Who doesn’t love outdoor gear? I’m guessing almost no one reading this. However, everyone is different. Different requirements, different budget, different levels of experience.
A bit like the truck, what gear we take we always be an evolutionary process. As we change, technology changes, what we need to be safe, competent where we are exploring and comfortable will change.
Our set up is a result of years of doing different outdoor (and indoor!) activities. So some things are a hangover from hiking days, that I haven’t found a better solution for. Some things are solutions to 4×4 touring issues that have fallen out of favour, but still seem relevant to me. A few are quite cutting edge and are significantly better than the traditional solutions. Some are just and always have been the best answer to the question.
OzTent RV4. Can’t talk this up enough for travel in most parts of Australia we have been to. Great and versatile accomodation for mild to hot weather conditions (despite over 10 years of touring we are yet to try it in properly cold weather), we have also had it stands up to some pretty serious wind and rain. Especially with the flysheet and front panels to turn the awning into a room, it is a proper home away from home. If you can live with the packed length, that’s its only real downside.
Exped MegaMat mattress. Black Wolf outdoor duvet, and then just a fleecy liner for when it is cold and normal sheet and an elasticated cover for the mattress, normal pillows. This give us a pretty normal type bed that is collapsible and lightweight enough for touring. We used sleeping bags and thermal-rest pads for a long time, but this is more like a proper bed. I still use a sleeping bag and a swag if it’s just me.
Trangia and ‘dutch’ camp oven, cast iron char grill. The Trangia has been my cooking companion since being in Scouts in the UK. I have recently been trying to work up my skills on the camp oven too.
Table and chairs – OzTent. Love the chairs, not so sure about the table.
Engel 45L fridge. When I was in the Army we used get our gas equipment certified by a guy whose main business was camping fridge repairs. He unequivocally recommended Engle over all the other brands, and I didn’t think there was a much better person to give such advice. Turns out we were both right, over 10 years on the fridge with absolutely no dramas. 45L is just right for two people I think. I’m reasonably tall, so haven’t felt the need for a slide or anything.
Outback ‘Thumper’ 48AH power pack. This is what powers the fridge. It is charged from the alternator as we drive, and is good for about 2 full days of running the fridge on a full charge, depending on ambient temperature. Can also be used to jump start engines. A bit like the fridge not cheap, but very reliable. A preferable solution to dual batteries in my opinion. I’ve had the battery re-packed once in the 10+ years I’ve owned it. If I was going to buy it again I would choose a slightly larger model.
That about covers the basics. I’ll cover the other knick-knacks in other posts.
This is listed in the order that I purchased them, over several years.
Long Handle Shovel. Should be the first, and is the most useful piece of recovery equipment anyone should own. Not the quickest solution to a problem, but you’ll use it for many other things, plus it will get you out of many situations given enough time.
Tirfor hand winch. Back in the day, these things were revered. As the patent has expired on them there are many copies out there now. However I patiently waited for a genuine one to come up on eBay, I think I paid about $900 for it secondhand then, seems like crazy money now (and felt like crazy money then) as you can buy respected brand name copies for half that. However, I’ve never felt like I’ve wasted money on a QUALITY piece of gear. You don’t hear much about them now, and I have never used it in anger. However if you need to rescue a stuck 4×4 as a solo operator and you are out of other options, this is the insurance policy. So despite it being a heavy beast, it still come with us on all but the most lightweight trips. Bonus, you can winch from any direction.
Various snatch and other straps. I bought one of the those ‘recovery’ kits with a snatch strap, rated shackles, gloves, etc, right at the start. Ridge Ryder I think was the brand, anyway it’s not the greatest piece of gear I have ever bought but it has served a purpose on many occasions. As the snatch strap has well over 10 pulls on it now, I also carry a brand new ARB 8 ton as a back up, but always use the old one in the first instance. Plus tree protector and winch extension strap.
High Lift Jack, and wheel mate lift. Another a big brand name from back in the day, and I’ve seen enough bent cheap copies to be glad I splashed out for the original. Again not something I’ve used to its fullest extent, but there are some situations where this seems like the only real solution for a solo vehicle (deep bogging). People who know what they are doing have suggested I dispose of this or the hand winch, and are they probably right. In theory you can use the High Lift as a hand winch, plus I carry two other jacks with me. overly cautious? Maybe. Or just a Boy Scout, be prepared. Plus a couple of stout bits of timber to jack off.
MAXTRAX. After getting totally defeated by what appeared to be a straightforward track. A set of these was one of those times you just hand over the cash (which I also did for a new 4×4 after that episode). If I was to start this list again, this would easily be first on said list. I’ve recovered others more times than I’ve used them myself.
PLB. Last but by no means least. I should have bought one of these years ago. The ultimate last resort insurance. Make sure you both no how to use it, and it is correctly registered. I liked this one as it is waterproof and has a 10 year battery, but any PLB is better than no PLB.