Latin America Adventure – GEAR we used and why

As mention in my previous post on Latin America, Mr K and I went on a long vacation to South America earlier this spring. Turns out a few friends have been asking us what gear to bring with us since it is indeed a very different climate from tropical Singapore and it’s a long trip so travelling with a compact and smart wardrobe is required.  We covered an area from the end of Chile, Patagonia to Havanna, Cuba so all in all the temperatures ranged around 30 degress. Mostly we were focussed on being waterproof and windproof – yet being light, durable and …. haha… to look stylish too!

Mr K and I both have snowboarding gear so we have our snow pants and jackets. But they are very bulky…. we decided against bringing that because it’s not something that are thinnish layers we can take off an pack away easily.

I researched on gear quite extensively in SG because well… in short, there ain’t much of the outdoor stores we see back home like Blacks, Ellis Brigham, Millets, Snow & Rock, Patagonia and a multitude of other special boutiques for snow, mountaineering, camping etc.  In Singapore… the concentration of such shops appears to be in Novena Square – around 5 shops.  There you’ll find ‘Saloman, Outdoor Life, X boundaries  and a few others…  … Sadly most of them are twice the price of that in the UK. Sizes are limited too since… frankly we’re of very average asian sizing so they tend to run out of S and XSs. Pffff……

So off to the internet it was for me… research, buy and send it to my family in the UK (since we had to stop in London anyways)….. we figured it’s cheaper and better that way or for really important stuff, send it to Singapore so we can try it and return if it we had any problems.  I discovered a WONDERFUL BRAND called Norrona by recommendation from staff at an outdoor store based near Preston, UK.  I’ve never heard of them before and wasn’t too keen to take the risk with a brand I’ve not heard of especially since it was not cheap.  However….. I can’t express how impressed we were of this brand not just because the quality was really good (we wore our jackets every day we were there!). But their design and forward thinking company philosophy tells you … these guys KnOW nature and they LOVE being right in it!  Their gear design, function, quality, level of detail is frankly…. another level.  They would have thought of little things that would make the world a bit better for you when you are walking against the wind at 60mph…. with rain coming at you at right angels… you will find their little head adjustment strapper to hold your hood up…. a real godsend….  ** two thumbs up **

I managed to find a stockist of Norrona with Tamarack – a family business run up north in the UK. The chap was really helpful and he had pretty much all the sizes and designs we needed. What they didn’t have in stock, they ordered from Norrona HQ and restock within a week.  A bonus was that we bought the things from him UK VAT free 🙂 hehe… always good when VAT is 20% but it did incur a shipping cost…

When you are thinking about what gear you’d need, my advice would be prioritise them so you list out the ‘key, must have’ gear vs. nice to haves. It’s easy to get carried away and buy a lot of stuff when in reality, it’s going to be 3 weeks of your life trekking one of the most beautiful places on Earth then you’ll back back to reality… work etc. So unless you feel you’ll get due mileage from the gear, be mindful of what’s to splurge on vs. what to borrow and get by.  For us, waterproof jacket, trousers (your outer shell) and boots were THE priority. Hence we spent more to get the better stuff.  But honestly… we wore them every day and just changed the inner layers. For boots  – you must really be able to try them on before you buy so we went with whatever we could find in Singapore.  We were pleased to find ‘Garmont’ which is an Italian brand that specialises in Alpine gear actually.

So.. our gear line up is as follows:

His

  • Norrona Bitihorn – waterproof trousers with 3/4 zip off
  • Norrona Falkentind – waterproof and windproof jacket
  • Garmont Vetta Boots – extremely comfortable, no broken toe nails at all 🙂 We bought these are a store in Singapore.. inside Novena. It’s called X Boundaries – the staff were really nice and helpful. We recommend them if you are in SG.
  • Thermals – get the ones made from merino wool as they breath better. Several will be required.
  • Get nice thick socks – trust me… they make a difference when it’s -10 degrees at the top of the Torres Del Paine.

Hers

  • Norrona Trollvegens – warm thermal tights, super comfy… I wore these as inner layers with waterproofs on the outside
  • Norrona Falkentind – waterproof and windproof jacket
  • Norrona Navrik warm 3 fleece. This was really useful indeed. I even wore it whilst in London as it was really cold back in April 2012.
  • Garmont Tower Boots– extremely comfortable especially as I have a weak left ankle… these are good ankle supports for all the uphill and unevent rocky surfaces you’ll encounter on the treks and good also for horse riding. We bought these in Singapore 🙂 X Boundaries – They are the only distributors in Asia….. none in Malaysia….. I wanted to get my friend Z to buy them as he was going to the Antarctic for a shoot but alas, he had no time to come over to try them on.

Let me end with this little picture of our boots at the top Winya Wayna, part of the Machu Picchu Trail.

winya wayna

Our reliable boots – stood the test of machu picchu trail @ winya wayna

Hope this helped whomevers doing research for similar travels! 🙂  Enjoy planning for your trip!

Ciao,

PT.

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