The Joy of traveling light

Can you travel to far-away destinations around the world with just 16 pounds of clothes? That’s something I’m going to explore, as the pack pictured below is my “international” setup.  While I tinker with my travel camera setup, I’m also going to refine everything else I use when traveling.  What you see below is everything I took for a month-long trip in South America, minus a small sling pack with camera gear.  Preparation was nerve-racking as I usually take more than this for a few days; I’m a classic over-packer.  This was also my first time outside of the U.S.  I don’t really consider Canada foreign – outside of the bland food and goofy accents.  Most of the shirts, all the socks and my insulating layer are made out of merino wool – it keeps you warm, its naturally wicking so it moves sweat, unlike cotton it insulates when wet, it dries quickly and its naturally odor-resistent.  All that comes at a price, t-shirts made out of merino can easily run $50-75 each.  But it packs small, its comfortable, its really light and you don’t have to do laundry as often as you would with cotton.

This is everything I took for a month in South America

This is everything I took for a month in South America

Here’s a rundown of everything pictured:
Gregory backpack – technically considered a daypack, 3 pounds, well padded/ventilated back, very easy to carry
REI green waterproof shell – came in handy a few times in total downpours
Ibex LS merino wool insulating layer – lightweight, warm, anti-stink
REI travel pants – can be converted to shorts, stink and water resistant
Exofficio underwear – great for travel, dries fast
Smartwool socks – again merino wool gets the job done
Smartwool and Ibex shirts – merino wool long and short sleeve T’s and button-ups, easily layered/removed for changing conditions
Teva sandals – my walk around shoe
Oboz hiking shoes – what I wore anytime off pavement
That’s it, crazy eh?

It all adds up to less than 15 pounds. For toiletries I just carried a toothbrush, razor, chapstick, lotion, toothpaste and some camp soap in a one-quart plastic bag.  We used/swiped soap everywhere we stayed and did laundry in the shower.   I shaved with soap too – ouch – but I didn’t want to waste space or add weight with a can of shave gel.  We had a small medical kit that my wife Caitlin carried, since I had the camera, and that was pretty much it. Packing/unpacking was never a chore because we had so little. It was easy to move about and get in and out of airports/boats/taxis/trains/busses quickly.

Posing for a shot while motoring between islands in the Galapagos

Posing for a shot while motoring between islands in the Galapagos

So what will we do different next time we go international? I felt like I really stuck out when we went out in the evenings – you just look like such a tourist when you’re the only one in a nice restaurant wearing nylon pants and hiking shoes.  Locals were in jeans and shirts and we’re sporting full on trekker gear.  At 6’2″ I stick out even more than most as I seem to be taller than most of the people we were around. I’ll be bringing a pair of jeans and a couple cotton T’s or polo’s – just to be a little more casual when we’re out at night.  Though most of the time the travel duds were fine.

Feel free to comment if you have suggestions on gear that can improve upon what I already have, I’m always on the lookout for how I can tweak things.  Thanks for stopping by.



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