With so much gear available from different brands these days, it can be tricky to decide what you really need and what’s just adding weight to your bag. So to help you with your packing, we asked ten leading outdoor experts and adventurers to give us their top essential pieces of kit that they couldn’t do without.
Roll Top Dry Bags
Kerry O’Neill, Secret Compass
‘They are useful for everything. High quality dry bags can help keep your kit waterproofed. They can help separate your kit types into (for instance) waterproof stuff, socks and underwear, personal hygiene stuff. When leaving bags in hotels (at the start of an expedition) you can write your name on them in permanent marker to help recognise the bag when you get back. When rafting or packrafting, you can secure them to the boat to keep useful things (camera, suntan lotion, UV lip balm) to hand. With a large rucksack, a colour-coded selection of dry-bags saves you rummaging around in the dark – you just pull out the bag with the stuff you’re looking for. One very large dry-bag can go directly inside your rucksack, acting as a waterproof liner within which everything else sits, as few rucksacks are actually waterproof on the outside. Some dry bags come with small transparent panels on them to help see what’s inside at a glance. The above one is the Sea to Summit brand at Cotswold.’
‘Lifeproof Phone Case
Read Macadam, Professional Climber and Life coach
‘My lifeproof iPhone case is the most essential kit I’ve purchased this year. I take my phone on all my adventures. It’s usually the easiest to reach camera and a last resort emergency communicator. I bought the case, not because I want to go under water, but because in the top flap of my pack my previous phones got mangled between my knife, car keys, sun glasses and other treasures I’ve collected on the path. This thing keeps my phone intact and scratch free!’
MSR Dragonfly Stove
Mike Edmondstone, Journalist and Adventurer
‘For me, the piece of kit would have to be the MSR Dragonfly stove. I’d take it with me every time I’d set out on an adventure that lasts over a day.
The most useful feature about it is its ability to burn pretty much any type of liquid fuel: unleaded, diesel, kerosene or white fuel. The means, of course, you can be anywhere in the world and expect to find a reliable fuel so you can get a hot meal.
The stove also allows for plenty of flame adjustment, meaning your food isn’t burnt at the bottom and still cool on top: you are able to simmer your food – something I’m sure many campers have been wanting on many a trip.
The stove is also pretty hardy. I’ve been on the road more than 8 months now, and the stove has taken a bit of a beating in that time. It still works as well as the day I bought it, and nothing has bent out of shape or become damaged. Regular servicing with the servicing kit provided – changing washers, occasionally fixing small parts of the plastic pump – ensures top performance.
Built to withstand harsh mountain climates, the Dragonfly represents an outstanding investment, and one that should really be made by any serious adventurer who’s looking to cook for for more than a day.’
Notebook and Water Filter.
Daniel Perlaky, Travel Photographer
‘1. Traveling scarf – I use it as a head cover in hot sun, neck cover in cold, face mask in dust, and just general comfort.
2.Thin moleskine notebook for sketches, ideas, observations
3. Sawyer water filter – this has a high-grade filter, is easily packable and durable and has no moving parts.’
La Sportiva Speedsters
Robin O’Leary, Professional Performance Rock Climbing Coach, Founder of Rocup Holidays
‘I always make sure my La Sportiva “Speedsters” are in my carry-on bag in case I lose my luggage. When the Speedsters first came out in 2013, I was reluctant to try them. They were the first shoe that had “no-edge”? La Sportiva came up with this concept so that your toe would actually be closer to the rock and you would get more feel through the shoe – allowing you to gain more confidence and precision.
However, when I did finally try them, it changed my concept of what makes a good rock shoe. The Speedster is a “slipper” – it has no Velcro or laces, you just squeeze into the shoe and climb. Straight out of the box they are incredible and after a couple of sessions, stretching them out, they become perfect and remain that way for over a year, until you replace them with a new pair!
