Explorer Mikael Strandberg

23 essential items for adventuring

Even if the Bushmen of the Kalahari used to go hunting and gathering for months at a time with pretty much only their weapon as essential gear, today’s adventurer needs to bring quite a lot more in order to survive. After living professionally on adventure for 25 years, I have come up with this list of 23 essential items the modern adventurer needs while travelling in order to enjoy the life of exploration that little bit more. These are the key items for today’s pure survival – and enjoying what you do. After all, that’s the main aim, isn’t it? Agree? Disagree? Got any more to add? Comment below.

1. Sleeping bag.

One of the most important things whilst adventuring is being able to sleep well. So a sleeping bag, especially picked for the environment you are adventuring in, is essential.

2. Mattress.

Part of the ‘sleeping’ issue. Depending on where you are, either choose a foam ridge rest or an inflatable mattress – or both for full protection. A puncture on the inflatable one is not unusual.

3. Tent.

Once again, should be chosen depending on area and goal. But, should always be good quality. You don’t want a leaking tent in a rainy area. I have always used the VE-25 from The North Face. It is big, but you need to feel comfortable when resting and taking care of yourself. This is vitally important. Do not bring a small tent just to avoid the weight.

4. Stove (pots, pans, eating utensils).

Warm and tasty food is essential to get piece of mind and energy to take the right decisions. If venturing into the developing world, petrol is the only choice as fuel. Or firewood. But then you have to know how to make a fire.

5. Clothes.

Good thermal underwear makes a huge difference in any climate. Trousers and shirt plus rain-and-wind gear should give a lot of space for knees and elbows.

6. Footwear.

Once again, it depends largely on what you’re doing, but a choice of sandals and a walking shoe works everywhere. I wear Scarpa, which have a covered toe since the Scandinavian Mountain Range is really rocky. But I have only heard positive remarks about Meindl, too.

 

A head cover, preferably a big-brimmed one, makes a big difference in any climate really. It shields you from sun, rain and overheating - or getting too cold.
A head cover, preferably a big-brimmed one, makes a big difference in any climate really. It shields you from sun, rain and overheating – or getting too cold.

7. Hat.

A head cover, preferably a big-brimmed one, makes a big difference in any climate really. It shields you from sun, rain and overheating – or getting too cold.

8. Compass.

Don’t bring a GPS. You need batteries to run it, you don’t exactly know where you have travelled and if it stops working, then you have a problem. A manual compass forces you to continuously to be aware exactly what the surroundings look like. Do bring a GPS for security, but not for navigation.

9. Maps.

Together with a manual compass, maps are key equipment for travelling safely. Maps need to be relatively fresh and preferably no more than 1:200 000 in scale.

10. Rucksack/panniers/pulk.

The gear has to be stored somehow. Choose good quality. Don´t save money on this item by buying something cheap that won't last.
The gear has to be stored somehow. Choose good quality. Don´t save money on this item by buying something cheap that won’t last.

The gear has to be stored somehow. Choose good quality. Don´t save money on this item by buying something cheap that won’t last.

11. Knife.

A good knife is very important. You’ll need it for everything from making a good fire to cutting food. You don’t really need a multi-tool. It needs to big a good quality knife with a decent-sized blade. I use a Marttiini knife from Finland, handmade with a superb blade and rubber grip. Your choice of knife has to take into account everything you will be using it for – from cutting wood when you’re making a fire to repairing kit and preparing food.

12. Lighter/matches.

You need to get that fire or stove going somehow. Just remember – keep them dry!

13. Water bottle.

Liquid is essential for survival! Carry it in a way so the carrier can’t easily be destroyed. This is a life saver.

14. Head lamp and batteries.

Extremely important to be able to set up camp, cook and survive when it’s dark. And a headlamp frees both hands for work.

15. Axe and saw.

If you decide not to bring a stove, you need an axe and saw, especially in cold climates, to make a fire.

16. Sunglasses.

You have to take care of your eyes. And most adventures today are done where the sun is strong and demanding. I use http://www.julbo-eyewear.com/en/ – the best!

17. Painkiller, bandage, band aids and medicine for fever and diarrhoea.

You need some basic medicine to keep you going until you can get proper help.

 

You need some basic medicine to keep you going until you can get proper help.
You need some basic medicine to keep you going until you can get proper help.

18. Duct tape.

It can pretty much fix anything!

19. Money.

Unfortunately you’re going to need it. But you don’t really need a lot to go out adventuring!

20. Passport and essential documents.

You don’t want to end up in the middle of a great adventure and find the authorities stop you because you don’t have the necessary papers. Always have a back up in the shape of a contact in the nearest city who can help you out of your problem.

21. Toothpaste, soap, towel.

If you deal with local people, you need to keep clean in order to get their respect and help.

22. Notebook and pen.

To be able to note down your position, details and observations.

23. Camera.

To document that great adventure! It depends what you want to do with the footage, but I use a Nikon D-90 SLR and always carry a smaller one like the Sony Cybershot.

Good luck, and remember, the most important thing is to get out there! Just to give you an idea how much gear we use today, see this equipment list from me and my partner Johan Ivarsson´s one-year Expedition in Siberia:http://www.siberia.nu/utrustning_en.html

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