Ryan's Gear Selection

What I chose, how I chose it, and why

My intent was initially to have this blog post done and published before I ever left on the trip, however, I vastly underestimated three things:

  1. How busy I would be before the trip.
  2. How busy I would be during the trip.
  3. How extraordinarily long it would take to add labels to the following image:

As you can see, eventually I ran into difficulties (and was tired of) individually labeling the items. The current breakdown should be sufficient.

Also, I won’t be writing about my backpack, daypack, duffel bag, packing cubes, and wet/dry bag in this article. I’ll give them their own (far shorter) article discussing how I chose them and how much packing system works.

I’ll be going over every item (or group of items): WHAT is it? WHY did I choose it? HOW is it working out?

The benefit of waiting this long to write this post is that had I written it prior to leaving, I wouldn’t be able to answer the HOW at all. This article has been written over the course of a few months, so please take that into account when considering the HOW for each time..

As 1, 2, and 3 are all packing cubes, I’ll be referring to all the clothing contained within each one. Also, for reference: TAD refers to Triple Aught Design; a lot of my gear is TAD, so using the acronym will make for easier reading.


Table of Contents




WHAT



WHY


  • People who know me know about my love affair with Merino Wool. The shirt is close to 90% Merino and I like the cut/sizing of the TAD shirts more than Outlier (though I admit the Outlier shirts feel even more premium). The TAD shirts are also cheaper than the Outlier ones, which is a nice bonus.

  • The boxer briefs were chosen for the same reason, they're 31% Merino. I had tried out some Smartwool boxer briefs that were much purer wool, as well as TAD's 96% Merino Wool Commando boxer briefs, but found that they wore out VERY quickly. It seems like an undergarment like boxer briefs that experiences a lot of friction benefits from some synthetic fiber mixed in for durability.

  • I chose the socks because Injinji is the only company making performance toe socks. I'm aware they look goofy, but they do an incredible job keeping the space between your toes dry, and if you ever were to suffer some sort of infection, it would leave your toes quarantined from each other. Also, as I'm a fan of barefoot-style shoes, the toe socks do a much better job allowing my toes to spread out in the shoes. I mostly opted for wool as I love wool's odor fighting capabilities as well as its ability to stay dry and regulate temperature. However, one issue I've experienced is that the wool toe socks tend to wear rather rapidly at the end of the toes. That's why I've opted to mix in some synthetic fabric socks, to make sure I'd always have some intact pairs. I fully expect to have to replace at least a couple wool pairs at some point on this trip.

HOW


  • All have been holding up pretty well, as expected. These were all items that I'd been using regularly prior to embarking on this journey, so I had a pretty good idea of how they'd manage.

  • The shirt looks great and I've been wearing it many times in between washes (don't worry, it's designed for this purpose).

  • The underwear are holding up nicely; they continue to be comfortable and don't really pick up odor even on sweaty days.

  • The socks are perfoming well, though the wool socks have started to wear through pretty dramatically- holes have developed in some of the toes, and the bottoms/sides of the socks have become quite threadbare. It might be time to start replacing some- I've had them for about nine months, which thankfully means they're still covered under warranty.

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WHAT



WHY


Same WHY as 1


HOW


Same HOW as 1

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WHAT



WHY


  • The Henley was chosen for the same reasons I chose my T-shirts. I wanted something Merino wool, built to a high standard, and with an athletic cut. Also, in this case, I wanted long sleeves. The nice thing about the Henley is that it works as a standalone long-sleeved shirt, or can be used as another layer when trying to stay warm. Since I opted to not bring a button-down shirt, the Henley is the closest thing I have to a formal top. Meh, close enough.

  • The Slim Dungarees are actually the pants I wore to my wedding. As Outlier puts it:

    If you only own a single pair of pants, these are the ones. A technically superior five-pocket pant, made from an exclusive fabric that is tough, comfortable and clean enough to wear 365 days a year, anywhere you go. The pant to travel the world in.
    I'd say they're pretty spot on. If I were to have any complaints they would be that the pants don't taper as much as I would like, and Outlier's sizing in general is a bit wonky. They're designated as my go-to pants in the city as they can dress up or down very effectively. The material is a bit stretchy and reasonably water resistant. However, while they're phenomenal all-around pants, if you're expecting to get pretty dirty/muddy/wet they'd probably hold up ok, but there are better options for that purpose. That leads me to...

  • The GoRuck pants were the latest in my long search for a technical pant. I would hardly say they're perfect, but they're better suited to rough and messy environments than the Outlier pants. Also, they fit very well (aside from the taper which is not nearly aggressive enough). However, they're very overpriced if you're not picking them up on sale, and they have the annoying tendency to make a bit of a swishing noise as you walk. Unfortunately that's the price you pay as you increase water resistance. Something like snow pants are extremely water resistant, but also VERY noisy. Something like a pair of jeans doesn't make any noise while you walk, but it'll soak up water like a sponge. The Outlier Slim Dungarees are actually really impressive in this sense, as they don't swish at all while still managing to pull off decent water resistance. However, (at the cost of more swishiness) the GoRuck pants are far more water resistant and are intended to be my go-to pants for hiking in the mountains. I opted for the midweight variant given that we'd be experiencing far more winter than summer on this trip.

  • The Outlier shorts have a lot in common with the pants. They're quick drying, stylish, comfortable, and can double as a bathing suit (the pants probably can't do this). I'd say they're mostly perfect, though there's one thing they can't do well, which is function as workout/running shorts. That leads me to...

  • The TAD shorts were a last minute addition. I had opted to bring a pair of sweatpants/trainers (seen in the Items Not Pictured section) with the intent of having them be my workout bottoms. However, I realized that it would disincentivize me from working out if I ended up feeling too warm. These are exceptionally packable and lightweight, and can also double as a bathing suit. They are designed to work well as running or workout shorts.

  • You might be wondering why I left these SmartWool leggings with a generic name despite linking to a pair on their website. That's because I bought these years ago and have no idea which specific model of SmartWool thermal leggings these are, so I just linked to their contemporary equivalent on the site. These are thin, packable, and do a great job keeping your legs warm in cold weather under your other pants. I figured given that we'd end up in snowy areas on this trip, I wouldn't want to rely on just a single layer of warmth for my lower body.

HOW


  • The Henley has held up great so far. I'd put it through its paces for months prior to leaving on the trip so it's no real surprise. I use it on its own, or as part of a layering system.


