One of the great things about backpacking is the sense freedom that it offers travellers. The ying to the yang however, is the sense of absolute panic that ensues when it comes to packing and we’re not referring to what we’ll be wearing everyday. It’s not only, just where to start but where do you find kit that suits the style of travel that you’re embarking on. When we buy our kit, we do it with practicality for the type of trip, comfort and flexibility in mind and this often doesn’t mean the most expensive. So, here’s some of what we’re taking with us. We’ll review it along the way and totally keeping our fingers crossed that we’ve made the right choices.
Luggage – Our preference is the iconic North Face Base Camp duffle. After 22 years of travelling the globe together, I’ve sadly just had to replace my original North Face duffle bag but without hesitation I bought a replacement, albeit the next size up. It is the most distinctive bag on baggage carousels around the world. They hint of far-flung, off the beaten track locations and I cannot rate them highly enough. The go to bag that has never let us down.
Sleeping Mats – 80% of our trip will be camping so comfort when sleeping on bone dry ground is essential. We’ll also encounter beds in lodges that are rock hard and our sleeping mats will fit easily under the sheets so our mats will be invaluable. I first used a Thermarest ProLite when I trekked the Annapurna Circuit in the 1990’s and have used it ever since when camping. A back injury, sees me upgrading to a Thermarest LuxuryMap for this trip which despite its bulk in my kit bag it will definitely provide me with a much greater degree of support and comfort. Brownie on the other hand is much more hard core and will stick with her trusty ProLite.
Pillow – Creature comforts are all important when you’re on the road and it’s often the little things that make the difference. Gone are the days of bunching up clothes in a stuff sack and resting our heads on that. The ThermaRest Compressable Pillow rolls up neatly when not in use and is surprisingly comfortable to sleep on. It will be a constant companion as I am particularly prone to falling asleep whilst in any moving vehicles.
Sleeping Bag Liners – Now these are the most invaluable pieces of kit. On our Africa trip we’ll be taking 2 different types. Firstly a cotton liner from Decathlon which will not only protect our sleeping bag, making it last longer, but for hot nights will make for a more comfortable sleep. We can protect ourselves from the bugs even if our sleeping bag is unzipped. For the cooler nights of the African winter, we’re taking a fleece sleeping bag liner to keep us toasty.
Water Bottles – In the UK we’re incredibly fortunate to be able to take clean, safe drinking water for granted. Sadly, that is not the case in many countries around the world and particularly Africa. So after a lot of research we’ve plumped for Water to Go bottles. The bottle has a filter that use 3-in-1 technology to remove harmful contaminants from your drinking water. They filter in excess of 99.9% of chemicals, like chlorine and fluoride, heavy metals like lead, as well as bacteria and viruses, while removing any bad taste or smell from the water. We’re know that these bottles will be absolutely invaluable as we travel through Africa.