What's your packing list for the tropics? (1 Viewer)

Tony Pro

Aug 24, 2015
I've read some amazing stories about dudes here going caveman mode in Latin America and Asia; I hope one of you sees this and can give me an answer.
I've never backpacked anywhere tropical in the middle of a rainy season, but that's my plan for this summer. I have several concerns about what conditions are gonna be like, and they're all centered around gear.
-Tent or hammock? Hammock+tarp setup seems better for keeping my ass dry; no slogging through muck looking for a dry patch. Finding trees won't be an issue. The major problem is mosquitoes; the hammocks I have experience with had really thin material as a base, and it seems like skeeters would have no problem biting through it. And the fabric on the sides gets sucked in right next to your skin. Thoughts? I'll be in malaria/dengue/encephalitis country.
-Sleeping bag or wool blanket? Both seem like a nightmare to deal with in perpetual damp.
-Footwear: Waterproof boots or quick-dry sneaks? I've read that a whole menagerie of fungus is likely to start at my toes and creep its way up and there's not much I can do to stop it besides keep dry.
-Then there's the heat: what kind of clothes should I wear to control heat, moisture and BO?
-Finally, what are miscellaneous items I should have? I'm already bringing a water filter and poncho, plus my regular camping kit.
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Wise Sage
Nov 15, 2012
I wouldnt say I went full on caveman, but did 3 months each in both CA and SA.
I used a 35L pack and was good.

I hammock/tarp set is perfect. (unless you going higher than 12,000 ft). It was always easy to find a spot, compact, and never that cold. Even at 10000 ft i slept comfortably w my clothes on. My sleeping bag is rated 32, but usually I slept under it rather than in it. If you wanted to do a trek requiring a tent ya can always rent one for cheap rather than carry it and only use it 3 nights.

If your close to water the skeeters are just something you have to deal w. You get used to it. I had a net which helped. I would also spray my hammock down w deet, and also used lemon eucalyptus oil and lavender. I dont know if the oils actually help, but that answers your BO problems as well.

Footwear is preference. I really like quick drying minimal. I wore new balance minimus. Id suggest something the breathes and can air out super quick. Pack a pair of flip flops.

The water filter will come in clutch. It seems small, but I spent a fair amount of money on drinking water my 1st trip to latin america. It adds up.


Oct 16, 2015
yr on the right track with the mosquitoes, i was bitten a thousand times on my head through a mosquito net that wasn't wide enough that i had the top of my head against...i also move around a lot in my sleep so that's a tough thing to avoid...i guess the more barriers you can create with the idea of them piercing enough material to get yr skin, the less likely you will be punctured in the night. so MFB has a good point about putting the sleeping bag 'over' you rather than around you.

but also on that note, a sleeping bag may not be necessary, let alone the wool blanket. just another thing to get wet and putrid...the little time I've spent in the tropics I've sometimes deadass just slept outside on a mat saying fuk it all - because i was awoken to pure sweat in the tent..yes hammocks are better for sure. if you are planning to go to where it never goes below 65 farenheit overnight you should be fine with just yr clothing. bring more clothing. polyester clothing. I'm not sure exactly where you're planning to go. Of note i am extremely hairy and @160 lbs. if you are not hairy or if you are less bulky, maybe you will fare better in the heat.

water filter all the way..bring two types if you can

i have LL Bean boots i was kicked (no pun intended) down to optimize skin cover and boating fun. talcom powder is not too expensive to de putrify them. i also still have some open footwear that are just too comfortable to get rid of. I get bit but that's the chance i take


Aug 23, 2018
Hammock and tarp is definetly the way to go. Keeps you off the wet ground and away from snakes.

I would concider bringing a light sleeing bag or blanket. I didnt bring one, wouldnt need it I thought. Untill I hit the mountains in guatemala, literally had to go into survival mode to keep warm on some nights.

For footware; Either some sturdy close-toed sandals for a mix of protection and breathability. Or rubber rain boots for no breathability but waterproofness(almost nothing else labeled ‘water proof’ is actually proof against water)
Personally I would go with sandals, as the sweat from boots with cancel out the waterproofness most of the time anyway. I didnt like sneakers either, they trap moisture around your foot like a plastic bag, take days to dry out fully, and usually just rot away within a month.
Also, NOTHING made with leather.

For clothing you have to wear something with good airflow. A short sleeve button down for example. I got some sort of sores on my back from the sweat and claminess wearing regular t-shirts. Eventually I took a bed sheet, cut it like a narrow poncho so the edge went just past my shoulders. And tied it at the waist into a sort of tunic. Worked great!

Depending on where your going, I would concider stocking up on high percentage deet bug spray. I found it almost impossible to find anything higher then 25% in central america. You need ATLEAST 20% to keep the mosquitoes(but not the sand flies or tougher gnats) off you for a full nights sleep.

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