  • The Outlier pants have done great as well. I haven't really pushed them in terms of inclement weather, usually opting to reach for the GoRuck pants if it's raining out. However, they look new, they don't wrinkle, they're comfy, they stay clean, and they take up a lot less space in my pack than jeans would.

  • The GoRuck pants have been punished a fair bit so far. I've hiked in pouring rain, slid along with them in dusty and muddy environments, and walked through snow in them. Aside from making swishing noises on occasion while doing so, they've done amazingly well. They dry very quickly, clean off easily, and pack up reasonably compactly. These have definitely earned their place in my pack and I'm glad I brought them. That being said, if I had to choose ONLY one pant, I'd probably opt for the Outlier pants as these are a little less optimal for city-wear. They don't really stand out like a pair of hiking pants from REI would, but they do look a bit "schlubbier" than a pair of good jeans would (or compared to the Outlier pants which I was able to WEAR TO MY WEDDING).


  • My Outlier shorts have gone mostly unused so far. Unfortunately, aside from our week on Easter Island, the only warm enough weather to wear shorts in has been a few days in Italy. They were quite nice to wear on those couple of days though. I'm fairly confident they'll end up getting more use as we start heading south in Europe during autumn, as well as on our Asia leg during spring months, . Until then I can't really provide much insight, though I've enjoyed what little use I've had with them.


  • I'm exceptionally glad I made a last minute purchase and brought these TAD shorts. They're great for wearing around the apartment, they're great for working out in, they're great for running in, and somehow they take up even less space than a pair of my boxer briefs. They've gotten a fair amount of use for exercise and indoor wear, and they were worn pretty much every single day on Easter Island. The reason these were my go-to lower body clothing on Easter Island is because it was relatively warm and VERY wet there. Because these are so thin and double as a bathing suit, they dry extremely quickly. This meant that on warm days I was quite comfortable wearing these light shorts, and when it rained (and poured) - leaving me soaked to the core - I wasn't really worried about these shorts drying off in no time.


  • My SmartWool leggings were absolutely necessary in the cold regions in Patagonia. The difference in temperature was substantial. I wasn't wearing them on my first day in Ushuaia and I sorely regretted it, as I ended up freezing. I wore them pretty much nonstop throughout my travels in southern Argentina. Plus, since they're so thin they take up very little space in a pack.

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WHAT



WHY


I didn’t want to be relying on disposable water bottles along the way; they can be of variable size, variable quality, overly expensive, etc. While a double-walled hard water bottle would be nice -particularly for the thermal retention capabilities- we needed to save space and weight for one bag (carry-on-only) travel, which made it an implausible option. After reading various reviews, it seemed like the Vapur was a solid choice in the collapsible water bottle category. It packs up to next to nothing, weighs barely anything, doesn’t really have an odor or taste (we did fill it with baking soda and water for a day prior to washing and use), and has the benefit of standing on a flat surface when it contains water.


HOW


I love this water bottle, I’d recommend it to anyone. When empty I forget it’s in my bag. We just fill it when water is conveniently available and benefit from having water anywhere we go (though that’s the case with all bottles). It’s nice that it takes up less space as you drink away your water supply. We’ve also gotten uses out of it that you wouldn’t be able to with a hard water bottle, such as filling it with hot water and using it as a hot pack with an upset stomach. Another use case has been to fill it with boiling water (yes, it’s designed for that) and stuffing it into a pair of wet shoes to help them dry faster in a high humidity environment (Easter Island). Also, so far it’s showing no signs of wear.

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WHAT



WHY


It’s the laptop I have from work. That being said, I did choose it for the company, so I can still provide insight into why this one. ThinkPads are known for extreme durability and premium build quality. This one has a hexacore CPU, dedicated GPU, 32 GB of RAM, 512 GB m.2 SSD, great battery life, and plenty of ports. I’m using Windows 10 Pro along with WSL (Ubuntu) for day-to-day stuff and work.


HOW


It’s holding up great so far. I was using it for 5 months prior to leaving on this trip, so I didn’t forsee any issues, and I have yet to encounter any. It’s what I’m using to type up this very article.

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WHAT



WHY


A hardshell is what protects from the wind, rain, snow, etc. I typically prefer a jacket configuation, but the Anorak had the latest upgraded designs from TAD. The zippers are high quality YKK and waterproof, the hood is adjustable both on the sides and on top, the hood also includes a duck bill for diverting rain away from the face. Also, as hardshells don’t have any insulation, it packs up very small and is very lightweight.


HOW


It’s done everything as I intended. The Raptor has handled downpours and high winds without issue. My only complaint is that the only pockets in the jacket are on the biceps. I’d strongly prefer to have pockets on my hips the way you’d typically find on a jacket, as I don’t really have a way to protect my hands otherwise. Since purchasing the anorak, TAD has updated the design of their Raptor jacket, which I’d prefer if I were in the market for a hardshell now. Aside from that, I’m very happy with it, and it still looks and feels good as new.

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WHAT



WHY


I expect to encounter various temperatures along this trip, but most of the variation will occur between comfortable and cold (due to us being unlikely to see a summer until 2021). This means I wanted to have some options in my layering scheme. This lightweight packable layer provides much needed additional insulation when worn in extreme cold (along with my other layers). It also does a great job in brisk weather where I’d like to be warmer than I would be in just a T shirt, but a real mid-layer jacket would be overkill. As with the Raptor, I chose the anorak because it had just been updated with new designs, and the Javelin hooded jacket was outdated.


HOW


Thus far, the Javelin has done exactly what I intended it to do. As with most clothing I’ve brought, it packs up quite nicely and is very lightweight. It has helped keep me warm in very cold weather, and I’ve been making great use of it on days that are only slightly chilly. It has an advantage over the Raptor in the pocket department, as it has a belly pocket that’s accessible from both sides, along with a vest pocket, so no complaints there. That being said, the Javelin jacket has been updated since I purchased this one, and I’d still rather have a jacket I can unzip to take off over the anorak which functions as a pullover.

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WHAT



WHY


It packs INTO ITSELF, turning into a pillow. How cool is that?! Given that I already had a hardshell and a light insulation layer, I needed something that would actually keep me warm in cold weather. This jacket is a workhorse, and is typically my default choice if it’s cold out and I don’t plan on layering. As with everything else, it’s lightweight and DEFINITELY packs down. It’s also very warm and has some water resistance. If the weather is below 60F, I’ll be wearing this jacket.


