A technical post for any interested fellow travelers. 🙂
Going home gave me the chance to switch out/augment some of my travel gear; the rainy season in Laos is affording us the opportunity to test some of our stuff’s durabilty/imperviousness. Here are some notes/reviews.
Roman and I both bought the Osprey Waypoint 65 for the trip. It comes with a large, main pack and a smaller day bag that can strap on tot he back of the larger pack.
So far I am satisfied with the large pack, but I’d been getting frustrated with the day bag. It’s ability to attach to the large pack necessitates some compromises in terms of access and space. It’s a function I’ve never used – the one time I tried it I felt like I about to teeter over at any moment because of how it skewed my center of gravity. I’m traveling with a camera, and once the camera bag is in the day pack, there’s basically no room left for anything else.
So when I was home, I ditched the day bag and picked up a new back pack – Eastern Mountain Sports’ 20 liter Fen (women’s), and I’m really happy with it. It fits tons more than the Osprey day bag and is really comfortable. (Although it is definitely a women’s pack – Roman finds it much less comfortable.) It also did a decent job staying mostly dry during the rainiest sections of our bike trip – although I’d recommend putting anything you really want to keep dry in plastic.
I’ve also ditched my Naot sandals. As light weight and comfortable as they were, I could never adjust the velcro strap as tightly as I would have liked and I came too close to twisting an ankle too many times – they had to go. They’ve been replaced by my cheap as chips H&M flip flops. Less arch support, sure, but boy are they portable. 🙂
Still loving my Merrell Moab Ventilator sneakers, although even they were no match to the weather we encountered on the road trip. They are currently caked in mud and drying out in the low-land sun in Pakse; we’ll see how well they recover!
Our mud-splattered bike, shoes and legs after one of the more slippery patches of road. Will our shoes ever be the same again? 😉
We shouldn’t encounter too much cold weather any time soon, so I got rid of my layering leggings and a couple of other items of clothing. My bottoms currently consist of my original Eastern Mountain Sport Compass Pants (still love ‘em. They got totally soaked as well during the bike trip and dried out most times even as we were still on the bike), a second pair of EMS brand capri pants (also really good!), the lovely orange and brown sarong I bought in Thailand and a pair of shorts for when I can get away with them (in some cities and tourist spots I feel comfortable bearing knees. :-)).
The advent of the rainy season means I finally have a chance to use the fancy pants rain jacket I’ve been carrying around for months. It was one of the more expensive items I invested in for the trip so I’m glad it’s getting put to use! It’s a Mountain Hard Wear Typhoon Jacket (which I affectionally call the froggy), and I’m pretty well pleased with its performance. It’s the only reason there were still some dry patches left on my body after biking through the rain on the Bolaven Plateau – no small feat considering the amount of water we were up against! Although if you own one please note that the pockets must be fully zipped or else they will leak if you are driving into the rain as we were. I zipped but didn’t double check the first time and ended up with a wet belly as a result. It also does a good job as a wind breaker if, for example, you’re biking in cooler temperatures.
I won’t go into detail, but another bit of gear I can recommend to women travelers is the Diva Cup. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s a Godsend for long-haul flights, endless bus journeys with minimal stops and situations where you have to deal with questionable bathroom situations. 🙂 Also good for the environment!