Okay, one of the questions we get asked the most is what we are taking. Only since our wedding have we actually had our gear in our possession, so now I feel good about giving my initial thoughts on everything. I'm going to do my gear and a few shared items and ask Tara to do hers.
(Note: You can now find Tara's gear list and reviews in "Gear: Part Dos.")
In order from biggest to smallest with the approximate prices that we paid:
Backpack: Mens' Eagle Creek Explorer LT 45L pack with detachable 20L daypack ($230). We tried on a ton of bags, and I really liked both the fit and size of this bag. It is carry-on size, which was a requirement. Seems great so far. Fits all my stuff perfectly. Unfortunately, they discontinued this bag, so we had to buy them when we realized this. We got ours at Campmor, which still seems to have a few.
Sleeping bag: Lafuma 650X Pro ($70). 5"x10" stuffed, 1.5 lbs. We debated about whether or not to carry sleeping bags, and decided they would be useful. Many people travel with just a sleeping bag liner, but the sleeping bags should be particularly useful on overnight buses and when we find ourselves outdoors or on people's floors. We went with this one because 1.) it is cheap; 2.) it is synthetic (stays warm when wet) while still being small; 3.) they come with left and right zips, so Tara and I can attach to each other and I can have a sleeping bag and a half while she gets a half.
Fleece: REI Woodland Fleece ($40), made of 85% recycled polyester. Cheap and environmentally friendly. I wish it weren't so bulky, but it seems very warm, it's quick-drying, and it's super soft. I don't see much difference between fleeces, but I'll let you know when we're traveling.
Coat: Ex Officio Canopy Trench ($80) with welded seams and teflon coating. It will surprise many people that I'm even taking a coat, since I don't normally wear one. However, I needed a waterproof cover and a layer to keep me warm in the mountains. This should do both. It was also on sale for a great price directly from Ex Offico. When I wear it, I'll refer to myself as the Teflon man.
Pants: 1 pair waterproof, half-lined generic nylon pants ($10); 1 pair Northface Horizon Convertible Pants ($45); 1 pair Orvis Zip-Off Convertible Pants ($80). We stuck primarily with convertibles that can be pants or shorts. They are fast drying nylon, but look much better than standard nylon. The Northface pair is very lightweight. The Orvis pair is a bit thicker and looks really nice in my opinion. A quick note on Orvis: they own Ex Officio, but their own branded stuff is hard to find. I stumbled on these pants in an Orvis store and then ordered them online after confirming that I couldn't get them cheaper anywhere. I really like these pants because they have tons of zipping pockets, which I prefer so that I don't lose things or get pickpocketed. The last pair is my standard pair of traveling pants. They work well in cold, wet environments, so I decided to bring them. They will be the first thing to go if I need more space.
Shirts: 1 longsleeve Icebreaker 260 shirt ($50); 1 shortsleeve Icebreaker 190 t-shirt ($45); 1 shortsleeve Icebreaker 140 t-shirt ($35), all 100% merino wool. These prices may seem crazy compared to a regular t-shirt, but so far I love them. They are soft, super lightweight, and don't smell bad after me wearing it to run errands for a few days. They have a great reputation, so we'll let you know how they hold up. My one complaint so far is that when they wick moisture away, I never thought about where it goes. It turns out it goes to the outside of the shirt. Some of the colors really show the wet spots until it evaporates. Only matters if you care what other people think...
Waterbottles: 2 standard widemouth 1L Nalgene bottles ($6). Not much to say on this one. They hold water, they don't leak.
Water filtration system: First Need XL Water Purifier ($110). Weighs 1 lb. Tara will carry an extra filter ($50) for it, which weighs close to 1lb. I did a lot of research on filtration systems, and this one takes out the smallest particles, including most viruses. For US backwoods filtration, very few viruses are a problem, so the extra price and weight wouldn't be worth it. For much of the world, it seemed well worth it to take out the viruses. Each canister can filter about 150 gallons of water, which should keep us going for most of our trip since we'll mostly use it when we don't know if the water is safe to drink.
Shoes: New Balance MT1110 Waterproof Trailrunning shoes ($120); 1 pair Nike sandals (owned for a long time). We won't actually be doing much trailrunning, but these shoes are light and waterproof, making them good for our all around needs. The sandals could fall apart on me, but they are easy to replace.
