Worth the Weight

Technical Gear



About 2 months before we departed, I did the cursory research online to determine what to pack for a round the world journey.  We found several good lists including this one from Boots ‘n All.  I also reached out to several of my friends who have traveled extensively for any tips on gear that we should bring.

Whit Higgins and his wife Hede are two of of the most experienced international travelers that I know.  They’ve taken 3 month or longer journeys several times over the past 15 years, including a notable cycling trip across the Tibetan plain in China and adventure traveling in Southeast Asia.  It was a pithy conversation — Whit simply asked, “What are you going to do?”  It was an obvious question that I didn’t have a good answer for.  We had picked our destinations based on seasonality, offers of free accommodation from friends, pacing difficult and relaxing periods, and a gradual movement from northwest to southeast across the globe in the quest to create an ‘endless summer.’  We had a vague idea of what we hoped to do in each place, but hadn’t come close to identifying what our day to day activities would be.

We started a list: snorkeling, hiking, and some formal socializing in Greece and Italy; hiking, boating, and trekking in India; backpacking in Southeast Asia and Indonesia; all of the above in Australia and New Zealand.  Against the sound advice of most of our resources, we tried to pack for most of these intentions ahead of time. We focused on the specialized gear and apparel we thought we might have a hard time finding overseas for each of the destinations — high tech hiking shoes, ultralight head lamps, mosquito net for two, XL silk sleeping bag liners, Luna bars, and so on.  After our first test pack, our 15 pound target for each of the bags was looking more like a stretch goal.  And of course there was the matter of the bags themselves — trekking packs vs. luggage, full camera bag vs. combined tech and photo, one addtional day pack vs. two.  In retrospect, we would have packed less and picked up some of the essentials listed below along the way.

Without further ado, here is our final packing list »

Filson Mid Sized Rolling Duffle (45 lb, checked)
2 pair hiking shoes, 1 pair sneakers (M), 1 pair dress shoes (M), backpackers first aid kit, guide to travel and wildnerness medicine, travel prescriptions, Nimbus mosquito net, silk travel liners, 3 travel guide books (Greece, Italy, India), 2 headlamps, umbrella, 35 energy bars, leatherman, 2 Ex-Officio bug repellent bandannas, laundry detergent sheets, sink plug, 2 pair flip flops, camera tripod, packable shopping tote, clothesline and pins

Filson Mid Size Duffle (15 lb, carry on)
Men’s clothes: 1 hiking shirt, 3 buttoned down cotton shirts, 3 cotton t-shirts, 1 pair water resistant hiking pants, 1 pair dress pants, 1 pair jeans, 2 pair quick drying shorts, 7 pair hiking socks (varying weights), 7 pair underwear (2 polypro), Cotton blazer, Long Underwear (polypro), 1 lightweight wool sweater.  Women’s clothes: 3 sun dresses, 2 tank tops, 1 insect-shield hiking skirt, 1 pair hiking pants (convertible to shorts), 1 pair gym shorts, 3 bras, 1 running bra, 1 piece bathing suit, 1 night dress, 3 pair socks, 5 pair underwear, 2 scarves, 1 sarong

Tech Gear Backpack (25 lb)
15″ Mac Laptop, 500 GB Lacie Portable Drive, Nikon Trailblazer 8x Binoculars, 4×6 Wacom Tablet, Sony Stereo Headphones, Nikon D80 (additional battery), Nikon 18-200mm lens, Canon Elph SD800, 2 iPhones, 1 iPod Touch, Travel charger and adapters, additional passport photos in both US and International sizes

After 6 weeks on the road in Greece and Turkey, we did an assessment of our gear.  Worth their weight: lightweight waterproof shells, binoculars, snorkeling masks, leatherman, quick drying shorts and bathing suits, crocs, silk travel liners, energy bars, extra ziploc bags, and printed travel guides in english.  We also acquired a few things on the road that have become invaluable: portable speakers, kitchen kit (salt/pepper/olive oil/spices), snack bag (nuts, fruit, vegetables), waterproof wallet for electronics, and incense for repelling bugs indoors.

In terms of dead weight, we mailed the following back home:  men’s dress shoes, women’s makeup and redundant tolietries (shampoo, conditioner, lotion), scarves, 1 women’s formal dress, 1 men’s sport jacket, redundant electronic cables, and several gifts.  Several pieces of gear didn’t survive the first 6 weeks: cheap camera tripod (that’s what $30 at Best Buy will get you), Canon Elph (water damaged), Speedo googles (replaced with better lenses).