Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Some of Our Most Loved Gear

We had to be extremely selective with the items we brought on our trip, and two weeks into it, I can say we did a great job choosing. We have very few items that we haven't used yet, mainly rain pants and a poncho, because it never rained (when we weren't in our tents) on the Inca Trail.

Probably our favorite and most useful items are our backpacks. I love mine. It is made by Arcteryx, and it has the perfect amount of pockets, that are extremely well-placed. It is also incredibly comfortable to carry, even when loaded with almost 40 pounds of gear. The hip belt swivels as you walk, reducing strain on your back. Also of note is the simple color and design, which is what attracted me to the backpack in the first place. It's really tough to find women's gear that's not lime green, beige or magenta. Just because I'm female doesn't mean I want to look like a flower or a leprechaun. Monica likes her backpack because it has a mesh back that creates an extra space between her back and the backpack for airflow, so her back never gets sweaty or uncomfortable. Hers is made by Osprey.

Anne at the beginning of the Inca Trail hike with her cute Arcteryx backpack.
 The waterproof jackets have been a savior. I'd say they are the ultimate must-have items on a backpacker's list. Light and compact, they are great to carry along on daily explorations. In the Andes, you never know when it's going to start raining. Often, while hiking in Peru, we'd start the day with sun and oppressive heat, only to see the sky cover with dark clouds a few hours later. Waterproof jackets also saved us in La Paz, where we ran errands all day long covered in our rain gear, rain pants and boots--looking like astronauts. It was our ultimate "function over fashion" moment.

Rain jacket FTW!
We also love our travel towels, made by MSR. We both happened to buy the same brand of towel independently. They're great because they're light, absorbent and they dry fast. Unfortunately, I got the medium size, which is too small to wrap around myself, so I always have to get changed in the shower room. Monica, on the other hand, bought the extra large size, which comfortably covers her entire body so she can walk around in her towel, without drawing too much attention from all the boys in the hostel. If I can find en extra large travel towel somewhere on our trip, I'd gladly buy it to replace mine.

Our hiking boots have been great as well. Mine are made by Frye, and are light, comfortable and classic-looking. I haven't had any pain in my feet yet. And we've done a lot of walking and hiking. I did have to spend some time waterproofing them with some waxy substance I bought from Sports Basement. So far, I haven't worn them in the rain yet, so I can't really say if that stuff works or not. Monica bought Lowa boots, which came pre- waterproofed, and they've worked out great for her. She found them serendipitously through watching a video of a girl who hiked through Iceland alone. At the end of the video, there was a shot of her shoes. Monica paused the video, noted the brand and model, and purchased through Zappos. And since the video is really worth seeing, you guys should check it out.

Having the laptops has been handy as well (when they function properly). We both have Eee PCs, made by Asus. Unfortunately, Monica has had a lot of trouble with hers; I think it's because she bought it used. I would recommend buying a new computer if you can, the difference in price was less than $100.