With the Beaut back in Blighty, and just about functional (MOT pending), I thought it a good time to publish a list of our favourite bits of equipment and kit from the trip. Take them all with a pinch of salt – if there is anything that we’ve learnt from this trip, it’s that different people have different opinions! And that different kit is appropriate for different vehicles/people/conditions.
And so, in a vague order (but not really), here are our top 10 over landing essentials:
10. Lockable storage box. Ours was on the roof. We found it vital for locking away kit that we weren’t using often. Particularly useful on a long trip where your down isn’t so essential in South East Asia, but will be in the Pamir Mountains!
9. Table and chairs (not the cheapest). Flat space is vital. Really vital. And yes, you could make do by sitting on something else, but we used the chairs in particular pretty much every day.
8. Kettle. Yes, you could boil water in a pan. And we did, sometimes. But if you are cooking for more than just one or two, then putting the kettle on is just better.
7. Pressure cooker. We read about using a pressure cooker on another blog somewhere. Amazing. It made our life so much easier as it speed up cooking, and made one pot meals a doddle – especially useful if it’s so cold outside that just leaving something alone bubbling away whilst you all huddle together inside is essential to morale! We were unconvinced until we bought it. Now it’s made the list!
6. An auxiliary battery (installed on a domestic circuit). So important that some overland vehicles have two. You don’t want to turn the key in the morning, to discover that you’ve drained your battery the night before. You also don’t want to be worrying about it every time someone plugs their phone in!!
5. Coleman duelfuel two ring burner. It worked brilliantly for us, running on petrol. Probably would have run even better if we’d cleaned it more often!
4. A decent head torch (each). We all used ours everyday. A head torch is one item where if you buy cheap, it usually breaks.
3. Having more than one electronic charging point. To be honest, I don’t think you can have too many. The cigarette lighter to USB connection was what we used the most. Don’t even bother with the cables that come with lots of different attachments. They break if you look at them.
2. Delorme InReach explorer. This is one area where you will need to decide for yourself what is most appropriate for your trip. We were thrilled with our choice. It gave us the peace of mind of having an SOS button; it gave us the option of sending free (once you’ve paid the monthly fee!), “all OK” messages; we could send personalized text messages to predetermined numbers to explain a problem if we needed to; people could send us messages if needed; anyone could see where we were if they wanted by logging in online, which gave peace of mind to worried families, and a source of banter to friends (haha you’re in the middle of a desert… I’m in a pub…); and you get a beautiful trace on a map of where you’ve been at the end of it! All in all, we loved it, and would choose it again. For completeness, our other options (before choosing the Delorme) were a SPOT tracker, or a Sat phone. To be honest, it was between the SPOT or the Delorme for us. Tom argued for a sat phone for a long time, but eventually realised it’s limitations when Jon posed the question: “but who would you ring that could help…?”
1. The winner. Our Lifesaver jerrycan. This was a last minute addition to our kit (arriving literally the week before we left) after Tom had watched a TED talk about the technology. Makes pure drinking water from anything. Literally anything. The guy in the TED talk uses pond water mixed with dog poo. And yes, the company went briefly into administration over false advertising (their system could only filter 99.99% of stuff rather than 99.999% as claimed), but that was good enough for us, and we didn’t get sick from water for 9 months. It is hideously expensive, (about £250), but saved a lot of money on bottled water! I reckon it actually saved us money in the long run. We teamed ours up with a charcoal filter to remove any tastes/colourings from the water which we would recommend. Makes the filter last longer too!
Other things to note:
Having a professionally installed roof rack gave us great peace of mind. Brownchurch in London were brilliant for us (don’t get them to do anything other than roof racks though!). We were on and off the roof more than we thought.
Nav free (open source map software). The iOS version is called maps.me and it was (generally) brilliant. We met loads of travellers who were using it. It’s free, it’s accurate, and it works offline.
We found ourselves wanting a wind up table lantern. Eating / preparing food by head torch light is fine, but does tend to attract the flies to the face after dark!
We bought a HiLift jack for the trip. We thought it would be versatile, and essential off-roading kit. In reality, we didn’t use it once; it was bulky, and very heavy. We used a small bottle jack every time instead. A prime example of rookies buying an excellent bit of kit that just isn’t appropriate for their vehicle, or their trip! Ah well!