Ok, that's probably it for gizmos, onto clothes. The winner of the best clothing item we brought is....
Shoes: Keen's Newport H2 [Link to Keen's website]:
These super versatile shoes have been our everyday shoes for 5 months! They're light, have lots of ventilation and don't smell for a while. Also, if you combine them with Smartwool socks they'll help you trek many cold cities (i.e. La Paz). I used to be a Teeva guy, but I've loved the full toe protection (save me from many rocks and other potential cuts).
Jeans: Controversy upfront! Thank you Boris for this rec. If you read other packing lists, you will start to believe that jeans are the devil, and they have many flaws indeed - they are heavy, they take forever to dry, they are bulky. HOWEVER, I like wearing normal clothes and I get sick and tired of my travel pants. People all over the world wear jeans, and if you want to feel comfortable and not stand out so much as a gringo, bring a pair of jeans.
Cotton tshirts: Blasphemy!! Again, cotton too is considered the travelers enemy - heavy, dries slowly, and bulky. Again, I haven't been happier than when I'm wearing my favorite t-shirts while walking around a new city. My only regret is that I didn't bring more. There are cheap laundromats everywhere, and they dry t-shirts and jeans wonderfully.
Exoficio underwear: After so much hype about them, I got to the store, looked at the $18 price tag and thought. "Seriously? It's just underwear". However, I bought two pairs, and they are awesome. They stay cool and comfortable. They dry super quickly. And they don't stink. You can wash them in the morning, and they'll be dry that afternoon. In fact Exoficio suggests that you only need 2 pairs, one to wear while you're washing the other one. I brought a few more pairs for variety, but it's not absolutely necessary.
Thermals: You need polypropylene, wool or silk longjohns. At least one long sleeved shirt and at least one pair of pants. These are light, moisture wicking and super comfortable. We've used them everywhere it has been cold. They also are great for layering, so if it gets really cold, thermals, fleece and light jacket are all you need.
*TIP: If you're gonna use them as pj's, don't wear them during the day. This is something we learned from our friend Nicole. During the day they do get a little bit moist, and then if you sleep in them, you'll be really cold. So put them aside and let them dry during the day.
REI Safari Shirt:
This is THE hot weather shirt. Exoficio makes one too, but I found theirs to be too baggy and more expensive. This was more flattering.
--Moisture wicking: Face it, you'll sweat a lot, so it's great that the shirt helps you stay drier.
--Great ventilation: There's ventilation under your armpits, along your back and on your chest.
--Sun protection: I've worn this bad boy in the hot sun with full sleeves down and collar up to avoid the sun. I stayed cool and avoided a sunburn.
--Dries quickly: If you wash it in the morning, it'll be dry that afternoon. If there's full sun, it can be dry in hours.
REI Zipoff Pants:
--Baggy: Keeps you cool during the heat.
--Multi-purpose: Zip off the pant legs and you have shorts for the heat. Zip on the pant legs and you're good at night to avoid mosquito bites.
--Dries quickly: Same as above.
--You look like you're going to a gringo rave. That hasn't stopped me from wearing them, but I do feel a bit self-conscious.
Bev plug: I bought a khaki pair by Prana, and despite repeatedly getting them covered in mud they look as clean as the day I bought them.
-Mine is bulky, but Bev has a nice thin one that's warm. Get one of hers (REI brand).
-These are amazing. They wick moisture when it's hot, keep your feet toasty warm, don't smell for days.
-They don't seem to air dry very fast, but if you get them laundered you'll be fine.
-Great for avoiding funk in the shower and for the beach. I have regular ones which don't work for walking around, but Bev has really comfortable Teeva ones. She keeps raving about them.
Dress (Bev plug)
Initially I bought a practical REI-brand travel dress--moisture-wicking, quick-drying, wrinkle-free. However, it looked like a practical travel dress, i.e. a little frumpy for my taste. In Argentina I bought a light cotton dress where the bottom is that stylish wrinkled look, so no worries about shoving it in my bag and getting it wrinkled! Plus, you want something that you feel like you can go out in, and with some jewelry and a cardigan or wrap can easily be dressed up.
-A hat, some tshirts, another long sleeve shirt and swim trunks.