Gosh, this looks like a lot of stuff.
11pm, New Year's Eve 2016, 9 hours before we leave for Ecuador. Patrick looks thrilled.
...But when you consider that we're not only travelling around the world for a year but also hiking and camping and cooking for ourselves and trying really, really hard not to get fatally sick, then the amount of stuff in our packs does start to make sense. There's everything that you'd need to survive for a couple weeks in the wilderness plus electronics, plus medications, plus a couple luxury items to make us feel human.... and everything in the above shot was chosen with great deliberation.
During our final packing on New Year's Eve we spread everything out and began to try to fit it into our backpacks. As we packed we'd make grand pronouncements like
"That's it! I'm going to leave these here, they are are way too heavy to carry for a year- I'm going to only bring one pair or shorts."
Cue shocked silence from the room.
It was a big moment for me when I decided to bring 2, not 3 shirts and then again when Rosie decided to bring an extra bottle of hand sanitizer. When considering that we were making choices that would affect us for months to come, it was impossible not to feel an enormous pressure with every seemingly small decision.
Since that night back in December 2016, we have packed and repacked our bags many more times. Sometimes (usually when boarding a plane or handing our bag to a bus attendant) we do get asked what we are carrying, and here is the short answer:
Everyone loves a good gear shot, but stuff sacks and and hard cases don't tell much of story. So, here is the same pile labeled, for your convenience, with a bit of explanation as to why we decided to bring each piece with us.
It took a reeeaaalllly long time to get those numbers on there... you're welcome
1. Gregory DEVA 60 pack (Rosie's pack): Rosie chose this pack because she liked that it wasn't too tall and didn't hit her in the back of the head- also, she can pack it from the top or the front (there's a big zipper access panel). As a bonus, it comes with it's own day bag which we use way more than you might expect.
2.Osprey Volt 65L pack (Patrick's pack): Patrick got this pack off a clearance rack 2 days before we left. It's pretty basic, but one advantage is that it has great straps for snugging a load down and it has a really handy storage space under the back panel. Fewer useless pockets than other Osprey packs.
3. Sleeping system: NEMO double-wide inflatable sleeping pad, inflatable pillows and sleeping quilt plus Sea-to-Summit double liner. We figured that sleeping in two separate sleeping bags for a year would be a little unsociable PLUS one set of extra-wide NEMO equipment weighs less than two sleeping bags, two liners and two pads. Easy math!
4. Big Agnes Copper Spur 3-person tent: This tent is really light and is high enough on both ends that both of us can sit up at the same time. We also opted to get a tent with two vestibules on purpose because it's nice to not have to crawl over someone in the middle of the night just to leave the tent.
5. Lifestraw Mission 5L gravity water filter: This water filter isn't the lightest, but it filters water down to 0.02 microns (no viruses) and can supposedly do 10,000L without replacing the filter. We are currently saving a small fortune in NOT buying bottled water because we just make our own everywhere we go. We basically walk into a hostel/AirBNB/campsite and start looking for a place to hang it.
6. Nalgene water bottles and Playpus brand bladders, plus hoses: Self explanatory, completely necessary. Rosie got a sweet cap cover for her hose that keeps the dust off. Patrick is wishing he had one right about now.
7. MSR Universal Whisperlite: The only stove that we could find that would burn white gas, kerosene, diesel fuel and isobutane. Comes with a scary red fuel bottle that we covered in cheery stickers. As of now, no one has tried to confiscate our stove (this has happened before) and it has cooked us some delicious meals (and some sort of gross ones).
8. MSR fuel bottle: On here twice because we found a print-off sheet on the TSA website that states the bottle is clean and free of fuel. In retrospect, we should have laminated this.
9. Cooking system: Sea-to-Summit collapsible pot, Snowpeak sporks, X-bowl in a pretty green color and coffee cups with lids. It all folds up into itself and weighs like, nothing. We hadn't cooked with silicone before but like it so far- the lid is great for draining pasta even if the little finger-tabs do get hot.
