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Need advice with clothing & gear for Costa Rica Osa Penninsula
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Jacob Blumenfeld
(surfingdwedge) - F

Locale: Northern California
Need advice with clothing & gear for Costa Rica Osa Penninsula on 12/13/2011 13:04:28 MST Print View

First of all, this will be my second time to Costa Rica, so I know what to expect as far as weather, bugs and terrain, however last time I went I was a kid and did not do any kind of overnight trips.

Ill be staying at Osa Mountain Village resort, and will be doing mostly day hikes but will have the opportunity to do some overnights as well.

My questions to the folks at bpl:

-Clothing & socks? cotton vs synthetic vs wool or other... really have no idea what material is best for hot humid rainy environments. Poncho vs rainsuit? We will be on maintained trails.

-Shelter? tent or hammock (I'm leaning towards hammock because it would keep me off the ground away from bugs etc, but I already have a hexamid plus and do not wish to dish out any more $$ if I can avoid it.)

And lastly, footwear. I have some breathable innov8 flyrocs that I currently use for Hikes in the sierras and socal mountains. I figure in a wet environment, It would be better to have breathable and quick drying shoes opposed to gortex WP boots. Should I stick with this footwear?

Also, As far as the rest of my camping/backpacking setup goes, I figure it would remain the same in the rain forest >>> i.e. cookware, first aid, hygiene.

Thanks! Any tips or input, especially on clothing, would be greatly appreciated!

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Clothing ideas. on 12/13/2011 13:22:41 MST Print View

We BPed the Osa Peninsula 15 years ago and it went pretty well. My short answer on clothing would be: it should dry as you wear it.

So that's nylon, polypro, polyester, etc. Wool is marginal, cotton is ruled out. The fewer cotton things we had never really dried out and were dang musty 4 days later. The less you bring the better. Anything that stays in your pack is going to get musty. Anything you wear every day gets rained on, wet in the stream crossings, aired out, and gets a little sunshine. I rationalize the single outfit with, "No one we meet saw us yesterday. And my traveling companion is stuck with me."

We were self-supported for camping but stopped by some of those fixed camps and bought their chicken-beans-rice dinner a few nights (hot and cheap and easy) and then pitched our tent at the far end of their field.

If I was planning a longer trip, I'd consider getting to the beach mid trip - with the sun and the breeze there, you could actually get your clothes dry again. The other approach is to wear your outfit into the many stream crossing, scrub a little and then drip-dry as you hike. But just accept that you're going to kind of muddy the whole time.

We flew in and out and stayed in a B&B near the little airstrip. That way we could leave a set of clean clothes for the trip back to San Jose. Also, ask around for laundry services to get your stuff clean and dry again. Cotton, nylon and polyester - they can't ruin. Wool and polypro and goretex - maybe do those by hand yourself in a sink.

Coming from Seattle that year the heat, humidity and exertion kicked my butt the first day of BPing. We've since learned to do 1-2 days of acclimitization in town to let our bodies adjust before hitting the trail hard.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Need advice with clothing & gear for Costa Rica Osa Penninsula on 12/13/2011 13:36:12 MST Print View

Osa is unreal. One of the coolest areas in CA. Had the opportunity to spend a week there while working in Costa Rica a few years ago. I'd stick with the shoes you have. Clothing wise in the tropics I like the thinnest synthetic stuff I can find. As far as rainwear...not really an easy answer. It's warm enough that WPB is really uncomfortable and you'll be soaked from the inside anyway. When it rains, it pours and it's almost not really worth trying to stay dry. Might be better off with an umbrella.

I'd definitely want some kind of enclosed shelter. When I was there there we saw TONS of these guys:

I almost always sleep shelterless in the desert and snakes and creepy crawlies don't phase me but the number of fer-de-lances I saw on the Osa (and I spent quite a bit of time in other parks in central and south america) was pretty creepy.

Forget ULness and take some good binoculars.

Jacob Blumenfeld
(surfingdwedge) - F

Locale: Northern California
Thanks on 12/13/2011 14:17:24 MST Print View

Thanks for the info on clothing guys. I've read some articles advising the use of cotton because of its ability to keep you cool, but I was very skeptical because of how slowly it would dry. Your advice has reaffirmed my thoughts.

