I’ve spent several long months exploring what is necessary, comfortable and long-lasting. How it would fit in the rucksack and last but not least how would I carry it. As any planning most of it was in vain. One thing is the idea of travel, another actually being on the road. Later on the real needs appeared.

At the beginning my backpack was 25 kg and 3 km walking was a punishment and while hitch-hiking lifting it up in the huge track cabins required additional help. Even though soon I got used to it and 20km walking wasn’t a major problem but still very inconvenient I realized that reducing it to 17 kg (water and food excluded) suits me perfectly.

The present equipment is the optimum and I could have travelled all the way with it only. The style and needs of travel for different people are different so please don’t stick to any of my examples if you don’t feel it.

Present equipment in my rucksack

Probably the most important thing of my luggage is the rucksack itself. The reason is obvious - how comfortable one could walk with it and of course how painful it could be.

Plenty of rucksacks - good ones often rare to find.

Lacking a strong experience my humble opinion is that German Deuter is with ergonomic back and easy to find in Bulgaria. So I chose it. A day before taking off something unpleasant happened. I realized that my luggage can’t fit in my Deuter Nepal 60 + 10. My tent and my mat were left outside which is unpleasant and dangerous. It is easy to harm these things climbing or walking in the bushes. So I changed it with Tashev 80+15 and here is my opinion about it.

Fellow travelers, please, do not start a long  distance journey with such rucksack. Walking all day with it is painful. The “thing” is everything but ergonomic and comfortable. The belt on the waist is too small and the pillow on the back too thin. As a result the heavy sack is going down on the bottom and the pelvis can not help you distributing the weight. Thus only the shoulders carry the weight and it is very painful for the neck, shoulders and spinal cord.

The straps on the shoulders are too thin. Even though below them there is a pillow, the heavy weight is not distributed on 5 sm but on 2 sm and thus goes through the pillow into the body. Painful.

Away from Tashev big liter rucksacks.

There are two 5l detachable pockets. Tashev also. No problems there.


Difficult choice.

Criteria – light, strong, waterproof and comfortable.

Expensive one it should be. A friend recommended Trimm Himlite DSL and even though 500lv(250Euros) I didn’t hesitate to buy it as it had to be the roof over my head for a long time.

At a glance it looked tender and fragile but it proved to be excellent choice. Only one stick with branches for a body makes it easy to put up and most important I could put it up anywhere with no planting of stakes. Significant detail if one needs to rest on boards, concrete, flat rocks. Tent material is filmed with silicon thus completely water proof. Absolutely no problems for me with heavy rain by now. Silicon film is not as shiny as it was but for 6 months it works perfect. Another good thing about the Trimm Himlite DSL is that it is comfortable and spacious enough. It is easy to sit in for a long time without feeling claustrophobic. Two people or one with luggage fit in it. A front vestibule is available for luggage in case of two. Slight disadvantage is lack of air condition holes.  Moisture is possible to condense. Still by now the inner part of the tent never have had it. Every morning I am waiting the outside moisture to dry out before packing it in. Only once or twice it was packed wet and not later than one day dried out.

The only serious problem with the tent appeared in connection to the zip. The moister protector soon enough stopped working and the zipper went loose. With the help of pinchers fixing was easy and comfortable.

Once I made a mistake to put it up in the brutal Patagonian wind. In the morning I looked as dusty as miller and the three part stick was curved in the middle. Yet I easily fixed it straight and never did this mistake again.

Next time first find a place protected from the wind and than put up a tent.


Pumping or Standard Mat? This was my question. Friends advised me to take the standard one as the pumping one is uselessly heavier but my experience showed that I couldn’t sleep normally on a standard one. So I ignored every advice and took the other. It is far more comfortable and sleeping lightly after 10 hour walk is of enormous advantage. Unless one is extremely careless in choosing a place to put up the tent no major problems could appear. Once I was forced to sleep close to a cactus but a thorough check and cleaning in the morning saved it from harm. The weight is 1000gr but I prefer it than 600gr lighter one and no sleep. An advantage is that it is neatly packed inside the rucksack with almost no problem fitting compare to the standard one which is always outside with its big volume.


