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We bought much of our gear from REI - we love that store.  Many of the items below have (or will have) links directly to purchase on REI.  Clicking through from us helps support our site.  Thanks.


What we took:

  1. Travel Gear
  2. Camping Gear
  3. Tom's Clothes
  4. Louisa's Clothes
  5. Electronics
  6. Other Tips
Note that some of the items linked to below are not the exact ones we took - we approximated with what we could find at REI after we got back.

Travel Gear

Arc'Teryx Bora 95 Internal Frame Backpack
Arc'Teryx Bora 75 - Women's Internal Frame Backpack
Outdoor Products Cordura Duffel - XXL

These internal frame packs were great, and very comfortable. We always seemed to have room in them for whatever we wanted to pack.  We also bought extra large duffels for checking the packs on planes, with a little extra room for poles and other gear. (used first 6 months)

Eagle Creek Switchback (two)

During the second part of the trip we didn't plan to backpack as much, and planned more air travel, so having wheels on the luggage was great.  Tom really enjoyed the shoulder straps for carrying the bag through town.  Louisa used the attached daypack as her daily carrier, while Tom used the CamelBak during the day.

Waist Pack with 2 water bottles

This waistpack was quickly replaced by the Camelback backpack

CamelBak Blowfish

INVALUABLE! We didn't start the year with the Camelback, but it became the most important pack we had.  Every day we would fill it with bottled or purified water, and by late afternoon we were glad we had the full 3 quarts.

Leki Ultralight Trekking Poles
Komperdell Titanal Trekking Poles

We had never used trekking poles before, but found them to be irreplaceable many times, and now use them for almost any hike or snowshoe!

First Need Water Purifier

We tired of buying bottled water. It seemed that we arrived in the hotel room at night with barely enough bottled water to brush our teeth, or would think of it after the stores closed. So, we got a water purifier. Then, we could make purified water whenever we needed!

LED Flashlight - Eternalight

Eternalight was one of the first white LED lights I ever saw - very expensive at the time, but seemed worth it. Now lights like this are everywhere.

Leatherman Wave

This was a groomsman gift to all of Tom's groomsmen, and he got himself one too.  A great all-around tool to have, and the pliers came in handy very frequently

Fix-it Kit

A small ziplock of basic fix-it tools, including some duct tape, super glue, a few safety pins, string, wire, sewing kit, nylon patches, etc.  We found the fix-it kit irreplaceable, and Tom now carries one in his computer bag!

Cocoon Silk Travel Sheet

One for each for us.  We took these around the world for the entire year. Our sleeping bags took up too much space, so we only carried them the first half.

Ear Plugs/Eye shields

Belt loop travel wallet (inside pants) -

Tom wore this daily hanging from his belt hidden inside his pants.   The wallet held our passports and other important documents that we didn't want to risk losing. Safe, and pretty easy to get to.


Definitely need this for travel to mosquito infested areas, but be careful what it touches if it leaks.  This is the reason we had to ditch the two-bottle pack above - the deet ate through the bottom.  We are glad, though - the CamelBak was much better!

Toiletry bag with a hook  

We liked the hook so that the bag could hang in the bathroom.  We took a small suction cup to be able to hang it on any mirror, which worked okay but often fell off.

As for actual toiletries, we kept it to the basics, toothbrushes, deodorant, brush, etc. Louisa basically didn't take any makeup (one tube of mascara).  Tom had a battery-operated razor (see electronics section).


Bring plenty, use it a lot. We made it part of our morning ritual - fill the water bag, put on sunscreen, get ready for the day.

First Aid Kit
First aid basics - band-aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, antihistamine, Sudafed, cough drops, tweezers.  Small bottles of aloe and anti-itch cream came in handy.

We took some prescription drugs given to us by WorldClinic.  The one that really saved us was Cipro, but we did use a couple of other antibiotics and other drugs.  We also found and used Diamox (for altitude sickness), and eye drops for pinkeye.  Small bottles of that disinfectant gel are handy for emergencies when you can't wash hands.  Wash hands frequently!  We think this helped keep us from getting sick more.

Ziplock bags

We mostly used these to pack food, and organize small things like batteries.  They are indispensable, however, if you are going camping.


Tom likes polarized glasses, Louisa liked better looking ones that still blocked 100% of UV rays.  We each started with two pairs.

Camping Gear

We carried camping gear for the first 6 months, and did lots of hiking in Patagonia.  The rest of the trip, we rented gear if we wanted to camp.

Wanderlust Tent

This tent was single-walled and extremely lightweight.  Our version was one of the first two-person tents he made, and the design required 4 poles.  We loved it, although we did see some condensation in rainy weather.

Sierra Zip Stove

Unlimited fuel is a great thing, and this little stove worked like a champ.  The only pain is the pots get so black.

Sleeping Bag - Tom
Sleeping Bag - Louisa

We had some decent synthetic sleeping bags that zipped together, but we found they were warmer when we didn't zip them together - seems kinda strange.


Lightweight, and big enough for dinner for two.

We also had a trowel, for burying our waste, some homemade firestarters of cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly, and lightweight rain ponchos that doubled as pack covers.

Tom Clothes List

Take less than you think! Pack once, then pack again and remove at least one-third of what you initially planned to take.  Be sure to take fabrics that wear well.  Cotton is heavy, wrinkles and does not dry quickly so avoid taking cotton clothes.

