How to: Pack for an Expedition

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.

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Fresh Bath Travel Wipes

> 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.

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AdventurerOpti water-purification device from SteriPen

> 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.

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Wheely Beast Rolling Duffel from REI

> 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.

—Stephen Regenold will blog live from the Everest Trail beginning this week. Monitor Expedition Hanesbrands’ progress at http://climbwithus.com and on Gear Junkie at our Everest Blog.

Commenting on post : How to: Pack for an Expedition
Posted by Anonymous - 03/29/2010 08:20 AM

I can back up the filthy water story. nothing worse than being on a hike, all sort of thirsty, and ending up with a parasite on day two. Will not leave without a purifier again. Thanks

Posted by brett - 03/30/2010 09:34 PM

If you had a parasite on day two you brought it with you. Giardia averages two weeks before signs and symptoms, crypto 2 to 10 days with an average of 7 before signs and symptoms.

Posted by I Heart Trekking Nepal - 03/31/2010 02:02 PM

These are great tips on what to take with you for a trekking adventure. Too many people worry about the physical aspect and forget to pack food/energy drinks and bars.

Posted by Bob Wyatt - 04/01/2010 02:05 PM

Let me second RailRiders. Great customer service, excellent products, and stuff that takes a lickin and keeps on tickin. My first pair of RailRiders Weatherpants are about 8 years old and still get worn often as I scramble about the Ozarks streams and creeks looking for photo ops. I am getting ready to try some Ibex stuff myself.

Posted by Tracy Baird - 06/21/2010 05:16 AM

I like the points about baby wipes and clothing options. Instead of baby wipes, you can carry wet tissues. A lot of them are scented, so you can keep smelling fresh and clean. I am also a huge espouser of the “pack light” cause. I carry dark colored clothes, especially bottoms, that don’t get dirty very quickly. Denims are always a great option depending on the type of trip you’re taking. As for bags, I agree with the author that wheeled bags are Godsend. I didn’t have one until recently when I ordered the outdoor duffel from Briggs & Riley’s BRX collection. I’d much rather pull a bag loaded with tons of things than carry it around. And it helps if the bag is lightweight, what with heavy penalties being charged on overweight bags.

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