Countries Visited

Svalbard Spain United States of America Antarctica South Georgia Falkland Islands Bolivia Peru Ecuador Colombia Venezuela Guyana Suriname French Guiana Brazil Paraguay Uruguay Argentina Chile Greenland Canada United States of America United States of America Israel Jordan Cyprus Qatar United Arab Emirates Oman Yemen Saudia Arabia Iraq Afghanistan Turkmenistan Iran Syria Singapore China Mongolia Papua New Guinea Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Malaysia Tiawan Philippines Vietnam Cambodia Laos Thailand Myanmar Bangladesh Sri Lanka India Bhutan Nepal Pakistan Afghanistan Turkmenistan Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Japan North Korea South Korea Russia Kazakhstan Russia Montenegro Portugal Azerbaijan Armenia Georgia Ukraine Moldova Belarus Romania Bulgaria Macedonia Serbia Bosonia & Herzegovina Turkey Greece Albania Croatia Hungary Slovakia Slovenia Malta Spain Portugal Spain France Italy Italy Austria Switzerland Belgium France Ireland United Kingdom Norway Sweden Finland Estonia Latvia Lithuania Russia Poland Czech Republic Germany Denmark The Netherlands Iceland El Salvador Guatemala Panama Costa Rica Nicaragua Honduras Belize Mexico Trinidad & Tobago Puerto Rico Dominican Republic Haiti Jamaica The Bahamas Cuba Vanuatu Australia Solomon Islands Fiji New Caledonia New Zealand Eritrea Ethiopia Djibouti Somalia Kenya Uganda Tanzania Rwanda Burundi Madagascar Namibia Botswana South Africa Lesotho Swaziland Zimbabwe Mozambique Malawi Zambia Angola Democratic Repbulic of Congo Republic of Congo Gabon Equatorial Guinea Central African Republic Cameroon Nigeria Togo Ghana Burkina Fasso Cote d'Ivoire Liberia Sierra Leone Guinea Guinea Bissau The Gambia Senegal Mali Mauritania Niger Western Sahara Sudan Chad Egypt Libya Tunisia Morocco Algeria
Map Legend: 28%, 75 of 263 Territories

Monday, June 22, 2009

Gear, Part Dos

While Andy has been busy adding terrific new posts to this blog, I have been off mini-golfing, eating Duckfat fries and Beals ice cream, and, most importantly, road-testing some of my new travel gear in Maine!

(Side note: You can find Andy's gear list and reviews in "Gear: Part I.")

I have pretty much the same gear as Andy does, but there are a few differences. I'll follow Andy's format of listing largest to smallest (though note that my size order is different!), and try to comment on how I'm enjoying things that I've been able to try out so far.

Backpack: Women's Eagle Creek Explorer LT 45L pack with detachable 20L daypack ($230). Seems to fit all my stuff nicely and is still within carry-on size limits. Great sturdy waist strap. I don't love the orange color I ended up with, but as Andy mentioned, this model was discontinued, so I'm just glad I got one at all.

Sleeping bag: Lafuma 650X Pro ($70). Same as Andy's. A little bulkier than we expected, but very lightweight. Usefulness TBD.

Pillow: Thermarest Medium Compressible Pillow ($23). I'm not really convinced yet that this thing will be worth the space it takes up in my bag. It doesn't stuff down that small and seems to take a while to fluff up after being unstuffed. But Andy seems really psyched about his, so I hope I'm wrong.

Fleece: REI Woodland Fleece (~$40), made of 85% recycled polyester. My first fleece ever. I've been wearing it all weekend in chilly Maine and love it so far--super-comfy and warm. Not really windproof, but that's what my jacket is for...

Jacket: Columbia Storm Dry breathable, packable jacket. Got this a few years ago and it's held up nicely through multiple rainforesty trips (Costa Rica, Hawaii, Borneo). Keeps me dry, has zipper pockets and stuffs into itself for easy storage. Pretty sure I got it on sale for less than $40.

Pants: 2 pairs of The North Face Paramount Porter Convertible Pants ($65 apiece); 1 pair waterproof lined nylon pants (already had, probably cost $20 or so).

I tried on a lot of convertibles, and basically went with North Face because 1) their petite length pant legs seemed to be the shortest, 2) their shorts inseam was by far the shortest (6 inches when many other brands are 10 inches), and 3) they have an extra button that allows you to wear the pants at a third, capri, length.

Pathetically, I may still need to hem the full pants leg a little (I'm 5'2") so it's also good that these don't have boot zippers (my hangup with the EMS brand, which was my second favorite). I got one pair a little wet in the ocean this weekend and they dried very quickly. They're also very lightweight on. The only thing I don't love so far is that none of the pockets have zippers.

I'll also take a pair of stuffable waterproof pants that I bought a few trips ago and that have been very handy in the rainforest trips I mentioned above.

Water bottles: 2 1L Sigg lifestyle loop bottles. Andy went with the Nalgenes, but I stuck with Siggies. I've had a smaller Sigg for a while now and it keeps my water cool and clean-tasting with very infrequent cleanings. I am also confident that my bottles will be less leaky than Andy's. The water-bottle war is on!