HOW


I love this jacket, it has put in serious work when I’ve needed to use all my layers in the snow in Patagonia. It’s understated and looks at home in the mountains and in the city. I’ve continued to use it as my default jacket to take out for a daily excursion. It’s held up beautifully and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

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WHAT



WHY


With us chasing winter, though our plan isn’t to venture into sub-zero temperatures along the way, we expect to encounter plenty of cold weather. Keeping my head (and especially ears) warm makes all the difference when temperatures drop into and below the 40s. 100% Merino Wool? Check. Lightweight, thin, and packable? Check. That’s about all I needed to know.


HOW


It’s been great, though it does give me the appearance of someone preparing to break into a museum to burgle some priceless paintings. However, it takes up very little space, and despite being pretty thin it does a fantastic job keeping my head and ears warm.

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WHAT



WHY


I need sunglasses and I liked the way these looked. They’re prescription lenses so I can actually see the world while I wear them. The Pelican case was chosen because I wanted a hard case that would survive and protect its contents while in a backpack that might be overfull. Also, it has a roomy enough interior to fit a backup pair of regular glasses.


HOW


Both my sunglasses and the Pelican case have held up just fine. The sunglasses continue to function as always, and the hard case looks just like it did the day I bought it. If there’s a downside it’s that it is certainly bulkier than most sunglass cases, but not enough that the cons outweigh the benefits.

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WHAT



WHY


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels.
A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly because it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars that shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini-raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindbogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you - daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I need a way to dry off and this towel does it really well. It’s not the softest towel, but as it passes along your skin you’d think you just made contact with the Arizona desert sun (referring to how it dries, it’s not hot). It takes up very little space in a bag, and it also dries out very quickly. I expect most places we’ll be will have towels, but in case I don’t like the options, or my other towel is wet, etc, I’ll have a great backup.


HOW


I’ve had this towel for a few years now. It performs the way it always has: it dries you off quickly, it dries itself out quickly. I’d say it’s good at its job.

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WHAT



WHY


Technically this isn’t part of my gear, as Mollie is the one carrying this in her bag. Also, she’s the one who has a better sense of what’s in it and how everything works. I’ve included it in my gear list to emphasize that even if I were traveling alone, this would be an essential kit. It has the tools you need to deal with basic injuries along with a few to deal with potentially catasrophic ones.


HOW


Thankfully we haven’t needed to make use of much other than bandages and the trauma shears. A good travel tip for people who prefer to carry-on only is to bring trauma shears as a cutting tool, as they don’t qualify as scissors due to their blunt tip. It’s been nice to have the compact and convenient kit that we can toss into a daypack prior to heading out on a hike.

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WHAT


  • 1 Knit kippah

WHY


I’m Jewish, seems like a necessity.


HOW


I’ve had it for probably 10 years, other than being a bit faded, it’s pretty much the same as always.

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WHAT


  • 1 Universal Silicone Drain Stopper

WHY


I don’t always expect to have access to a laundry machine and not all sinks come with stoppers. It’s basically thin and flat and therefore easily packable, and when you need to wash clothing in a sink, it’s invaluable.


HOW


I’ve had it for three years now and always bring it with me when traveling for longer than a week. Fingers crossed I don’t have to hand wash my clothing, but it happens here and there, and this stopper hasn’t let me down yet.

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WHAT



WHY


Same story as the drain stopper; a drying machine isn’t always an option. Also, since most of my clothes are now wool, a drying machine isn’t recommended anyways. This takes up no more space than a pair of earbud headphones, but allows me try hang dry multiple clothing items simultaneously. It’s cheap and it works.


HOW


As with the stopper, I’ve had it for three years and I haven’t had any issues with it. I suppose you could take paracord, but this is lighter, takes up less space, and has clips for hanging as well as beads for holding clothing up/in place. I’d absolutely buy it again.

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WHAT



WHY


A great cup of coffee isn’t always an option, but sometimes it just makes your day that much better. Instant coffee will never be “great”, but it can certainly be better than your average cup. These aren’t cheap, but it’s nice to have them available when I’m really craving decent coffee and can’t find any locally. I’ve opted to get all my packets from Coava, my go-to coffee.


HOW


These have been whittled down more quickly than I expected. I brought these for rough days in remote places, figuring I could manage to find good coffee in most big cities. Unfortunately my wife decided that they make a good backup on days that she wanted coffee but didn’t feel like going out to find it. In the end, we opted to get a coffee making setup to replace these.

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WHAT



WHY


I say ½ because the kit also comes with the tripod seen in the orange circle contained in 33. I wanted to fix that, but it was too much effort. Anyways, this kit comes with the tripod, a phone holder, digital stereo condenser microphone, USB-C cable, and a(n utterly useless to me) Lighting cable. Since we plan to record videos on the trip, it would be nice to get decent audio out of the videos, and a tripod is a much for steady video.


HOW


It takes up a bit more space than I’d like, and the microphone requires some calibration. Unfortunately Google’s camera app is finnicky about recording with an external microphone and doesn’t always work. Shure has a video recording app that’s currently in beta which seemed to work ok. Unfortunately it didn’t automatically rotate my video, and the videos split every time they hit 3.8 GB, so it was a fair bit of work getting them rotated and contatenated together. Aside from the software issues though, I’m very happy with the quality.

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WHAT



WHY


I need a belt for my pants and shorts, I had this one and I liked it just fine.


HOW


It doesn’t really pack down very well since it’s designed to have enough rigidity to manage a holster (which I wish I could carry on this trip). However, I haven’t had any issues packing it since it use it to line the interior rim of my backpack. If I were more minimalist about it, I suppose I wouldn’t have chosen this belt, but it fits in to most environments ok and I like the way it fits.

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WHAT



WHY


Toilet paper isn’t as effective, and when you consider that toilet paper in public bathrooms abroad will likely be one-ply, one concludes that it’d be nice to have a reliable alternative.


HOW


They work fine, I wish wipes were more standard. It’s possible I brought substantially more than 30 with me and just didn’t want to include all of them in the picture 😂

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WHAT



WHY


When allergies kick in or a cold comes on, soft, durable tissues are key. If you’re using rough paper to wipe your nose multiple times a day, it will be raw and burning within a few hours. I’m not confident that I’ll be able to find high quality tissues abroad, so I brought my own as a backup. These are basically just Kleenex Ultra Softs in travel size.


HOW


I’ve already had a cold once on this trip, and these (along with Vaseline applied to the nose) have prevented my nose and upper lip from suffering. If you’ve ever had that skin get raw, you understand why this is so valuable. I need more of these.

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WHAT



WHY


Ughhh… All these wet wipe companies all seem to have the same marketing departments. Maybe choose a name that’s a little less on the nose? In any case, these wipes are sturdy and damp without being wet, plus they come in a compact container.