Long walking distances require good shoes. I took two pairs and sandals. Basic shoes are sneakers Five Ten model Camp Four. They are trustful companion through difficult mountain paths over 5000m, through inevitable jumping on rocks with over 20kg on the back . A curious thing is that I twisted my ankle on a flat asphalt road at the beginning of my journey. Thus I’d love to say that there is no need of heavy mountain boots to walk in the mountains, even serious high altitude mountains in South America.

The other pair is mountain boots Asolo which were rarely used. Too ancient they were and the Gore Tex membrane damaged. Walking in mud and puddles in Patagonia made them wet and three days needed to dry out. So in February with greatest pleasure I left them. There is no need of such heavy shoes but in extreme wet, cold and rain (snow) conditions and with proper membrane. Walking in mud or swamps is possible with Five Ten, only an extra caution needed. I’ve crossed no less than hundreds of streams and brooks in the Andes and just once soaked my feet. My sneakers dried out in one day completely.

Strong advantage is that Five Ten are famous with their soles. I don know if “the best” is correct but for sure I am completely satisfied and safe with them. They do not slide.

Walking with heavy load on the back on a narrow path both sides precipices or on flat like mirror huge blocks of rocks proved their quality and I know for sure that Vibram or normal soles could have led me to fall in the abyss. Above all those shoes are extremely comfortable, my feet feel happy and at ease in it. 5 months usage did only a small slit at the front where the rubber touches the textile and the pressure is enormous. I felt ashamed explaining the prize and damages for 5 months to two Bolivian Indians. 900 boliviano (90 Euros) amazed them. They showed me their sandals made of old car tyre, for 17 boliviano, and would last 2 years. While walking on the paths in the mountains I saw lots of traces left by sandals worn with complete trust by the Indians.

In February I reached warm parts of Chili and finally saw my sandals Lizard Hex on my feet. Wet model. My opinion is that one desperately needs sandals in hot countries. In 30 degrees C the sneakers are harmful for the feet. Almost two months sandals carry my feet everywhere. Changed them once. Up in the mountains to protect my toes. Sandal construction is perfect for safe long distance walking. In the beginning I had some problems with the skin of my feet until I got used to the new sandals. They proved a little bit slippery on the pavement of La Pas. Two models available wet and dry. I chose the wet one because the other got velour which smells when wet. Inside they are ribbed for extra safety when sweat is a problem.

Sleeping Bag

Too important choice (as any choice) to leave it like this if one wants to sleep in the mountain or in a tent at all. Basic rule is there is no TOO warm sleeping bag. If I feel hot I open it and use it as blanket or do not use it at all. Light and warm sleeping bag means feather (down) one. Also this means expensive one. A disadvantage is they are very moisture capricious. If you can afford a feather sleeping bag take it. I was short in funds so took a synthetic sleeping bag Mamuth Ajungilak Kontiki, 1300g and temperature comfort -1 +4 degrees C.

Here is best to mention about the feeling of cold. It depends on so many different factors. Probably the most important of which is the level of moisture in the air.

More moisture, stronger the feel of cold.

Moisture reduces the isolation qualities of any sleeping bag.

In + 5 degrees C and enormous moisture in the air close to Fitzroy in Patagonia I felt far more freezing than in 0 degree and dry air in Atacama Desert or the plateau Altiplano. Body temperature depends also on the food a person ate– is it easy to absorb by the organism or takes a lot of energy to digest, does the food give a lot of energy or not etc. Honestly I could say that I’ve slept over 5400m with this sleeping bag in temperatures far below 0. At least in a windy conditions when the tent is frozen hard and streams - ice-bound. I used all my available clothes and the sleeping bag. Sometimes even gloves and a hat. Even though I am very sensitive to cold for me a sleeping bag for -1 degree C and all my clothes on is completely enough to keep me warm in any place in South America up till 5400m altitude.


