Planes, Trains, Ball and Chains: Gear in Review (Half-Way Round The World)
Location: Capbreton, Southwest France
Hello kind readers. So far this blog has gotten its rocks off in a number of special places around the world. Indonesia-Burma-Thailand-Mongolia-Russia-Sweden-Norway-Greece-Italy-Sardinia-France, thus far. We’re nearly halfway through the trip (Africa’s up next!) so here’s a little unconventional gear-review of the Fjällräven digs that have gotten us into some adventures. Enjoy.
- Rucksack No.21 Medium: This bag’s been my sturdy and fairly versatile go-to pack the entire trip. That dark stain on the bottom of it has an amazing story though. That’s actually a blueberry-stain. In Mongolia, while we were trekking to the Tsaatan reindeer tribe on horseback, or driver Olga decided to pick blueberries to pass the time for a few days. We were gone longer than he anticipated, so he picked a LOT of blueberries—like, a 6-gallon plastic jug-full of them—and then decided to camp with the van on the top of a nearby mountain. Apparently (probably because of the altitude) the jug exploded and blueberry juice went EVERYWHERE. He did a hell of a job cleaning up the van, but had berry stains all over his face and body. Olga literally blue himself. Now and then we’d put our bags down and they’d hit a spot and we’d find b-berry residue in the weirdest of places like 4 days later.
- Ovik Lite Jacket W: This has been Rachel’s main-cold weather jacket in a dark navy, a mighty-fine looking color if I do say so myself. Translated from Old-Scandinavian, “Ovik” is the place where Thor uses his hammer to pound away frost from the body to make it warm. Fine, that’s a total lie, but in Norway, this puppy kept her warm in the chilliest of fjords. With down feathers plucked from the most handsome geese in the gaggle, it packed in our main-bags through the months of warm-weather nations nicely…as if it wasn’t even there.
- Greenland Jacket: An old Norse poet once said: “F--k Gore-Tex.” I couldn’t agree more. This Gore-Tex-free, sturdy as a mo-fo Greenland Jacket served us well in many drizzly zones from Indo to Burma to Siberia to Sweden. Beforehand, I rubbed a bit of Greenland Wax all over the fabric (upon the shoulders and hood as recommended) thus impregnating the garment. I know that sounds dirty, but gosh-darnit, we all came from somewhere! Anyway, with that Greenland wax on the jacket, I’d literally watch passing showers bead on the jacket and roll off me like drunken Perth wallabies.
- Greenland Wax: A warning: Don’t use Greenland wax on your surfboard. Even in Greenland. Do, however, use it on anything that says G-1000 on it, like many of Fjallraven’s finest gear. Made with the shed-hair of artic foxes, ear-wax of narwhals and flecks of 24k gold…fine, just beeswax and paraffin, we got most of our gear pregnant with it pre-trip. It has actually made a huge difference and has made all our stuff so much more water-resistant. Some like the wax-then-iron method, but we prefer the wax-than-blow-dry-on method. Mainly, because we have such wild and fabulously unkempt fros, so we just transfer from garment to our own heads that easy—bonus!
- Byron Hat Thin: Lightweight and extremely useful, this 100% wool beanie has been a God-send on these nipple-y mornings, whether in Norway, Siberia, Mongolia or, now, Hossegor, France. No real story on this one, besides that it can fit in a jacket pocket real easily, thus letting you shift into warm-mode without a bulky pocket.
- Kånken (Brick): Much like the concept of “Eskimo brothers,” they say that when you see a fellow Kanken-eer on the road, you share a deep and profound bond. That, or you just know that your taste and sensibilities are totally on-point. Regardless, we’ve seen fellow Kankeneers in every single country we’ve gone to. This Brick-colored baby has had our backs since Day 1, turning heads and keeping us supplied on day-hikes to city-strolls. She says she needs a rest, but we told her she’s going to Africa. One more thing: The Kanken is surprisingly resilient and durable for how on-trend they’ve become. Kudos.
- Gear Bag: When your duffel bag fits 100L of don’t-give-a-shit, it’s separate gear bags like these that fit, but are not limited to: pocket knives, condoms, chargers, documents, condoms, matches, compass, ipods, Greenland Wax, sunglasses and condoms. But seriously, with separate compartments within this compartment, you’re looking at a gear-inception that keeps your travels in order.
- Kiruna Hat: While the wife’s not fan, I stand by the Kiruna hat’s glare-fighting properties in zones where I’ve needed it, fishing or surfing in: Indonesia, Thailand, Burma and the Mediterranean. The Kiruna hat also has a brim that traces the curve of infinity (360 degrees), so you know it’s got some magical powers.
- Sarek Zip Sweater: Definitely my most favorite, trusty fleece. Rugged yet refined, this zip-up sweater’s kept me toasty on Moscow-mornings to crisp Paris-nights. With a more relaxed fit, you can layer a few shirts underneath if need be, and with those padded elbows and shoulders, it helped me tons when I had to wrestle a few Sardinian men off my smokin’ hot wife in Southern Italy. Back-off bro!?
- Ovik Blanket: Believe it or not, this hearty and easily packable blanket has done us wonders on the trip. Mostly, in the “I’m not sure if I trust this hotel’s sheets” category. Been to quite a few hotels in: Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, Mongolia and Russia where we asked this question and used the Ovik Blanket as a safeguard. Also super handy for impromptu romantic picnics and over-night buses/trains. Become an adult that carries an (Ovik) blanky. About 6-feet by 6-feet in size.
- Duffel No.6 Large: So this duffel is actually a lot bigger than it appears. Being the No. 6 Large-size, it can fit 100L of quit-your-job-and-travel in it, pretty much big enough to copulate in. In fact, put that on your bucket-list. Indeed, we pretty much packed our lives (for a year) into one of these duffels each, and, what do ya know: Daddy had to carry BOTH (50lbs each) of them in transit. Marriage, amiright?! Much of the discoloring on this one resulted from being strapped onto a pack-horse in Mongolia en route the Darkhad Valley. It took suds and a scrub-brush to wipe off that beast’s sweat.