In this article, Glen from Exped Orange is going to tell us about his five favourite bits of kit that he is going to be using on his expedition to walk the 2200km length of the Orange River.
Glen was born in South Africa where he was South African paddling captain 2005/2006. He moved to the UK 2010 to joined the Royal Marines, where he served with 42 Commando and Special Forces Support Group (SFSG). In 2014 Glen kayaked 350 miles down the Vaal River for the Royal Marines 350th birthday. He completed an Operational tour in Afghanistan with SFSG in 2016. He was then a private security contractor until 2017. At present Glen is a freelance Expedition Leader and aspiring author. He is planning to produce a book for each expedition he completes.
Number 1: Boots
As they say in the military ‘your feet are your mode of transport, so take care of them’.
On a walking expedition a decent pair of boots are absolutely paramount. The boots I take for my upcoming walk down the Orange River, which is 2200km and the furthest I will ever have yomped, will have to be robust enough for the task.
They will also have to be comfortable to help prevent the onset of blisters. I am torn between my pairs of Asolo and Lowa Zephyr, but leaning more towards my Asolo boots for the Orange walk.
They are heavier and my feet may sweat a bit more, but they are by far the most robust of the two pairs. I have given myself enough time to get out and about to test both pairs and make my decision.
If I have a new pair of boots I also make sure that they are well worn in before embarking on any walking or mountaineering escapades.
NUMBER 2: Bergan/Rucksack
I am all about having robust and hardy kit, especially when it comes to a bergan so I prefer military surplus bergans.
The bergan I have chosen for my Orange river walk is a MOLLE II rucksack which was issued to the U.S Army infantry a few years back.
I chose this bergan because it is a bit of a big boy when it comes to capacity at 80 litres (130 litres with pouches) so I can get a tonne of gear in it for long expeditions.
It has an external frame which does make it around 8 lbs with no kit in it, but external frames are far stronger than internal frames and also creates a gap between the rucksack and your back creating a free airflow when working hard and sweating.
There are MOLLE attachments all around it as you can see in the photograph and pouches of all sizes can be attached to your liking. According to the manufacturers stats it can take a load of up to 150 lbs, but the best thing about it is that it is the most comfortable rucksack I have ever put on.
NUMBER 3: Filtered Water Bottle
Walking with heavy loads especially in Africa during summer time is going to be sweaty business, so we will be drinking copious amounts of water (luckily we will be walking along a river).
I have used these filter water bottles before on a kayaking expedition and they are one of the best bits of kit you can get, you can fill them up straight from the river and drink immediately.
This particular filter purifies up to 150 litres of water before having to be replaced. Filling up the camelbak takes a little more time as I fill up my filter water bottle and then squeeze the clean water into the camelbak thereafter.
I always make sure I carry a spare filter or lifestraw and purification drops if needed.
NUMBER 4: Bush Hat
When it comes to the sun, the African sun especially gives you no quarter, so a decent wide brimmed hat is always on my kit list.
The hat I have is leather, which is a little heavy. but it is a few years old already so it definitely lasts. It is also waterproof.
I combine my head wear with a cap for cooler days, a shemagh and or a sweat buff.
NUMBER 5: Wrist GPS
A map and compass always need to be carried when navigating, but if you have or can afford a decent wrist GPS then why not.
They do make navigating a hell of a lot easier, especially when you are knackered and human error is more likely to occur.
On our walking the Orange expedition, yes we will be hand-railing the river most of the way, but the GPS will provide accurate waypoints. Especially when trying to find the source of the river, important safe havens en route such as airports, hospitals and giving you an accurate grid reference of your location in extreme emergencies.
A basic GPS will also give you supplementary information such as average speed and a great one to know, overall distance covered. My GPS is also waterproof so no worries when it comes to heavy rain and river crossings.
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