HOW


Again it’s possible that I brought more than pictures. They work well. Unfortunately it looks like I’ll have to find a new brand on resupply as this one has been sold out for months and I’m assuming that means they’re no longer in business.

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WHAT



WHY


These are designed as barefoot-style running huarache sandals. This means they’re extremely thin, very light, durable, and stay on your foot pretty reliably. The benefit of these for a trip like this is to have shower shoes that can double as walk-around shoes in a pinch. If something were to happen to my other shoes, I’m not out of luck, shuffling aroud in a pair of flip flops. Plus, these take up less space and weigh less than any thong-style sandal.


HOW


They’ve been great. I’ve gotten plenty of use out of them as shower shoes. They disappear into my backpack when I pack them away. I’ve already needed to wear them in place of my regular shoes. There’s a story and a picture involved:

When we were on Easter Island, we wanted to see Ahu Tongariki at sunrise. However, we picked a day that was pouring rain. That didn’t stop us from us from going out and getting absolutely soaked. It took my shoes a couple days to dry out on the EXTREMELY humid island (extra humid due to the rain). I had a backup pair of shoes, but I didn’t want to get those wet and muddy, so when it came time to venture back out I went with my Clouds. I looked ridiculous in that outfit, particularly with my extreme farmers’ tan, but they worked out beautifully.

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WHAT



WHY


They’re barefoot-style running shoes in all black. They weigh nothing, flatten down or roll up to nothing, look pretty good in my opinion, and they’re my go-to shoe. They’re the perfect shoes for travel in that they can blend in in a city and are extremely packable. They’re super comfortable with an extremely wide toebox. As long as you’re used to wearing barefoot-style shoes, you need a pair like these for travel.


HOW


I’ve had this pair for about eleven months now and was wearing them as my daily shoes prior to going on this trip. I was quite happy with them before I left, and I continue to be impressed by them along the way.

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WHAT



WHY


While I love my Primus Lite shoes, I wanted a pair that would be better suited to adverse conditions and hiking. I read a lot of reviews, and an account from someone else who took these shoes as their only pair for a nine month trip. Everyone concluded that they performed excellently. They have a general Converse All-Star aesthetic, but the construction is far more durable, made with 1000D Cordura panels. They also have great traction. Also, it was possible to order them in wide sizes as well.
The only downside is that they come with rubber waterproof insoles that are fairly uncomfortable and hot- the shoes are intended to be used amphibiously and can be worn under dive fins, hence the waterproof insoles. I initially had purchased Superfeet rigid soles to replace them but after trying a few models they all began to hurt my feet after awhile. I went to a Milestone Running store; they recommended the Speco Polysorb soles and they felt great.


HOW


These have complemented my other shoes phenomenally. I probably have had about a 5050 split of wearing these shoes and my Primus Lite shoes on the trip so far. They’ve gotten muddy on hikes, soaked in rain, and beaten up on trails. They’ve blended into big cities, and been comfortable on my feet while flying. If I had a complaint about these it’s that because I opted for the low cut model, I end up getting more pebbles in my shoes on hikes than I would in boots. Aside from that I don’t really have any complaints. They’re not very packable, but usally I’m wearing them while in transit, and if I don’t want to wear them I can just tie them to my bag.

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WHAT



WHY


I was given a pair of these for free at CES about seven years ago or so. I liked how they sounded and felt pretty quality at the time. They retailed for $130, so free was a pretty good price. They’re comfortable and have a nice hard case, so they’ve been my default earbuds for a long time. I wouldn’t recommend anyone buy them though, as they were discontinued a long time ago.


HOW


They work the same way as they always have. I’m sure I could buy better earbuds, but these work, and why spend money if I don’t have to?

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WHAT


  • 1 laptop charger for my ThinkPad P1

WHY


I need to charge my laptop along the way, and this is the charger for it. …I really shouldn’t have labeled this separately from the laptop.


HOW


It works fine, it’s the OEM charger.

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WHAT



WHY


It might be a bit aspirational to bring headphones specifically for running and exercise, but I’m being optimistic. I’ve had these for over a year now, and while the sound quality on bone-induction will never be as good as in-ear, the tradeoff of acoustic awareness of your surroundings is worth it.


HOW


I haven’t ended up using them much 😬 but that isn’t because I haven’t done any exercise. My wife has taken me running and I’ve just opted to enjoy her company on the run. If these don’t end up getting used much on the trip I can always send them home.

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WHAT



WHY


You really don’t want to feel like you’re running low on phone battery when you’re in an unfamiliar place. Having a reliable way to guarantee you’ll have phone access is invaluable on a trip like this. I chose this one a few years ago because it had decent capacity, a USB-C connector, and was pretty inexpensive ($25 at the time).


HOW


Despite it’s age, it’s doing fine. I’m sure it’s lost some capacity over the years, but given that it started at 10,000mAh and I really only need maybe one to two charges out of it on any given day it’s been plenty. I suppose it’d be nice to have one that takes up less size, maybe if I were to look for a new one I’d look in the 6,000-8,000mAh range.

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WHAT



WHY


  • Given that both Mollie and I have USB-C ports on our laptops and phones, it's nice to have the option to convert those ports when necessary. I wouldn't choose Apple's dongle if I were buying one, but I had one handy already. ¯\\\_(ツ)_/¯


  • A DAC is hard to justify as a necessary item for a trip like this, but it's nice to have the improved audio fidelity you get from one. I had purchased this DAC years ago for the purpose of having it at work, and it's small enough that it doesn't really cost me anything space-wise to bring it along.


  • If I were to be running the DAC, using my mouse, using a flash drive, and charging my phone, I'd be short on USB ports. Having the option to expand one port to four is worth it, especially in so small a package. Not sure if I'd buy this model if I were looking to make a purchase, but I had it laying around already.

HOW


  • The adaptor works fine. I haven't had much need of it so far, but that's ok.


  • I haven't been using this as much as I expected to. Part of it is that I really don't enjoy wearing earbuds for extended periods of time so I've been limiting how much I wear them, and usually don't bother plugging in the DAC first. If I had any over-ear headphones this would be getting way more use. Still, I have no regrets about bringing it since it's tiny anyways.


  • The hub is fine, it does what I need it to do.

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WHAT



WHY


It’s an old NOOK, but it works ok. There are definitely newer, better eReaders, but the improvements weren’t enough to convince me I should buy something new. It’s reasonably thin, it’s light, it works, good enough.


