenol with codeine for treating pain, but won’t reduce alertness.

» Mupirocin Applied as an ointment, this antibiotic cream treats superficial bacterial skin infections that are swollen, crusty, and/or red.

*See a travel doctor pre-trip for prescriptions and self-treatment instructions. Seek medical attention if symptoms don’t improve.

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