As you know, we’ve spent the last two months in Turkmenistan putting back on some of the weight we lost in Kazakhstan, and relaxing in the desert sunshine. While on holiday in the least hospitable deserts in the world, we took the downtime as an opportunity to order more gear and rearrange the stuff we have to make it more manageable on the onward journey.
Lauren’s backpack (a knock-off from China) broke 30 seconds into the trip. She bought a new one in Shanghai and it broke approximately 6 days into the trip. The lesson here: never buy knock-offs from China– they have a serious quality control problem! So, while in Turkmenistan Lauren spent her mornings doing yoga to fix the crooked spine she received carrying a 50lb. bag on one strap, and spent the evenings reading reviews on women’s expedition packs. Her new bag, an REI venus expedition bag, is amazing. It has a front-loader feature, more room, a bottom tie-on strap and a fully adjustable carry system designed for women. She is happy now, and with some of the weight removed, her 40lb, fitted bag is perfect.
In addition to the pack, Lauren ordered a three-man tent from REI (thanks to her father, who paid for that AND the awesome pack for her). The Marmot tent we finally settled on is easy to assemble and clean, and very compact. We tested the tent in the desert on four occasions and are very happy with the quality. It is a two season tent designed for warm weather, so you can actually lay in the tent and see the stars through the mesh top. Way cool.
Since we have a tent, we needed sleeping bags. Lauren’s father also supplied those, a survival kit, and a super-nifty all-purpose camp pot to boil water in for soups and coffee. Mike purchased an mini stove with fuel tablets as well, so we are now carrying all of our food, accomedation, bedding and clothing, and a small library.
“Why are you carrying a library on your back?” you might ask. The answer is that we ordered the Lonely Planet guides for every country we’ll be going through. We need them for the maps, primarily, but also for information on visas and border crossings. You’d be surprised how much they come in handy.
While in Turkmenistan we mailed some of the things we were not using back to the States. We mailed half of our clothing, a giant pile of rocks we collected from the trip (“why were we carrying these?”) Lauren’s guitar covered in stickers from her family, and about 10 books and half of our medical kit. We discovered when it comes to carrying your house on your back, you want the smallest possible amount of stuff. Very zen, if you think about it.
Here is what we are carrying now:
- Sleeping bags
- Lonely Planet books
- Two pants each
- Four shirts each
- Hiking boots/ water sandals
- Shampoo/bar of soap/ bar of laundry detergent/toothpaste/brushes
- Medical kit/ survival kit
- I-touch/ camera/ laptop (Lauren needs all there for work)
- Cooking kit: pot/ mini stove/ cup / chopsticks
- Food: power bars/ dehydrated soup/ ramen
- Passports and copies of passports / important contact info / visa copies