Are we carrying too much stuff?

This is a question that I ask myself whenever I can’t get my backpack to close very easily.. you might say that if I can’t close my backpack easily, then yes, I must have too much stuff – but maybe I’m just a bad packer! (Yes, I think I actually am…)

We weighed our backpacks before we left, and CC’s weighed 2kg more than mine, so I get to feel guilty every day about carrying less weight! But we can’t move anything from CC’s backpack into mine because there is no room – both our backpacks are jammed to the limit. This means that either:

a) I am a crap packer.
b) CC has items which are more dense than mine.

As it’s difficult to determine the density of the items that we are carrying (yes, I have considered this 🙂 ), then I guess it’s probably a) that is the problem….

We also have ‘day packs’ which are meant for stuff that we don’t want to put in the hold of the bus etc. However, they also end up carrying anything that we can’t fit into the big backpacks, plus food and water – so they end up getting pretty heavy in their own right.

So I reckon that they can weigh between 5kg – 7kg depending on how much food, water, and printed materials that we have in them at the time. (The main backpacks are around 13kg each)

This is what we are carrying. The longest distance that we have carried these is 3km – YES that’s a long way with these heavy bags…..! (and it was uphill…)

I only recently discovered that I could make more room in the bag by putting things inside my hiking boots… yes a basic schoolboy error… We are both carrying sleeping bags and hiking boots which take up a lot of space, but anyway I decided to do an audit around 6 weeks ago, to determine which items I was carrying that had NEVER been used coming up to the 3 month mark…

This is everything in my bag that I hadn’t used around 6 weeks ago.

Now this looks like a lot of stuff – but in my defence we haven’t been in all the climate zones yet…so what we had was:

First aid kit – this is the only item that I want to carry and NOT use.

2 packs of playing cards – yep I could just play a game of patience and use these… but I haven’t touched them…. I must have thoguht it was 1996 when I packed them 🙂

Waterproof trousers – I have these for walking in the wild, wet weather of Patagonia, but we are not there yet, and so far it’s not really rained very much. But I’m delighted to say that I have now used them! It started raining very heavily when we arrived in Punta del Diablo, and we had no food, so we had to go the supermarket in the pouring rain. I declared that I was going to use my waterproof trousers, to which CC responded – ‘you’re only wearing them so that’s one less thing you haven’t used’ … CORRECT! 🙂

Thermal underwear – CC was worried about being cold, and so bought some thermals before the trip. I figured that extra layers were easier to carry than big, bulky coats, so I decided to get some too. Even though it was around 2 degrees in Valparaiso at night, I didn’t manage to wear them. They are in theory reserved for Patagonia or high up in the cold Andes later in the trip, but I’m starting to doubt if I will ever wear them…

Gloves – yeah… see above…

Leech socks – these are special leech-proof socks. No leeches so far, I guess they are in the Amazon somewhere. These may not get worn for a long time if ever….

Dry sack – this is basically a waterproof bag for putting electronic equipment in, or anything else that needs extra protection from the rain inside a backpack – as the backpacks are not really waterproof. In the past I’ve just used plastic carrier bags – but this is nice and big and doesn’t rip or leak like all my previous plastic bags. I can happily report that this has now been used a couple of times! 🙂

Pair of trousers – yes an entire pair of trousers untouched for almost 3 months! That’s because I’m actually carrying 3 pairs of trousers, which is one more pair than anyone really needs in life! My theory is that one pair is going to wear out before the end of the trip, so I have a backup pair. This pair is my least favourite, so only gets used when the other two are both out of action. Again, I can happily report that this item has now been used. Yes, I’m sure you are fascinated by this information… 🙂

Long-sleeved shirt – I wore this in the Pantanal to keep away the mosquitoes, so all good…

Swimming trunks – it’s been hot enough for swimming in a couple of places… but conditions have to be perfect for me to be bothered to get into the water… these may not get used for a while…

Sleep sheet – for places without bedding or with filthy bedding… I took this to India and used it nearly every day, it was great! So far on this trip, no need to use it really…..

So…… after 4 months, and excluding the first-aid kit  – there are still SIX unused items. So of course, over the next few months, I’m going to try and use them gratuitously to get the number down….. 🙂

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