Equipment – what do we carry with us

June 23, 2008  
Topics: FAQ

The list would be too long, if we would mention all the stuff we have, so we will try to review just a couple basic things. Augustas is carrying a 75 liters Haglofs (Sweden) backpack “SEC 75“. When this bag is empty, it weights almost 3 kg, and when it is full, it reaches 20-25

Two times wider and more stable!

Two times wider and more stable!

kg. This weight includes 2-4 liters of water, a little bit of food (pasta, rice and similar), camp stove with two small pots and a half liter bottle of petrol. On the other hand, Katja at the begining also had a Haglofs “ShoSho 60” backpack, but then we changed it into much lighter one – UK’s “Lightwave” S-54 (photo). This one is extreemly light, only 985 grams. We stuff it with about 12-15 kg. Moreover, in order to transport the backpack, Katja is using a specially made carriage, which we bought in Mexico, changed the structure in Belize and soldered some parts in Guatemala. The evolution of the carriage you can follow in these pictures.

We both have 2 pairs of shoes – for serious walking and sandals. Well, Augustas’ both shoes were worth to be thrown away, so in the end 2007 he bought a new pair of Merrell Phaser Rush Gore Tex boots for $90 (after applying different discounts for normal price of $140) in the US online shoe store Meanwhile the sandals will wait, as we are soon approaching winter in Chile and Argentina… Until now Augustas was wearing Italian Garmont shoes (photo), which he bought for the 2004 trip in Africa. This footware was perfect for hot days, as the shoes were comfortable to walk and the feet did not stink. Unfortunately they were not very usefull during the rainy or otherwise wet days. Shops in Cuenca city (Ecuador), where we have lived for 5 months, did not have big size shoes, which Augustas needs (45 EU, 12 US), so we were forced to search for a possibilities to get something on the US web-market. Finally, Katja is wearing her long-lived Lowa boots and Tewa sandals.

Before Playa del Carmen we got rain in Piste (near Chichen Itza)

Before Playa del Carmen we got rain in Piste (near Chichen Itza)

When we started the trip, we were using the Therm-a-rest self-inflatable mattreses by MSR travel gear company. They were almost 2 meters long and each weight 900 grams. In order to reduce the overall weight of the backpacks, we decided to change these mattreses into UK’s AlpkitWee Airic mattreses with 126 cm long and 460 grams weight. To tell the truth they did not last long. We used Wee Airic intensively for 4 months only and both of them started to leak. Moreover at that time they also formed bubbles making impossible to use them inflated. Luckily, Alpkit agreed to refund us money we paid for these mattresses.

One of our the main friends are sleeping bags made by Prima. We bought them directly from their office in Brno, Czech Republic. We were lucky, as they had a sell out for the old-model sleeping bags, thus we got almost 40% discount. This company we have found by accident, while searching for Czech travel gear companies online.

Finally, it is self-explanatory that we have couple of underwear and t-shirts, plus two pairs of trousers. And few more things which help to survive the days. Time to time we purchase new clothes in the countries we are travelling in. For Augustas it is always difficult to find stuff for his size (196 cm). It is possible that during our stay in the south of South America we will be forced to buy a bit more clothes which would keep us warm.

Camp stove

We started our life-journey by being sponsored with MSR Whisperlite Internationale petrol-driven stove (photo). Unfortunatelly, this stove started to show its caprices. First the rubber around the plastic pump was going away from its position, then the spiral where the petrol flows, started to get dangerous and finally it was burning with a flame. Concerning all these problems we were contacting representatives of MSR, but in the end they simply ignored us. Thus, we decided to rather go for a product from Swedish company PRIMUS – the “Omni-fuel” stove. So far we are really happy with this little camp-stove.

More about what food do we cook using this stove and stoves inside different houses, we will write in the nearest future (comming soon…).

