Hi Scott - thanks for the comments and questions. Hopefully my answers are helpful. I'm sure some other readers can chime in with their own advice.
>>Great articles. You guys are doing a valuable service, a big thanks.
We are just happy that BPL has given us this opportunity to write about our adventures. It is very heartening to see how well the BPL community has received the articles.
>>Your travels are right up my alley insofar as what "I'd like to do" in the near future. It's a bonus that I inadvertently have some of the same gear you guys are using: Tarptent DB, Golite Jam 2, REI adventure pants Montbell Pillow and have the same concerns about versatile clothes.
>>So have you ditched the inflatable pad and gone with just a CCF pad?
A foam pad is great for simplicity, cost, weight, and durability. We weren't so concerned about comfort as much as size, and that's why we went with the inflatable pads. Our mistake was not in the pads, but rather in not having a good ground protection. If we were to do this over again, I think we'd still bring the same pads, but have a tyvec (not sil-nylon) ground cloth. We made this change for the second half of our journey (to be published in BPL very soon), and have been very happy with our decision.
>>I like the REI Adventure Pants (they look good) but did you find them a little too thick for summer hiking (fading and lint are problematic too)?
I liked the hidden pockets on the REI Adventure Pants. However, they are too baggy for me, and too thick, as you pointed out. I have since switched to a pair of lighter Patagonia pants (don't know the name off-hand), which I am extremely happy with as the fit is great, they are quicker to dry, and they weigh less. If you plan on wearing one pair of pants every day for months (or years!) on end, then make sure you love them.
>>I'm thinking/looking for zip off pants that fit the bill but not much success. The new Mountain Hardwear Mesa convertibles (w/its canyon cloth) are close, maybe Prana, but may have to admit that zip-offs don't look that good ever.
Agreed. I have drifted away from the utilitarian zip off pants for traveling, to the thin pair of synthetic "slacks" and a pair of running shorts. The pants are light enough for hiking and look normal in urban environments. The shorts are also good for hiking, running (of course) and swimming.
>>Your Panasonic DMC-TS1 takes great photos. So it has an excellent battery life? Does it have a built in panoramic feature? I have the Pentax waterproof version but I think the photo quality on the Panasonic is better and it has a much better battery life.
The TS1 has a very long battery life. I regularly take 500+ shots on one battery. I bought a second battery, which has proved useful but isn't usually necessary. Panasonic has since come out with a second generation version, and maybe even a third.
>>I was looking at a High Gear Altimeter watch as well, solely for its ability to be a navigational aide. Looks like you've confirmed it's something that I "need".
The watch won't be so necessary in flat places like Uruguay and Brazil, but when you get to hiking between 3000-5000 meters in elevation, it is an extremely useful tool! I find that my watch works just as well as the 2-3x pricier Suunto ones.
>>How do you deal with shoe stink, especially after a downpour and then getting onto public transportation? I was only gone 2 weeks and broke down and bought shoe powder in Chile. Or maybe it's just a personal problem.
No, I had issues too. I wasn't always able to keep it at bay. But, I have found a few things that help. I wore highly breathable trail runners. I had very thin, synthetic and wool cycling socks that I washed every night. When hiking, I took off my socks and shoes at lunch to let them air out and dry out. I wore flip flops or crocs as often as possible when not hiking. At times, I also used an anti-fungal cream twice a day.
Keep up the good work.