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Outdoor Gear I Brought to the Amazon (And Gear I Wish I’d Had)

When it comes to places you can go for some serious outdoor adventure, the Amazon has to be up there on the list. I just got back from a real-life jungle cruise in the Brazilian Amazon (with kids!), and it was an incredible experience.

However, it would have been a little bit less incredible if I hadn’t had some trusty gear on hand. If you’re planning a trip full of outdoor adventure, especially if you’ll be hiking somewhere rainforest-y, here are some gear recommendations that’ll help maximize the fun. (Also stay tuned for the piece of gear I wish I’d had on this trip of a lifetime.)

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Amazon River cruise
Image by Josh Hestermann

The Best Outdoor Gear I Brought to the Amazon

The One Piece of Gear I Wish I’d Had

TOBIQ 30L Travel Bag

TOBIQ Travel bag
Image by TOBIQ

I no longer want to travel without a TOBIQ duffle bag in hand. The 30L “mini TOBIQ” is carry-on sized, with hideaway backpack straps, a padded laptop sleeve, and a clever hideaway water bottle holder, so it’s perfect for the airport and the plane. Each of the four zippered compartments has small pockets inside, which makes it very handy for organizing and keeping various family members’ items separated. (Particularly if you have a family of four, like me.)

I packed items for everyone in my TOBIQ bag (I got the Zion color scheme) for our long plane ride to Brazil. We had our passports and IDs in there, emergency clothes, extra socks and jackets, headphones, chapsticks, pens, snacks, and much more.

TOBIQ makes larger versions of this bag, too, but for this trip, I wanted a bag for the plane and for times when we’d be away from our boat for several hours but not hiking (like when we were exploring local villages and ghost towns along the river, etc.).

XERO Shoes: Z-Trail EV Sandals and Scrambler Mid Hiking Boots

On our river boat and when we went out in canoes for non-hiking purposes, I lived in my Z-Trail EV hiking sandals from XERO Shoes. (See a more detailed review of them here.)

For treks in the rainforest, I wore another pair of XEROs, the Scrambler Mid hiking boots. These are lightweight, waterproof, and grippy. They didn’t make my feet any hotter than they needed to be, despite the very muggy and sweaty situation down there on the forest floor.

While hiking in any sort of dense jungle or forest, a boot that goes up above the ankle is a wise choice.

Smartwool Hiking Clothes: Active Ultralite Hoodie, Sun Hat, and Active Slim Jogger Pant

It felt a little wrong while packing my bags to bring long sleeves and pants to a place near the Equator, but I knew I’d need the bug and sun protection. I went with lightweight merino wool items to check all my boxes for bushwhacking in the jungle.

Smartwool’s merino wool line of products for both women and men is very wearable and outdoor chic. The Active Ultralite hoodie for women is a winner in my book, as are the Active Slim Jogger pants, which work well for hiking when you need your legs covered and for long hours on a plane.

I wore Smartwool’s sun hat a whole lot on my trip to the Amazon . . . and on subsequent kayaking trips. It’s a smart accessory for hiking and water sports, no matter where you are (presuming the sun is out).

Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Picaridin Towelettes

Avon SSS Wipes 2
Image by Avon

Before heading into a tropical place, you’ll need to have an insect repellent. My family’s choice for our last three trips into Central and South America have been Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Picaridin Towelettes, because they’re just that good. We appreciate this DEET alternative that actually works. The individually packaged towelettes are easy to bring along on excursions and simple to apply to adults and kids alike.

Teton Sports Oasis Hydration Hiking Day Pack

Teton Sports Day Hiking Pack
Image by Teton Sports

A good day pack is essential for trips designed for outdoor adventure. This one from Teton Sports has everything we needed for our treks into the Amazon Rainforest. Two water bottle compartments is a must on long hikes (plus, it is hydration-bladder compatible), and it has all kinds of pockets and places to stash the snacks and the just-in-case gear.

If you’re exploring in a rainforest, you’d better be prepared for rain, and this day pack is. There’s a handy rain cover tucked into a secret pocket at the bottom of the bag. We used the rain cover on our trip during a sudden downpour that passed as quickly as it came.

Gear I Wish I’d Had: Maven C.3 Binoculars

Maven binoculars
Image by Bethanie Hestermann

Though we did have binoculars on our trip to the Amazon, they were not good binoculars, and I really wish we’d had a better pair. The Maven C.3 binoculars are a wildlife lover’s dream, and if I could go back in time and buy ourselves a pair before we left, I would.

If you’re going to a place with abundant wildlife, like the Amazon, don’t skimp on the binoculars! Get a quality pair that’ll let you see the monkeys, the birds, and the river dolphins—because you do not want to miss those moments.

These Maven binoculars aren’t leaving my side from now on—especially next time I’m in an cool place.

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