10. Medical kit: 1/3 band-aids, 1/3 major trauma pads, and 1/3 random stuff like space blankets, tweezers and anti-itch, anti-burn creams. We're also carrying Pepto-Bismal and TUMS, as we have learned from experience that they're not always available when you need them most...
11. Headlamps: A Petzl Tikka Plus that was on sale and a Black Diamond Spot that was carefully considered. You guess whose is whose.
12. Mid-size REI brand pack towel: Feels kind of gross on your skin but can, in fact, clean up a lot of water. We wrap this around the water filter in our packs to keep it from leaking everywhere.
13. Patrick's rain jacket: Outdoor Research Foray, 'Agate' Color. I like this jacket because it has really great arm vents and a comfortable hood (I can turn my head! Wow!)
14. Rosie's rain jacket: Outdoor Research Aspire, 'Berry' Color. Basically the same jacket, except for women. Also, apparently Agate and Berry are the same color, so yes, we match when it rains. Marriage goals!
15. Osprey pack cover, sprayed down with Nikwax waterproofer. Super cool giant silver osprey design.
16. Patrick's toiletries: Toothbrush, tweezers, nail clippers, Dr. Bronner's soap (citrus), 1 year's worth of contact lenses.
17. SPOT Gen 3 emergency beacon: We got this AND travel insurance! We hope that we never have to use either!
18. Duplicate passport photos: Apparently some countries require you to have multiple copies of this (like, 6 at once- Really, Bolivia?). This was cheapest and easiest to do at Staples, since most 'official' photo stations overcharge big time.
19. Medications galore: Altitude, malaria, antibiotics, stronger antibiotics... Advil. We asked the pharmacy for copies of the labels so we could repackage them into lighter ziplok bags.
20. Luci light: Solar rechargable, inflatable and waterproof... what more could you want in a tent light? A warm, candle-like glow? Why yes, it has one!
21. Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain High Gaiters: Only Rosie brought gaiters. Patrick said he didn't want to carry the weight. Time will tell who made the correct decision.
22. South America road map and Lonely Planet Backpacker's guide: We cut out the chapters for the countries that we'll be visiting and have been throwing them out as we leave them. Highly efficient and very light, but it's always a race against time as the cut binding starts to disintegrate..
23. Dummy wallet: Expired credit cards, expired driver's license and a little bit of local cash. Hopefully if we get robbed this is all we'll lose.
24. Rosie's toiletries: Cucumber body wipes, a loofah, toothbrush, Dr. Bronner's soap (mint), backup sunglasses, 1 year's worth of contact lenses
25. Bag o' Electronics: International adapters, Ankar brand USB hub (4 outlets), USB cords, Outdoor Tech brand backup power cell, headphone splitter, Aquatune Bluetooth speaker, Microsoft Surface plus keyboard
26. Rosie's clothes: 1 pair cotton shorts, 1 pair spandex shorts, 1 pair athletic shorts, 1 pair hiking pants, 1 pair technical leggings, 2 pairs of Smartwool socks, 2 T-shirts, 2 tank tops, 1 Safari shirt (collared), down vest, fleece pullover, light scarf, 2 hats
27. Patrick' clothes: 1 pair of pants, 1 pair of shorts, 2 T-shirts, 1 technical top, 1 Sahara (collared) shirt, long underwear tops and bottoms, 2 warm hats, 2 pairs Smartwool socks, down jacket, cotton vest, keffiyah scarf
28. Chaco sandals for both us! Did you know that these can be used to identify Americans in foreign countries?! Neither did we!
29. Tent repair kit: pole splice, all-weather patches, needle and embroidery thread, replacement mosquito mesh. Man, I hope we never have to use this. Also, 2 replacement buckles for our backpacks.
30. Daily journal and pen
31. Super-cool cheap sunglasses (and backup glasses)
32. Rosie's Luxury Item: Camera, scarf strap and collapsible lightweight tripod
33. Patrick's Luxury Item: Collapible fly-fishing rod and flies
34. Red Bandana: Because why would you travel without one?
Oh, and we're carrying the Ever Further Banner too!