Clothes could be changed in any country. Especially South America where is cheap. Walking in harsh conditions though requires special selection though. Light, easy to dry and warm clothes. Here is what I hardly changed for the last 7 months:

Climbing trousers made of strong and elastic material Milo. This is the Czech brand not the Bulgarian one. Wind proof and rock-spoil resistant. I’ve spent 110lv(55 Euros) for it and still don’t regret it. It protected me from Patagonian strong winds which could knock you down. These trousers are not for warm weather, they make you sweat and steamy. Easy to get spots on it. While it dries out it changes its colour but I like this. Makes me differ from shiny tourists. My summer trousers appeared to be a bad choice. I have bought them from Makalu shop for 20lv and really regret it. Only 3 times worn and almost torn apart I still keep them, they make me look really like a local Indian.

I took only two sweaters. Both made of  Polartec material. We call it Polar in Bulgaria. An expensive Alpinus one and the other I’ve bought second hand for 5lv. Both keep me equally warm and satisfied.The colour is black as I love it. Orange, pink, red colours I am not fond of.

Next important thing in my luggage are t-shirts – 4 of them. Three polyester (they dry faster) and one cotton, which is antique. I wear it since 2005 and still no damage. It costs 4lv in any street market in Bulgaria. Several weeks ago I took a new t-shirt “Yes, I climbed Huayna Potosi 6088 m” but I guess I don’t like it. Probably about to leave it behind soon.

Thermal underwear Alpinus – t-shirt and trousers.

I wear them while sleeping and while climbing the 6000m peaks. Both cost 80lv(40 Euros). Those underwear is made for low temperatures and strong body work. For instance cyclists.


I got 5 pairs – three Mund, a mountain socks and a cotton one. Each Mund pair of socks is different - very very warm, the second is made of Coolmax, and one Sahara Model – for summer. It is useless to my opinion to by mountain socks for a trip in South America. They are made for alpinists and prove to be very good in freezing conditions.

My cotton ones in 3 months are gone, so in La Pas I bought another pair.

Producer Hana. It is old one for 130lv, almost worn out. I am using it as a pillow mostly as there are no heavy rains recently.


Gloves, hat, shorts, towel.

I lost gloves and hat somewhere but nothing to worry about. A substitution of a hat is my Polartec Triangle which I use as forehead belt or face protection mask. Now I’ve got new gloves for 12 bolivianos with lamas on them.

Ferino Towel which is light and dries out easy. I left the other normal one which even small was too heavy.

As soon as I reached warm parts of Argentina and Chili I started finally to realize that a wide-brimmed hat is a necessity. In despair and pain at the end I saw the obvious. The Sun is strong and protection is needed. One I bought in Esquel, Argentina, only to forget it in some house in Chili. I still keep the other and go nowhere without it. Sun is cruel at 3500-5000m. Sun protection cream is useless for me, too oily and difficult to wash, especially when there is nowhere to wash it. Hat is far greater solution for me.

The idea of shorts was for a long time in my head. Though expensive finally in Chili I decided to buy one. Mistake. Only worn 2 or 3 times they sank deep into my rucksack, victim to the sun heat which forced me to protect all my feet. Soon I left them behind.

I kept for last my most helpful companion.

This is the Pertex material windproof light jacket. It is 100g, a wonder of new materials, easy to fit in a cigarette pack. I am so grateful to a friend which sold it to me for 30lv(15 Euros). I wear it everywhere all the time. Wind proof, sun heat proof, durable, breathing. No sweat with it. I adore it. True that it is not rain proof but there is no rain for a long time now.

Water filter

One might say this is strange but water is important for human body and to have a water filter is not just a scientist tool. In the beginning there was no need to filter the water. Through Argentina water is very good and in Patagonia I drank straight from the ice glacier rivers. In Chili it tasted rather chemical and in Bolivia when I sank into the mountains completely I started filtering. If someone told me water has a problem or I suspected up the stream lamas, vicunas or alpacas the water filter was trustful tool keeping me in good health. These animals roam up to 5200m.