HOW


I hadn’t used it in four months of travel 😬 I suppose that makes me feel better about not buying a replacement. Ultimately I decided to send it home since it just wasn’t getting any use.

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WHAT



WHY


While I expect to be using WiFi most of the time, there’s always the possibility that a router is garbage or I may feel the desire to tinker wih said router. Bringing a cable and ethernet adaptor dongle allows me to do just that.


HOW


It hasn’t been used a ton, but it has been used. In internet areas where the speeds were ~1 Mbps, I didn’t want to lose even a bit of that to WiFi. Being able to plug straight in allowed me to maximize the bandwidth of those highly limited connections. (Disclaimer: even though the link takes you to the Gen 2 adaptor, I have the Gen 1. However, there doesn’t appear to be a listing for the Gen 1 adaptor on Lenovo’s site)

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WHAT



WHY


Using a trackpad sucks. Even the best trackpads are at best acceptable for use. My laptop has a TrackPoint, but I’ve never adjusted to using those. What I have adjusted to using are trackballs, and I love my MX Ergo. There are smaller mouse options that are arguably better for travel, but I opted to sacrifice some portability for one aspect of my “full-fat” desktop experience back home. Also, it’s wireless and rechargeable, so no cables to worry about.


HOW


Yes, the bulk makes it slightly more annoying for packing than I’d like, but it hasn’t been too much of a burden. Getting to use it has been great though. When working I still miss my fancy keyboards, but at least my trackball makes the experience far better than it would be without it. Also, since it’s wireless it’s been nice to use it to control the computer from the bed or couch when the laptop is hooked up to a TV via HDMI.

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WHAT



WHY


  • HDMI cable - I figured we'd be staying in plenty of places with TVs and I wanted a way to connect my laptop to the TV. I suppose a Chromecast would have been an option, but bringing a compact HDMI cable is a surefire way to guarantee I'll be able to connect it. I chose this one because it's retractable and takes up minimal space relative to a regular cable.


  • Fitbit - I like having a fitness band for a variety of reasons. Primarily I use it for tracking how far I walk during the day and how much/well I sleep at night. The Charge 2 isn't perfect and there are a bunch of smartwatch features I'd like to have, but I've had it for a couple of years and there aren't any fitness bands or smartwatches that are sufficiently compelling to convince me I should upgrade.


  • Watch - I'm often asked why I bother wearing a watch if I have a fitness band already. My response is that I like watches and the aesthetics of wearing a watch. Also, they're better for telling time in that the time is always visible, whereas the fitness band requires you to tilt your wrist in the appropriate way for the time to appear. Also, this watch is solar powered and won't run out of battery. I replaced the original band with a NATO strap as I like the modularity it provides.


  • Wedding bands - I chose these wedding bands because they're cheap, comfortable, and look decent. I found it hard to justify buying a wedding band for 10x or 100x the price. Plus, if I were to lose one, I wouldn't be too broken up about it. I brought two of them just in case.


  • Thermometer - I was thinking to myself if I could only bring a single kitchen implement with me (that would fit in a carry-on), what would I bring? Ultimately I determined a small instant read thermometer made the most sense. It can be used for telling if water is at the right temperature, if meat is fully cooked, etc. I could have made the case for other implements, but this seemed like a solid choice.


  • YubiKey - This was probably unnecessary, but I just really like the idea of having a hardware based 2FA. Authy is probably a good enough software implementation that I didn't need a YubiKey, but I just really wanted one. At least my accounts are pretty secure.


  • Pocket Tool - I got this pocket tool for free a few years ago. It hasn't gotten much use before, but I thought it'd make a good keychain for my YubiKey, and maybe I'd find some use for it along the way.


  • Samsung Flash Drive - I wanted a large capacity flash drive on this trip so that I could save media and files to it without having to worry about storage space. Also, I wanted one that could easily connect to my PC and phone, hence the USB-A and USB-C connectors on the drive.


  • SanDisk Flash Drive - Same as above, but I forgot I had this SanDisk flash drive when I bought the Samsung one. The Samsung has twice the storage capacity, but these are small enough that I could justify bringing both.


  • Phone Charger - This is the charger for our phones. It's pretty self explanatory why we brought it along. I also brought an extra USB-A to USB-C cable so we'd have another option for connecting our phones to our computers.


  • 58mm Tele Lens - I initally had thought about bringing a high-end point-and-shoot camera in order to take great pictures and video, but I remembered that I'm not a particularly excellent photographer. Plus, that would mean bringing along another item and another charger, and I didn't think it would be worth it. Instead I opted to get a couple lenses that could be used with our phones to enhance their photographic capabilities. The first we chose was a 58mm telephoto lens that would allow us to get optical zoom and also create a natural bokeh effect.


  • 18mm Wide Lens - Same reasoning as the above, but this is an 18mm wide lens that allows us to naturally capture large scenes that would otherwise have to be stitched together artificially with a panorama shot. For capturing landscapes or large backgrounds, the wide lens is indispenable.


  • Tripod - This tripod is part of the Shure MV88+ kit that's covered in 17. It's a nice, compact, durable tripod.


  • Flashlight - I typically carry a pocketknife and a flashlight at all times. On this trip I knew I wouldn't be able to carry my pocketknife, but at least I can carry a flashlight. This one can be outfitted with a rechargeable battery (which I did), at which point the lumen output goes up dramatically- topping out at 650 lumens. Also, it's pretty small, light, and durable due to it all-aluminum construction. For those who say "why not just use your phone?"- A phone flashlight isn't nearly as capable, and oftentimes you're trying to save your phone battery as much as possible anyways.


  • Flashlight Battery Charger - This is the charger for the battery in my flashlight, it's compact and works well.


  • Plug Adaptor - This is a generic international plug adaptor I've had for eight years. It does what it's supposed to, no reason to get a different one.


  • Power Strip - I got this mini power strip years ago at CES at the Lenovo booth. It's some generic one that was branded Lenovo. It works fine and is compact. It's necessary to have multiple US-style plugs considering I only brought a single international plug adaptor.


  • Lock - It's a cheap and well rated cable lock for luggage. It was a last minute purchase because we didn't think about the ability to lock our bags until the week before we left. It's pretty small and lightweight.

HOW


  • HDMI cable - The retractable HDMI cable has come in handy quite a bit. Pretty much anywhere we've been with a TV, we've gotten use out of it. It works just like any other HDMI cable, except it packs up nice and small.


