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Not just a gear review.

Not just a gear review.

As I find myself reflecting on 2018, I cant help but think of all the amazing adventures I’ve had: from midweek overnight stays in mountain huts on top of Table Mountain to hiking the Titsikama 5 day trail. I also found myself in Mauritus exploring Black River Gorge, a magical park filled with forests and mountain, as well as sleeping in my hammoch as I hiked some of the spectacular Spanish peaks.

A friend recently said that I am so lucky that I can go on these adventures, they would love to but they too scared.
It made me think, yes I am lucky, but the truth is, I also get scared. Its overcoming this fear, testing my mental and physical self that keeps drawing me back to adventure. Yes being in nature, swimming under waterfalls and standing on the edge of a mountain is amazing, but the journey to get there is what grows me. Just like everyone else, I have felt lonely, I have cried and I have wanted to give up, but when you face your fears and overcome them something epic happens. I have become a better person with more perspective and understanding.

I always encourage people to get out, push their boundaries and explore. And if you need help or advice, I’m always happy to share my experiences. The question I hear a lot is: what gear do I need and how do I know which brand to buy? So, while I look back at my 2018 experiences, I thought I would share some tips on some of my favourite gear from this year.

Lets start with a backpack – possibly one of the most important items for any adventure – you want something that is comfortable and suitable.
The K-Way Kilimanjaro 35l is by far the best back pack I have had (its 4 years old already and going strong). It’s the perfect day pack with enough space for a summer sleeping bag and all the necessary gear, but I have used this back pack for a number of 5-plus day hikes. The bag is tough, the zips never fail and it is comfortable.
Some tips for your backpack:
– The stretchy pull string that’s on the backpack often stretches and brakes, replace this with an old bicycle tube, its stretchy, strong and not only useful on the bag: I have also used it to tie a broken panion onto a bike, it’s attached my bag onto a canoe, it’s been used as a bungy and it can also help secure a splint in the event of an injury.

Dry Bags, these things are amazing. My favourite size is the 2l dry bag, it’s the perfect size to fit all the important esentials in, like keys, wallet and a warm top and is easy to clip onto the outside of a bag or onto a kayak.
Some other uses:
– I use my 2l dry bag as a mobile washing machine, when I have limited clothes I put my dirty shirt and shorts in the bag, add washing powder and water and clip the dry bag onto my bicycle or back pack and let it bounce around, a few hours later, I rince the water out and put clean water in, letting it rince as it bounces around and then leave it out to dry once I reach my destination.
– A dry bag also works brilliantly to keep wet or dirty clothes in to separate from your clean stuff and prevent a damp smell.
– Lastly, a dry bag can convert into a pillow, ether seal air in it or push some clothes into it.

Water Proof Jacket, this is something that you can’t skimp on, I do believe that a good waterproof jacket will save your life in challenging conditions. I recently got my hands on the new K-Way waterproof race shell and tested it in snow, rain and -10 degrees wind in the Lesotho mountains and it did the job. I was so impressed and the best part is its really affordable in comparison to most other waterproof jackets out there.

I have become a fan of the concept of fastpacking. If you’re not sure what it is, its when you pack super light for a self assisted multi-day adventure, taking your own food, water and camping gear. The secret to this is to be light. So I started taking my hammoc instead of a tent, it was light and fun until there was rain, wind or even dew.
Some Hammock tips
– take a self inflating mattress, this will help insulate your heat, keeping you warm and protecting you from the wind.
– Fastpacking means traveling light and instead of taking a winter sleeping bag, often a summer sleeping back with a good silk liner will do the job.
– And then my new favourite is the SOS Bivvy bag, its waterproof, protecting you and your gear from rain and wind, but the best part about a good bivvy bag is it breathes, preventing condensation, keeping your sleeping bag dry.
– Last tip for sleeping in a hammock, take a buff with, and use it as a blind fold, sometimes that moon can get really bright.

Tent: as I mentioned I have been enjoying this fastpacking lifestyle and have been trying to get my hands on the MSR Hubba Solo tent, I personally think this is the best fastpacking tent out there but it comes at a price and is almost impossible to get your hands on in SA. I recently tested out the new K-Way Nerolite 2 person tent and I love it, its slightly heavier than I wanted, but for the price I couldn’t be happier. It fits inside my backpack, it has amazing head room and lots of packing space for bags, its easy and quick to erect and it folds up to a small size (and even fits in its own bag every time!). But my favourite part about the tent is the zips. They are designed to open up giving you maximum space, making it easy to climb in and out and get your bags and mattress in and out. Now to wait for winter to test it out in some extreme weather.

And lastly one of my favourite adventure items is my sarong.
Some of its many uses:
– Use as a towel
– Use as a blanket to sit on while hiking
– Use it to protect yourself from the sun
– Use it to keep you warm
– Use it as a sling
– Use it as a skirt, especially when your pants start to chafe.

As we now move into 2019, its time to plan the next adventures and I’m excited to see what new and useful gear I can test out along the way. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful 2019 filled with love and adventure.

Blake

 

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