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His and Her Gear Lists: Surviving Six Months in South America

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My wife and I are spending the next six months trekking across South America. We’re flying to Medellin, Colombia on Oct. 5 and plan to return to the United States sometime in March-ish.

Last year we spent a month backpacking across Europe, and before heading out we compiled our gear list online. It’s incredibly helpful (to me, at least) to make such lists ahead of time and fine-tune things before setting off with your life crammed into a backpack. I’ll be lugging all this crap for the next several months, after all.

Our setup for Europe ended up working well for us, though with experience comes wisdom, and now I realize we could have easily cut some extra weight and made our Euro trip that much more enjoyable. This trip to South America will be different though. While in Europe we mostly stopped in big cities, crashed with friends, and had easy and regular access to laundry facilities. Not so much the case for some of the spots we’re hitting this time…

We’re doing our best to be prepared for the wide range of climates and landscapes we’ll be encountering, which range from dry beaches to glacier-laden stretches of Patagonia, and from hot-and-humid jungles to freezing passes in the Andean mountains. There will be penguins. We’ll be doing a fair bit of camping and roughing it, so a tent and some other basic survival gear is a must (things we didn’t need on our last extended sojourn). Of course, we really have no idea what to expect, and no matter how hard we try there’s no way we’ll be prepared for much of everything. But after months of planning, and a brutal assessment of would-be gear list from the members of Reddit’s r/backpacking forum, this is what we’ve decided to bring:

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His Gear List: 

Total weight: about 40 effin’ pounds!**

CLOTHES:
  • Underwear (4 // 3 Under Armour quick-dry, anti-stink, 1 cotton boxer)
  • Socks (7 // 6 quick-dry tennis shoe socks, 1 pair cold weather hiking)
  • Quick-dry shirts (2)
  • Cotton t-shirt (1)
  • UV protectant button shirt (1 // short sleeve)
  • Prana stretchy jeans (1)
  • Prana yoga pants (1)
  • Quick-dry shorts (2 // one doubles as swim trunks)
  • Sweat shorts (1 // zip up pockets!)
  • Adidas running shoes (1)
  • Merrell Moab Mid hiking boots (1)
  • Flip flops (1)
  • Patagonia low-pro trucker hat (1)
  • Jansport daypack (1)
  • 15-liter Sea to Summit stuff sack/clothes bag (1)
SURVIVAL:
  • 60-liter Osprey Aether backpack (1)
  • Alpine Design 30-degree sleeping bag (1)
  • Sleeping pad (1)
  • REI Passage 2 tent (1)
  • Sawyer Mini water treater (1)
  • Platypus 1-liter water pouch (1)
  • Water tablets (1 set – 100 liters)
  • Beer can alcohol stove and pot stand (1)
  • MSR Pocket Rocket stove (1)
  • Medium pots (1 kit)
  • Sea to Summit titanium cutlery (3-piece set)
  • Sea to Summit rubber cup (1)
  • 8-liter Sea to Summit waterproof bag/food bag (1)
  • Black Diamond headlamp (1)
  • Locker lock (1)
  • Bic lighters (2)
HYGEINE:
  • Peanut clippers (1)
  • Toothbrush (1 cut in half)
  • Toothpaste (1 // travel size)
  • Disposable razor (1)
  • Dove soap (1 bar // travel size)
  • Shampoo and conditioner (1 // travel size)
  • First Aid Kit (1 ziplock bag)
  • Toilet paper and ziplock bags (assorted)
  • Leatherman Squirt PS4 multitool (1)
  • XL pack towel (1)
  • 2-gallon ziplock bag (1 // for laundry)
  • Sunscreen (2 // travel size)
  • Kill-all DEET bug spray (1 // travel size)
  • Floss (1 // travel size)
  • Deodorant (1 // travel size)
ELECTRONICS:**
  • Iphone 6s and charger (1)
  • Macbook Air and charger (1)
  • Canon 7D DSLR and charger (1)
  • Sigma 30mm DSLR lens (1)
  • Canon 24-70mm DSLR lens (1)
  • Olympus TG-4 adventure camera and charger (1)
  • EasyAcc Power Bank 9,000mAh (1)
  • Euro electric adapter (1)
  • Headphones (1)
EVERYTHING ELSE:
  • Lonely Planet South America (1)
  • Books (1-2)
  • Deck of cards (1)
  • Passport and vaccination records (1)
  • Copies of passport and vax records (2)
  • ID
  • Notebook and sketch pencil set (1)

