Walking Boots – These are the most important bit of kit. Do not hold back on the spending here; bend the boot to feel the extra support in the sole, as the price increases. Also, make sure that you are boot fitted. Every brand of boot has its own selection of ‘lasts’ on which the boot shape is constructed and every person’s feet are different requiring a different boot last. Unfortunately as a customer you don’t know which of the boots on the shop wall are right for your feet, but there is usually a member of staff who does. Do not underestimate the difference a decent sock makes either; heavy cushion merino wool is my sock of choice, even in hotter climates.
Rucksack – As with boots, there are people in outdoor retail who know which rucksack meets your requirements and can ensure a good fit. Always insist on trying the rucksack weighted before you buy, and remember, every strap, loop, buckle and clip has a purpose which will make your life easier in the field. A rucksack with front opening, a recent feature to the market, is also very useful, provided you are not using an internal dry bag.
Waterproofing – I don’t mean yourself, I mean your clothing and equipment. Forget a rucksack rain cover. One large rucksack liner, coloured white inside so you can see your belongings, is perfect slipped into the rucksack. A variety of colours of smaller dry bags for various kit like electronics, valuables and toiletries can then be slipped in. Transparent vacuum compression storage bags are great for containing clothing and other soft items.
DEET Insect Repellent – Firstly, DEET works. It doesn’t work when applied once in the morning to last the whole day. Rather keep your bottle holstered in a side pocket on your day bag and take a ‘DEET shower’ periodically throughout the day. Buy several screw top spray bottles of 100% DEET concentration and a couple of 50% concentrations, I recommend the Lifesystems range. This way you can simply mix up your own strengths, diluting the 100% concentrations with water, depending on the mosquito densities you are experiencing. Remember though, DEET melts plastics so pack with care. Avoid applying on a sun burnt neck after a shower in humid climates.
Hammock – Although the number of opportunities to use your hammock will vary on your location, when the opportunity does arise you will thank yourself for bringing it. Unmatched comfort on expedition; it feels almost wrong to be that comfortable. I have had two ‘Ticket To The Moon’ hammocks made from parachute nylon. They are ultra lightweight, pack down very small and come in a range of colours.