Egor Makarov

25 essential items for the beginning adventurer

“I am going to become an adventurer like you!” a young fella wrote to me this morning with great attitude, and continued somewhat hesitant; “But what equipment is important for me to buy?”

Today most people who make a career within adventure and Expeditions, initially have very little outdoor or wilderness experience. For this reason, I have done a list of 25 essential items of kit which is needed for todays adventurer to have a good start and enjoy this quite extreme life. Use this list as a base and you will enjoy this great life!

I just want to add that having a succesful Expedition or adventure, has first of all to do with your attitude, mental capacity and focus. It has less to do with equipment. However, having said that, we are children of today and a good balanced kit can be the difference between loving it or just suffering.

And yes, there is a difference between good quality gear and cheap stuff, but, intially just start doing it. Put the money in getting out there, not on equipment. Having said that, I will tell you what kit I use and prefer today.

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. I use sleeping bags from Mountain Hard Wear. 

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. I use the Ridge rest and Therma Rest from Cascade Designs. 

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.

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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.

I use a kit from Soto.

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.

I use Mountain Hardwears choice of clothes. And thermals from Termo Original.

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.

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7. Headcover

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.

I have a favorite in all weather, a top hat from Termo original.

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.

I have Mountain Hardwear and Eagle Creek packs.

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 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/Camelbak.

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

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.

I use Ledlenser.

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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 Julbo!

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.

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!

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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. If the laptop stop working! And a pen works better in cold temperatures!

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23. Camera.

To document that great adventure! It depends what you want to do with the footage, but I use Canon XA-10 for film and my biggest favorite is Panasonic Lumix G2, which both takes good film and photos and is small enough to carry. And bring a GoPro camera. Cheap, funny and invaluable!

24. A small laptop.

Share your experiences! Today you can get a good, light, tough laptop with software which helps yopu hook up either on a mobile or a sat phone from anywhere. Explorersweb have the best kit to offer today.

25. Solarpanel 

It is not only the laptop which needs electricity. This applies to cameras and headlamp. Exweb have the best solution today.

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Good luck, and remember, the most important thing, once again, is to get out there!

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12 comments

  1. It is very nice to see some one like your self who traveled a lot and give some advice for people who are interested in adventure. Very nice of you Mikael for sharing this. Wish you all the best

  2. Dear Mikael.

    Thanks for share your good experience in adventures for us. It is very valuable for begginners, even for advanced.

    Peter

  3. If you don’t have a camel, and you’re exploring a rainforest or other such wilderness with no nearby civilization, how would you carry all this around? I’m fairly strong, but I think you’d have to be like Hulk Hogan to carry all this stuff on your back, lol.

    Also, what kind of people look to hire explorers? What does an average salary look like? (I asked Google, but just got a whole lot of articles about explorers from the 15th-17th centuries.)

    Also, I think this might be my new top career choice. 😀

  4. You adjust to your environment. There´s plenty in this kit you don´t need in a rainforest. Like a solar panel, since there´s no light….nobody hires explorers, you have to set off with your own idea. Good luck!

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