Pillow: Thermarest Medium Compressible Pillow ($23). This thing takes a ton of space in my bag, but seems worth every bit. Many travelers will cringe that I waste space on a pillow, but I find that a pillow can make a huge difference in my comfort, so I'm taking one. We'll be spending a ton of time on buses, and it will come in handy. It seems really comfortable, though I haven't slept on it for a full night yet.
Cameras: 1 Panasonic FZ-28 ($290) with 24GB memory ($50) and 2 spare batteries ($25 for both); 1 Olympus SW770 Waterproof camera ($300 18 months ago) with 7GB memory ($35) and 3 spare batteries ($15 for all three). I just got the Panasonic yesterday and love it so far. It has been on sale for as low as $250 in the last month, but my timing was bad, so I paid it bit more. In any case, I think it should work very well. The big draw for me was the 18x zoom for wildlife. The Olympus is a decent little camera (though it uses xD memory, which is terrible), and a great camera when around water. We have quickchargers for both.
Socks: 2 pair Smartwool light hiking Crosswalk socks ($15); 1 pair Smartwool medium weight hiking socks ($16); 1 pair Smartwool ultralight PhD socks ($12). I ended up with one more pair of socks than I originally wanted because we needed to order a certain amount for a discount at EMS. I may drop a pair at Christmas if I don't need them. In any case, they seem great from the couple times I've wore them. People online swear by Smartwool socks, and Smartwool charges a premium for it. We'll let you know if it's worth it.
Bag cover: Our bags came with a rain cover/duffel bag. It's fairly large, but I would like something to keep my bag dry in the rain and if we put our bags into it, they look much less touristy. Going to try it in South America and dump it if not needed.
Hat/gloves: Generic fleece hat ($5); Manzella Silkweight Windstopper Gloves ($30). It doesn't seem like it should be hard to find really thin gloves that are windproof and waterproof while being somewhat warm. As it turns out, it is. I actually found these because a coworker (when I was still employed) owned them and I had been looking at gloves for this trip. I started asking him about them, which led to a series of test from holding them underwater to trying to blow through the material with our mouths. It passed, so I bought them. Very compact and seem to be exactly what I need. The fleece hat I had, and it should come in handy in the mountains.
Underwear: 2 pairs Ex Officio Boxer Briefs ($25); 1 pair REI Silk Bottoms. Ex Officio Boxer Briefs seem to be loved by all who use them. I wore them for a couple days and they seem good so far. The real test will be how fast they dry. I plan to wear them in the shower most days to wash them. They are suppose to go for days without washing if necessary--I probably won't tell you if I test that feature, though Tara may share. The silk bottoms are very small and in our tests around the house they kept us really warm. Should be good in cold weather.
Towel: REI Large Multitowel ($8). We had someone get us these for our wedding when they were on super sale, and they seem like a good deal. Light and small, they should fold up wherever we need them.
Other stuff: Princeton Tec Zipka Plus Headlamp ($32) has a great combination of features and portability; Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellant ($8) will hopefully keep the bugs away with this natural very strong smelling solution; 1 combination whistle/magnifier/thermometer/compass ($4 at Walmart) which Tara and I thought was weak with her little test blow. Her second test blow caused me to lose my hearing for about a day; 1 pair 8x25 generic binoculars ($15) are small and decent to keep in a pocket; 1 Rite-In-The-Rain Notebook ($15) is a waterproof notebook; 4 Alok super fancy Ziplock bags ($12 for the set) will apparently keep anything dry; waterproof matches ($3) just in case; first aid kit (~$25) with lots of bandaids, drugs and a wilderness first aid kit (I had a basic kit and added lots of drugs and bandages from Wal-mart); Sea to Summit Titanium Spork ($7); travel guide (~$20, we will use Footprint South America for the first leg of our trip); Eagle Creek TSA approved combination lock ($6); Exelon power adaptor with USB charger ($25) so that we can charge things anywhere; iPod Nano (already owned) to listen to music when I get sick of listening to Tara.
That's basically everything. Let me know if you have any questions.