Part seven of an extract from All-Terrain Tactics by Glyn Demmer
When it comes to preparing for an overland trip, there are few substitutes for experience. Over time, you learn what is needed and what isn’t. But just because you’ve never needed a specific piece of equipment does not necessarily mean that you should leave it at home. Disaster can strike at any moment, and because of this it is important to prepare for any eventuality. Below you’ll find a list of items that should accompany you on every trip.
- Maps and a compass: You might own the latest satellite navigation device, but what happens if it stops working? Make sure that you always travel with a set of reliable maps and a sturdy compass. Keep the maps dry by sealing them in a plastic folder.
- Knife or multi-tool: A knife always comes in handy during a trip. Ideally, carry a multi-tool (a Leatherman is a good option) that has a screwdriver, can opener, scissors, saw and corkscrew.
- Water: Never enter an unknown area without a substantial supply of water. It is also a good idea to carry a water purifier or purifying tablets. A small camper’s stove can also be taken along. This nifty contraption is small and lightweight, but boils water very quickly and efficiently.
- Survival kit: Any survival kit should consist of a few key items. It should contain safety pins, wire, fishing line, hooks, sinkers, candles, matches, needles, waterproof thread, antibiotic tablets, plasters, a magnifying glass, salt, a pencil, a scalpel, a wire saw and a strong plastic bag. Some of these items might seem unnecessary, but they could mean the difference between life and death.
- Emergency kit: No 4×4 owner should venture into the wilderness without a first aid kit of some sort. Your kit should contain items that will allow you to deal with the majority of medical emergencies and help you to stabilise a patient until help arrives. You can buy emergency kits at most outdoor shops, but you can also compile your own. It should include plasters, gauze, bandages, antiseptic cream, scissors and basic medications (like headache tablets, cough medicine and antibiotics). Before setting off on a trip, it is also a good idea to have yourself checked out by a doctor.
- Food: Carefully calculate the number of breakfasts, lunches and dinners you will need to provide for. Take the number of people into account and try to plan ahead as to where (or when) you may be able to stock up. Also try to divide your provisions into categories such as fridge items, meat, fruit, vegetables, tinned foods, drinks and snacks.
Tip: Have your meat and vegetables vacuum-packed, as this will help to keep them fresher for longer. Store bottles in plastic bags to prevent messy leakages.
CREATING A TRAVEL FILE
Another important part of preparing for an overland trip is the creation of a travel file. This file should contain all the documents and information related to your trip. Most importantly, it should hold all your visas, passports, ID documents, insurance information and registration papers. It should also contain an itinerary, your international driver’s licence, traveller’s cheques, petrol cards, permits and booking receipts. Maps can also be kept in the file.
BEFORE YOU GO…
- Service your vehicle.
- Suspend your telephone service.
- Place any weapons in safekeeping.
- Stop newspaper delivery.
- Inform your security company.
- Leave a message on your answering machine.
- Leave spare house keys with a neighbour.
It is important to pack strategically. Make sure that items that will be unpacked at your destination are stored at the back, while things that you will need throughout your trip are kept at the front. Your camping equipment should be transported in metal trunks. If your equipment is being transported in an open vehicle, protect it with a tarpaulin.
If you stow items on a roof rack, make sure that everything is properly secured. A lot of expeditions have been ruined by expensive items that were damaged in transit. This is especially true if you will be travelling on off-road tracks. To ensure that everything stays in place, make use of strong ratchet straps. These straps are very reliable, and if fastened properly, won’t come loose.
PREPARING FOR BREAKDOWN
Finally, it is crucial that you prepare for a potential vehicle malfunction. Hopefully, your 4×4 won’t let you down, but you should still travel with the necessary parts and equipment. Here’s a comprehensive list of things you might need:
- Wire brush
- Blowtorch and cartridge
- Fuel and vacuum lines
- Radiator hoses (top and bottom)
- Clamps for hoses
- Fan belts
- Distilled water
- Jumper cables
- Spare 12 volt battery
- Voltage meter
- Fuses and bulbs
- Electric cable lines
- Nuts and bolts
- Spade and axe
- Siphoning hose
- Insulation tape
- Brake fluid and motor oil
- Tyre pump, spanner, lever and pressure gauge
- Tyre tubes and patch kit
If all goes according to plan, you’ll never need these items. So it might seem like a hassle to travel with all this gear, but let me assure you, being over prepared is never a bad thing. The minor inconvenience of carting around emergency equipment is nothing compared to the horrible feeling of being stranded in the middle of nowhere without the necessary kit.