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Alessandra Bisi

Locale: Playa del Carmen, QR, Mexico
HELP HELP HELP!!! on 03/03/2014 19:55:50 MST Print View

Hi All,

I have just subscribed to this website and I feel like Father Xmas on ecstasy (not that I really know how it would feel like...)! I hope it'll keep up to my expectations! :-)

So I am totally new and, therefore, completely ignorant to backpacking, but I'll be budget travelling throughout the whole of Central and South America for the next year and a half or so and I have got most of my gear still missing. I hope you guys can help me out a bit!

I have got a 50L pack and I still need:

•Light and compact, portable, small, good quality sound travel speakers (waterproof, bluetooth and with expandable base-hamburger, foldable style-possibly rubberized).

•External Hard Drive (the smallest, most compact/packable, lightest weight on the market, literally!-capacity still to be defined; to store 1 and 1/2 year datas/pictures).

•Best backpacking's long sleeved shirt on market (with sleeves that can be rolled up and fastened, loose and lightweight & in light colour).

•Iodine tablets with taste remover or water taste neutralizing crystals.

•RETRACTILE cable or wire lock with sturdy combination lock and built-in alarm (2.5m long!).

•Warmest Insulated Beanie hat on the market(fleece or wool with extra whole head lining).

•The thinnest, lightest weight (micro) fleece jacket (full-zip) on the market! (suitable for backpacking - best for layering or as a stand alone piece, light colour ).

•Best Mid-weight fleece for backpacking on market.

•Thickest, heaviest weight, warmest hooded fleece jacket on the market (suitable for backpacking - Best for layering or as a stand alone piece, light colour; may be blue or brown also).

•Best backpacking's short sleeved buttoned up shirt on market – loose and lightweight (light colour).

•Best backpacking's thin and short Coolmax socks or with a silver fibre (antimicrobial) weaved into the foot area on market.

•Warmest down jacket on market with some degree of packability.

•Trousers (convertible into Capri-light colour).

.The lightest weight, most compact 1 or 2 person tent (less than 1.3kg!) on the market, may be that you can at least fit in whilst sitting up, that costs less than 100$ (I'm 6.1ft!)

•The Lightest weigth, most compact, but warmest 4 seasons sleeping bag on the market, that costs less than 100$.

•The Best (Lightest weight, most compact, simplest, but most versatile) heating element on the market. I have considered the Jetboil as a good option, although I'm undecided between the SOL TI PREMIUM and THE SOL ADVANCED...opinions?
Whats the difference between the two? And what can I do with one that I can't do with the other? Would just the Sol Ti suffice? What are the needs that I might have as a backpacker that would require me the SOL TI Advanced and that I can not comply with just the SOL TI PREMIUM?

I hope I havent' asked for the stars to be brought here to be touched and things like that.

Thanks so much!
You guys are amazing!


Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Help Help Help on 03/03/2014 20:31:46 MST Print View

You've got quit a shopping list there.

First question, are you backpacking (i.e. hiking with a pack) or are you just living out of a pack?

Here are my thoughts on some of your list, some of it I just have no idea about.

External Hard Drive - Good idea to have something like this but personally I'd try to upload pictures occasionally. That way if you lose the hard drive you don't lose everything. You could also back up a few of your best pics on a camera card.

I have a North Face backpacking shirt and a Buzz Off shirt that supposedly repells bugs. They are both nice because they are relatively light so I can wear them when its warm and buggy. Honestly I would not spend a lot of money here. Just something of nylon from a reputable company so it won't fall apart.

For water treatment there are several options. A steri pen is good because it kills virus and treats water quickly. It is less effective with dirty or murky water. Aquamira is better then Iodine but takes up to four hours to kill all viruses. In the US viruses are not a concern so we use it after 15-30 minutes. That should be long enough to kill the bacteria. A final option would be a Sawyer Squeeze filter. I don't believe it filters out virus but I could be wrong on that.

As far as the clothes go I don't know what is best. Fleece comes in weights (100, 200, 300). That should give you some idea of the products warmth. I wouldn't spend a lot on a fleece. The difference between an expensive one and one at Wal Mart isn't that great.

Lots of good socks on the market. You'll probably wear some out so think about how you'll replace them. Darn Tough socks seem to last longer. Synthetic generally will last a bit longer then wool too.

I think you need to reconsider your tent ideas a bit. A tent you can stand up in will be way heavy and bulky, not something you want. Also $100 is pretty cheap for a tent. My best suggestion would be the Six Moons' Designs Scout. Its $125 and just over 2 pounds. Its not really a four season tent but if you are new to backpacking I'm not sure you need a four season tent. Usually they are for snow camping, mountaineering and things like that.

