1. Arc'Teryx Bora 95
These bags have already been halfway around the world with us, so why not take them all the way and back again? At 95 litres, they are bigger than the average travel pack, but they are such fantastic packs that we're willing to take them. Nobody says we have to fill them to the brim, and we won't.
I can't say enough good things about the Canadian-made Bora 95. Every time I put the pack on, or open it up, or pack it for a long trip, I exclaim, "I love this bag!" It's ridiculously comfortable to wear, with fully padded hip and shoulder belts and a great frame. There's even a space at the top of the bag so you can stand tall with your head up without the massive bag getting in the way. The designers at Arc'Teryx have thought of everything -- well-placed waterproof zippers, waterproof lining, kangaroo pouch, water bottle pocket, and tons of strapping make this bag a dream to use. It's also a dream to pack, as the hip belt is detachable and flips around to wrap around the body of the bag -- ideal for packing up for the cargo hold!
We also have smaller Bora 35s as day packs, and these are just as excellent as their big brothers.
2. Canon Powershot S3
This camera is bigger than your average point-and-shoot but is smaller than a bulky, clunky SLR. Because of this, we get a nice big lens and lots of features like image stabilization, 12x optical zoom, and a swiveling, rotating LCD screen (so we can take vanity self-portraits as above.) We took this camera on safari last year and got so many fantastic pictures. We also like that it takes standard SD memory cards and can use regular alkaline AA batteries in a pinch.
3. Creative Zen 60GB Vision M MP3 Player
This "Ipod Killer" of an MP3 player is going to be our baby for the next fifteen months, as we're going to use it to store and listen to scads of music, store photographs, and thrillingly, watch an entire season's worth of So You Think You Can Dance while waiting in airports and bus terminals. It has a nice big colour screen and 60GB of memory... and it's white. That's about all I can say about it. Maybe BG will have something to say later.
4. Silk Sleeping Bag Liners
Sleeping in hostels and teahouses along the way, we will likely need to provide our own bedding in many circumstances. Because most of our sleeping will be done in warm countries, all we're taking are silk sleeping bag liners that scrunch down to the size of a fist. They are incredibly comfortable; we've never been too warm or too cold, and hey, it's silk. It's a bit strange to think that the bed linens we'll be using on this backpacking trip are nicer than the linens we have at home!
5. Safety Equipment
In order to secure our belongings and keep ourselves safe while we travel, we're using an assortment of equipment from slash-proof Pac Safe backpack covers, money belts and holsters, and a third-degree black belt with deadly weapons for hands. Watch out, world!
6. Motorola Razr Cell Phone
Here in Canada, the big cell phone companies only allow you to buy phones from them that will be used exclusively on their service. It's annoying. As a result, we had to go to a small independent cell phone dealer to buy an unlocked, quad-band Motorola Razr that we'll be able to have on-hand for emergencies and ordering take out. The plan is that we will buy SIM cards along the way for outgoing calls, and we also have a global SIM card that we will be able to use anywhere. This phone is small, light, and cute -- I'm a big fan of the colour screen and the camera; other than that, I can't comment much on this little darling except to say that I wish it was pink (it's black.)
7. Tilley Gear
BG is a big fan of Tilley stuff. His old Tilley hat is seventeen years old; it's been on countless camping trips (hiking, canoeing, even swimming!), and it's come on every weekend away or holiday we've ever taken. Over the past few years it's started to look a bit worn, and we were stunned when he took it back to the Tilley store and they replaced it free of charge. His new hat is darker, with a bigger brim, and it's made of hemp. He's very excited. He also has picked up some quick-drying underwear and socks, and a pair of Tilley's famous zip-off pants. I can see that Tilley gear is well-made and functional, and it's Canadian, which makes us proud, but I couldn't find a single thing in that store that I was willing to wear for a minute, much less a year. Hey, Tilley designers, not all globe-trotting females are over the age of 55!
That's it for the Gear Buzz for now. We'll update as we think of stuff...