  • Fitbit - Well, when I first started writing this section I was going to say that despite a hairline crack appearing on the screen six months ago, it's been working fine. However, one day during the final week we spent in Argentina it just died. I tried to troubleshoot- it would charge and turn on, but within a few minutes of being "fully charged" it would die and act as though all battery had been drained. This occurred depsite the fact that battery life had been in the four day range the week prior. When I looked up the problem online, it seemed to be a common issue after two years; the convenince of planned obsolence. I've since begrugingly ordered a Charge 3 to replace it, and my parents are graciously bringing it with them to Scotland.


  • Watch - My watch has been working great. I've had it for a few years and it works as well as ever. Citizen watches are pretty well built.


  • Wedding bands - Same as ever: round, flexible, and fit on my ring finger.


  • Thermometer - I haven't used it as much as I hoped/expected I would (though it has gotten a bit of use). Ultimately it's because we just haven't been doing that much cooking, and when we do it's mostly been things that don't benefit much from having a thermometer. Luckily it's quite compact, so I haven't regretted bringing it along yet.


  • YubiKey - Still works fine, same as ever.


  • Pocket Tool - It's been a great keychain, but I haven't actually used it for anything yet. It's basically just a piece of metal though, so it's held up just fine.


  • Samsung Flash Drive - Flash drive works fine, pretty quick speeds as expected.


  • SanDisk Flash Drive - Same as above, works as intended.


  • Phone Charger - It continues to rapidly charge our phones as it's designed to do.


  • 58mm Wide Lens - I'm really glad we brought this along. We've taken some excellent portrait shots that we otherwise wouldn't have been able to get. Software bokeh effect can't compare with the real deal. The pictures we've gotten with this lens feel almost professionally taken in many instances.


  • 18mm Wide Lens - We've also gotten great use out of this lens. When we're trying to capture a huge landscape, or a painted fresco on a ceiling, we rely on our 18mm to capture the entire thing in one shot.


  • Tripod - The tripod has held up great. Nothing about it feels loose or damaged, and it feels pretty much the same way it did when it was brand new.


  • Flashlight - I had this flashlight for awhile prior to leaving on the trip and I loved it then, as I still do now. It has great battery life and it's capable of shining very brightly. You never know when you might end up needing a flashlight, and it's been particularly handy during the blackouts we've experienced.


  • Flashlight Battery Charger - The flashlight battery charger has worked great so far. It's small, it's light, and it does it's job.


  • Plug Adaptor - The adaptor had been working fine. It's a little bulky, but fairly light. However, since we got the Donut, we don't have much need for it and opted to send it home.


  • Power Strip - Well, this was a total mistake on my part. Upon arriving in Buenos Aires I checked the tag on it and realized that the power strip was only rated for 110V, making it absolutely useless on this trip. I sent it back to the US with Mollie's parents. You can see what I replaced it with in the Items Not Pictured section.


  • Lock - Unfortunately I didn't think to check if the end of the cable was able to fit through the dedicated holes on the zipper sliders of our bags before we left on the trip. Spoiler alert, it doesn't. This means that we can't lock the zippers themselves, though we are able to put the cable lock through the nylon pull tabs, so we can still semi-secure them. Aside from that obvious flaw in our plan, the cable lock seems to work fine.

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WHAT



WHY


I purchased the wallet a few years ago when looking for a minimalist style wallet, and I love it. It’s fairly small, very low profile, blocks RFID, fits as many or as few cards as I’d like, and has a clip for cash. I have no plans to change my wallet out any time soon.

The passport should be obvious… I need one to travel.

The two permits are in case we’d like to rent cars on our various travels. Most places will accept my California Driver’s License for short periods of time, but for places that won’t, these permits should allow me to drive without issue. The International one is by far the more useful of the two, but for some reason Uruguay only accepts the Inter-American one, so I paid another $20 to get it.


HOW


I loved my wallet before the trip, and I like it just as much during the trip. The passport works as intended… The driver’s permits haven’t really been necessary so far, as my CA Driver’s License has been good enough.

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WHAT



WHY


  • Athletic Tape - It's a handy thing to have on hand for a few couple reasons. It can be used to wrap a joint if there's any sort of sprain or injury. Also, it can be used in conjunction with paper towel or tissue to create a makeshift bandage if you've run out of regular ones.


  • Vaseline - Small, compact, and a little goes a long way. I've started use it in place of any moisturizing lotion (hence the cocoa butter variant). Also, if skin get irritated, it does a great job protecting it. If one were to catch a cold, the benefit of applying Vaseline to your nose to mitigate rubbing it raw cannot be overstated.


  • Soft Picks - These are a great supplement to regular floss and can help clean between teeth. These are the (substantially improved) evolution of the toothpick.


  • Floss - Do I really need to explain why floss is necessary?


  • Razor - I bought this razor many years ago. It's battery powered and vibrates on the skin, which surprisingly makes a slight improvement while shaving- it feels like it's not pulling on the hair as much. I also brought some additional blades as each one only lasts me a couple of months.


  • Toothbrush - I needed a toothbrush and had one of these handy.


  • Soap Cases - These are a superior way to store bar soaps/shampoos. A hard case takes up a lot more room, and if the soap is at all wet, it turns to mush in the hard cases. These soft cases pack up much smaller and much flatter than a hard case could. Also, they have the ability to sweat moisture out so that your soap stays dry and whole.


  • Soap - I'm a big fan of Dr Bronner's soap. I usually use the liquid version at home, but for travel the bar makes way more sense.


  • Shampoo - As with the soap, the benefit of taking a bar is that it doesn't qualify as a liquid when flying. This particular brand of shampoo was well reviewed and works fine.


  • Toothpaste - I needed toothpaste and I'm a fan of Sensodyne.


  • Bottle with soap - This bottle is from a great travel kit that Nalgene sells. In the end, I didn't have much use for bottles on this trip, with this being the exception. The liquid soap contained within will be used for laundry when needed, and I can refill it with laundry detergent when it runs out.


  • Washcloth - I've always felt less clean if I don't scrub, but bringing some sort of loofah or other scrubber would mean something that takes up a lot of space, won't last long, and will tend to stay wet. This washcloth isn't subject to any of those disadvantages: it rolls up tightly, is durable, and dries quickly.


  • Deoderant - I used to use Old Spice stick deoderant, but it would cause a rause and irritation once or twice per year. Also, Mollie hated the smell of it. We went to Aesop and found one with far higher quality ingredients and a pleasant odor. Since then I've switched to this Aesop deoderant. If there's a downside, it's the insane price.


  • Comb - I've had this comb since I was 10 years old. It was a free plastic comb I got somewhere back then, and it still works fine now.


