Gear Review: What Works & What Quit 13+ Countries Later

Ready to GOFor more than half a year now I’ve been wandering the globe with only two bags strapped to my front and back.  I’ve come to rely heavily on all the contents in my bags. There are now a few adjustments I’ve made and a few gear updates since I first blogged about packing for a RTW trip.

Both a passion and indifference developed along the way regarding the contents of my bags. When I left my comfy shorts and a free t-shirt in a hostel bathroom in Patagonia, I wanted to cry the loss was so profound. And at the same time I recognize now that in the end everything is replaceable.

Bag wise, the REI Vagabond Tour 40L is going strong. No rips or tears, even with all my overstuffing. Even 1-2 more litres would go a long way with not having to pack everything just so, but then these monsters (60-70L) go by and I remind myself 40 is good enough. Having a front zip is really nice with all the one-nighters too.  When I was home recently I did swap out my daypack. The 16L Black Diamond wasn’t cutting it. This pack only had one smaller inner pouch and staying organized was getting annoying. I grabbed my Camelbak 23L Helena daypack instead and so far it’s working out much better. My laptop rides where the water bladder would normally go and everything else is organized between the two inner zipped pouches and one outer, open pouch.

steripen_freedom_components_1In terms of electronics, I’d win the prize for carrying the most. But I wear the badge proudly because I really do use everything. I love my Ipod Nano for running, hiking or on buses. Even though the water is drinkable now in NZ, the Steripen has been very hand in Central and South America or on any hike.  The version I have is convenient too because it is chargeable via usb or outlet.  The one gadget I left at home was the tripod. It was only pulled out of my bag once in 5 months.

The Kindle has been handy as well. I check out ebooks online from my library, keeping a constant supply of good reads for wherever I’m traveling. I recently remembered my newly replaced Kindle (Thanks Amazon) came with free 3G. This has been incredibly handy to check emails in between finding free internet or purchasing time.

Clothing wise, half a year did a number on all my tops. This should have been expected with fewer clothes in the weekly rotation! One lesson I learned was that having comfortable clothes I actually want to live in day after day is more important than fancy fabrics. It is worth having a set of fancy fabric clothing for hiking and running, but they don’t need to comprise my entire travel wardrobe.

I swapped out my cheapo flip flops for ones I could walk around in with more comfort. It was tempting to leave the Keens at home too, but they are really convenient in warmer weather environments for water related activities or short hikes. I also added in a pair of foldable ballet flats and jeans for feeling human every now and then. Finally, (not that there is room in my bag) I added a pair of running shoes to the outside. They make me feel human again too!

Recently I’ve been tempted to burn my Patagonia Drifter A/C hiking shoes in a bonfire. They’re not the right fit and have given me blisters on every hike after less than 8 months of wear. These blister boots will need to be replaced before trekking in Nepal.

440 imagesIn the miscellaneous gear department, I purchased a new top for my Camelbak water bottle. They now come with these nifty sports cap (with the straw). Only problem is that keeping that bite valve clean is near impossible. It can come into contact with a number of surfaces as it’s riding on the outside of my daypack. Add in humid air and the cap is full of mold in no time (and popping it off to clean only works so well after awhile). For under $5, a regular screw on lid works just fine.

This post could drag on for much longer as I analyze my laundry system or undies, but not everyone loves to talk pack gear as much as I do! It will be interesting to see what stands the test of time at the end of traveling a year around the world!

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2 Responses to Gear Review: What Works & What Quit 13+ Countries Later

  1. Christine says:

    I want to hear more…ha ha, just kidding!!! I do love this post….never thought about two small packs. It’s amazing what you learn the hard way…I could have packed so much less. Losing stuff was the worst when you have such little stuff…..oh, I was so upset about losing my socks and then later my pajamas–don’t get me started… are so right, everything is replaceable.

  2. gpcox says:

    I’m am Soooooooo jealous.

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