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Kampala, Uganda; Oct 17, 2004

gear: technology

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We've added this section because several people have asked specifically about it.

Reasons to take MORE clothes:
1. You don't have to do laundry as frequently
2. You have a more versatile wardrobe for various weather conditions
3. You don't always have to look like you work for the Crocodile Hunter
4. You don't get *completely* tired of your outfits quite so soon
Reasons to take LESS clothes:
1. You don't have to carry them
2. You don't have to spend time deciding what to wear; you have no choice
3. You don't have to carry them
4. You can buy some clothes on-route without feeling guilty for having too many
5. And the biggest reason of all, you don't have to carry them
As you can easily see, there are 4 reasons to take more clothes, but 5 reasons to take less clothes, so we tried to take less. Here's what we carry:
wind-proof, rain-resistant jacket (1)
light, zip-up hoody (1)
long pants (2: jeans, light quick-dry cotton pants)
shorts (1)
skirts (2: one for beach and one for city/night)
t-shirts (4)
long-sleeve shirts (1: very light cotton, for sun & bug protection, beach cover-up)
long-sleeve button-down (1: for hiking, bug-resistant, beach cover-up)
lounge/sleep pants (1: GAP body - my "luxury" packing item and it's worth it)
lounge/sleep shirts (2: GAP body again, almost weightless)
socks (3 pairs)
underwear & bras (one week's worth - none of your business)
bathing suit (2: bikini, active)
hats (2: one small bucket for city, one larger for sun/hiking)
scarf (1: mosquito protection & mosques & other things that begin with "mosqu")
flip-flops (1: Chacos)
tennis shoes (1: New Balance all-terrains)
city walking shoes (1: Born, black leather)
wind-proof, rain-resistant jacket (1)
long pants (2: convertible [to shorts], light pants)
t-shirts (3)
short-sleeve button-down (1 - for out at night in the cities)
long-sleeve button-down (1: for hiking, bug protection)
thermals (very light silk pants & shirt)
pajama pants (1)
sleep t-shirt
socks (4 pairs)
underwear (5)
bathing suit (1)
hat (1)
sandals (1: Ecco Receptors)
tennis shoes (1: New Ballance all-terrains)
Items we had for only part of the trip:
- Heavier hiking shoes (In a state of exhaustion, we left them in the back of the Land Cruiser after our gorilla trek - they were drying out. We ended up buying lighter tennis shoes as replacements. Obviously, this decision depends on how much hiking you do.)
- Cheap $5 plastic ponchos (We gave these away after we left rainy areas. That meant buying a $3 umbrella in Tokyo, but it was probably better than the fashion-disaster of wearing ponchos anyway.)
- Heavier jackets, hats and gloves (purchased in Taiwan, worn through Japan, then given away)
- Grace's heavy fleece (we call 'em fuzzies, ditched for the second half)
- Heavier long-sleeve thermals (needed them for the beginning, then sent home)
Of extra-special note (things we really love):
- Ex-Officio underwear and t-shirts (it dries super fast and stays less smelly longer)
- Gap Body light t-shirts and long pants (*very* soft and weighs almost nothing)
Other random tips:
- Research the weather in your various destinations. Pack for this weather specifically rather than trying to pack for every possible scenario.
- It's better to buy one thing on-route than carry three things just in case.
- Try to make sure that everything matches most everthing else so that you have the maximum flexibility for the long-haul in outfit versatility.
- If you don't need something anymore (or you just brought too much stuff), don't hesitate to give it away or send it home.

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© 2004-2012 susan & grace, all rights reserved

-- comments from readers --


I just discovered your website. It is fantastic. It has been most inspiring to read about journey. My wife and I are planning a trip at the moment and we are very much on the same page - skirting the middle ground between the backpacking route and the travel and lesuire world of indulgence.

We have most things worked out, but I am having a real problem with finding shoes to take with me. I wanted to ask for for a little more detail about the shoes you have with you- specifically your cross trainers. Our route is for 5 1/2 months, we are walking through rural Japan, up quite crude mountain paths in Bhutan, a long New Zealand walk or two - but also we are spending a lot of time on Pacific Islands, in cities and in ht and dusty India. they also need to be be smart enough for eating out in a reasonable restaurant, and avoiding looking like a wigged out backpacker when crossing borders.

I was going to take my big hiking boots and a pair of Chacos, but I am starting to think this will be a mistake.They are too purpose specific and Cross training shoes seem to be a much better bet- I was wondering how you are getting on with yours, can you recommend them? Any drawbacks? Did you feel at any point that you wished you were wearing proper hiking boots?

I hope you can help as I am feeling a bit bewildered.

--Nick D.; Apr 5, 2006

The shoe question is a tough one, but in our opinion, you're on the right track. If you're an avid hiker, it could certainly make sense to take your boots. In our case, we're more like walkers. So we didn't take our boots 'cause 1) they're really heavy, and 2) you're right, they're pretty much only good for one thing. We started out with Susan having a pair of cross-trainers and me using what New Balance calls "All Terrain" shoes. They're a step up, rugged-wise, from cross-trainers. I ended up losing them in the first month (go figure) and surviving with Teva-like shoes until I could buy a pair of cross-trainers in Cape Town. I also have some neoprene ankle braces that help if I'm worried about twisting something. Susan also brought a pair of city walkers that would work in a restaurant (though I just wore my same walking shoes) and we both had a pair flip-flops or Tevas or Chacas or something like that, depending.

--Grace; May 8, 2006


Shoes, are walking/running shoes more suitable for the trip than casual (say adidas flat shoes)?

--Kim N. (Australia); Jan 5, 2006

You guessed it: it depends. If you are an avid hiker, then of course you want real hiking boots. But we are more like avid walkers, so we were pretty happy with our cross-trainers. For long walks through the cities, it's really important that these are very comfortable. Other tips: don't buy white 'cause they'll just turn brown before you know it; if you can get shoes that dry quickly, that's a bonus.

--Susan & Grace; Jan 9, 2006