**If you’re going backpacking, do whatever you can to avoid carrying 10 pounds of electronics like I am. Do as I say not as I do, and you can thank me later. I need all this gear (or so I keep telling myself) for life, liberty, and the pursuit of freelance work to fund our travels — I’m a journalist, writer, and photographer, so it’s all kind of imperative to bring along. If you subtract the electronics from my gear list, total weight is just over 30 pounds, which is about on par for a trip like this.**

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Her Gear List:

Total weight: about 23 pounds!

CLOTHES:
  • Dickies Hiking/quick-dry t-shirts (3)
  • Long-sleeve shirt (1)
  • Tank top (1)
  • Undershirt/tank top (1)
  • Columbia Hiking Pants (1)
  • Blue jeans (1)
  • Lounge/sweat pants (1)
  • Shorts (1)
  • Pajama shorts (1)
  • Dress (1)
  • Bras (3 // 1 sport, 1 bralette, 1 regular)
  • Panties (6 // 1 hiking/quick-dry)
  • Hiking socks (2)
  • No-show socks (4)
  • Fuzzy socks (1)
  • Light hoody (1)
  • Puffy jacket (1)
  • Beanie (1)
  • Sun hat (1)
  • Bathing suit (1)
  • Buff (1)
  • Ahnu hiking shoes (1)
  • Vans flats/day shoes (1)
  • Flip flops (1)
  • Tote bag (1)
  • Small purse (1)
SURVIVAL:
  • 46-liter Osprey backpack (1)
  • Sleeping bag (1)
  • Sleeping pad (1)
  • Airline blankets (2)
  • Sawyer mini water filter (1)
  • Platypus 1-liter water pouch (1)
  • Sea to Summit rubber cup (1)
  • Plastic cutlery (2-piece set)
  • Bic lighters (2)
  • Notebook & pen (1)
  • Headlamp (1)
  • Locker lock (1)
  • Water tablets (1 set — 100 liters)
  • Ziplock bags (assorted)
  • Book (1)

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HYGEINE:
  • Toilet paper (“a couple squares”)
  • First aid kit (1 ziplock bag)
  • Shampoo & conditioner (1 set // travel size)
  • Soap (1 bar // travel size)
  • Disposable razor (1)
  • Body lotion (1 // travel size)
  • Face lotion (1 // travel size)
  • Steroid cream (1 // travel size)
  • Toothbrush (1 cut in half)
  • Toothpaste (1 // travel size)
  • Floss (1 // travel size)
  • Q-tips (12)
  • Contacts (3 pair)
  • Contact solution (1)
  • Glasses, case, and sport strings (1)
  • Powder foundation with SPF (1 // travel size)
  • Sunscreen (3 // travel size)
  • Bug spray Repel (1 // travel size)
  • Deodorant (1)
  • Essential oils (2 // Onguard & “belly stuff”)
  • Hand sanitizer (1 // travel size)
  • Dawn (1 // travel size)
  • Tweezers (1)
  • Nail clippers (1)
  • Nail file (1)
  • Shower cap (1)
  • Bobby pins (6)
  • Hair ties (4)
  • Comb (1)
  • Bandana (1)
  • Shears (1 // for making money (she’s a hair stylist))
  • XL Pack towel (1)
  • Lip balm with SPF (1)
  • Diva cup (1)
ELECTRONICS:
  • iPhone 6 and charger (1)
  • iPod Nano and charger (1)
  • Headphones (1)
  • Euro outlet converter (1)
EVERYTHING ELSE:
  • Passport and vaccination records (1 set)
  • Copies of passport and vax records (2)
  • ID/driver’s license (1)
  • Credit/debit cards (redacted)
  • Cash ($1,000,000)

Per usual, Peaches the Pitbull is not happy about our pending travel plans:

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Bunky the Ferocious Feline, on the other hand, will be happy to see us go:

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Clay Duda is a freelance journalist specializing in investigative reporting, feature writing, editorial photography, and digital media.