We’ve been so busy recently, here in the middle of the Atacama desert, that I’ve not had time to write a post for you all! However I’ve been sneaky and (perhaps somewhat unexpectedly) well prepared, and put together an interlude post for a quiet moment while we were in Buenos Aires!
So, to sate your curiosity and while away a spare 2 minutes, here is a brief “pack post”, showing you my travel possessions for these 4 months. Everything I’ve been carrying with me for handling the blistering equatorial sun in Brazil, the multi-day Patagonian hikes, skiing in Vancouver, and the chilly springtime in Japan. A total of just under 17kgs of clothes and comfort items — just over a quarter of my weight again (so I try not to carry it for too long!)
You can see across the bottom here I’ve gone all-in on the packing pouches. The Muji ones on the right, and the yellow Osprey ones have been so useful for keeping clothes roughly ironed-looking, even when they’re squished into a backpack. They’re also great for isolating the smelly ones that need washing (the red pack at the bottom) from the smarts (on the bottom right) and the things I need regular access to like socks & boxers (the small Osprey pack next to my sunglasses).
In the middle you can see other crucial parts of my hold-luggage (which also tend to stay in hostels while we go out); my overpriced-but-actually-extremely-nice olive grey wash bag from Peak Design (the Chinese USB-C recharging electric toothbrush inside it has been superb!), my micro fibre towel (which has been travelling with me now for 20 years, here also protecting the maté cup I won in our Buenos Aires cookery class), a medical kit (for hikes or spots away from civilisation), the beige self-packing mini backpack from Mystery Ranch (which will likely grow as we accumulate knick-knacks), and the blue bag-o-stuff that holds adapter cables, my penknife, overflow medical stuff and a spare battery.
The black and orange bundles in the lower middle are, respectively, a superb Rab wind/waterproof jacket and a gorgeously warm “marmalade” Rab down layer—both bought in sales without being aware of the brand's usual expense, let’s hope I don’t have to replace them any time soon…
Oh, and of course, the emergency pisco which Yvette’s long-time friend Gaby gave us in Sandiago de Chile (did she know we’d be celebrating so soon afterwards??)
Looking at the top row there, the four different sets of shoes I’ve brought with me were definitely the most challenging part of the pack. Flip flops were clearly necessary for the shared shower spaces of the hiking refugios as much as Brazil’s gorgeous hot & sandy beaches; the hiking boots even more crucial to prevent twisted ankles.
The trainers have meant walking around cities has been super comfortable (they also let my knee injury recover way faster, not having to shift a half kilo of boot every full step), and the deck shoes were a concession to wanting to look smart on occasion—charming our way into special events, dates together on Valentine’s day and Yvette’s birthday, and visiting the fancy bars we keep finding out are on the world’s top 50 list (You’ll notice a shirt to go with them down the bottom right there too!)
Finally, on the left, my trusty Tilley hat. Bought as a gift to myself in 2013 so I’d have some head-protection as I joined my Dad for his incredible drive/safari from Alexandria to Cape Town in honour of definitely-not-turning-seventy-what-are-you-talking-about. These Tilley hats are so good (especially because of their lifetime-long, no quibbles, guarantee and warranty) that Mum, Chris & Rose gave Yvette a Tilley hat of her own before we set off—she’s wears it proudly everywhere!
All this fits into the green Osprey Aether 55 underneath my hat — they describe this pack size as being for “days, weeks and maybe months”, but there’s still enough space for a few small souvenirs in there for sure!
My hand-luggage—kept in that Chile-bought orange Osprey Hikelite 18—is surprisingly camera-dominated. My trusty Fujifilm X-T30 II has been behind many of the best photos you’ve seen on this blog, I love its shape as much as the photos it takes! It sits there in the red neoprene cover, next to a cut-down photographer’s kit: a wider lens for panoramas, a flexi-legged mini tripod, and a stack of filters for pretending I know what I’m doing. (The filter lens caps I found online mean I can keep all this kit super small, I’d recommend them!)
Tucked around that are the various pieces of space-aged wizardry that keep us entertained on chill days and let us write this blog. Chris’ old iPad and a magic keyboard (it makes typing so easy it almost justifies the cost… almost), an old Kindle Paperwhite (as I write this I’ve been through 6 books and have two on the go—Yvette and I are also reading The Colour of Magic together 💚), and my Sony WF-1000XM4 headphones, which I’m having a love/hate relationship with at the moment. They’re easily the best headphones I’ve ever owned—they fit into a (slightly bulging) pocket, have superb quality, and bring the music that keeps me sane to wherever we’re waiting—but the battery has almost totally gone in the right earbud and, at 14 months old, I’m having a fight with Sony over their replacement, which is challenging from a different continent! [PS. I subsequently left them in the shared space at our Florianópolis hostel overnight, and they grew legs, so… yay, I get to claim on insurance to get a new pair? 😅]
Eye-mask, ear plugs, tissues, money/passport pouch, water bottle & duct tape make up the bulk of the rest. Two call outs there: always travel with duct tape (you can see it holding the pisco cork in place here, it’s also blacked out blinky lights in bedrooms for better sleep, and has even made a make-shift plug for a much-needed bath!), and get yourself a Wise card, it’s been the best investment for good travel exchange rates, particularly in Argentina.
The final flourishes include a Genki Audio (I helped kickstart it back in… last decade 😳) which we use for splitting the bluetooth audio two ways while watching downloaded episodes of Jack Ryan on long flights), a walkie-talkie (for when we’re hiking different routes, or otherwise apart without good internet calling), and—of course—my beloved engagement gift, the compass that Yvette so carefully had engraved with her own handwriting.
Getting all this stuff in these bags doesn’t take long, you probably spent more time reading about what’s in it — what a… filler post 😂 If you find yourself interested or travelling on a weight-budget do leave a comment or send me an email (email@example.com if you don’t already have one), I’ll be happy to share more info on what’s worked well and what hasn’t!