I usually wear shorts in the socal/sierra mountains, would longer pants be recommend for the rain forest?

I actually don't really mind being wet as long as I'm warm and can get dry at some point. Would want to have dry socks to change into though.


I agree with the enclosed shelter. Last time I was there I saw numerous large bugs, lizards, poison dart frogs, and a few coral snakes on the rain forest floor during the day. What kind of snake is the one pictured?

The umbrella sounds like a great idea, will probably go with that option. Any umbrellas that easily clip or attach to a backpack?

Edited by surfingdwedge on 12/13/2011 14:24:45 MST.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Fer de lance on 12/13/2011 14:39:00 MST Print View

Fer-de-lances are one of the types of pit vipers found in central and south american, hunts at night, camouflaged during the day, though most visitors will never see one (as the article below suggests). Best description is towards the bottom of the first page and top of the second on this NG webpage. Bad bite which can be fatal but can be treated.

Edited by hknewman on 12/13/2011 14:40:59 MST.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Thanks on 12/13/2011 14:45:16 MST Print View

Another recommendation: take a good light and do some night hiking, even if it's just walking around your camp. Go slow and look carefully and you will see crazy stuff.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Need advice with clothing & gear for Costa Rica Osa Penninsula on 12/14/2011 20:50:12 MST Print View

Cotton is good in one environment only, deserts (evap cooling works well). So you're pretty much left with all synthetics. Wool will keep you warm when wet (debatable how useful that'll be in the Osa) and keep you smelling better as whole, but won't dry out in the humidity of the jungle.

I would say skip the rain gear, a poncho at most. The humidity alone will soak you, so the rain itself is actually refreshing. Just have a hat to keep drops out of your eyes.

As for shelter, just make sure whatever you have has a good insect netting that is suspended above your skin. Kissing/Wheel Bugs spread chagas disease (uncurable) and bite at night. They're big enough to bite through netting if it's just resting on your skin. Not a huge worry, just something to be aware of.

The fer-de-lance, aka bushmaster, is also no joke. They tend to be bad tempered, but they also sometimes smell bad; a kind of musky dog crap smell will give them away.

Those few worries aside, I'm jealous. I've spent a great amount of time all along the Pacific Coast and mountains of CR as a kid and always wanted to see the Peninsula, but my family was never outdoorsy enough to brave the trip to the Osa (Highway 245 wasn't built back then).

Have a blast while down there!

EDIT: Ugh, p00p is profane but crap isn't?

Edited by upalachango on 12/14/2011 20:50:52 MST.

j lan
(justaddfuel) - F

Locale: MN
Re: Need advice with clothing & gear for Costa Rica Osa Penninsula on 12/15/2011 08:52:04 MST Print View

Love the OSA. I have spent about a week there and about 7 months on the other coast of costa rica (gandoaca) which is very similar. I would bring a rain jacket just for warmth purposes. Even though it is warm, the rain can still chill you and you know that your rain gear will dry quickly.

I wore long pants pretty exclusively in the jungle because of bamboo thorns, prickly poision tipped trees, etc. I wore them with poly soccer socks that came up to the knees with rubber boots over them. This provides some protection against snakes as 90% of the time they bite the ankles. I did step on a fer-de-lance and had the opportunity to see eyelash pit vipers, coral snakes, hog nosed pit vipers and lots of other venomous creatures.

Cotton will rot/mildew/mold/stank. I wore breathable poly shirts which worked alright. Bring some bandanas.

I would go hammock, hammocks are just perfect for these environments. Just don't forget to bring some HUGE tree straps.

Have fun! Be awesome!


Kevin S
(ksmith818) - F
Need advice with clothing & gear for Costa Rica Osa Penninsula on 12/20/2011 21:44:04 MST Print View

This may be pretty obvious, but don't leave any food in your shelter. I had a bit of bread in mine, and when I came back from a hike there were two dime size holes in my tent with a trail of ants entering one and exiting the other!