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Stuff we are carrying around the world

I take great pleasure in sorting things. It makes me giddy to coordinate, fine-tune, systemize and allocate stuff. I like put things in boxes, bags and shelves. My favorite, most meditative pastime is to find a disorganized tool kit that I can sort out again. I also like fiddle with the gear that I’m sorting. Gadgetry makes me giddy.

Welcome to the first "Academic Hiker/Traveler"-lesson

When we were having our rest stop in Sydney after traveling around the south of Australia for a month, I decided to organize all of our gear and take categorized photos of them. Oh, what a wonderful afternoon it was! I was inspired to show everyone our portable home after meeting so many people who stared at our backpacks in utter awe and contemplated my awesome packing skills. I just might be a level Asian organizing wizard.

Not everything you see here has been with us from the beginning. For example for the first 3 months of our trip we had some climbing gear with us that we traded in for hiking gear later on. Some items we found totally useless early on our trip and got rid of them. Some of the stuff we broke or lost and had to either replace or live without. It was a nice challenge to try to find gear that would allow us to travel in different climates without too much bulk. I did this by following two simple rules:

1. Not completely sure if you’ll need it? Don’t take it.

2. Try to only take gear that you can use for multiple purposes.

Wagner: Packing up is a real pain in the ass. How can you know what to pack before you are there? I might need a saw or an crowbar! Viivi: I'm *quite* sure that we wont need a blender. Wagner: You think?

Four months into our trip I can say that all the time I invested in researching this stuff has really started to pay dividends. I’ve been incredibly satisfied with 98% of everything we took with us and we have both been constantly noticing how little we are carrying with us without having to sacrifice comfort. So, without further ado here is our RTW 2012 gear list:


Please hover over the images to see more detailed information and links.

This is all of our clothing. All of it. We were literally wearing just our sarongs to take this picture. Before leaving for our travels we tried to choose clothing that would let us travel in various climates. The smartest way is to layer as much as possible. We are carrying a pretty nice base/middle/insulation/waterproof layering system.

We started from Asia and at first I was sure that we were hauling our down jackets with us for the first 3 months without any use. Boy was I wrong. Not only did we need our down jackets immediately during our second week in Thailand (the northern winter mornings can get chilly) but we constantly found ourselves using them as pillows in most guest houses. We just wrapped our sarongs around them and tucked in some other clothing inside for the best pillows one can ask for. Since arriving in Australia we have practically worn our jackets constantly as Australian home-builders apparently don’t know shit about insulating their buildings and heating is almost nonexistent.

Regarding washing our clothes, we’ve never had a problem with it. We have ALWAYS found a place where we could wash our clothes in a proper machine. We have only washed our clothes once by hand in a sink.

For rain gear we have two ponchos we got from my mom before leaving Finland as well as two Gore-Tex PacLite jackets. We are still a bit unsure about what to do with the ponchos. They are awesome for traveling with packs because we don’t need separate pack covers in case of rain. Then again, when it gets really cold, they are not snug enough to use as a layer. Therefore we also bought Gore-Tex jackets to wear on top of our down jackets to keep us warm and cozy. Only time will tell if we should send the ponchos home or not.

In Asia we only needed our FiveFingers and flip flops. But when we got to the Australian winter, we tossed the flops in the bin and bought some trail runners which have been awesome on our hiking trips in Southern Australia. We won’t be needing flip flops again until the last part of our travels in South America. Until then our trail runners and FF’s will do nicely.

Hiking gear

We love our hiking gear. We love it so much I have to say it again: We love our hiking gear. It is super-light and super-tough but unbelievable cozy and comfortable. Our sleeping pads for example are 12cm thick and not only warm to sleep on but also luxurious. Our sleeping quilt is like a million Care Bears hugging your body as you lie underneath. We’ve used it in so many places as well: not only when camping but in most places that we’ve CouchSurfed. I’m going to write a bunch of reviews on most of our hiking gear so stay tuned (update: actually there is a review of the Granite Gear Meridian Vapor pack already)!

Also please read the description of the sarongs. Because they are awesome.

We are still contemplating on buying hiking poles at some point. This might happen when we move towards Canada where the weather will allow even more trips to the wilderness and we will be able to take longer hikes.

We have a few friends to thank for all of our hiking gear. Ari, who kept bringing gear to us in person from the States that we could only order online. Thank you SO much for all the trouble you went through to get the gear to us! Carmen, who was our gear base in Australia when we needed some new gear shipped to us before arrival. And Niina and Eva who also helped us get our gear to Finland and Australia. You all have often been in our thoughts when we’ve snuggled under our super warm quilt or cooked a delicious trail meals on our Sidewinder!


Every now and then I still find stuff in our Utility-bag that I have forgotten about. This has led me to make a periodic inspection of our small gear to make sure we aren’t carrying anything useless with us. Some of this stuff is completely traveler-specific. For example, I had to take a year’s worth of thyroid medication with me and not everyone is geeky enough to carry a laptop each for the entire year. In this pile there is also some gear that I absolutely hate. One example that frustrates me is the number of chargers, cords and adapters that we have to haul around the world to power-up our devices. I bet we would already have achieved world peace if only we’d had unified plugs and connectors from the start. I don’t like that for our camera and phone we have to carry two more cords than we would otherwise need and of course carrying 6 months’ worth of contact lenses sometimes annoys me. But I know that is just my OCD speaking.


Lets have a closer look at our Utility-bag. This is the bag with stuff that we don’t need often but what we still need to have with us.


Only the essentials. The contents of this bag varies a lot depending on the products that are available. But the basic kit is always the same.


For geeky stuff. I hate cords and if I could, I would choose to only have devices that need one cord to charge: either Micro or Mini USB. But unfortunately many devices have, for one reason or another, some proprietary charger or cord. Ugh.

Which gear into which pack?

Items will naturally move from one pack to another depending on the situation. But when we leave from a one city towards another we have a pretty established packing order that we have found most useful.

Meridian Vapor: 50 liters

The pack is around 12kg, give or take a kilo. In this pack we usually carry everything that we don’t need on a daily basis. As you can see, the hiking gear takes most of the space. Without our hiking gear we would actually have easily managed with only two 30-liter packs. Also: Use compression sacks when packing clothes. I guarantee you, it is way more efficient, more practical and faster than stuffing the clothes directly in your pack.

When we go hiking we leave most of our stuff behind and only take the hiking gear plus a few essentials. For that we only use the bigger pack since it holds everything easily and then only one of us needs to carry a pack at any time (and you can take turns :)). When on longer hikes we take the other pack as well for carrying food.

Vapor Day: 32 liters

This pack is around 8kg. The weight depends mostly on whether we are carrying water or food with us. This is the pack we use as a carry-on in airplanes and on day trips around the city.

Stuff all packed up and ready to go

We also have a food bag with us in most places. We didn’t need one in Asia because everything was so cheap but in developed countries we carry our groceries in it from host to host.

What’s best with all this is the fact that neither of the bags are fully stuffed. There is still more room left for potential extra stuff and we don’t have to use violence when packing up.

So far we couldn’t be more happy with our system. We are going to write up an update post when we get back home and see how much we had to modify it along the way. Until that day: pack light! ^___^