March 28, 2010
There are a million and one details that go into packing for an expedition. Everyone has personal preferences and their own way of preparing for adventures and multiple weeks away from home. Here are a few bulleted thoughts on my methods, including random ideas on packing as well as some specific gear I never leave home without.
> Baby wipes. On an international trip, you never know when your next shower may or may not come. I bring baby wipes from home in a pouch or options like Adventure Medical Kits’ trip-specific cleanup product, the Fresh Bath Travel Wipes. They are heavy-duty antibacterial moistened wipes made for travel. The AMK wipes come in small re-sealable pouches and retail for less than $5 at www.adventuremedicalkits.com.
> Water Purification. Bad water is the cause of many a woe for international travelers. I use purification pills including iodine and Potable Aqua’s Chlorine Dioxide Water Tablets (www.potableaqua.com), which require a four-hour treatment time but kill bacteria, viruses and cysts such as cryptosporidium. Water-purification devices like the AdventurerOpti, a new $99 product from SteriPen (www.steripen.com), zap waterborne nasties with UV light, providing a purifying process as quick as 90 seconds.
> Clothing options. On a recent expedition to Chile, I packed minimum clothes and wore the same pants and shorts for several days straight. This saves weight and makes travel less cumbersome. The secret? Look for clothing made of wool, which is naturally anti-microbial, or for clothes that have treatments to eschew dirt and odor. In Chile, I wore wool shirts from Ibex Outdoor Clothing and I/O Bio Merino. They didn’t stink or feel dirty, even after several days of wear. A couple other personal favorite companies include Icebreaker, Ex Officio, and Rail Riders, which sell lines of clothing — pants, base layers, underwear, hats, and shirts — that are made for travel, sport and expedition life.
> Food. I pack Clif bars, energy gels, nuts, and other dense, calorie-rich foodstuffs along for any trip. Even if I know local food will be plenty and available, I like to have my staple “energy” food set for big days of activity. For the Everest trek, I plan to bring a couple days’ worth of food, all prepackaged and ready to eat on the go. No cooking is required. For more elaborate trips, including competitions, mountain climbs, or adventure races, food becomes much more involved. I prepare daily or even hourly doses of food, divvied in baggies by calorie amounts. A final note: Have some of your food in your carry-on bag for the long flight.
> Baggage and Packs. Wheel-equipped, high-capacity duffel bags like the Wheely Beast Rolling Duffel from REI ($169 at REI.com) or Eagle Creek’s ORV Super Trunk, $325, are godsends. These 7,000-cubic-inch+ capacity crates manage a ton of gear and let you pull — not carry — the load through an airport and beyond. I often employ one large wheel-equipped duffel and a regular soft-side duffel to throw on top while I drag my gear toward a final destination. My carry-on? I go with a mid-size backpack the likes of the Inov-8 Race Pro 30, which I can then use on the trail as well. Another longtime favorite daypack is from Lowe Alpine: The discontinued Stealth Camera pack, which hides a dozen pockets and has small gear-stow areas, is a low-profile black daypack that draws little attention when toted in cities around the globe. It’s good to not have your gear scream “tourist” sometimes.
> Weigh it! Check your airline’s baggage weight limits and get your bags on a scale before departure. You’ll save money and time distributing gear by packing under maximum weight limits, which often hover at 50 pounds per bag. I am prideful to max out limits, with two bags each at 49.5 pounds when I fly and a loaded carry-on to boot.
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