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Global Exploration Summit Packing List

by , January 25, 2024

If you’re reading these lines, you probably love gear and bags. And if you are curious about extreme environments and space missions you are probably already aware of my work. I’ve previously shared my passion for technical garments and crazy technical backpacks, usually with a minimalist design, along with my participation in Moon and Mars mission simulations, sometimes on active volcanoes or underground lava tubes, and most of the time in collaboration with national space agencies.

As often during my travels, I can’t help but recall these past experiences, as our plane prepares to land once again on a volcanic island. This time the island of Terceira in the Azores.

GLEX landscape

Today, I have the pleasure of traveling light, carrying only cabin luggage, instead of my traditional expedition duffel bag loaded in the hold and generally containing 30 kilos of equipment as well as my two carry-ons protecting my filming equipment.

Indeed I am not going on an expedition, but on a kind of luxury getaway to attend the GLEX, the Global Exploration Summit, an international conference nicknamed the “Davos of Exploration”.


During this Azores getaway I had the amazing opportunity to test a Côte&Ciel backpack designed in collaboration with Japanese brand Descente that incredibly went below my radar last year, as well as some technical garments and gear that have become part of my EDC or travel kit.

In a chance encounter, on the last plane that took me from Lisbon to the Azores, I had the pleasure of coming face to face with Rui Moura, a friend and colleague, geophysicist, and Portuguese astronaut candidate whom I had met a few years ago in Connecticut. At that time he was training with a small team of scientist-astronaut candidates for an emergency exit from an Orion space capsule in the event of a crash landing in the sea. And so we find ourselves after landing on the island of Terceira finally sharing our taxi with another member of the Explorers Club whom we met unexpectedly on arrival: Alice Bromage, a former English career soldier who is now an ambassador for the Black Mambas, the world’s first all-female anti-poaching unit. Our small and very heterogeneous group engaged in passionate discussions while our taxi took us to the conference venue.

Channeling a famous hat-wearing explorer at GLEX

Our trio joined another colleague and a longtime friend of mine on site. The Australian Sarah Jane Pell, with an equally formidable pedigree that sounds straight out of a Mission: Impossible movie. A 1.86-meter tall former fashion model, Ph.D, TED fellow, artist, astronaut candidate, and professional scuba diver who even tested an astronaut suit underwater off the coast of Marseille a few years ago.

Richard Garriott

The three-day international conference was a true gathering of the exploration community. As a small sample of the audience and speakers of this “Davos of Exploration”, one could come across during coffee breaks, and around pastel de nata – a delicious pastry from Portugal – many “space tourists”. Including Mario Ferreira, the first Portuguese astronaut, and Richard Garriott de Cayeux, the current President of the Explorers Club and sixth space tourist in the world.


In between amazing lectures about current trends and discoveries in anthropology, astronomy, space, and biology, I took time to explore the beautiful streets in the small town of Angra do Heroísmo. And particularly its city center which undoubtedly deserves its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Angra do Heroísmo

Artistically painted buildings, cute doors, and random encounters with traditional bakeries selling those amazing Portuguese pastries were some of the reasons for my deep enjoyment and new love for this little gem of an isolated island in the middle of the Atlantic.


Angra do Heroísmo

Angra do Heroísmo

Let’s have a look at the bags and break down the gear that I brought for this short trip:

The plane to Terceira was small and I only brought cabin luggage for this trip. As an accessory bag in the plane and as a day pack during the three-day event I brought a literal monster of a backpack.

Sormonne Métamorphe

The infamous Sormonne Métamorphe – The Shapeshifter. For its FW/22 season Côte&Ciel joined forces and their respective and impressive craftsmanship skills with Japanese functional apparel brand Descente and its urban sub-brand Allterrain. The bag is an updated version of the iconic Sormonne backpack from Côte&Ciel’s line with new 3-in-1 functionality. The bag can indeed literally morph into three separate bags: a Flatpack, a Backpack, and a Tote.

Sormonne Métamorphe

Sormonne Métamorphe

Essentially three products in one, this minimal piece levels up even further if combined with the Mizusawa Down Jacket from Descente Allterrain. Even though I don’t own the Mizusawa Down Jacket (which would have honestly been quite overkill anyway for a summer trip to the Azores), the bag and its three functions work perfectly as a standalone product. I must add that this specific version is also pretty unique because only 155 models were available worldwide.

I even brought it to an extreme test, where it responded remarkably well even though it wasn’t designed for such types of environments. On our last day, we went on a dolphin sightseeing speedboat trip with a group of colleagues from the Explorers Club.

Dolphin viewing at GLEX

Dolphin viewing at GLEX
Dolphin viewing at GLEX

It was also raining that day so the backpack got exposed a lot to water. Did it work like a dry bag? Not at all, but it provided very decent protection from the elements, a bit like an upper-level weatherproof bag. This is probably thanks to the waterproof zippers. However, the very comfortable padded straps got pretty wet during this trip, so I recommend it much more to be used for what it was designed for, urban use.