1 pair "city pants" - khaki pants in a wrinkle free material 

1 long-sleeve "city shirt" - collared shirt

1 pair "city shoes" - regular brown shoes, comfortable        

1 pair trekking pants     

1 pair convertible pants 

1 pair nylon walking shorts       

1 bathing suit

2 nylon t-shirts (would recommend a third)

2 cotton t-shirts  

1 non-cotton colored short sleeve shirt

2 pairs of hiking socks   

2 pairs thin polypro socks         

4 pairs of polypro underwear    

1 fleece jacket    

1 wind jacket      

1 fleece hat        

1 pair fleece gloves

1 set long underwear

leather money belt - looks like a regular belt, but has a hidden zipper pocket to hide some cash

1 pair tevas        

1 pair hiking boots

1 sun hat (for a while, then got lost)

Inexpensive watch

swapped out wedding ring for very simple, very thin gold band      

Clothes that we sent home early:

Travel blazer

2nd City Shirt

Louisa Clothes List

2 long sleeve shirts These were tshirts, really, but nice looking to wear around cities. I looked for simple, sleek lines that would wear well in town, yet function in the backcountry.

2 short sleeve tshirts     

1 cardigan sweater        

1 pair black "city pants"

1 pair trekking pants     

1 pair acrylic shorts       

1 long sleeve heavy long underwear shirt

1 set of long underwear  

1 skirt

1 bathing suit - a tankini served the athletic purposes, and beach fun       

1 pair hiking boots        

1 pair tevas

1 pair city shoes

1 fleece jacket    

1 wind jacket      

1 fleece hat        

1 pair gloves

5 pairs underwear

2 bras      

1 sports bra        

2 pairs of hiking socks   

2 pairs thin polypro socks         

2 pair black socks

Inexpensive watch

swapped out wedding ring for very simple, very thin gold band      

Louisa got bored with clothes faster than Tom, so when desperate for something new she would pick something up at a local market.  She usually had one or maybe two of novel items. 

Both of us had to buy some new items when we rode motorcycles around South Africa.  Then we did want to wear jeans and long-sleeve cotton shirts.  So we added one each of the above for that month. We also got great leather jackets in Buenos Aires, wore them in South Africa, and sent them home with our friends.


Digital Camera

We also took a Kodak DC290 digital camera for pictures.  These pictures are amazing and have been professionally printed in various travel books.

Once in a while we'd purchase a waterproof single-use film camera, for wet parts of the journey.  However, the trusty DC290 survived rain, snow, altitude, and general bashing with incredible resilience.

Picture Storage / Zip Charger

Clik drive for picture backup.  We filled one 32mb flash card with pictures, then copied it to a Clik drive and mailed the Clik disk home.  This was the only reasonably cost-effective solution I could find at the end of 1999.

Computer - Psion 5mx

We had a Psion handheld computer for journals, email, and internet access.  This computer has amazing features for its size, but has significant shortcomings as well. 

Palm Pilot

On the second half of the trip, we decided to take Louisa's Palm Pilot.  We bought the folding keyboard, and it was a great journal machine.  We also bought a piece of software to communicate between the Palm and the Psion, so we could use the Psion to upload journals during the trip.


We had a Magellan GPS 315 so we always know where we are. This was stolen in Viet Nam, so we bought a new GPS 310 in Australia for about twice the price (and about half the features).

Battery charger

We went through about 4 battery chargers, but were always able to find one that could charge 4 AA NiMH batteries at a time. Mostly the chargers were dual voltage, and we took a small set of plug converters for the plugs.  We also had a small solar charger for 4 AA's, which if set in the sun for most of the day would charge them somewhat.


We didn't carry binoculars the first part of the trip, but Susan and John had the coolest little pair in South Africa, so we asked if we could borrow them.  We then lost them towards the end of the trip on a ferry, so we bought some cheapies to replace them.

Electric razor that ran on AA batteries

Tom found a razor in duty free on an airplane that ran on 2 AA batteries.  It wasn't the closest shave, but sure better than nothing and worked everywhere.


All of the electronics that we took ran on AA batteries - razor, flashlight, camera, computer and GPS.  One exception was on the second half, when the Palm used AAA's.  We took 12 rechargeable NiMH AA batteries and went through 4 chargers during the year.  We burned a few up, but could buy them on any continent (even in China).

Other Tips

Books: We tried to ship ourselves travel guides along the way, but out of 3 boxes sent to us, we only got 1 and (the was one delivered extremely late, almost too late to be useful).  We typically tried to carry a guide for the place we were, and maybe the next place, and a book or two related to the culture.  Then we usually had a book for light reading, which we would trade in with a dollar for another book at one of many traveler book exchanges around the world.

Check out our book list for specific recommendations on books to read. 

Shipping: We also shipped about 3 boxes home, not including boxes sent home with friends and relatives.  All of them eventually made it, although the one from Laos took almost a year. Even the wine from South Africa and Australia made it, although we wouldn't have been able to ship to CA, so we shipped to relatives in Ohio, where they don't have protectionist trade practices preventing free commerce.

Weight: The two packs together nearly always equaled 40kg.  Often smaller planes or airlines have a 20kg per passenger limit, so we usually squeaked under. Sometimes we would try to put heavy items in our carryon to get by.

Money: Split up money and credit cards - each of us had a main source of money with a credit card or atm; and each of us had a hidden stash of money with a credit card or atm.  This way we felt covered in case one bag was stolen. 

Use ATMs everywhere.  It is the cheapest way to get local dollars, and it means that you need to carry less cash.  We had a US bank account that we tapped into from ATMs around the world.  Only one or two countries didn't have ATMs that we could use, and that was in 2000! 

Leave copies of your passports, itineraries, etc. with a friend or family member at home, just in case!  One other neat thing we did was scan them in and email them to ourselves, so we could access our web mail from anywhere and print out copies if necessary.

Keeping in touch is quite easy, there are internet cafes absolutely everywhere.


Revised: March 25, 2004 on
Copyright 2000 Tom & Louisa Shields. All rights reserved.