When I hear "four season" sleeping bag I'm assuming you mean something like a 0 degree bag. A "light" 0 degree bag would be about 3.5 pounds and cost a lot more then $100. A cheaper bag would be more like 4-5 pounds. How cold will it be? It you can avoid winter camping in the Andes you might be able to get by with something a lot lighter and cheaper. Generally lightish sleeping bags are $150 or more. Sometimes they are a LOT more but you can find deals.

I'd suggest getting Andrew Skurka's book "The Ultimate Hikers' Gear Guide." I'd read that cover to cover. Then I'd make a list of what conditions you expect to encounter. Then you'll know what kind of gear you really need.

That is the best I can think of right now. We could help more if we had more specifics of what you'll be facing.

Oh there was an article here a while back by a couple that did a 2 year travel the world honeymoon together. They spent a good deal of there time in South America. Might want to check out their article. I think it was "Two Year Test" or something like that.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
HELP HELP HELP!!! on 03/03/2014 20:41:43 MST Print View

Sounds like you are talking about the hostel to hostel type backpacking whilst here we discuss what you may call hill walking,tramping or bushwalking depending on your location.
Like Luke I am bringing this up to avoid comments about hard drives/speakers and heating elements...

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: HELP HELP HELP!!! on 03/03/2014 20:58:46 MST Print View

Most of what you are asking for can be fitted into one of two categories: 'dream on', or 'we don't carry that sort of stuff'.

'Best XYZ' is usually a matter of personal opinion and no such beast really exists. But people can spend days arguing about it.

Iodine tablets - the only real brand is Coghlans, and I would recommend instead you look at a Steripen Opti Adventurer.

Quality tent and sleeping bag uder $100 - dream on. If that's your budget, try Walmart.

Stove: I would NOT recommend the Jetboil. Too heavy, too expensive, and some of the pots are prone to failure. Try an FMS-116T or FMS-300 stove off eBay, and a grease pot.


David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
Re: HELP HELP HELP!!! on 03/03/2014 21:26:00 MST Print View

Hi Alexandra,
Very good input so far. I'll just add:

>If you go cheap (i.e., heavy and bulky) on your sleeping bag, and are carrying a lot of warm clothes, you may find it hard to fit everything in a 50L pack.
>Hard to beat the SMD Skyscape Scout for weight and price, even if you don't use trekking poles and need the added weight and expense of dedicated poles.
>Do you have a sleeping pad? You'll need one for sleeping in a tent (as opposed to a hostel)--not just for comfort, but for insulation from the ground. Colder weather will require a thicker/warmer pad.
>A few shakedown trips to test your gear/introduce you to backpacking might be good before your big adventure.

Best of luck.

edited to add: both the Fire Maple FMS 300T and Stanco Grease Pot (Roger's suggestion above) are available on Amazon's US site. Total for both: less than $40.

Edited by DavidDrake on 03/03/2014 21:31:01 MST.

Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: HELP HELP HELP!!! on 03/03/2014 21:31:48 MST Print View

First off, Welcome to BPL!

It sounds like what you need more than name brands and retail recommendations is a little self education.

The first link on the Community page (where all these forum categories are listed) is called "Reader Gear Reviews". It's all broken down into catagories like, tents, stoves, sleeping gear, insulated clothing, etc. Start reading a lot of reviews and do some homework.

A lot of experience and expertise can be found there, along with most of the answers to your questions. Once your gear choices get a little more narrowed down, then start asking more specific questions from these guys.

I'm new here too, but these guys are pretty great from what I've seen. They love answering questions and debating over specifics, but simply asking for a laundry list of the lightest and best gear to stuff in a bag probably isn't the best approach.

Learn your options, research the reviews, use the search feature to find existing threads, and start breaking down your list into more manageable categories. Half the fun of the adventure is in the planning and gear acquisition, so slow down and enjoy the process :)

Alessandra Bisi

Locale: Playa del Carmen, QR, Mexico
Re: HELP HELP HELP on 03/03/2014 22:31:17 MST Print View

Thanks to you all! You are very much wise and right.

I won't be doing hostel to hostel, as I'll be mostly camping. And I have already read extensively this website: and the Rough Guide to first time Latin America. file:///C:/Users/admin/Downloads/Guide_First-Time_Latin_America.pdf

I'll also probably be hiking, just nothing too planned (or too serious I think, but you never know, I'm opened to anything and to all sorts of life changing experiences!)

I feel I have done tonnes of researches already (at least a few months), but there are so many products and options, that it has become more of a stressfull and confusing process, rather than an enjoyable and nurishing one (reason why I asked you guys; also cause I'm a bit too anal about things I guess). I just have no idea anymore...