I have had 2 or 3 pairs of these now and I have worn them on rock straight out of the box on various 8as…I am never questioning where my toe is or worried they’ll slip off. In conventional edged shoes it takes a while for you to wear them in. I always thought my previous shoes were at their best when the edges had worn down anyway, so it makes complete sense to me.
The La Sportiva Speedster is by far my favourite bit of kit. I absolutely love them – if you haven’t tried them, do! Perhaps go down a size though as they can stretch a little!
To find out more, read my full review from 2014 Here.‘
Hennessy Hammock, Trail Apps and GPS watch.
Rachel Kristensen, International Tour Leader and Travel Writer
‘No matter how much I love the scenery of camping – sleeping in the alpine, by the ocean with waves lulling me to sleep or in a beautiful mossy forest – the idea of sleeping on a thin blow-up mattress for weeks is not as appealing. Earlier this year I acquired a camping hammock (Hennessy Hammock) that I adore. So comfortable! It has a mesh top so I can watch the sunset, sunrise or spot the wildlife but be covered in case of insects. It’s beyond easy to set up and weathered well in some serious storms.
Besides the usual camping gear, clothes, food and camera…. a bonus piece of gear I bring is something to track how far I have gone, how fast and how much further I feel I can go.We use tons of trail apps (trailforks for biking, the outbound for mixed adventures, etc) to know where we are going. I also bring a GPS multisport watch from Suunto which tracks kms, time, and altitude so I never have to ask ‘are we there yet?!”
Compass + Sardines
Ian Packham, Adventurer, writer and speaker
‘Circumnavigating Africa I only needed to keep salt water on my right hand side for 25,000 miles, but I knew from getting hopelessly lost in myriad of labyrinthine cities before then that a compass was a useful item to keep in my pocket. During my first trip to Ghana, I came to a particularly complicated road junction I couldn’t get my head around. My map showed me that the road I wanted was due north, only I didn’t know where north was. I wandered around not finding what I was looking for quite some time. A map is all well and good but you need to ensure you are facing the right direction to start with, which is where a cheap and simple compass comes in.
If all else fails, which invariably it might, sardines need no cooking. They are filling, cheap, last forever and freely available almost everywhere. What’s more, ‘sardines’ seems to be ‘sardines’ in the language of every country I’ve ever visited!’
Ortlieb Bike Panniers.
Charlie Bilsland, CEO and Founder of Odysseon
‘Ortlieb panniers are just absolutely solid. I took them through hail, snow, desert heat….everything. They just kept everything safe. I took a collision in Brittany where they scraped along 6m of road and they were fine. They’re really easy to repair if anything goes wrong, and just absolutely 100% trustworthy.’
Erin Bastian, Expedition Leader, Adventurer and Sea Kayak Coach
‘The best bit of gear I’ve ever bought was my Neo-air Therm-a rest. Best nights sleep even on rubbish ground.’
Ewan Blyth, Luci Lamp
Expedition Leader, Instructor and Adventurer
‘Without doubt the pinnacle of our gear-find’s in the last couple of years. She has changed the way we operate not only on trips but in everyday life! She brings unbridled amounts of joy and light when the sun goes down. We rarely actively charge her – she seems to do that at will. She is our Luci-lamp – a travel friendly, environmentally friendly, socially responsible piece of kit that has certainly made our headlamps not redundant but certainly not the key bits of kit they once were. We use her on all our trips because she packs down being inflatable, is lightweight, doesn’t require nasty batteries but uses just the sun’s bountiful energy and never has run out of light once! Be sure and get one for your kit regardless of what you’re doing or where you’re going. They also come in funky colours that will sure to impress your fellow camp mates, the locals or just your kids!’
So whether you’re a cyclist, camper, kayaker or hiker there should be something here for you worth considering for your next outing.
Feeling inspired for an adventure now?
Don’t forget to check out our website at www.odysseon.com and check out the trips we have lined up for the next few months!
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