Glorious Gear

Nearly four months and over one thousand kilometers on the trail, we can tell you the good (our packs), the bad (Steripen), and the ugly (Sarah's t-shirt) with regard to our gear. We could write a short book on the pros, cons, modifications, and I-wish-it-could-do-this-ideas for our gear. For now, we'll stick to what we've left behind, added along the way, what's wearing out the fastest, and a few of our favorite items. For more detail (you gearheads), check out the redlined gear lists on our edited gear page.

Left Behind

  • Steripen - We got a lemon. We tried every trick in the book and whispered sweet nothings to it but it never was reliable.
  • Mate cup and bombilla - We still like mate but don't heat up water for it on the trail
  • Shelley's knee brace - Didn't end up wearing it
  • Sarah's Samsung Galaxy Tablet - Battery life is too short, replaced with a Kindle
  • Trinity's trekking pole - Didn't use it enough
  • Tent floor (temporarily during drier climate)
  • Puffy pants (temporarily during warm weather)
  • Fleece vest (temporarily during warm weather)

Added Along The Way

  • Aqua Mira Chlorine Dioxide Water Treatment (in lieu of Steripen)
  • Razor - um yea, couldn't do without... I hope this doesn't mean we aren't true lightweight backpackers
  • Lotion - the river bathing and heat has dried us out, also helps Sarah's eczema
  • Q-tips - dust storms
  • Deodorant - how else would we make friends?
  • Nearly five dogs and three cats

What has worn out the fastest?

  • Socks - Friction holes and a freak Sarah-related fire on the hostel's heater, we have each already gone through several pairs
  • Shoes - General wear and tear, a dog stole one of Trinity's, Shelley lost a tread
  • Gaiter stirrups - Wear out mad fast! We always carry extra cordage!
  • Sarah's stuff - Enough said
  • Beanies - Shrinkage in wash, all three of us are in the market for new ones
  • T-shirts - General wear and tear
  • Longsleeve shirts - General wear and tear
  • Trinity's fleece pants have multiple holes in the bum and seem to grow new ones daily (stitched with bright green thread... pix to come soon)
  • Tent - We constantly repair the tent to keep small repair jobs from being big ones. From pin-sized holes to loose stitching, we use sil-net seam grip like kindergartners with finger paint. Two nights ago the zipper broke (thank goodness it didn't rain) so the tent is in repair here in San Martin de Los Andes - does this mean we're homeless? Let's hope he does a good job...
  • Blister Band Aids - Blister dressings (of all kinds) are very difficult to come by down here. We've only had success resupplying at the NOLS Patagonia headquarters (which is supplied via the USA) and most recently through Lee White (Trinity's old boss vacationing in the area).
  • Codeine - Miracle drug for easing the pain of stomach sickness

Tres Chicas' Favs:

  • Backpack + Sleeping Pad Combo (Gossamer Gear Ultralight Mariposa Pack and Therm-A-Rest Ridge Rest SOLite Sleeping Pad) - This is the cornerstone of our lightweight system - we can't imagine having a traditional backpack at this point. We pull out the easy-access sleeping pad every stop to use as a sit pad which feels luxurious.
  • Popcan stove - It's cheap and easy for us to find rubbing alcohol (which we use as fuel) at drugstores.
  • Titanium cup - Cleans easily, no residual flavors from previous meals, durable, and we can put directly on a gaucho's (cowboy) wood-fired stove to warm mint tea.
  • Kindle - Our Kindles are lightweight, have a battery life of 30-40 hours, and carry more than just books: Lonely Planet South America Travel Guide, Mountaineering Freedom of the Hills, Medicine for Mountaineering, NOLS Cookery, games (Sudoku, crosswords), pdf or jpeg maps provided by Peter. A huge perk is that Trinity's 3G version taps into South America's 3G network FOR FREE (no SIM card purchase necessary) around towns which allows her to check email. Sarah and Shelley can browse the internet via WiFi at cafes. Are you sold??

Shelley hoping the Steripen works on Tierra del Fuego
Demonstrating the popcan stove to guide friends in El Chalten
Our sole pot and lid (with strainer in the lid) cooking over our popcan stove
Sarah and Trinity reading. Sarah on her tablet (sent back in exchange for a Kindle) and Trinity on her Kindle.
Pebble removal from where Shelley lost a tread. See the pebble in Shelley's hand? 
Can opener/ wine opener support broke off of our multi-tool. We think it's from excessive wine bottle opening.
Thanks Nate for a steller stitch job on Sarah's backpack!
Trinity's mesh repair on bottom of pack - hole likely from pokey bushes and bushwhacking.
Sarah patched a hole when her strap security tore off.
Stuff gets dirty! This is one of our "Shelley" bags post dust storm (sewn by Shelley with fabric purchased from
This picture of Sarah's shirt was taken two months prior to its retirement... 
Sarah's very dirty and holey shirt
Trinity putting shoes and socks back on after a glacial river crossing in wet snow
Sarah's new shoe vs. old shoe
Titanium cups on wood-burning stove at Don Rial's house three days via horseback from any town. Sarah is also rocking her puffy pants.
Shelley and Trinity tucked into bug headnets and sleeping bags.
Sarah's clothing drying outside her pack.
Big pack vs.little pack, as compared to a backpacker in Torres del Paine
Our home. Trinity marking our location on the GPS. 
Setting up the tent. We stake it out first and then insert Sarah's trekking poles (using Black Diamond's trekking pole-to-tent pole converter to make it taller) to stand it up.
Micro holes in the tent repaired with McNett Silnet
Trinity marking a 2,000 year-old alerce tree grove with our Garmin GPS
Shelley crossing a river with gaiters as added splash protection
Dirty, smelly gear
And, on laundry day, we can clean up pretty well in our dresses


  1. I just found your website and am so excited to be following along. So fun. Love all of your detailed info, happy faces, and photography. What an adventure. Question about your gear, I might have missed it, but what down pants are you all leaving behind? and would you recommend the pants you used?

    1. Rockin, thanks for following! Our down pants are Montbell's UltraLight Thermawrap Pants. We LOVE them! We'll be getting them back in Mendoza, Argentina in March because we'll need them in the cooler temps at high altitude. Let us know if you have any other questions! We love talking gear. (c:

    2. Thanks for getting back so fast! I was confused because the thermawrap pant is synthetic. Do you wear these to sleep in colder climates because your sleeping bags are rated high for warmer climates. I am hiking the PCT and have a 25 degree bag that I am wanting to add warmth for part of the trail. I was looking at the Montbell UL Down Pants. Have you had a lot of rain and which of your jackets have fared the best? Oh I have a cat can alcohol stove. You guys are using rubbing alcohol? That works?

    3. We all wear them around camp when setting up but we all have our preferred methods of sleeping with them. Sometimes they wear them, I prefer stuff mine down around my feet at night for insulation and to keep the airflow down when it is cold- I also have a 25 degree bag. Yes, we have had a lot of rain and we each love our rain gear- I have Marmot, they have Patagonia. We have yet to debate over which is better, but there are no complaints! We use 96º or higher alocohol. Some stores sell rubbing alocohol that is 75º and that does not work. Denatured alcohol also worked well, but we have not found it everywhere as easily.

  2. Awesome post and awesome pics! Looks like you gals are having a great time!