Latin America is famous for its extremes of temperatures, from the high Andes to sizzling Carribean beaches. In the Andean highlands or Patagonia in winter, for example, I'll be facing temperatures that can fall well below freezing, without indoor heating systems, but, conversely, in a city like Manaus, in Amazonian Brasil, it'll be too hot to move by 10.30 in the morning...

The things I'm concerned the most on that list are:

-The tent: (I want to be able to sit in it, not to stand!); may be I'll spend 150$ on it. There are soo many options, that it's giving me a headache.

-The Sleeping Bag: (for 4 season, I meant good for winter, summer, autumn and spring! :) ) Here again, too many options. I can spend the 150$ on this one too, just not more.

-Heating element: (cause I just don't have a clue!)

•External Hard Drive (cause I don't know which one is the smallest-most compact on the market and what memeory size I'll need for a year and a half of travelling!)

•Iodine tablets (cause I can't find any with taste remover incorporated). I already own a Vapur Microfilter water bottle (which has a built-in filter, who filters and sterilize water), which goes flat when not in use, but these are just in case!

-Cable lock (cause I can't find any, which is retractile, but also long and has got an alarm and a combination lock!)

-Socks (cause I can't find any silver fibre socks, which are thin and short!) or I don't know which Coolmax Brands to trust also.

-Down jacket (cause I have no idea which one would be a decent, warm down jacket, which is also somewhat packable, but may be I should purchase this only once I hit the Andes...?)

With gratitude,

P.S. I'll be probably more living out of my pack, although I'll have to carry it.
I do have a sleeping mat (Klymit Inertia X-Light)

Edited by AlexBambifluff on 03/03/2014 22:49:50 MST.

Alessandra Bisi

Locale: Playa del Carmen, QR, Mexico
In addition on 03/03/2014 22:59:53 MST Print View

Does the SMD Skyscape Scout comes with the poles or do I need to buy them separately?

Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: In addition on 03/03/2014 23:06:43 MST Print View

Poles are separate. Most of the designs you'll read about here are made to utilize your trekking poles as the pole supports.

As far as a cooking stove, I haven't traveled outside of The US, but I would look into fuel availability before determining what kind of stove setup to use.

For an external HDD, I'd probably just use flash drives and buy more as they fill up, or upload to cloud storage.

Alessandra Bisi

Locale: Playa del Carmen, QR, Mexico
Re: HELP HELP HELP on 03/03/2014 23:59:25 MST Print View

What do you mean for fuel availability?

I definitely won't be taking hiking poles with me, so it'd have to be a tent which comes with poles! I don't understand weather the Scout comes with poles, but you guys removed them in order to use your hiking ones or if it doesn't come with them at all!

I can higher my budget slightly with regards to tent/sleeping bag, but I just wouldn't want to spent too much on them, cause if they get lost or stolen or ruined, then I'll be screwed!But may be I should spend a lot of money on them, since they'll be my main sleeping resources...mmm...

May be the lightest weight/most compact/4 seasons sleeping bags and tents, which are also the cheapest on the market would work. As in the best weight/size/warmth/price ratio...

Nick Smolinske
(Smo) - F

Locale: Rogue Panda Designs
Removable hard drive on 03/04/2014 00:16:02 MST Print View

SD cards are real cheap these days. 10 or 20 of them would weigh a fraction of any external hard drive and still hold thousands of pictures. Just mail 'em home as you go for an off-site backup. Maybe carry a big thumbdrive around for an on-site backup, but I wouldn't bother myself.

Speaking of a thumbdrive, Portable Apps are a great way to make internet cafes more useful, especially if you want to edit photos.

Edited by Smo on 03/04/2014 00:16:33 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: HELP HELP HELP on 03/04/2014 00:56:16 MST Print View

"What do you mean for fuel availability?"

What types of stove fuel are available where you are going?

With very few exceptions, you can't take any fuel on air flights. Therefore, you have to purchase fuel in each place you go. Therefore, you must have a stove that can use the fuels that are available. There are a few stoves that can burn more than one type, but most burn only a single type. I suppose that it might be possible to carry more than one stove so that you can straddle the fuel availability problem.

Not only do you need to know which fuels are available, but you need to know the name for those fuels in the native language, like Spanish or Portugese.


Alessandra Bisi

Locale: Playa del Carmen, QR, Mexico
Re help help help on 03/04/2014 01:09:33 MST Print View

Oh God!! :-/ What about a multi-fuel stove?
My camera's memory card can only hold 2GB, so I'd need like 100 of them!
There are very portable and lightweight hard-drive nowadays, literally I have seen some smaller than my passport! :)

Jeremy and Angela
(requiem) - F

Locale: Northern California
Sleeping systems on 03/04/2014 01:27:21 MST Print View

I'll second the recommendation for Skurka's book. It's very concise and should help you answer nearly all of your questions.

