Traveling for Extender Period of Time (6 months to a year)

11:36 a.m. on April 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Hi I am new to Trailspace so I will start off with a small introduction. My name is Jake, I'm 21 years old and currently live in Orlando, Florida. I am taking a year off of college to travel around and WWOOF (Worldwide Working Opportunities on Organic Farms)so I can have at least food and water provided for me in exchange for work. As a majority of backpackers I am trying to keep my pack light, but more importantly to me, have some durable equipment. I will be traveling throughout Central America (June, July, August), South America (September, October, November, December), and Africa, (January, February, March). I have been looking online and been trying to find some gear that fits that criteria and have had success in doing so but I would love to also get some advice from knowledgeable individuals. I don't really have a budget limit as I have been saving up for this journey for quite some time but it would be favorable to not be spending an overwhelming amount on money on equipment (unless it would be a drastic increase durability and favorability). Some places do offer living quarters but a majority of them do not. I am aware of what I am getting myself into and have a decent background in spending 2 months on end in the woods. Any and all help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much, have an awesome day.

12:07 p.m. on April 9, 2012 (EDT)
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What gear do you have currently? A detailed list would be very helpful. Usually you trade durability for lightness. Also how much actual hiking will you do vs. hitchhiking or staying in one place.

12:19 p.m. on April 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Currently I am practically gearless as I have been moving around a lot lately and stuff has been misplaced/lost over the years. I will do much more hitchhiking and staying in one place for at least a month at a time but sleeping out in a tent and sleeping bag almost every night.

1:02 p.m. on April 9, 2012 (EDT)
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What is your location?

In the USA, hitch-hiking is no longer the adventure it once was.   Have to say, I was good at it.   Some simple 'tips' make it easier than most realize.

I used to hitch-hike about 1,000 miles annually.   Most recently, hitched last Summer.   

'Johnny Law' does NOT look kindly upon hitch-hikers.  I was picked-up and charged, once.   Had to pay a fine.

As far as gear goes, I suggest you NOT go with expensive 'high-endy' stuff.   Do not carry-along expensive cameras and electronic gadgets.   Get practical clothing that is easy to clean and dry quickly.   Jeans are durable, but stay wet a loooong time.

 Do keep your appearance neat and clean.   You don't need to look like a "mountain man", or like you just crawled out from under a rock.

You have an opportunity to have a remarkable experience.   Many countries, other than the USA, are more welcoming of on-foot travelers.

I wish you luck, my friend.

                              ~ r2 ~

                        veteran hitcher

3:42 p.m. on April 9, 2012 (EDT)
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I have made a life of being on the road. I hitchhiked about 20,000 miles in the first 5 years from 1977 to 1982. Then I took up bicycle touring.  As Robert Rowe said hitchhiking is not as good as it was 30 years ago. You may expect to be standing in some areas for hours maybe days at a time. Check ride board and craigslist for where you are and/or post that you are lloking to go crosscountry and post into the CL areas you plan to be passing thru for future rides when you get to each one. I went 10,000 miles my first summer from June to October 77. The longest I waited for a ride was 2 1/2 days in barstow CA at the western edge of the Mojave Desert. Average time was 3 hours. I walked where I could between rides, gets boring and hot standing in one place a long time.

Buy gear from second hand stores,Goodwill, thrift shops etc. You can alwasy pick up good cheap gear. I started out with a $20 tent and a $15 pack from a department store like Walmart. My sleeping bag was my old BSA bag and I used this equipment for 2 years before deciding this travel life was what I wanted. But still over the years I have spent tons of money on expensive gear, I could have saved and traveled father.

I have never been outside the USA so I cannot advise you on that. But its easy to live in north america on a few dollars a day. I bicyle tour for about $35 a week.

In summer you can get away with just a good tarp and not a tent. Tarps can be rigged into just about any shelter with sticks and ropes. Even good light quilts and sheets make a good bag for summer.

5:26 p.m. on April 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Okay the last thing for you to get would be your Back Pack or Duffel bag.

If you are going to be living in a tent for awhile you will probably want one on the larger side.  Since you are planning on hitch hiking (hopefully better where you are going than in the US) weight isn't going to be as much of a factor as it is when through hiking the AT.  

Even if you can afford a Hilleberg I wouldn't get one because it is more likely to be stolen.  Alps Mountaineering makes their gear with durability in mind, not lightness.  I have a Chaos 3 and Zephyr 3.  I would recommend the Chaos for you.  You can pick them up fairly reasonably on

As for a stove I would pick a white/unleaded gas stove with an alcohol backup.  The fuel for these stoves should be available most of the time. I defer to the experts on stoves to suggest an easily field serviceable and reliable model. 

I would pick a synthetic sleeping bag.  You don't have to worry as much with synthetic as you do down.   Alps has some reasonable bags if you are not expecting very cold temps.  The clearwater 20 degree is what I have an it's good for most winter camping around Ocala, FL.

