Not only is train travel kinder to the environment but it’s an excuse to drool over landscapes that air travel can never compete with. The only way to elevate a scenic train journey is to clamber aboard for the night. Sleeper trains chug their way through North America’s wildest national parks, traverse entire countries in Asia, and recapture the golden age of European travel. Comfort, entertainment, and practicality are paramount when prepping your pack list for an overnighter on a train. Whether you’re holing up in a luxury suite or roughing it in the communal berths, these are the essentials for any sleeper train packing list.

We hope you love the sleeper train gear we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack

Photo: Cotopaxi

Team Suitcase or Team Backpack? The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L travel pack marries the accessibility of a suitcase with the sprintability of a rucksack. Zippered mesh pockets make it easy to locate your gear without the dreaded black hole situation while the padded sleeve safeguards laptops up to 15 inches. Tuckable shoulder straps mean you can wear it as a backpack or carry it like a duffle. 35L covers you for short train journeys but the Allpa also comes in 28L and 42L variations.

Price: $200

Buy Now

Osprey Ultralight Stuff travel waist pack

Osprey waistpack

Photo: Osprey

Especially if you’re bunking in with strangers, you’ll want to keep your valuables on your person when visiting the dining car. The Osprey Ultralight Stuff waist pack comprises two zippered compartments for squirreling away the likes of passports, tickets, credit cards, and your smartphone. When it’s not in use, it stows away nice and tidy in its own little pouch.

Price: $28

Buy Now

Sony Noise-canceling Headphones

sony noise canceling headphones

Photo: Sony

Whether you travel in economy or reserve a cabin, noise-canceling headphones are a luxury all train trippers deserve. Pop on these wireless Sony noise-canceling headphones when the whistle blows and you’ll forget you’re wearing them. Ambient Sound Mode works intuitively with the environment for podcast binging without disruption. The padded design allows for comfortable extended use – one charge lasts 35 hours – although Bluetooth earbuds are available if you prefer.

Price: $119

Buy Now

Iron Flash Insulated Water Bottle

Iron Flask water bottle

Photo: Iron Flask

Luxury sleeper trains usually provide bottled water but carrying a reusable bottle makes your sustainable travel even greener. Available in six sizes, the double-insulated Iron Flask stainless steel bottle keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours. It’ll clip onto the carabiner hooks on your Cotopaxi Allpa pack and you can switch to a flip-top lid when you order a brew from the café car. Select operators – Amtrak included – even have onboard water fountains where you can top up.

Price: from $23

Buy Now

Carriage-to-platform Loungewear

Pretty Garden joggers. Photo courtesy Photo: Pretty Garden
Pretty Garden joggers. Photo courtesy Photo: Pretty Garden
Lucky Brand joggers. Photo courtesy Photo: Lucky Brand
Lucky Brand joggers. Photo courtesy Photo: Lucky Brand

Loungewear that provides the comfort of pajamas while masquerading as daywear is king when packing for a sleeper train. Lucky Brand’s French terry joggers for men are designed for snoozing and outdoor use. The PrettyGarden jogger set for women is a bed-to-brunch combo that’ll mix and match with any capsule travel wardrobe. Cuffed ankles spare you from getting in a twist in the bedsheets and nothing says comfy like a drawstring waist.

Price: $36

Buy Now – Women’s

Buy Now – Men’s

Kindle Paperwhite E-reader

Kindle Paperwhite

Photo: Nicole Glass Photography/Shutterstock

An overnight train is a golden opportunity to power through your reading pile. While an e-reader will never replace the thrill of pages, it’s far more practical when on the road – rail or otherwise. With an adjustable warm light to protect your peepers, the Kindle Paperwhite is the undefeated best on the market. Stash up to 16 GB worth of downloads (that’s about three lifetimes worth of books) on the device or tap on an Audible subscription if you’d rather not tear your eyes away from the scenery.

Price: from $140

Buy Now

Travel Wash Bag

Peak Design small wash pouch. Photo courtesy Photo: Peak Design
Peak Design small wash pouch. Photo courtesy Photo:
Peak Design toiletry bag. Photo courtesy Photo: Peak Design
Peak Design toiletry bag. Photo courtesy Photo: Peak Design

Keep your grooming essentials in one place with a lightweight, splash-resistant dopp kit. Geared towards men and lighter travelers, the Peak Design small wash pouch is roomy enough to hold miniatures and medication. Don’t let the nondescript Peak Design toiletry bag deceive you – it features internal mesh pockets for easy visibility while rummaging. Both wash bags feature magnetic toothbrush pockets and stowable hanging hooks.

Price: $50-$60

Buy Now – Wash Pouch

Buy Now – Toiletry Bag

QuietOn Noise-canceling Earplugs

Photo courtesy QuietOn
Photo courtesy QuietOn

QuietOn’s new version 3.1 noise-canceling earplugs are an investment that will last forever. These are designed specifically for sleeping – there’s no Bluetooth connectivity or hookups required. Simply put them into your ear and you’ll hear the noise-canceling kick in a few seconds later. They’re designed for sleepers of all stripes (including side-sleepers) and allow you to turn the bud to the left or right after plugging into your ear, in order to make it flush with the rest of your ear. That way, they’re not jabbing into your ear while you lay on the pillow like traditional earbuds. Wear them when you doze and slip them in if you want to zone out from distracting background noise while in motion. As they take a night or two to get used to, you’ll want to break them in before you hit the railroad. Your order comes with several different-sized tips. Plus, the 28-hour battery life is long enough to get you through a three-night train trip without even needing to charge.

Price: $289

Buy Now

Silk Sleep Mask

woman with sleep mask

Photo: LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Slumbering on a train needn’t impact your eight hours. Any seasoned traveler knows that a mask is a surefire way to get some shut-eye when in transit and this silk sleep mask is the best 10 bucks you’ll spend. As well as blocking out annoying lights and restless cabinmates, the silk will gently moisturize your skin and regulate your temperature while you get your forty winks. Go halves with your travel buddy or keep one as a spare.

Price: $10 for two

Buy Now

Anker PowerCore portable charger

Anker portable phone charger

Photo: Anker

A number of sleeper trains around the world have charging facilities but sliding a power bank into your pack covers you for those exceptions. The Anker PowerCore portable charger is compatible with Apple and Android devices as well as the Nintendo Switch. It stores enough juice to recharge an iPhone 12 at least twice and once for an iPad mini 5. Recharge time is just 2.8 hours with a USB-C Power Delivery wall.

Price: $40

Buy Now

Master Lock Bike Combination Lock

If you’re shacking up with unknowns or traveling economy, you might want to take extra precautions with your luggage. A simple Master Lock bicycle lock lets you secure your bags to the luggage rack or your berth while you stretch your legs. Plus, when you alight, you can rent a bike to get around in lieu of a hire car.

Price: from $9

Buy Now

Rettacy Unlined Notebook

unlined notebook

Photo: melissamn/Shutterstock

There’s something about the nostalgia of train travel that defaults us back to old-school ways. Jot down your musings or start penning that novel in one of these premium leather Rettacy journals. The carriage might be restricted to staying in the lines, but your scribblings aren’t – these unlined notebooks work just as well for doodling and scrapbooking. And, it’s the perfect souvenir of your sleeper train experience.

Price: $16 for two

Buy Now