Things are progressing. The list of “to-do’s” still greatly outnumbers the “done’s” (and the to-do’s are still growing) but we’re off to a good start. Our gear is starting to shape up. And streamline. We put out “place-holders” for most of our clothes and gear to get an idea of how much space it takes up and weight averages. 25 lbs in a pack is heavy, and 40 much more so… Now it’s all about not buying too much. My most favorite purchase is the 5/ea. pairs of SmartWool socks we found for 25% off. It’s hard to imagine that that’s all I’ll have: 5 pairs. For a year. But they’ll be the best money can buy.
Talking to all the people in the outdoor outfitter stores really has helped us figure out what the essentials are. At first we were looking at pretty warm compress-able down coats. Now it’s just single layer windbreakers and a fleece. I figure that we’ll be spending more time in hot, moist places rather than cold, dry ones.
So far Jeremy got some lightweight convertible pants, and a fleece. I’ve looked, but I’m not sold on anything yet. The next biggie are shoes. Jeremy got a North Face Prophecy trail runner at REI, which I think is pretty nice. Good deal too. At first we were looking at shoes with a Gore-Tex liner, but again the staff at REI came to the rescue and talked us out of it. They pointed out that non-GoreTex shoes will dry faster and smell better. Not to mention let our feet breathe. I really liked the Merrell Siren and the Merrell Moab, but I couldn’t make up my mind and without a sale incentive I don’t really need to rush. I think we’ll both think about some Tevas/Chacos as a secondary pair.
This afternoon was all about running around REI, Adventure 16 and North Face, finally getting settled on some backpacks for ourselves. Jeremy got the North Face Primero 70, which is awesome. It’s got a water-sealed tough ripstop body, which means he won’t have to carry a duck cover for the pack. It has a pretty incredible X-radial frame, which actually flexes with the rotations of your torso. I really liked the women’s version of it, but after trying and trying, there’s just something a bit off about the women’s harness and it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t quite work after 20 minutes in the shop, it’s really going to be a problem on the road. My choice ended up being the Osprey Ariel 65, which is amazingly comfortable, lacking only in side-access the Primero has. I tried it on, and without much adjusting got the weight balance/fit I needed. We thought in the beginning that we would get the same pack, in men’s and women’s varieties. Jeremy liked the Osprey Ariel’s mate (the Aether), but ended up paying a bit extra for some added features the Primero had. The Osprey does have a better hip belt, and better headspace. It’s also a tad lighter. We both ended up with red packs now, so we match no matter what we do.
Osprey also has a line of small daypacks which attaches to the Ariel in a neat way, so I can leave that bag in or out. We were able to save about $100 on the packs between the two of us, thanks to the REI member sale. I’ve been digesting as many tips as I can from other RTW travelers and I notice that more often than not they are traveling with smaller packs (like 50 and below), but I do see a lot of people saying they had a backpack and another bag. I’m planning on ONLY having the backpacks, and maybe a daypack folded inside, so that is why the bigger ones, but I don’t know. I don’t want to be wrong. I hope we aren’t overdoing the size.
There are so many neat gizmos and gadgets to get. We found a nice, well priced headlamp, some stuff sacks, and rain covers. I’m still looking for a good Swiss Army -type knife, pill case/folio, dop kit, silk sleep sack/pillow, and laundry kit. The most exciting purchase left will be a laptop for us (probably a refurb of the black macbook, or maybe a new macbook) and maybe a new flash and/or lens for the Canon. I’m trying to learn about internet abroad, because shelling out $100+/mo. for AT&Ts data plan for int’l use is kinda steep. I’ll beg them to sponsor us maybe. But then again, people say that free or cheap wi-fi is pretty standard these days. Hard to decide. But I guess I can always sign up with AT&T mid-trip if needs be. It’s important to me to have a robust enough connection to backup to my server every week, or few weeks. If something were stolen, I want my pictures to be safe. I’m not sure free wi-fi or internet cafe speeds are going to handle it, but it should just be max 300mb at a time? I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy.
Health wise I got my tetanus/dipheria/whooping cough shots today, so no bacterial diseases for me. These were covered by my HMO, and the Doctor will try to get my Hep A & B covered, but we’ll be coming out of pocket a lot for some of the other shots that are required. I looked earlier, and apparently Japanese Encephalitis is like $435/ea. Yikes! I also asked for standing prescriptions on cipro, and I’ll have to go to Planned Parenthood to get a year’s supply of birth control pills. That and contacts are the only things I’ll need to be carrying with that much anticipation. Our insurance (from Jeremy’s job) runs out at the end of January, so we’re both scrambling to get all our doctor visits, dental appointments and whatnot done now. I still have a few to go. The rest of the shots won’t be covered by insurance, so I’ll be price-shopping some clinics. We’ll need to get a move on though, because several require multiple courses of injections over a period of time.