Typing stories and emails

In order to document our trip and to write/answer emails offline, we are using Psion 5mx handheld computers. They function on two AA batteries, and the information into the desktop computer at Internet Cafes we pass via the 32mb CompactFlash memory cards. Psion is a still existing UK company, but the 5mx models they stoped producing around 1999-2000. In eBay auctions of Germany and UK one might find a good deal (up to 80€-100€) for a second hand Psion mini-computer. The devices we have right now, we bought via the eBay in UK. Funny thing was that they have French operating system, which means we had to use additional programms (for remapping the keyboard keys and others) in order to make these devices more usable.

Even though this device is considered to be the best in its class, it has one big problem. Sooner or later a flexi cable, which connect
s the screen with the main board, cracks and the screen shows only horizontal lines. In the same eBay there is a Taiwanese guy selling packages of spare flexi cables (3 for €25). We have all the instructions how flexi can be changed, but the help of small device specialist with a very fine solder is necessary (flexi has about 20 connections within 1.5 cm). In Belize and in Costa Rica we had bad experiences with searching such specialists. In both cases they failed to fix our computers. In the end we got our Psions fixed with the professionals in Leipzig (Germany) during our 3 weeks stay in Europe in May 2007.

Photo and video

The first year of our journey (2006) we traveled with a film camera Canon EOS 300. We were not extremely happy about it, as the film rolls were gathering in our backpacks. Moreover we were keen to watch pictures from the places we have visited and people we have met. In Mexico City we developed all our 10 rolls in one of the photo laboratories. Unfortunately, we were very disappointed about the quality of prints. Also carrying the package of 300 photos was not a good idea. All small things together made us to decide to invest into a digital camera. We started to search for offers on eBay in USA. We had to involve another friend from South Carolina in order she could receive camera and forward to us to Mexico. We were in such a hurry to buy new camera, that in this rush we made a terrible mistake and won an eBay auction of Canon D30 model, which is a product of year 2000. We simply got mixed up this model with the 30D, which is modern model by Canon presented in 2006. The reason we made a mistake was that the auction for D30 did not have much of description. When next day we realized our mistake we decided to buy one more camera, this time Canon EOS 350D (digital), called Rebel XT in USA. In the end of the story we managed to sell and get money back for the D30 model (by not providing much of information on the auction) and Rebel XT camera we let send by a currier to Mexico. The body of Rebel XT costed us $420, plus sending the package to Mexico another $102 (including the import taxes of Mexico).

In September 2007 we also got Sony video camcorder DCR-HC48 ($330) with 5-hour lasting battery ($100), as well as Sigma lens 18-200mm for photo camera ($260).

Sending packages to where we need them

If you have read carefully, probably noticed, that couple of times we bought things in the online shops of USA. How did we get them to the countries we are travelling in? you might ask. Well, shoes to Ecuador were brought by our friend from New York. Photo camera using UPS services were send to Mexico by another friend. Sending the package from USA to Mexico costedaround $90, plus $12 import taxes. Even though the value of the camera was $500, we asked our friend to add to the package an invoice saying that she is selling camera to us for only $50. We were lucky, Mexican customers did not suspect our smart move and charged 25% import tax on $50 only.

With video camcorder the story of receiving was the same complicated. Camera was bought by a friend in Chicago, then the package was send to another guy in Arizona, who couldn’t fit camera in his luggage and he asked his other friend to bring it finally to Ecuador.

In May 2007 we visited Europe for 3 weeks. Since the plane ticket [Costa Rica – Berlin + Dusseldorf – Venezuela, 750 EUR] was issued by a travel agency in Germany Traveltopia we had another challange organizing where the package with tickets can be send to Costa Rica, as there were no possibilities for e-tickets. We decided to search for help among HospitalityClub members in San Jose (the capital of Costa Rica). In the end, we found one member of this club, who agreed to receive our package and after couple of weeks we met him in the city and safely recollected our plane tickets to Europe.

Sometimes the procedure of buying and sending stuff is rather complicated, involving up to 4-6 people. But what else can we do? 🙂 We are here in the world to help each other, isn’t it?