Personal Gear

Personal kit is very much down to your own experiences, needs, and tastes. A good starting point is to take somebody else’s check list and work from there, so here’s ours.

This list is biased toward the demands of a Trans-Africa expedition, so you may need to make additions to suit your itinerary.


Not very practical if you’re living out of a vehicle – it’s easier pack everything in plastic boxes, but a rucksack is essential if you want to get out and hike.

Day Pack

A small pack for days out, or trips to the market can be very useful. You will probably keep certain pieces of gear in it all the time, and add or take out other stuff according to what you’re doing. Although a lot of the items here will find other places around the car to live, everything below will come in useful:

  • Head torch – An essential item. the Petzl Zipka is particularly light and compact
  • Mosquito Repellent – Choose one that contains DEET; the higher the percentage it contains, the more effective it will be – ensure you are using at least 40% DEET.
  • Compass – A basic Silva or similar is always handy to have along
  • 8×20 Monocular – Cheap Light and surprisingly useful.
  • Pen – permanent ink overhead projector pen for marking laminated maps.
  • Thermometer – Find one which clips on the outside; it’s not essential but it’s interesting to see how much you are suffering.
  • Lip Salve
  • Sun Cream – Waterproof high factor, rather than the beach variety
  • Sun Glasses – cheap ones as these will suffer abuse. Pack a spare pair for when the first pair get too scratched.
  • Soft Hat – keeps the sun off
  • Lighter – a normal disposable – surprisingly waterproof once it’s dry…
  • Medical Kit – A few strips of some basic drugs (Ibuprofen, Piriton, Imodium, Rennies and Micropur) and some tweezers.
  • First Aid Kit – Waterproof pouch with a few small dressings, plasters, tape, scissors, etc.
  • Survival Kit – Available from outdoor shops, this is useful for what-if situations. Add a survival blanket. There are loads of sites that can help you if you want to make your own one up – they only have to be the size of a sardine tin to make all the difference. Visit Doug Ritter in the internet and you’ll find out more than you ever wanted to know.
  • Water bottle – Choose a one litre or larger plastic bottle – you will also use plastic 1.5 litre mineral water bottles a lot.
  • Foot Powder – A small container of anti-fungicidal powder like Mycota.
  • Small pack of Kleenex – for unexpected toilet breaks
  • Energy bars – Any sweet confectionary that doesn’t melt, for when you need a bit of a sugar boost
  • Camera

When the weather is threatening add:

  • Waterproof Jacket – Choose Goretex if your budget allow it.
  • Waterproof trousers – for when it gets really wet. Less used so opt for cheap ones.


You will Also need to find space for your clothing. The old rule that you always pack more than you ever need is as true here as anywhere. Remember that you may be travelling through several different climates when you select your expedition wardrobe. For a man you might pack:

  • 5 x Undies.
  • 5 x Pairs Socks.
  • 5 x Tee Shirts.
  • 2 x shirts – one smarter one for more formal situations.
  • Woollen Jumper.
  • Fleece.
  • Shorts.
  • 2 x Polyamide hiking trousers – Useful as the have loads of pockets (very important). Zip off legs add flexibility – the material will dry very quickly, and is cool in warm temperatures.
  • Swimming shorts – double up as another pair of shorts.
  • Canvas Bush hat – Something Wide brimmed for shade.
  • Woolly hat – For high altitude and cold weather.
  • Gloves – if the climate requires them .


If you intend to climb mountains, hike , and generally get out of the car on a regular basis invest in a good pair of walking boots – a light pair are better if you are heading for a warmer climate. Use these in malarial zones in the evenings to protect your feet from mosquitoes.

For the rest of the time, and for the all important beaches, a pair of sandals are a must.

You may want to add pair of casual shoes so that you don’t look too out of place in hotel bars.

Wash bag

Find a wash bag which you can hang up and use like a kind of shelf – you will need this in some of the filthier bathrooms you use. If it has a mirror included, all the better. Rohan do an excellent model. This contains:

  • Toothbrush – take an electric (battery) one if that’s what you use at home, with a manual reserve.
  • Toothpaste.
  • Razor and disposable blades – even if you’re taking an electric shaver this is a useful reserve.
  • Shampoo – in a small plastic container that you top.
  • Shower Gel – Ditto.
  • Nail clippers.
  • Ear plugs – for noisy campsites or hotel rooms.
  • Larium – to save going out to the car when you forget it’s Larium night.

Find a large towel that can double as a beach towel, and you’re ready to go.

Things to Sleep In

  • Tent – this might be a roof tent, in which case also consider the comfort of using sheets, real pillows, and a duvet. For hiking away from the car you will still need a:
  • Sleeping bag – Down bags are lighter and smaller, but more expensive and harder to clean. If you get one you will need a:
  • Sleeping Bag Liner – The silk ones are brilliant, but again expensive, this can double up as a light cover for warm nights.
  • Stuff Sack – takes the pain out of packing away sleeping bags.
  • Roll Mat/Mattress – if you have the space a foam mattress is great – they will cost you less than a tenner and are available everywhere, especially in Morocco. Otherwise a roll mat is fine – a bit fiddly to pack, but better for taking along when you are hiking away from the vehicle.
  • A Real Pillow – Why not opt for the comfortable choice?
  • Hammock – If you are considering sleeping on one try it out at home first as it takes getting used to.

Other Stuff

  • Money Belt – Scorned by many travellers, you can still use keep everything together in your built-in vehicle safe. Also useful to have along are a few Ziploc bags for keeping documents dry and dust-free.
  • Pack of cards – or something to keep you amused in the evenings.
  • Umbrella – Get a small one and keep it for a rainy day. Good for sun as well.
  • A Large torch – preferably one that is rechargeable from 12v.
  • Dry Bag – can be used as a general kit bag, water carrier, and washing machine as well.
  • Personal Stereo – preferably one that uses rechargeable batteries and the media of you choice.
  • A good read – you will be able to trade books along the way, so keep your library small.
  • Binoculars. A good pair of game viewing binoculars will always be appreciated.