With less than four weeks to go before departure, I have managed to gradually pile up a hoard of travel gear on my bedroom floor.
Two summers ago in 2013 I flew to South America for the first time, travelling around the centre of the continent. I was a novice to backpacking and hiking, and had little to no idea about travel gear. What kind of sleeping bag do I need? Which rucksack? How’s it all meant to fit?! Numerous visits to Go Outdoors and hours of trawling the internet for advice later, I was off. Much of the stuff I’d bought specially for the trip came in handy – but some not so much. You can find my old post reflecting on this matter here.
This time around I know a little better. I’ve made a few adaptations with my kitlist. I feel a lot more confident about what I will need and what might work better this time around. I’ll be using the same rucksack again, my beloved Hi Gear Tibet 65 + 10 Backpack. I hated this thing so much in the beginning, unable to get all my belongings to fit in a way that I could easily access them, forever having to squash things in and out. On my first trek it had felt like a dead weight, and that wasn’t even with all my things in it. I still remember the crossing of the Peruvian/Bolivian border in Desaguadero, huge backpack filled to the brim on my back, fat daypack on my front, nauseous from a stomach bug. Waiting for hours amongst the mass of people trying to get across the bridge to Bolivia. It had been a long, heavy torture. By the end of the three months that bag had become a part of me, and I could pack it and lift it with ease.
I have purchased a new daypack though – 5L larger than my previous one, with a lot more zips and pockets for separating items. It will save the hassle of searching for things when before everything would get buried underneath my hooded jacket. My cameras are also getting an overhaul. Previously I took two, my compact Nikon Coolpix and my larger Fuji. The compact camera was a far better choice for travelling and I favoured it over the larger DSLR because of the ease of which I could place it in and out of my pocket, and how less conspicuous it was on the streets. Theft is a common problem in South America. This time I’ve invested in a new compact camera, another Nikon, only this time it has better optical zoom, higher in fact than my old DSLR. This camera is small, great zoom, and best of all, takes two AA batteries. This kind of camera appears to be a dying breed, but why I do not know. Spending a lot of time in the outdoors – especially the delta – means there will be little chance of me charging any electrical goods. This Nikon was my best option, and will replace both the small old compact and the big DSLR. As a backup I also have the camera on my mobile phone, which is hitching along this time too.
Electricals wise I’m taking the phone as mentioned above, plus a new device for managing photos. Last time I took two USBs and used hostel computers and internet cafes as I moved round to copy and store my pictures. Twice my memory sticks got corrupted, and I lost some photos. I want to minimise this this time round, so my dad looked into it and found a small device that I can access via my phone to copy my photos from SD cards to a USB. I’ve tested it and it works, so I hope this will solve the problem of safer photograph storage. I’ve purchased a couple of small dry bags too to look after my electricals.
I bought a new headtorch. After the disaster last time not being able to see at all in Colca Canyon, and then again having only dim lighting from the second torch purchased in Arequipa, I’ve invested in a real headtorch with AAA batteries. I tested it in the shop – this thing is bright. Thankfully. Trust me – if you’re trekking in the dark – invest in at least a mid-range headtorch. Don’t end up like me having to trail behind someone else just to see your way out a canyon.
Purchased another water bottle. I said in my old blog post that I wouldn’t buy another, but hey. I found a better one. Again it is 1.5L, only this time made from plastic, not aluminium, and with a wide mouth for easier drinking and refilling. Best of all it has measurements embossed in increments along its body – great for measuring the correct amount of water for chlorine tablets or rehydration salts. Let’s hope it doesn’t get as battered as my last bottle…
My sleeping bag is a lot smaller than the one I took last time. Though, it is only a 1 season, when the other was 3! It really makes all the difference. This time I purchased one from Snugpak – it’s small, light and compact, with a built-in mosquito net inside the hood – veryimportant!! After watching a documentary called Biggest and Baddest about the poisonous animals of Venezuela’s Gran Sabana region, I have no desire for any of that lot creeping across my face. Shudder. I also chose to buy a regular shaped sleeping bag and not a mummy one like last time – there is little comfort in being unable to move your legs when camping. This one is rectangular shaped, so I’ll be able to move a little more, plus, it has zips which run right round, meaning I can unzip it all the way if I feel like it and just use the bag as a blanket instead. Alongside I am also taking along my old inflatable Hi Gear rollmat and tiny silk sleeping bag liner.
My line-up for shoes is only slightly different from last time. I’m having to purchase new walking boots (again) as I lazily let the damp get to them over Christmas. The lining has pulled away inside both shoes and a rather questionable aroma now hangs in the air wherever they are placed. If I can buy the same pair again before I leave, I will. I’m packing the same flip flops again, my £1 Primark favourites… these things just seem strangely indestructible, so, they’re coming again. However, I’m ditching the Clarks strappy sandals and Shoe Zone cheap blue pumps as they’re not going to be needed where I’m going. Instead I’ve replaced the two with a pair of North Ridge women’s walking sandals. I’ve never worn walking sandals before, but I hope they’ll provide relief on walking days where I just don’t want to wear my hiking boots in the Caribbean heat.
Clothes-wise, I’m still finalising. And as with all girls and new clothes… I have to wear them first before I pack them. At the moment my clothes-list is as follows: 1 x denim shorts, 1 x cotton sports shorts, 2 x vest tops, 1 x t-shirt, 2 x black leggings, 1 x light jumper, 1 x checked shirt, 1 x hooded jacket, 4 x walking socks, 10 x underwear. I’ll probably add in another couple of tops to mix, but for the moment this is what I’m settling on. Figured as I’m saving space on the sleeping bag I could add more variety – as last time the monotony of wearing the same three outfits got a teensy bit dull.
So with four weeks to go I’m nearly there. Few things left to finalise including hunting for some malaria tablets… thankfully this time around I’ve needed no jabs. Like Pokemon I think I’ve collected them all now.
Most of my packing list is the same as before, aside from the changes listed above. Now let’s hope it all fits!