Sandy reviews the performance of our gear, two months into our journey.
We can’t believe that it has already been two months since we left on our Trekking the Planet journey. At this milestone we thought it might be interesting to take a look at what gear has made the grade and what has failed, and in some cases, already needed to be replaced.
What has Worked Well
We have been especially happy with our luggage. Our rolling duffels hold our trekking backpack, trekking supplies and clothes. The bags are heavy-duty and the wheels work well. For example, in Tasmania we had to walk about two miles from our overnight ferry to our hotel and the duffels were easy to pull, even weighing about 40 pounds / 18 kilograms each. Our daypacks have been great for carrying our laptops and other critical items.
On our first trek we had the opportunity to use our camping gear for a week in all types of weather. Our mattress pads have been fantastic. These lightweight, inflatable pads are so much better than foam and we slept well in comfort, whether in the hut or in our tent. The sleeping bags performed well. One night it was below 40F / 5C and we were a little cold in the tent, but adding more clothes solved that problem. The tent itself exceeded our expectations. It was easy to put up, provided plenty of room for us and our gear and held up well the night it rained – no leaks!
Our clothes have been great. So far it has been mostly hot, but during the trek we even used the down jackets and long underwear. Our rain jackets have been invaluable.
What has Not Worked Well
Unfortunately we have already had a few ‘malfunctions’ with some of our gear. Darren had a camera case begin to fall apart while we were trekking. We were able to purchase a new one in Hobart, Australia and that has worked well so far.
Darren also had issues with his trekking boats. When we were in American Samoa and hiked to the waterfall we both had to wade through a stream multiple times with our shoes on. It took several days to dry them out and in the process his insoles began to come apart. During the Overland Track, our shoes were continually wet for a week and this made the situation worse. When we arrived back in Sydney we visited the local Kathmandu store (think REI for those in the Western US) and purchased a new set of insoles. Darren is in the process of breaking these in to be ready for our next trek in Laos.
One major malfunction took place the night before the Overland Track. As we were performing our final packing in our hotel room, one of the cloth tote bags that we planned to lash to the front of our packs to hold our food actually tore apart right before our eyes! It was late in the evening, after all the stores had closed, so it took some major creativity to solve this problem. In the end, we devised a way to carry food in a pack-it cube inside a front backpack pocket. This turned out to provide better pack weight distribution so it worked out well in the end.
As we visit our final destinations in Australia we have also been busy replenishing supplies. We have focused on things that are going to be more difficult to find in Asia, such as toothpaste, shampoo and other toiletries. In some cases, we have purchased up to a three-month supply to take us into Europe.
We realize that we will continue to have challenges with gear throughout our journey. At this point in the trip we are very happy with how things have performed to date.