Costa Rica Prepping (Part III of III)

This is the final post of my three part series leading up to my two week birding trip to Costa Rica. I thought I’d cover what I’m taking, my gear, and how I travel. Since I plan on doing a lot of traveling over the next 15 years, and much of it for birding, I am making a detailed list of everything (yes, every little detail), so I can start to whittle down the unused/unnecessary items and keep track of any items I wish I would have brought. I figure creating a post will be good documentation as I pack for future trips.

Since just about everyone loves cool gear, I’m going to start with two items which I’m geeked-up about.

First up is the Spider Holster. Ever since I bought my camera I’ve been struggling with how to carry a camera & binoculars without having them swinging around or dangling from my shoulder. Since I use a harness system for my binoculars, I’ve been birding with the camera hanging from my shoulder which is uncomfortable and doesn’t provide protection as it swings around bumping into trees and shrubs. After doing some research online, I settled on the Spider Holster and what a slick piece of gear it is! Basically, it’s a quick release holster for easy access, comfort, and allows for quickly switching from bins to camera. Click through the gallery below – a description is included below each photo with more info on how it works.

The other piece of gear I want to share is my Osprey Porter 46. This is the sickest carry-on travel bag on the market. At 46 liters, it’s more than enough for most travelers and is the maximum size allowed for carry-ons. Plus, my Osprey Daylite (see below for more info) “nests” on the Porter. Click on the photo gallery for detailed information on some of the features that make this the ideal pack for travelling.

My goals for packing for this trip, as well as future trips, is to pack light and avoid checking luggage. Part of this is the minimalist in me – I want to be unencumbered with things on the road, making it easier to move from lodge to lodge as well as around the cities and airports. Also, having only carry-on luggage means no chance of my luggage going missing or missing a connecting flight, and no waiting around at the luggage carousel – it’s straight to, and hopefully through, customs. Finally, there’s a freedom and sense of adventure that comes with knowing you can survive with just the pack on your back. Many people travel the world for 6 months to a year with only carry-on luggage by using the “wear one, wash one, one extra” rule – meaning you only take 3 shirts, 3 pants, 3 socks, etc…. One is worn, one is washed, and one is extra. I’m not quite that extreme, but packing with the idea that people travel the world with only 3 of each clothing item helps keep me in the correct mindset.

Below is everything laid out from my original list. I didn’t think I’d fit everything – especially if I took my hiking boots, but with the Osprey Porter I was able to fit everything and still have extra room. That being said, I’ve already started to jettison some items like an extra pair of shorts, one of the hats, etc…

I’m not going to discuss every item I’m taking, but there is a complete packing list at the bottom of this post – this includes every single item. Instead I’m just going to highlight what I consider are some key items.

Clothing – look for synthetics instead of cotton. The three pairs of pants I’m bring are 75% nylon or more, my t-shirts and boxers are 94% nylon and 6% cotton. This material is very light weight and most importantly, will dry quickly. This is great in a country where it could rain at any moment. Plus, all of these items can be washed fairly quickly in a sink and will dry within 2-4 hours.

Shoes – I’m bringing hiking boots for any really muddy conditions, but really I could get away with just bringing my Salomon hiking shoes. Again, these shoes are super light and since they are made for trail running, their comfortable and will dry quickly. Instead of worry about waterproofing every inch of footwear, I’m fine with getting wet feet during the day and knowing my shoes will dry overnight.

Osprey Daylite – this 13 liter pack is an ideal travel companion. This is my daypack and will carry my bins, camera, cleaning supplies, snacks, field guide, rainjacket, etc… It’s small, comfortable, and perfect for carrying all my goodies during the day. Osprey makes great, functional packs and the Daylite nests on my Porter 46. So together the 46 liter Porter and 13 liter Daylite give me 59 liters of capacity and the Daylite fits the personal item so I can carry both packs on the plane.

My final prep for Costa Rica:

Easy to maintain haircut and shave. The “Me” on the right doesn’t know who that other hillbilly is!

Well that’s it for now, but just because I’m heading out of the country for two weeks doesn’t mean the site will be dormant – stay tuned for a new blog post or two from the road. Looking forward, April should be a great month here at Bird It UP! I will be doing a weekly series – 4 posts in total – covering my trip and should (hopefully) have a vast collection of photos to share. Besides that, migration here in Wisconsin will be picking up and with the weather warming, I should have weekly local updates. As I get ready to Bird It Up in Costa Rica, I offer you my uncles salutations and remind you to: bird on!

Click the link to jump to the next post in this series: Turrialba Volcano – The Troublemaker

Complete Costa Rica Packing List:

Columbia Aruba IV pants
North Face Libertine Zipoff pants x 2
Hiking boots – Keen Targhee
Baseball cap x 2
ExOfficio T-shirts x 4
ExOfficio Boxers x 4
Socks x 8
Shirt  x 1
Long-sleeve shirt
Rain jacket
Salomon X Ultra hiking shoes
Bandana x 2
Boxers/T-shirt (sleepwear)
Nail clipper
Dr. Bronner’s
Benadryl cream
Antacids x5
Benadryl tabs x 8
Triple antibiotic cream
Clothesline (paracord)
Sanitizer/hand wipes
Memory Card x 3 & holder
Camera Charger
Travel Journal
Several Pens
Garrigues field guild
CR birding list
Empty water bottle
$50 singles for tips
$300 for incidentals, guide & driver tip
Passport & ALL travel docs
Phone Charger
Osprey Raincover
Microfiber cleaning clothes
Lumber pack (makeshift camera case during travel)
Ziplock bags
Energy bars
Lock for luggage
Ear plugs
Spiderholster for camera
Blower for lens
Grocery Bags for storage
Inflatable neck pillow
Headphones (IEMs)

5 thoughts on “Costa Rica Prepping (Part III of III)”

  1. I use a wind up torch rather than a headlight – less batteries to bring. I also never travel without a corkcrew/bottle opener – either on a swiss army knife or a wine-waiters friend. A little packet of kleenex can be useful in case of gastro issues where facilities may be lacking. Other than that I think you’re pretty well equipped!


  2. Thanks for the feedback Stuart! I’m using my Princeton headlamp which I use for camping – no extra batteries needed, the new LED lamps use very little juice. Plus it’s about 1/3 the weight of a wind up torch. Good call on the tissue packet – roger that, it’s been added to the day pack. If I was camping/backpacking I’d definitely bring my swiss army knife – I’m thinking on this trip I’ll only be drinking at the pub where they better have a bottle opener. Otherwise, the edge of a table works just as well – nothing stands between a Wisconsinite and his beer! Cheers mate, see you in a few days!!!


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