Buyer’s Guide: Easiest Ever Travel Capsule Wardrobe

Published by riseandbrine on

When you’re on the road for an extended adventure, carrying lots of luggage can be draining, frustrating, and unnecessary. Rolling suitcases across ancient cobblestone street, dusty dirt roads and up many, many flights of stairs, makes the journey a whole lot less fun. This is exactly the situation where a well-edited travel capsule wardrobe can save the day.

Being able to stuff everything into a simple carryon backpack makes you a much more nimble adventurer. Lightening your load takes some practice, but with a few simple tips plus the carefully selected 20 pieces below, you’ll be well on your way to crafting the perfect capsule wardrobe for your next adventure.


travel capsule wardrobe

Building your Travel Capsule Wardrobe

Packing a capsule wardrobe – that is, a miniature, well-thought-out wardrobe, where everything can be worn with everything else, in multiple situations – is a perfect solution for traveling light. The 20 keystone pieces linked below cover the basics across almost all weather possibilities across the globe, assuming you’re not heading to Antartica or the North Pole.

When packing and editing your travel capsule wardrobe, you’ll want to consider these three aspects:


I usually opt for almost-all black when I pack a travel capsule wardrobe. Not only does black match everything, but it helps you blend into the local culture and keeps you from looking like a tourist (and a theft target!). The old saying is true: black never goes out of style.

In addition to my black basics, I’ll include a couple pops of color to mix up my  outfits. A light pink tank and an army-green tunic can take your basic blacks to the next level.  Just make sure these colorful pieces also match each other so you can maximize your total possible outfits. I love my regular combo of light pink & army green with black, since it works for any season and doesn’t really rely on color trends. Another color-pop combos I like are cream & turquoise and gray & navy.


While your outfits need to transition from trail to town, you also need to consider your personal style when you’re packing your travel capsule wardrobe. Below are the basic 20 pieces that I’d choose for my style, but you might be more comfortable with some tweaks.

Comfort is incredibly important in your travel wardrobe – you’ll be wearing these clothes A LOT, so you need to WANT to wear them all. Technical fabrics for shirts and pants, plus good tread on your shoes, are key aspects of this wardrobe — these piece can serve double-duty for hiking, and can be worn in the city, or as layers. Plus, technical fabrics dry faster for when you end up hand-washing these clothes in your hostel sink.


Consider what activities you might find yourself doing while on your trip: will you be hiking in the wilderness, walking miles through a city, going to the opera, lounging on the beach, or indulging at trendy casinos?

The 20-piece travel capsule wardrobe below is designed for any and all occasions, but you can specialize your wardrobe to fit your unique travel style and specific plans.


Ready to build your own travel capsule wardrobe?

Here are 20 basics that will get you through any occasion, from hiking in Norway, to the beaches of Thailand, to the cities in Brazil, and everything in between. If you like what you see, just click the underlined item name to buy it on Amazon.


These three bottoms can take you anywhere. While the Anatomie pants are a little steep, many travelers swear by them as the most versatile and functional travel pants.

Anatomie Susan Pants

Columbia Trail Shorts

Light Long-ish Skirt




Contrary to what you may think, you don’t need too many tops to create TONS of different outfits. The button down tunic and the wool sweater below can also act as cardigans to mix things up even more. Two of these shirts are made of wicking fabric, while the Lucky blouse is dressier, but still versatile and breathable.

Lucky Brand Blouse

Calvin Klein Black Performance Tank

Danskin Moisture Wicking T-shirt

Button Down Tunic





These jackets can also be layered for different levels of warmth. All three provide the style you want while in the city, plus the durability you want while hiking.

Ibex Merino Wool Zip Sweater

Mountain Hardware Jacket

Marmot Rain Jacket




This versatile (and comfortable!) dress can go from the town to the beach, to the opera and no one would be the wiser.

Prana Dress



Notice that all three pairs of shoes have exceptional tread!
It will come in handy for any unexpected (or intentional) terrain, ice or mud you encounter on your adventures.

Merrell Hiking Sneakers

Black Teva Boots

Chaco Casual/Dress Sandals



A low-profile anti-theft bag will keep your most important belonging safe while on the road.

Bathing Suit


Packable Panama Hat

Polarized Sunglasses

Anti-theft Crossbody Bag


…and of course… your BACKPACK:

Aim for 40L – 46L to meet carry-on requirements, while having enough space fro everything. Use packing squares to get the most out of the limited space.

Carry-on Sized 46L Travel Backpack


Like anything you see? Just click the name of the item in the list above and you can buy it directly on Amazon.

And there you have it. No more wondering what to wear, wherever you are. This wardrobe could even be used in your day-to-day, though I prefer to have about 10x as many shoes to choose from. 😉 What are you wearing on your next adventure? Share your capsule wardrobe finds in the comments below!

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travel buyers guide

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Angela Epolito · November 26, 2017 at 2:40 pm

I have been building my own capsule wardrobe at home. I never thought of using one for travel – great idea. My concerns with not bringing a checked bag is not being able to bring my beauty supplies – I suppose if I used the $25 it costs for the bag fee to buy stuff where I went that may work!

    thekrismix · November 26, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Great idea! I always find myself buying what I need along the way. In most places everything you need is reasonably available.. and often cheaper!

Kate · December 12, 2017 at 4:20 pm

This. Is. Amazing! I always manage to WAY overpack for any trip, and definitely even for short trips! I have such a hard time narrowing down outfits because I don’t know what I’ll be doing, or where I’ll be going, or if the weather will suddenly change (I’m from Illinois, so it happens quite often!) but this is so handy! The pieces you mentioned can be dressed up or down, and so easily mix-and-matched. I love how easy it looks! However, I think the backpack might be a little small for my lack of decision 😉 But I do like that it’s all for a carry-on. My biggest fear when traveling is the airline losing my luggage, so I always pack at least a day’s worth of clothes in my carry=on. But this will erase that fear! Nicely done!! 🙂

Susan Taylor · December 12, 2017 at 4:41 pm

Great tips! I agree that packing light is the only way to go. Sticking to a black color theme is excellent advise. I love the Mountain Hardware Jacket you highlight. I think I will have to ask Santa for it!

Ivy · December 12, 2017 at 5:41 pm

I love this guide as a minimalist! And your personal choices are very stylish. I’m always trying to shrink my wardrobe because eventually I would like to live out of suitcases. This is helpful, thank you!

Jill · December 12, 2017 at 6:34 pm

I always struggle when it comes to packing shoes … trying to be comfortable while I’m doing 8-hour walking tours AND looking stylish is such a challenge. Thanks for giving me some ideas to add to my holiday wish list!

Leigh Laird · December 13, 2017 at 12:20 am

Your blog is very easy to read and very helpful…. great info; thank you!

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