Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Smartwool tights and MoonCups: The Who's Who of making this trip fashionably awesome

Top of Chacaltaya. Smartwool tights and big smiles. Photo credit: Some sweet, random Brazilian guy.
The night Miami Airport lost Jeff's luggage, mere hours before we were slated to leave the country for 3 weeks in Nicaragua, was the night I silently dedicated myself to One Bag Travel. I'd packed a third of my school bag with sun dresses and bikinis and loved the ease of travel — no checked bags, no second backpack strapped to my stomach as I bumbled through crowds, no chronic back pain. Easy.

One stanky bag. Photo credit: Jeff Encke
Not so easy? Packing for 3 months at high altitude in the winter. I researched and I crowd-sourced and I almost gave up, but having bragged to nuns about my One Bag plan for Peru, I figured that not just my back was on the line, but also my immortal soul. I may not be a religious gal, but I know you don't mess with nuns.

Most of the info I came across for "light packing" was for warm climates, people who stated that they don't care what they look/smell like, or women with a very different interpretation of the concept (example: only bringing your hair drier and leaving the curlers at home!) If there are any light-packing, picky-dressing gals out there looking for a little reassurance that the One Bag can be done, I wanted to leave you with a resounding Sí, se puede! Here's a round-up of this trip's Winners and Wannabes:

  • Fitted Nike Boy Shorts: I wore the fitted shorts ALL THE TIME. Under all my dresses when I was in high flash-risk situations: hiking, combis, spiral staircases, etc. Swimming, running, sleeping. Everything. Best shorts ever and next time I'll bring two.
  • The MoonCup and GladRags. Look them up, environmentally-conscious ladies. Best purchase ever.
  • Smartwool trail running socks and midweight tights: These are the freaking bomb because I could wear them for days without them smelling bad and could wash them in the sink at night and they'd be dry by morning. And the tights are so, so warm. 
  • New Balance WT10 Trail Running Shoes: So light, so comfy. I totally avoided wearing these for the first month because I was so in love with my TOMS and because, well, running shoes + dress was not a look that I was mentally prepared to be rocking on a daily basis. But a fateful hike in Ollantaytambo saw the rapid demise of my TOMS, their soles stripped bare on the rocky trail. In order to keep all of the teeth in my face from making contact with the smooth stone streets of Cusco, I swallowed my fashion pride and sported the NB's. We ended up running Machu Picchu, Arequipa, and some of Chacaltaya in these shoes and I am definitely in love.
  • ExOfficio Wrap: This was the only sweater that I brought, but paired with my North Face raincoat (which has been flaking its inner layer all over my clothes and is definitely NOT a contender), I was perfectly warm, even at night in Cusco. I washed it by hand and it was always dry the next day. My only regret is not bringing another one in a different color.
  • Horny Toad Neko dress: Organic cotton, simple and cute. I could live in this dress. I kind of have.
Also a shout out to my TOMS, which I should NOT have tried to hike in. Washable, quick-dry, goes with everything, and not to be worn on sharp rocks. RIP, TOMS, you'll be missed.

  • The ExOfficio Pavé dress: Super quick drying and comfy, super awkward slit. I wore this when all of my other dresses were dirty and if it hadn't been for my trusty Nike boy shorts, I would have flashed half of Bolivia in this thing. I think with some tailoring and some well-placed stitches it can be cute, but I just looked like a frumpy exhibitionist.


  1. I need a replacement as my Divacup doesn't fit right after baby-birthing. ;) Glad you appreciate the Mooncup-- I'll need to seek out my next buy soon. Thanks for all the recommendations-- will be bookmarking the page for my next adventure! :)

    1. Hi, Erin! I had to chop the stem in half on it, but once I did that it was perfect. They make different sizes for pre/post-birthing, don't they? Thanks for reading and hopefully you have some good ideas for future trips!