  • Toenail Clippers - These clippers have great reviews on Amazon and show up on a bunch of various "recommended toenail clipper" lists online. They are pretty high quality and provide a lot of leverage when clipping.


  • Fingernail Clippers - Similar as above, the Seki Edge branded stuff always seems to top lists for "best clippers". High quality, good edge, work great.


  • Tweezer - It's always handy to have a pair of tweezers. They're tiny, and if you end up with a splinter you'll be glad you brought them along.


  • Toiletry Case - I looked into a lot of DOPP cases before choosing this one. The problem with so many others is that they're weighty and bulky. There are some decent flat style options, but the Matador has the benefit of sweating moisture like their other FlatPak products. Also, it rolls up pretty small (even smaller if you have fewer things in there). It also has a loop so you can hang it on a hook. If I have a complaint it's that it is definitely on the small side. If you tend to bring a lot of toiletries, you might want two of these.

HOW


  • Athletic Tape - Thankfully I haven't needed to use it yet. It's still in the same condition it was at the outset of the trip. I was almost forced to throw it away going through airport security in Uruguay because "it could be used to bind someone's hands". I instead opted to pretend to throw it away, when in reality I just put it in my pocket and went through the metal detector. They're just lucky I didn't hijack the plane with my contraband athletic tape.


  • Vaseline - Thankfully a little goes a long way, because this tiny tub of Vaseline is in no danger of running out despite being used daily.


  • Soft Picks - These did their job, but as of time of this writing I'm almost out of them. I'll need to restock at my next opportunity


  • Floss - It works as intended; it's floss, there's not a whole lot to say.


  • Razor - I've been using this razor for years, and it's continued to work as expected. The hair on my face gets appropriately wiped away when using this.


  • Toothbrush - The toothbrush worked great until it wore out. Rather than replace it with another like it, I've just gotten my own replacement toothbrush head for Mollie's rechargeable electric toothbrush.


  • Soap Cases - I'm very thankful to have these. I can pack away our soap and shampoo compactly and without worrying if they're still wet. Plus, when we arrive at our destination, they're always totally dry.


  • Soap - The soap has worked well. It always leaves me feeling clean and smelling fresh. The bar eventually ran out, but we've resupplied with another of the same.


  • Shampoo - The shampoo has really lasted a long time. We're still on the same bar. It continues to do a good job cleaning my hair.


  • Toothpaste - This particular tube of toothpaste ran out awhile ago. Mollie has a Matador FlatPak Toiletry Bottle filled with more Sensodyne toothpaste.


  • Bottle with soap - The bottle is fine. If I had access to my stuff back home, I'd swap it out with one of the 2ox bottles. A little detergent goes a long way, and a 2oz bottle would take up less space.


  • Washcloth - The washcloth has been fantastic on the trip. The speed at which it dries has been indispensable. It's been handy to be able to take a shower the morning before travelling to a new place and not have to worry about packing away a wet washcloth. It's starting to wear a little bit, I'll probably replace it with another one in a few months, but I've had this one for probably close to ten months already.


  • Deoderant - I was a bit worried I'd run through this quickly, but it lasts a surprisingly long time. It continues to effectively keep me smelling decent throughout the day.


  • Comb - It's still small and compact, and pretty much the same as the day I got it.


  • Toenail Clippers - They WERE working fine, right up until Uruguayan airport security determined they were a threat. Apparently pilots flying out of Uruguay feel very threatened by the possibility of someone aggressively trying to clip their nails. I'd never considered that tactic for hijacking a plane, but it's nice to know it's apparently a viable option. Combined with my dangerous athletic tape, you're well on your way to a deadly assassin's toolkit. I managed to get through fifteen other flights since starting this trip without issue, but I guess Uruguayan security has higher standards than American, Argentine, and Chilean security. In any case, they made me throw away my nail clippers, and since they were made of metal I couldn't smuggle them past security like I did with the athletic tape. I've since replaced them with the less-threatening Seki Edge Toenail Clippers.


  • Fingernail Clippers - These worked great before the trip and continue to do so.


  • Tweezer - They've been handy to have around, and have held up just fine.


  • Toiletry Case - I love this toiletry bag. As the number of toiletries I've had has reduced (toothbrush gone, soft picks run low), the bag has been able to pack away even smaller. The few times I've had wet items go in there, they've dried out by the time I've arrived at my next destination. I highly recommend all of Matador's FlatPak toiletries products.

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Items Not Pictured


WHAT



WHY


  • Joggers - These were somewhat of a last minute purchase, similar to the TAD Paladin GT Shorts mentioned in Section 3. This is because I wanted something comfortable to fly in, as well as lounge around in, as well as exercise in. I initially purchased a Myles Apparel Momentum Pant, but the sizing was very wonky (absurdly tight around the hips, while being extraordinarily long), so I returned them and tried the Oliver's. Ultimately these fit well and felt high quality. The reason it's not pictured is because I was wearing them while taking the pictures of my gear.


  • Boxers - Same as in Section 1. The reason it's not pictured is because I was wearing them while taking the pictures of my gear.


  • Shirt - Same as in Section 1. The reason it's not pictured is because I was wearing them while taking the pictures of my gear.


  • Phone - I'm not actually a huge fan of the Google Pixel line of phones. While I do love that they come with the latest and greatest Android and get a few years of timely software updates, and the camera is usually pretty good, they otherwise tend to be disappointing. Without writing a detailed phone review, my primary complaints are that the hardware is usually somewhat outdated, the design is always extremely outdated, they copy (and often double-down) on the worst aspects of Apple's previous iPhone generation, they never have particularly compelling features that set them apart, and they're always absurdly overpriced. That might lead one to wonder why I have one... Ultimately it's because I wanted to be on Google Fi's service for this trip, the Pixel 3a wasn't out yet, and Google Fi wasn't allowing non-Google phones to be part of the service at the time I purchased my Pixel 3. Also, I was able to take advantage of a 2 for 1 deal that was being offered so Mollie effectively got a Pixel 3 for free, taking some of the sting out of my overpaying for one. The reason it's not pictured is because I was using the phone to take the pictures.


  • Donut - Once I realized my travel power strip wouldn't work abroad, I immediately started searching for a replacement. Ultimately, I found the MOGICS Donut, which replaced not only the power strip, but also my travel plug adaptor. It compact, has multiple plugs, has a universal adaptor built in, and can handle 110-240V. The reason it's not pictured is because I didn't have it yet when the picture was taken. David was kind enough to bring it with him when he came to visit us in Argentina.


