Prep 4. Equipment & packing
Packing light is the most important thing. Every damn 100 grams matter.
So, South America is generally «hot» continent, but there are lot of cold or really cold places on the south of the continent and highlands.
Though Patagonia was one of my biggest dreams, I decided to cut off the «cold part» of itinerary. You really need good hiking gear and clothes for a proper exploring in those lands. I decided to stick to the warmer places so I’d only need summer clothes. But I took some light hiking equip anyway.
So the coldest places on my modified route were supposed to be Buenos Aires (the most southern point), Altiplano in Bolivian Andes and other highlands (like Cusco, Bogota).
Here’s my checklist (collected from the research and reviews):
- Small city backpack
- Backpack straps
- Sleeping Bag (at least -5 -0 C) – I actually used it quite a lot
- Compeed blisters
- Microfiber travel towel
- Water purifying bottle (e.g. this)
- LED Headlamp + batteries
- Good powerbank (better 2)
- Mosquito repellent
- Little lightweight umbrella
- Wire mesh/backpack protector (in case you go with backpack)
- Little lock for hostel lockers (better 2 – also to lock the zipper on your backpack)
- Waterproof case for phone and docs
- Waterproof case for camera and electronics w/padding (e.g. this)
- Powerbar with USB
- Universal travel adapter (e.g. this)
Take versatile clothes, don’t take anything that you haven’t worn before (my mistake). Here’s an approximate list of clothes:
- Trekking water resistant shoes (e.g. Ahnu Women’s Montara Waterproof Boot)
- Hiking socks (1 pair), regular socks (5-6 pairs)
- Waterproof wind jacket
- Fleece longsleeve
- Thermal longsleeve and pants
- Hiking pants (water resistant)
- Lightweight puffer jacket (e.g. from Uniqlo)
- Warm hat and light snood
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 pair of leggings
- 2 pairs of shorts
- 5-6 skirts and dresses
- 6 tees + 2 «nice tops»
- 2 sport tees + 2 sport bras
- 2 shirts (light and dark linen) + 1 long kimono/cover-up
- 1 sweatshirt + 1 longsleeve
- 3 swimsuits
- Pj / homeware
Now I can say though that I could get away without some stuff, but generally I did well with packing. Remember, that’s for many months with pretty diverse places in terms of climate. If I’d go only to countries like Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Brazil with minimum time in the mountains, I’d take way less clothes and probably could get away with carry-on luggage only.
Backpack VS suitcase
Oh it was quite a battle! I couldn’t decide for a loooong time what to take with me. I bought a 65+10 L backpack for this trip, but in the end I decided to go with a 20 kg suitcase. I knew that I probably would be traveling for a long time, so that made sense to me.
There were times that I thought having backpack would be more convenient, but generally I’m happy that I went with a suitcase and didn’t have to carry 20 kg on my back all the time.