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  • Writer's pictureMarion Marquardt

Do we really need this? Useful and useless things on board

Space is in short supply - a 6 m² "house" requires a well thought-out packing concept and of course compromises
Who needs an ax on board? Unusual use cases justify one or the other tool
And you really only have 4 pairs of shoes with you? How does that work out?

When we prepared our car for shipping, we thought a lot about what to pack. Storage space is limited and the car should not be overloaded. On one hand because of the 3.5 tonnes maximum weight allowed (although we have never been checked for this until now. And we don't even know the weigh when fully loaded), on the other hand in order not to put too much strain on the vehicle. Just our Diesel (200 liters) and water (110 liters) supplies adds up to a lot of weight.

We actually focused on equipment. Equipment for our numerous hobbies and interests, to be independent of any rental companies. This includes

  • a surfboard. We have it fixed on our roof, secured with ratchet straps. Plus a wetsuit for each of us. In our first few weeks of traveling in Uruguay, we took went surfing at the beautiful Punto del Diablo. Although it is an "official" surfing beach, both the surf school and any rental shops were closed for the season. (Editor's note: It was winter, water temperature 13 degrees). Our route then took us first to Patagonia, where there was no opportunity to surf. It was only at the height of Santiago de Chile, in Maitencillo, that we “reactivated” the surfboard. However, it was already autumn and the water wasn't much warmer here either. We hope for an extended use central America in Caribbean temperatures :-)

surfen uruguay punta del diablo
Only for the brave - surfing at 13 degrees water temperature

  • a touring kayak. We have an inflatable kayak with us for three people. Why three? We use it for overnight trips on rivers, lakes or the sea. The huge luggage only fits on the middle seat :-)

Kajak rio serrano torres del paine
Kayaking the Rio Serrano

  • Climbing equipment. A few years ago we discovered sport climbing and have mostly practiced in Italy. Nevertheless, the equipment should of course not be missing. Not just for climbing - rope and harness are also useful for some trekkings. On the Huemul Trek in El Chalten, for example, we had some rivers to cross with Tirolesas (zip lines). And at least in the area of Mendoza in Argentina, some climbing spots were waiting for us.

huemul trek river crossing ausrüstung klettern
River crossing on the Huemul Trek - this is were the climbing equipment came in handy

  • Hiking boots. Of course. It feels like we use our hiking boots at least every third day in Patagonia. And we not only have our “summer hiking boots” on board, but also mountaineering boots that we can use together with crampons. Even though our expedition to Campo Hielo do Sur in El Chalten unfortunately couldn't be realized, we still used the crampons on glacier passages from time to time. The ice ax however has not yet been used...

gletscher villarrica vulkan steigeisen chile
When climbing the Villarrica volcano we have to cross an ice field

  • Tent, sleeping bags and everything you need for multi-day tours: large backpacks, flashlights, outdoor dishes, etc. In Patagonia, most of our hikes where multi-day treks. We love them as you get to even less frequented places and can really become “one” with nature. For Micha as a photographer, the best time for photography also plays a role. And that is early in the morning or late in the evening. Usually not possible on a day trip. We had incredible places to spend the night with the tent, for example on the edge of the Viedma Glacier, which we were able to admire at twilight (>>> click here for the blog).

Dientes de Navarino chile trekking zelt zeltplatz
Idyllic campsite on the Dientes de Navarino Trek

Equipment is, of course, not all we have with us. Let’s start with the "everyday things".

