This series of posts documents two ordinary folks attempting to get out there and do good. Over the next few months, we’ll follow them through the setbacks and triumphs of their endeavor to take the inspiration of Mountainfilm and turn it into something tangible. (To catch up. start here.)

Traveling is great. And what’s the best part of traveling: experiencing new cultures? making new friends? learning more about our wonderful planet?

Nah. The best part of traveling is the gear.

We’re being silly, but honestly, there’s little more satisfying than purchasing something that ends up really working for you. Below is a list of some things we found particularly useful in Ghana.

Amazon Kindle: An eBook reader is a must, particularly if you’re spending an extended period of time in a place where reading isn’t all the rage. In terms of functionality, Kindle may be an apt name, as you might be tempted to light it on fire if it stops working. But for the sanity- and relationship-preserving convenience of having unlimited books at your fingertips, the Kindle is a P-P-P-POWERMOOOOOVE!

ChicoBag: This little bag has been incredibly handy. It’s made of 99% recycled content, packs down small, and has a carabiner so you can snap it wherever you please. As Jenny’s pack mule, I’ve come to realize the value of having an extra-portable, yet spacious, saddlebag when she decides she wants to buy her weight in African cloth.

First Ascent BC-200 Jacket (pictured): Ghana’s dry season isn’t, in fact, dry. It’s simply drier than the rainy season, which is why Jenny’s First Ascent waterproof shell has been critical. It offers fail-proof protection against the not-so-infrequent deluge, but is breathable in the oppressive Ghanaian heat. It’s also super lightweight and tear-resistant (no ripping holes in this jacket when climbing into a ramshackle tro-tro), and most importantly, it looks damn good on my gal.

iPhone: An unlocked iPhone will work on many international networks, and if you’re traveling without a computer, it’s a perfect way to access the internet. Ghana may not have universal access to potable water, but you can download Britney on 3G. Bonus: You can use the Skype App anywhere there is Wi-Fi to phone home for cheap.

Mosquito Net: It’s hard to review an item when its intended purpose is to prevent something. (If nothing happens, it works.) But hats off to our mosquito net: despite our buggy environs, we didn’t get malaria. Huzzah.

MSR PackTowl: When you think “camp towel,” you probably think “puny scrap of cloth with the absorbent capacity of a thimble.” Not so with the MSR Packtowel Personal. It gets you totally dry, packs down small, and dries quickly, all of which keeps you from skipping a shower and suffering that “oh my god, that smell is ME” moment.

Osprey Talon 22 Backpack: On tro-tros, you’re frequently stacked arse-to-elbows with your fellow travelers. Having a compact yet capacious pack is essential, and the Osprey Talon 22 is all this and more. You can cram tons of stuff into it, the multi-adjust shoulder straps and burly waist straps help you save on your chiropractor bill, and the airscape back valiantly fights otherwise inevitable backsweat.

Vibram Five Fingers Bikilas: Being the only obrunis in town, Jenny and I are constantly the center of attention. As this level of celebrity was insufficient, we decided to wear attention-grabbing shoes to step it up a notch. Enter Vibram Five Fingers. Strapping on a pair of Bikilas is like turning into a ninja. You become extremely nimble and bound along your run with fiendish glee. The only downside is that you have to temper your enthusiasm and break in those underused foot muscles slowly. More info on barefoot running phenomenon.

There you have it. Now let us know some of your travel staples that make things easier, serve crucial functions, or help you cling to your sanity a bit!

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