5 Travel Gear Upgrades To Make You Happier.
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
When you are traveling, especially hitchhiking long term, you should consider what gear you carry very, very carefully. I am a cheap skate. I like eating well and having fun with friends. Any dollar I can save I will. But I learned the hard way, that it is vital to spend money for good gear when you are traveling for a long time. Your sanity depends on it!
Here are the 5 pieces of Travel Gear that you should upgrade, to have a more fun trip (in order of importance):
1. Get rid of your shoes and buy Waterproof Hiking Boots:
Shoes change how you feel. Get a pair of waterproof boots, that have support for your ankles and a sturdy sole. I started my trip with an old pair of Nike running shoes that were falling apart. Any time I walked in the morning, my feet would get wet, which meant I was either spending a lot of time drying my feet or I was getting blisters. After a few weeks, I bought a pair of Scarpa Hiking Boots with a Vibram sole that were on sale for 85$. It changed how I felt instantly. My feet stay dry, are protected from glass, when walking in ditches, and just plain feel good on my feet.
2. Give Away Your Tarp and Buy a Nice Tent:
Get a tent now! I hitchhiked for 6 months using a tarp and would not go back. Three reasons why a tent beats up on a tarp anyday.
A. Keeps you dryer.
B. Offers more options for where you sleep.
C. Is more of a psychological ‘home’ than a tarp.
My parents got me a nice 2-man tent for Christmas from REI. The biggest difference was the barrier between myself and the world. I could zip up with the rain fly on and have my own little nook in the world. People cannot see in and animals have a tougher time cozying up to me. Plus, I can put my tent up almost anywhere. Right now, it is up in an attic I am sleeping in, so that mice have a harder time getting at my peanut butter. But I have put it up in fields or behind buildings. It has also withstood some serious rains for days in California. It is my home in the world.
3. Trade your Cheap and Light Sleeping Bag in for a Light, Soft, and Warm Sleeping Bag:
A couple years ago, I bought a very light sleeping bag, that was the cheapest bag I could get my hands on. It was about 80$ and was rated at 40 degrees Farenheit (this means that the sleeping bag will keep you warm at that temperature and above). Small, light, and in the summer time was a decent bag. The problem is that it just isn’t that comfortable. It sticks to me in hot weather and gets really sweaty. Conversely in cold weather, it is not even close to warm enough. When I knew I was going to the New England to watch the leaves change, I was looking to upgrade my bag for something warmer. I was prepared to spend 200$ on a bag and I could have bought a decent bag for that price. But after trying a host of different bags on the floor of the store, I fell in love with a Marmot sleeping bag. I paid over 400$ for the bag. 400$! I had no idea that I could spend, so much on a sleeping bag. But it is so comfortable, warm, and is lighter than other bags I could have gotten. It is full of the softest Goose feathers around, they are rated 800 (some people must test how soft goose feathers are and rate them accordingly, with 800 being the highest). If you have the money, go big on your sleeping bag.
4. Get rid of Cotton socks or even cheaper synthetic socks and get the best socks you can find:
I have only traveled with two pairs of socks on my trip (I started with three, but lost one). One is a pair of Smart Wool socks that is good for winter time. This is a cheaper version that is good and keeps my feet warm, but they get really stinky after one wear. These socks are my relaxing socks when I am staying somewhere. The other pair I got is a very light pair of Smart Wool hiking socks. These are tops! They set me back about 20$, but were worth every penny. At first, it would take them about 3 or 4 days, before they would get stinky or become very unenjoyable to wear. They have holes now, but I got some serious wear out of them for the past 8 months. I sent the company a message, telling them how much I loved the socks and they told me that they are made from happy, free range sheep in New Zealand.
5. Keep your water bottle, but get a Camel Bak too:
If a backpack and a large water bottle were to mate, they would produce a Camel Bak. You where it on your back and have a hose that you can clip nearby to drink on the go. A friend I was Couchsurfing with in Richmond (Thanks April!) had a Camel Bak from her tour in the military and gave it to me. No fiddling with your pack as you walk or having to set your pack down over and over again. Don’t throw your water bottle away, because it is handy when you are sitting around, but definitely consider splurging on a Camel Bak.
Tomorrow, I will tell you the Travel Gear Upgrades that are not worth the money.
Create Our World.
“Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty-his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure.” – Aldous Huxley