Deciding what gear to bring is the single most important prep work on a multi-month long trip. To know what to take you have to first know what your going to be dealing with, what the weather will be like, are you camping or sleeping in a bed every night, will you be doing any outdoor recreation, what’s your primary means of transportation? To answer most of these questions you have to establish a baseline for what level of comfort you expect to have. The more I travel the more I realize I have some masochistic tendencies in which luxury items like warmth and a soft mattresses ruin my enjoyment of the experience. Comfort too often can take you back to the feeling of home, which induces such a good feeling that you notice nothing around you. That’s not happiness. Unlike a tourist, I came to this foreign land to live it, even if just for a night. I could go on and on about this but I would be getting off topic.
For this particular trip I will be traversing 65 degrees of latitude, which means crossing the Equator. This means I could be dealing with every type of weather imaginable. This presents a challenge for a minimalist like myself. The key is to have everything be multi-functional. If there is anything in my bag that doesn’t serve multiple purposes it is taking up too much space. When it comes to articles of clothing, layering is crucial. When I go from Columbia’s 90 degree 90% humidity to Patagonia’s 40 degrees with a wind chill that feels like 25 degrees, board shorts and a T shirt turns into wearing everything I own. Having a motorcycle be my mode of transportation this adds protective riding gear and safety equipment to my list of what is necessary.
As I will be camping both wild and at established campgrounds I decided to get a legitimate camping hammock. This incorporates my bed, mosquito netting, and rain fly all into one compact size. I decided against cookware as I should have no problem finding food stands everywhere. Particularly in rural Latin America if you approach a local with a friendly smile and give them your best attempt in their native language to ask for a meal they usually oblige for a few bucks.
When it comes to electronics, having now opted for taking my iPad instead of my Macbook I have lightened my load dramatically. The most versatile tool I own being my iPhone, it allows me to have a camera, GPS mapping, internet (when I get WiFi), backups of all my important documents, notebook, translator, currency exchange calculator, and most importantly music player. My GoPro for better quality video and still images. All I need are two cables to charge all my devices.
Lastly, the one thing I am not willing to be rational about is my books. I am an avid reader when traveling. Despite being in the 21st century and being able to store an infinite and weightless supply of reading material on my iPad. I refuse to adapt and stare at an electronic screen, I desire the feel and connection of tangible books. I accept the added space and weight they take up. Reading keeps me from losing my mind in the inevitable long boring moments of waiting for a storm to clear or a bureaucrat to let me pass through the border.
Once all is figured out and any nonessential items are removed, I am left with the next four months of my life being able to fit inside a single 60 Liter duffel bag.