Sormonne Métamorphe

I took several notes for my articles and read past articles from people I planned to interview at GLEX on a reMarkable 2, a paper tablet that fitted perfectly in the 13″ laptop compartment of the Métamorphe. The backpack in its largest configuration is still quite small compared to the heavy photographer’s backpack I’m used to carrying. But this was very useful for me as it was small enough to be considered an accessory bag by the airline company. Still, I was able to fit inside it my Nikon Z7II, an additional and quite bulky 120-300mm zoom from Sigma, a spare jacket, and a couple of small items.

I will certainly use the Métamorphe in many different configurations, and I love its minimalist flatpack feature to just carry my reMarkable 2 under a jacket. Finally, the bag is extremely comfortable, with well-thought-out side pockets on each side of the adjustable belt and a really interesting outer fabric that makes it a near-perfect yet very luxurious urban daypack.

Keeping it black and minimalist with a futuristic design, I brought my business cards to share at the conference in another design monster: The Articular Wallet made in Japan by Claustrum.

Claustrum Articular Wallet

Claustrum Articular Wallet

This unusual wallet/card holder comes in a film-reinforced leather and high-strength stainless steel black matte finish. Those who share my passion for techwear will certainly understand my appreciation of this amazing and very useful object. I must say that all their line is a celebration of contemporary and truly next-level craftsmanship.

The Azores can be sunny, but also windy and rainy during summer. With that in mind, I packed an AETHER Apparel jacket that I also love. Readers probably know the company for their technical garments, but to my surprise, I also realized this summer that they just launched a sunglasses line.

AETHER Storm All-Weather Jacket

For the hardshell I packed therefore the Storm All-Weather Jacket, in this amazing “Total Eclipse” dark navy-ish color. I love both the cut and the color of this packable jacket made from a very comfortable fabric.

And I protected my eyes from the sun with their Sequoia Sunglass. The water-resistant sunglasses don’t come cheap but they definitely deliver in terms of quality, form, and function with their overall build and design and the high-quality Japanese polarized and anti-reflective lenses.

AETHER Sequoia Sunglass

I had to pack wise and minimalist for a short three-day trip that could include rain or sun as well as the need to attend and therefore dress for an international conference.

Veilance Spere Tech Wool Blazer (left) and the “Bonne Gueule Breno Jacket
Two travel suit jacket options, the Veilance Spere Tech Wool Blazer (left) and the Bonne Gueule Breno Jacket (right).

I therefore packed two “suit configurations”. On one hand, the Veilance Spere Tech Wool Blazer that deeply satisfies the techwear aficionado in me, with its minimalist and quite futuristic design, wind and water resistance, and anti-wrinkle features. I certainly love it though it might not be for everyone. This blazer is in a way somewhere between a suit jacket and a hardshell. I would say that like true art you either love it or hate it. On my side, it is really a new add-on to my travel kit that fits perfectly with other highly technical garments that I own.

For warmer days I brought an Italian linen suit jacket produced by Bonne Gueule, a French brand whose founder is also a techwear fan. 

Both worked perfectly as travel suit jackets during those three days. No need to iron or clean and very neat straight from my luggage.

Neutra sneakers

During travel and at the conference I also wore a pair of sneakers made by Neutra

A new brand merging late ’70s Japanese runners’ influences with contemporary design that worked both with my suits and more relaxed fits.

I also brought a couple of travel essentials during this trip, as EDC and photography/film gear.

As EDC, I brought:


From left to right and top to bottom:

AETHER Apparel Sequoia Sunglass and its protective case

A stainless steel A5 size packable bottle

Team Hat from the Observer Collection  designed by war photographer and designer Robert Spangle

Hollyland Lark M1 wireless lavalier mic (Tx and Rx) for my interviews, with its neat carrying case

My GLEX Pass

My reMarkable2 paper tablet with its Keyboard.

My Claustrum wallet to carry my business cards. I will most definitely also use its included coin case when traveling abroad.

An amazing and small titanium flashlight

An inCharge Xl. A very handy 6-in-1 cable made by Rolling Square to power my phone and transfer data: it allows ultra-fast charging up to 100W and Apple’s Fast Charging up to 27W.

Hollyland Mars M1

During this trip I made my first steps with a “pancake lens” with my NIKON Z7II, the NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (many of the pictures in this article were taken with it). And I’ve recently started using the Hollyland Mars M1 monitor and really enjoy its 5.5″ Touch LCD Screen.

This was an amazing three-day getaway, staying at the Hotel Zenite during the whole trip, and I certainly plan to come back to explore more of what this jewel of an island in the middle of the Atlantic has to offer.

GLEX landscape

Many thanks to regular contributor, Benjamin Pothier for this article.


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