Below certain temperatures you need to have a very-insulating sleeping pad under you; you can have a -18C bag in -5C temperatures and still be cold if your pad is too thin. This is likely to cause the most potential trouble for your budget, as some are not particularly cheap. Cheapest option might be a basic blue foam pad, and perhaps an egg-crate style like the therm-a-rest models. (Total: about $50 for the pair.) Edit: I see you have the Klymit; I'd probably still recommend a foam pad under it.

Avoiding the coldest temperatures will be best; a decent -18C down bag will still take up a decent amount of space and cost in the $400-$600 range new. If you can adjust your itinerary to avoid places when they get below 0 or -5C, you will have a much easier time, as gear for extreme cold can get very bulky, very quickly. Locating a secondhand quilt or bag on forums (here, mountainproject, summitpost, etc.) will probably be needed to stay close to your budget. I suspect you will end up with a synthetic rather than down bag; this may be a good idea if you expect to encounter wet conditions for extended periods.

I'm going to make a suggestion here that some may not agree with, but it should provide a starting point for people to make alternate suggestions:
Women's Lamina 20, $94 from Mountain Hardwear

Why: It fits your budget. It's good to around freezing EN ratings (2C/-3C). If you're a cold sleeper you may need something more. For $174 you can get their Phantom 32, the equivalent down bag, which is slightly under half the weight.

Edited by requiem on 03/04/2014 02:01:03 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re help help help on 03/04/2014 01:34:09 MST Print View

"What about a multi-fuel stove?"

So, what is the fuel availability where you are going?

"My camera's memory card can only hold 2GB, so I'd need like 100 of them!"

Many old cameras can accept memory cards up to only 2GB. Newer cameras can accept memory cards that go much higher. I use a camera that accepts CF cards, and I have some that are 64GB each and about one square inch each.


michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
list on 03/04/2014 02:03:01 MST Print View

For a tent look at the scout or trekker from SMD. Fork over about 250 or 300 for a quilt from enlightened

Please, just buy right the first time in regards to this important piece. You may not use your tent everyday, maybe not a headlamp. But you will use your quilt every night.

Get a good quilt right now. It will lighten your pack up.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: HELP HELP HELP on 03/04/2014 03:40:44 MST Print View

You won't find one SB suited to all 4 seasons. It will either be too hot or too cold - or both.

Without a good warm mat you will be very cold, regardless.

The Vapur may filter out some bacteria and protozoa, but it won't stop ANY viruses. And viruses can nearly kill you.


Alessandra Bisi

Locale: Playa del Carmen, QR, Mexico
help help help on 03/04/2014 08:46:11 MST Print View

As I said, I am happy to spend more on tent+sleeping bag, but I'm looking for the best WEIGHT/SIZE/WARMTH for PRICE ratio...would you guys have any suggestions on this (tent WITH poles!)? :)

I can't find anything on fuel availability in Latin America, but may be I'm looking for the wrong info...

Also, if I have got the Vapur Microfilter, what else should I bring to kill viruses then?
Neither Aquamira nor Sawyer Squeeze filter kill viruses...

Edited by AlexBambifluff on 03/04/2014 09:34:08 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: help help help on 03/04/2014 10:05:43 MST Print View

"Also, if I have got the Vapur Microfilter, what else should I bring to kill viruses then?"

Fundamentally, there are only a few basic methods for making your water safe. The old fashioned way is to boil your water. That works for just about everything, but it uses a lot of stove fuel, and you already have a fuel availability problem.

You can filter the water. Different filters work to different degrees. It is tough to find a filter fine enough to filter everything unless it runs slowly.

You can kill organisms in the water by strong UV light.

You can kill organisms in the water by chemicals. The two leading methods there are by chlorine, by chlorine dioxide, or by iodine. There are other chemical treatments as well, but they belong in a public water system with instruments.

A few travelers will claim that they will just drink the water without treatment. I don't recommend that at all.


Jeremy and Angela
(requiem) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: help help help on 03/04/2014 11:00:46 MST Print View

Regarding fuel:
Areas popular for trekking or climbing are likely to have fuel canisters (butane/isobutane) that the Jetboil and Fire Maple stoves use. I prefer canister stoves as they are much lighter and cleaner compared to liquid fuel stoves.

Truly remote areas may call for a multi-fuel stove; the Primus Omnifuel or Whisperlite Universal come to mind (they may have been replaced with newer versions). Those can run on white gas, kerosene, petrol or canisters, but are heavier/messier. (From a cost standpoint liquid fuels will probably be cheaper than canisters.)

Fuel availability will really depend on country/region. (Alcohol/esbit stoves might also be an option, but I'm hesitant to recommend them for your purpose.)