  • Clothes for all seasons and weather conditions, with a focus on functionality. We each got two drawers in our closet. Everything that is currently in use goes in there. There is also a box for each of us where additional clothes are stored. To be honest, the clothes have been sufficient so far - even though we only wash every 3-4 weeks. As a rule, we wear functional things. There isn't much streetwear in the wardrobe. Maybe jeans or a pair of sneakers for a city trip, but nothing more. My cocktail dresses stayed at home. But it's extremely rare that we're invited to events with a dress code :-)

  • Kitchen equipment, plates, pots, etc. Here too, of course, limited to the bare essentials. We cannot cater guests unless they bring their own wine glass :-) Very often in use is our mate tea set that we bought straight away when arriving in Uruguay. Micha in particular is a big fan of the South American ceremony.

mate tee getränk estancia helsingfors
Mate tea - not just a drink, more of a ritual in South America

  • Bathroom supplies such as shower gel, body lotion and hair dryer. I probably don't need to explain any more about it.

  • Also stored in the bathroom is our first aid kit. We checked with our doctor in Germany in advance and took medication for all cases with us. Of course, this includes such simple things as plasters and bandages, headache tablets, medicine for diarrhea, cystitis and sore throats. On top, a broad-spectrum antibiotic and (very strong) painkillers are on board. We've hardly needed anything so far - knock on wood! Of course, special places require additional medication, such as malaria prophylaxis (for the Amazon region) or pills for seasickness (for the Antarctic trip).

  • Our hand vacuum cleaner. An amazing device. So small and yet so powerful. And not just for cleaning - it has also proven itself when hunting mosquitoes in the Brazilian jungle. Simply vacuum the inside walls before going to bed and you'll have peace in the box without annoying blood stains on the wall.

  • Gadgets. This is a lot of useful bits and bobs, such as glue, silicone, hooks, wires, screws, clothespins, rubber, etc. Such things always find a use - but often a different one than the one designed for. Nevertheless, a great help given the numerous repairs. Whether loose license plates, a solution for securing loads or a wine bottle holder - if you want to be self-sufficient, you have to be creative :-)

  • Of course, the classic camping equipment should not be missing. In other words, outdoor chairs and table and inflatable seats for chilling out. There is also a gas grill - unfortunately only compatible with gas cartridges from Campinggaz, which are not available for purchase in South America. So far, however, we are still supplied and have been able to prepare fish a few times. Micha also likes to use the grill for bread. Since we don't have an oven, the grill is a good alternative for baking delicious flatbread.

bariloche grill lachs campinggaz
Fresh grilled salmon

  • We also have an ax and saw with us for campfire evenings. However, these tools are not only useful for chopping wood, but also for clearing jungle tracks of lianas, branches and other undergrowth :-)

brasilien pantanal dschungel axt
An ax can be useful for narrow jungle tracks

  • Our car is not only our vehicle, but also our home. Accordingly, we take good care of it. We have various spare parts on board, e.g. diesel filters and other spare parts that need to be replaced regularly. In addition, grease for the joints, electrical cables, screws and much else that could be needed. So far we were very lucky with our vehicle - or simply did the right investment: in a solid Toyota Landcruiser. There were never any major repairs. Nevertheless, it makes sense to have a well-stocked toolbox and a tire repair kit on board, and if it's just for the good conscience. Plus engine oil, brake fluid etc., of course. The latter ones you can buy at every – really every – gas station.

toyota landcruiser wartung abschmieren
Micha doing maintenance on our Toyota
  • We installed a compressor in the engine compartment. Very useful for checking tire pressure or regulating it before and after off-road trqcks. And it also proved useful for inflating our kayak :-)

kajak kompressor brasilien pantanal
Very practical - such a compressor on board

  • Last but not least comes what is obvious to you readers – the photography equipment and laptops. Of course, as a passionate photographer you don't save money. Micha has pretty much everything he owns with him. Makes sense, because he needs it where he is. As you can see on our website, every single lens is worth it! And to be more flexible when working on our blog, a Starlink has been on board for a few months now (>>> click here for the Starlink blog).

Starlink conguillio nationalpark
Thanks to Starlink, we are "online" in the most remote places - if we want :-)

And what’s “useless” on board? Good question. Actually nothing so far. Everything except a few clothes was used. And hopefully my beach dresses will be in use in Central America at the latest :-)

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