What should You Pack for a Hitchhiking Journey?

In case readers are curious, I thought I’d write briefly about what to take hitchhiking. My advice is to travel light. I have most everything I’ll need in most climates, except the extreme colds. I travel with a 40 liter bag, filled 3 quarters with gear. On the outside of the pack is strapped a small 2 pound tent, sleeping bag and water bottle.

I have 3 synthetic shirts, 2 pairs of cotton socks, 1 pair of wool socks, 2 pairs of lightweight synthetic pants, 3 pairs of synthetic briefs, one hoody, one long sleeve synthetic sweater, one pair of mittens, one pair of light rubber work gloves, two pairs of wool long johns, a rubber rain jacket, lightweight synthetic ear muffs, a separate synthetic hood, a baseball cap, and a wool hat. I use all synthetics because one thing I learned in the Outdoor Pursuits Program in Eugene is that cotton kills. It’s extreme to say so, but when push comes to shove synthetic is always better because it dries quicker, takes on less perspiration, and often comes odorless.

This is what I take hitchhiking around

This is what I take hitchhiking around

When I travel I wear only one of the pairs of pants, only my boots, and only one of my three shirts. I wash my shirt in gas stations or wherever I find a sink (I carry a bar of soap). This tactic works well in warm climates, because often I simply put my shirt back on and it dries in a matter of minutes. In colder climates, washing clothes is a more cumbersome task because they must be dried, since putting on wet clothes can cause hypothermia or pneumonia. Most of the time, I might wear my pants for 4 weeks or more before washing them. As for my underpants, I change them and wash them like my shirt. When I arrive to cities, staying with friends, I have always a clean set of clothes and walking shoes with a fresh pair of socks.

One last item that I have strapped to the top of my pack is a handkerchief. This is my towel, my sweat rag, and my fan. It is mostly useful in the warm and hot climates, as in the colder climates sweat is less likely to form in puddles.

As for the other items in my pack, I carry: toothbrush and paste, deodorant (necessary for respectfulness), a pocketknife, matches, a lighter, a compass, several books, sunscreen, a USB drive and key chain light, headlamp, first aid kit, shamWow, sewing kit, diarrhea pills, a fork, a thumb piano, my drawing materials and sketch pad, bug repellent, extra string, toilet paper, a 3L water bladder, a 3.5 ft. blow up thermorest, sandals, copies of documents, a debit card, extra toilet paper, more toilet paper, an old cell phone, collected coins and ticket stubs and extra notebooks.

The most important item I carry with me is my umbrella. I’ve mentioned it’s uses before, but here’s a re-cap: shade, rain, poop screen, walking cane, sneaking into ruins through the jungle, climbing, theft deterrent, scarring attack dogs, seating, handkerchief, earth-plow, etc. I’m constantly discovering new uses, but I feel naked without my umbrella. My original umbrella was a gift from two Scots in the Czech Republic. It fell apart in El Salvador. The replacement that I bought I left in a car in Honduras, which was also the end of the original because I’d reattached the fabric. I bought a new one in Tela, Honduras. That one fell apart finally in southern Chile. The Solis family gifted me a new, larger umbrella for Christmas 2011, onto which I sewed the old fabric. The Solis umbrella crumbled in Buenos Aires, but I found a good sturdy one abandoned in the street. I sewed the Honduran fabric onto that one, and I’ve repaired it several times, but I still have it.

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