Siem Reap, Cambodia
Update: See my new section dedicated to gear for updates.
Whenever I travel my dependence on possessions goes down. For this trip I thought it would be nuts to travel around the world with just one small backpack. After almost a month and a half on the road in climates from cool Tokyo nights to burning afternoons in Malaysia and Cambodia I’ve noticed how incredibly useful some of my gear has been and how excessive other things are.
Really awesome stuff
A few things that have been much more useful than expected:
- My wool buff hat is good in both warm and cold weather. It makes a headband in burning heat to keep sweat out of my eyes and a beanie on cold nights to keep my head warm. I can’t recommend it enough.
- The Rohan Stronghold pants are fantastic. The two zippered pockets hold change and my phone securely. My flashlight clips into the left pocket’s keychain loop so I never lose it. The pants are thin enough to stay cool in hot weather but warm enough for slightly chilly nights. On colder nights I wear a wool base layer.
- Appalatch shirt. This could easily be the only shirt I took on the trip.
- In general my wool clothing is holding up well even in the heat of Cambodia and Malaysia. Any shirt is going to get soaked in sweat in these environments but wool stays comfortable and wicks sweat away. The shirts don’t smell even after several days of wearing them. Generally I rinse them with water every night or two and do a full scrub with shampoo once a week.
- The aloksaks plastic bags are good for keeping electronics dry in heavy rain, for packing clothes, and also for washing clothes. Last night I used a large aloksak as a wash basin to let some clothes soak. A ziplock bag will be just as good as an aloksak for most uses, but the aloksak is two or three times as durable. I think these will last me a year or more of heavy use each.
- Leather Barefoot Shoes I wear them all day without socks and they are doing fine. Get a gel insert to give them a bit more padding but they still feel acceptably minimal.
Stuff to ditch
Then there’s some gear that’s almost never used. If I’m not using it so far I’ll probably not use it anywhere and I’m tired of carrying it around. I’m on a bus right now but when I get to Phnom Penh I’ll take all of this out of my bag and see how much space and weight it frees.
- My final pair of shorts. You really don’t need shorts in hot countries unless you’re at the beach, and when you’re at the beach you’ll get by fine in a swimsuit all the time. In Malaysia and Cambodia the locals wear pants most of the time. In in a pinch the legs on the [Rohan Stronghold]() pants roll up and stay up to act as either shorts or calf-length pants. It feels much more respectful being able to move the pant legs down when hanging out with locals or visiting areas where I’m the only foreigner. In the worst case I can pick up really cheap shorts if I need them anywhere for $10.
- Shirts I’ve worn [the same Appalatch shirt]() 9⁄10 days on the road. My black Icebreaker v-neck is barely being used as is my Neo hoodie. One of these may go soon.
- Lenses. When I first purchased my Leica I bought a 50mm f1.4 Summilux non-Asph lens. This lens is fantastic optically but takes longer to focus than the 50mm f2 Summicron lens1 because it lacks a focus tab and needs to turn further between zero and infinity. An extra stop of lens brightness is nice to have and the bokeh is far superior on the Summilux, but this will probably be sold on eBay with the money dropped into my travel fund. I’m also barely using my Zeiss 28mm lens and it’s on probation.
- Mini Tripod I’ve used it once.
- Business cards. I’ll keep these until I run out then just print them on demand from local printers on paper.
- Ultralight running sandals Cool to have as a backup but I’ve only used them twice. I don’t see any need to carry around $70 running sandals for a year. I’ll send them home and replace them with $10 sandals from the street any time I need them.
- Headlamp This thing is silly to have. It’s aspirational. I want to be the kind of traveler who needs to use a headlamp but so far a flashlight in my pocket has done fine.
- Sunglasses These are excellent sunglasses but I never wear them. You can’t wear sunglasses while shooting a camera.
- Silk sleep sheet. I still haven’t used this. I may ditch it and get another made on the road if I need it. Coincidentally countries that have bad sheets also seem to have good tailors.
- Both of these lenses were purchased used for far less than you might think, about 30%-50% of new cost since the Summilux and Summicron are from 1972 and 1984 respectively. A new Summicron costs $2300, mine was rated in poor condition for $700 but still works fine. [return]