For your back pack I would go to an REI or better a local outfitter like TravelCountry.  Take your gear with you and see how it packs and try it on with your stuff.  It's the only way you are going to get a comfortable pack unless you are just lucky. 

6:41 p.m. on April 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Gotta agree with RR; expensive gear will feed a poor 3rd world family for quite a while.  Things in muted colors are a good bet.  Might even try removing brand names and add a few stains here and there to make your stuff look less expensive. 

If you plan to stay clean shaven, learn to use (and strop) a straight razor.  That way you'll never run out of blades. 

11:09 p.m. on April 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Go cheap and tough. You're not going to have to worry about weight.

And the suggestion about Goodwill is great. I've seen more decent gear dumped by someone who found it in their garage than you'd expect. And if it gets lost or stolen, 'oh, well'.

They won't have sleeping bags, but for a lot of places you don't need a lot of insulation, anyway. The last time I was in South America, I used a cotton sleeping bag liner in the hostels. Kept the bugs out and it was light and easy to pack.

12:53 p.m. on April 10, 2012 (EDT)
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7:45 p.m. on April 10, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey Jake, welcome to TS. You are going to be in some tropical regions on your travels. I might look into a hammock system with mosquito netting as they are much cooler and can be set up over wet areas. Carry 2 tarps with that kit one for the hammock and one for camp kitchen/lounge. If you go with a tent i recommend you get one with a 5000 mm+ hh floor as you will be in a much wetter climate at times, and skimpy coatings tend to fail/seep water. I'd carry a tarp for a kitchen with a tent also.

As far as your sleeping system goes you will want quite a bit of versatility. You will probably benefit from sleeping bag and a liner combo. You might find that you just need one or the other or both on cooler nights. Plus a liner washes very easily compared to a sleeping bag.

I also agree that I wouldn't flash around a bunch of high end hardware as that can send a bad message. But don't skimp where it's needed. What good is a leaky tent? You wish someone would steal it!

11:16 a.m. on April 11, 2012 (EDT)
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Hi Jake, Welcome to Trailspace. Since you will be on the road that long, you are going to find the lighter tents won't last. I would plan on replacing some things as the trip unfolds. One thing is that white gas and alcohol may be hard to find in some areas, so a stove that will burn kerosene as well, is a plus. As well, you'll be experiencing some climate changes. What you may find useful is to pick up gear that the locals sell, have it for a while and then sell it or trade it.

12:16 p.m. on April 12, 2012 (EDT)
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My experience hitching is a lot like Robert and Gary's -- long time ago, and it's not the same, at least in the USA. Elsewhere, I dunno. Never did it. I gather, as someone said, foot travel is much more common outside of industrialized areas.

Hammocks: on the surface, it makes sense to me. I'm seriously considering getting one by Clark:  Just because I'd like to try one out. They look pretty interesting to me. But since I don't have the experience, I'm way far away from recommending it.

Stoves, now there I can speak knowledgeably. My first suggestion would be the MSR XGK EX. It can burn anything from Kero to auto gas to diesel to jet fuel. You are going to be in places where canisters of butane or propane may be impossible to find, so don't go that route. Kero is widely available all over the world so your stove must be able to burn it. A lightweight alcohol stove like the Trangia as a back-up wouldn't be a bad idea. If not the MSR, then Optimus makes the Nova +. I have friends who swear by the Nova+ for hard-use cooking in remote areas -- and depending on a stove for 6 months qualifies as hard-use even if you are just boiling water with it.

12:07 a.m. on April 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Yeah I could totally see how it'd be beneficial especially when I'm going to be in a place where it's raining a majority of the time. The only downside to it really would be that there's no place for me to put my pack and I wouldn't feel to comfortable while traveling in some third world areas with a pack with a majority of my belongings in it.

1:08 a.m. on April 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Well, I'm not as experienced as some on this forum, but I would agree that you should go with either a tent or a hammock. I've been meaning to try a hammock myself, but I wouldn't take it on a trip without trying it out first. And what are you going to do when there aren't any trees?

As for stoves, I'd pack a multi-fuel stove that can burn kerosene also. But I don't know much about multi-fuel stoves as the only stove I've ever needed is the DIY (for less than $3) "cat stove", which is an alcohol burner and a very light backup to carry in case you run across a cheap supply of the ol' ethanol (or methanol, or some combination (denatured alcohol, moonshine, HEET, or whatever)). So there's really no need to dish out for a separate alcohol stove if you can avoid crushing the cat food can. Oh, the instructions are on the Zen Stoves site, at

I hope that helps and I'll have you know I'm jealous of your upcoming adventure!


edit: one overarching reason for the tent or hammock: BUGS. And the diseases they carry. In your part of the world, I suppose this could be scorpions or snakes as well...

June 24, 2018
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