  • Mount - It's invaluable for car rentals and it's much smaller than any other type of car phone mount. If you're in a foreign country with a car rental, you'll definitely be relying on navigation, which is far easier to use if the phone is mounted in your field of view. The reason it's not pictured is because technically I didn't pack it... Mollie did, but I didn't want it to be left out of this article as it's an important piece of kit.


  • Grinder - After much research, it seemed like this was the best value, high quality coffee grinder that came in a fairly compact size. It conveniently fits inside of an Aeropress. The closest competitor was the Knock Aergrind, which I ultimately decided against despite it being a clearly better grinder due to it being slightly taller, twice the price, and not available on Amazon. The reason it's not pictured is because I didn't have it when the picture was taken. We weren't planning on making coffee ourselves initially, but as we ran out of Voila Instant Coffee, it became clear we needed our own set up. Mollie's parents were gracious enough to bring us the grinder when they came to visit us.


  • Cafflano - I struggled quite a bit when trying to decide which coffee brewer to get for the trip. The Aeropress had the advantage of having the grinder fit inside it for storage, and I already had experience with an Aeropress. However, I figured the Aeropress would still be too bulky, and I was excited to try something new. The Cafflano Kompact works similarly, but rather than a rigid, plastic design, it operates sort of like an accordion. Also, it has a built in metal filter, it's also compatible with Aeropress paper filters, and it packs up very compactly- as the name would imply. The reason it's not pictured is because I didn't have it when the picture was taken. As mentioned above, we weren't planning on making coffee when we first set out. Mollie's parents were gracious enough to bring it when they came to visit us.


  • Aeropress - Ultimately I came back to the Aeropress. The design is incredibly simple, robust, and I love that I can store my grinder in it. I find that it brews more consistently and is easier to clean than the Cafflano. The reason it's not pictured is because I didn't have it when the picture was taken. As mentioned above, we weren't planning on making coffee when we first set out. My parents were gracious enough to bring it when they came to visit us.


  • Scale - I'm not a believer in eyeballing coffee measurements. Even volumetric measurements are inconsistent. Anyone serious about their coffee knows you have to measure by mass. I miss my Hario scale, but it's just too bulky to travel with. I opted for this scale because it was the smallest I could find that was capable of measuring grams in the necessary quantities. I'm quite aware that I'm probably the only person in the world using this scale for coffee, but that doesn't discourage me. I wish it had a built-in timer, but since it's not really intended for brewing coffee, I understand why it doesn't have that feature. The reason it's not pictured is because I didn't have it when the picture was taken. As mentioned above, we weren't planning on making coffee when we first set out. My parents were gracious enough to bring it when they came to visit us.


  • Yoga Mat - We've tried to figure out a workout routine as we've been on this trip. The most consistently beneficial and easiest to keep up with regularity has been yoga. However, doing yoga without a mat has been a mixed bag. We realized we should each have a yoga mat of our own, but needed one compact enough that it could be unobtrusively attached to the exterior of our backpacks. The Voyager is very thin, but very sticky, and the reviews are great. A thicker, comfier mat is always appreciated, but antithetical to one-bag travel. The reason it's not pictured is because I didn't have it when the picture was taken. My parents were gracious enough to bring it when they came to visit us.

HOW


  • Joggers - Unexpectedly, these have become the workhorses of the trip. They get far more use than any of my other bottoms, and have held up wonderfully. They're not optimal in the rain, but they do have some water resistance. Also, I've been repeatedly told it's not apparent that they're joggers- they mostly look like regular pants at a glance, so I don't look like a schlub wearing sweatpants while I'm out and about. My concern is that I wear them so much that I'll wear through them halfway through the trip and need a replacement. We'll see how that goes.

  • Boxers - Same as in Section 1.


  • Shirt - Same as in Section 1.


  • Phone - Funny story... The phone WAS holding up great until it ran into a fairly common screen issue. I've since filed a warranty claim, and they've sent me a replacement refurbished one since mine is still covered. However, since I'm not in the US it has complicated the situation dramatically and it's been something of a nightmare... I'll leave that story for another article.



  • Donut - I love this thing. I wish I'd discovered it years ago. It takes up only slightly more space in my pack than a hardshell case for earbud headphones, but it's universal and allows me to plug in seven devices simultaneously! (Five using regular plugs, two using USB ports). I can't recommend it enough to anyone who will be traveling abroad.


  • Mount - This has been incredibly useful the times we've rented a car. If it has downsides, it's that the air vents on the car rentals aren't always conveniently placed, and also that bumpy, potholed roads can cause the phone to fall off the mount. However, given the compactness of this mount compared to alternatives, it's hard to justify anything else for this kind of travel. Also, don't forget to bring a car charger! (Don't worry, we brought one, but I didn't feel like making yet another entry for it as it's technically part of Mollie's kit anyways).


  • Grinder - I really miss my automatic grinder, and I'm reminded of why I switched to automatic in the first place. Hand grinding your coffee is a pain. However, this grinder is compact, fits beautifully in the Aeropress, and has produced some fantastic results. However, if you're shopping for a hand grinder for non-travel use, I recommend getting a larger one that's easier to hold while grinding.


  • Cafflano - The Cafflano was intelligently designed, and I thought it was a cool product. However, ultimately I got frustrated with some inconsistency in brewing, as well as the cleanup time. It's hard to complain too much, as the Cafflano is really only four components, and cleaning was actually reasonably quick; but compared to the Aeropress' almost instant cleanup time, it felt like an annoying chore. Ultimately, I figured that despite the wide brim on the Aeropress, the ability to store the grinder in it, get a more consistent brew, and quicker/easier cleanup was worth it. I had my parents bring me an Aeropress and I sent the Cafflano back home.



  • Aeropress - I've been using an Aeropress on and off for years. There's not much new to say about it. It's highly consistent, easy to clean, and easy to use. It takes up about as much space in my bag as my sunglasses case. I really should have just started off with an Aeropress and called it a day.


  • Scale - This little scale has been great. It's fairly accurate and pretty quick. There's no built-in timer, but we can't have everything. It's smaller than you think, and makes for far more consistent and measured coffee brewing. It should be part of everyone's coffee travel kit.


  • Yoga Mat - We've been getting pretty good use out of our yoga mats, and I'm quite happy we opted to get them. They attach to the outside of our bags without too much fuss, so we're not losing a bunch of space to them. Also, they're incredibly sticky, and work well for P90X Yoga. It would be nice if they were a bit more padded, but then they'd be worse for travel, so the tradeoff is worth it.

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See also