Shirts: 1 long-sleeved Icebreaker 260 Olympia zip ($25 on crazy sale); 2 short-sleeved Icebreaker Superfine140 Flight T Lite t-shirts (~35-$50 apiece); 1 Icebreaker Superfine 190 Cross Cami with built-in bra (~$30), all 100% merino wool.

These seem awesome so far. I've been wearing one of my 140 t-shirts almost daily for about a week now, and it does not smell at all. It itched a little when I first tried it on, but after one washing and one day of wear, it has not itched a bit since and has been super-soft and comfortable.

The long-sleeved zip shirt has thumb holes and a neck that can zip all the way up for warmth or all the way down if I get hot. I wore it one night over the 140 shirt and it kept me toasty. These shirts also take up next to no room in my backpack.

Water filtration system: See Andy's description. I'm carrying the spare filter, which is a bit lighter than the actual apparatus.

Shoes: New Balance WT1110 GT Waterproof Trailrunning shoes ($100); 1 pair Columbia sandals (already had, less than $20 on sale).

The New Balance Gore-Tex shoes are awesome so far--super-comfy right out of the box, and very waterproof in my recent testings in the NY monsoon. (I've also done a few runs in them, much to Andy's chagrin, as he thinks I should be saving their soles for the trip!)

The Columbias can be worn in the water and were really cheap; if they wear out too much along the way I may need to replace them.

Cameras: See Andy's review. I'll be carrying the smaller waterproof one.

Socks: 1 pair Smartwool hiking socks ($18); 2 pairs SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light Mini Socks ($17 each); 2 pairs SmartWool PhD Running Ultra Light Micro Socks ($13 each).

I also got more socks than I originally planned, oh well. I've been wearing the light minis around and they are super-cushy and comfy, and though they're a little warmer than I'd anticipated, my feet didn't get all sweaty in them and they didn't smell bad, even after several days. But I got worried about hot feet in the tropics, so I also got the ultra lights/micros, which are lighter weight and shorter, though still cushioned. Haven't tried those yet. The light pair I did wear around seemed to shed a little, so these socks may wear out faster than some of our other clothes.

I also followed the comments I read online and ordered one size down from my normal size (I'm a 7-7.5 in shoes, which means I should get a medium Smartwool sock, but I got smalls instead.) The socks I got all fit great, so this seems to be solid advice.

Bag cover: Came with the bag. Takes up space in the bag. But may protect the bag from monsoon. We'll see.

Hat/gloves: Generic wool hat (likely ancient, was my dad's); baseball cap (go Mets!); 1 pair Outdoor Research Windstopper Gripper Gloves ($45).

Like Andy, was looking for windproof/waterproof gloves. Tried these on the advice of a salesman at Campmor and liked them. Bonus: They came not only in black, but in pale blue...but only if I ordered a medium. I probably should be wearing a small, but the blue was so guess which size I got? We'll see if this choice bites me in the ass, I mean butt, I mean thumb, at the top of the Andes...

Underwear: 5 pairs Ex Officio Soy Seamless Bikini underpants (in black, coral, and spearmint, $10 a pair on sale); 3 Ex Officio Soytopia Seamless Tank Bras (2 spearmint, 1 black, ~$15 per bra); 1 pair REI Silk Bottoms (long underwear, petite length, $30).

Yes, my underwear is made of soy, which means that if Andy and I are starving, we can boil it into a tasty soup. Kidding! They're only 77% soy, seasoned with some nylon and Lycra. But that still makes them pretty eco-friendly, and so far, REALLY comfortable. I've been wearing one of the bras for about a week straight and love it, and the undies I tried for a day were great, too. The black color seems to fit a little tighter than the other ones.

I washed and hang-dried these and they didn't dry as fast as my Icebreaker stuff, but we'll see how they do when rung out with a towel first like the instructions suggest.

I probably didn't need this much underwear, but they take up hardly any space in my bag.

The REI silk bottoms pack down tiny, seem really warm, and were the best price for pure silk long johns.

Towel: REI Large Multitowel ($8). See Andy's review. Haven't tried this out yet.

Bathing suit: 1 super-old blue one-piece I've had since high school. Though I may buy my first-ever bikini on the trip...we'll see how cheap they are and how buff I am feeling.

Other stuff: Black Diamond Spot LED Headlamp Headlamp ($40)--seems comfy, easy to use, and has great lighting features; binoculars (a bit bigger and better than Andy's tiny ones, were a Christmas gift from him); a Rite-In-The-Rain Notebook ($15), pen ($10) and mini spiral memo pad ($4) for waterproof journaling and note-taking; various toiletries, including 2 LUSH solid shampoos ($8-$10 apiece), Soak and Float (awesome for dry scalp) and Squeaky Green (eco-friendly and also scalp-soothing)--I've been using these for a year and love them, they last forever and are so easy to carry around; Sea to Summit Titanium Spork ($7); Eagle Creek TSA approved combination lock ($6); Sandisk Sansa Clip 4GB mp3 player ($35 used on Craigslist--love it so far, as it's tiny, clips onto my clothes, and plays FM radio in addition to mp3s!), games--waterproof playing cards (rummy!!) and possibly a Boggle set if we can fit it; plus all the misc. stuff Andy mentioned and other things I'm sure I'm forgetting.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Time left for getting more gear before departure is short, so say your piece now!

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