My filter is MSR Miniworks. It consists of pump, ceramic body and a sieve 0,5 microns. These tiny holes are smaller than bacteria and viruses attached to the bacteria and eventually stop them. In the filter core there is a carbo activatus which makes water taste fresh, crystal and pleasant. (Refer please to photos Cafayate). I managed to filter crystal water looking like “boza”(home brown light drink) - muddy as swamp.

The perfect filter is for sure Katadyn Pocket but it’s prize is 230 $ and in Europe almost the same. Best advantage to mine is its life guarantee and that is made of metal. There is no carbo activatus though. Mine costs 65Euros and even plastic I believe it is second to Katadyn.


On the bottom of my rucksack is my magical pharmacy box. Impressive it is. First rule is medicine is nothing if you don’t know the disease. Exotic unknown illnesses surround me all the way and it is simply dangerous to put yourself a made up diagnose. So always is best to look for a doctor. Often I am alone though and there is a risk. By now only good old aspirin is used and only for a precaution. There is Antibiotic, Acyclovir for herpes, Analgin, Aulin, Imodium, and anti fungi pill in case of antibiotics bad after effect. No need for medicine by now as I am into the wild.

All fuel Primus Omnifuel proved to be taken in vain.

Too heavy (600gr), smelly and of no use.

I buy food in supermarkets. It is tasteful and cheap. Up until Bolivia where mountains are every where and a kilo rice or spaghetti was smallest and convenient load while trekking. So I bought light gas Doite, Vietnamese or Chinese. It is very cheap and easy to find everywhere in all South America. I boil in my Indian mug bought in any shop in Bulgaria for “1,2,3,4lv….20lv”.

Other paraphernalia

Some of them I might never got in use but just in case I carry them. Very useful 10m rope for laundry, shoe laces etc. Scissors, small and very strong shoemaker thread and needle. Pocket knife, outside hanging mug for instant use in different case. In Argentina and Chili I drank water from Gas station sinks where a bottle is impossible to fit under the spout. Convenient also to boil coffee or tea, but I do not drink them. My rucksack is not nearby, perhaps I forget something, any way these things are not so important.


A special 25 liter Tashev Rock Eagle rucksack for my electronics.

It is always with on the breasts or on the back.

This Tashev product is excellent compare to the big volume rucksacks.

There are just about 3 items there – My Sony R1 photo camera, MP3 player Sansa View 16Gb and Ectaco Jetbook.

Impossible is for me to shoot with another camera. I love it and brought with me filter B+W slim and soft  Signh Ray 3, two additional batteries, eight 4Gb cards, already filled 6 of them… or 7. I have no time to fix the gradient filter so normally I hold it with my hand which makes finger tips on it, no problem for me somehow.

Music is life for me. Never go anywhere without it. Even though when I soaked the player while passing a river silence was satisfying and beautiful. Dried out in the sun surprisingly it plays again. Traveler friends download music for me as well.

I had in mind to take with me an electronic book from the start. I suspected long waiting somewhere or in the middle of nowhere so I took it instead of laptop. It is lighter, cheaper and more energy independent. Battery holds 600 pages reading. 300 book pages this is. Hundreds of books are available to me. In Bulgarian most of it. This is a real joy keeping my mind in touch with magic and imagination of others. Always easy to recharge as sleeping in hostels or anywhere where electricity is available. It has a problem with MPG format and reads only text documents and PDF format. So no pictures and photos in it. The book is recharged by a USB charger which I use for the Mp3 player as well. Most of electricity plugs in Argentina, Chili, Bolivia and Peru are like Europe systems.

Other things in the small rucksack

Spanish-Bulgarian dictionary. Which I am not using any more. Notebook, pencil, pen, copy of a trekking book of Central Andes, travel maps of Argentina, Chili, Bolivia. Bottle of water and my lovely light jacket, home e-clock to wake me up. Money and papers which at first were on my neck under the jacket but later I started to keep them in the rucksack. Don’t know why.

to be continued – “What I left behind”