10 items


OK, admittedly none of these things are truly life-saving...but all of them have come in so handy on so many occasions that I now consider them an indispensible part of my travel kit.


Lightweight jungle hammock

I never leave home without one (unless I am going to completely treeless desert!) and it guarantees a good night’s sleep even in the most inhospitable corners. (I strung mine up in an abandoned African schoolroom just last night and slept like a baby). Most come with a fitted mosquito net and usually a rain shelter of sorts. However I prefer to save weight by buying a sheet of plastic for a roof when I know I will be camping out in wet conditions and then ditching it afterwards.


Sigg bottle

The Rolls Royce of water-bottles...although after more than a decade of serious use mine is beginning to look more like one of those battered Indian taxis. The advantage of these aluminium bottles is that it not only keeps drinks cool but will also keep coffee relatively warm. They can even double as a hot water bottle on very cold nights.


Gaffa tape

As expeditioner par excellence Al Humphreys says, “it’s like The Force: it has a light side and a dark side and it holds the universe together.” (Space saving tip: tape it around your water-bottle so that it takes up almost no room and is immediately to hand.)


Dental floss 

Ok, so your mum told you you should always floss but more useful still if you just chuck a needle into the container you have the perfect sewing kit with virtually unbreakable thread.


Petzl headlamp 

Infinitely useful for places where electricity is sporadic or just for pottering around camp in the dark while keeping your hands free. In dorms or on nocturnal buses and trains you can also read without disturbing your travelling companions. (Tip: ensure that as much of your kit as possible operates on batteries that are available everywhere. AAs are best but AAAs are also ok).



A pack of spices or a bottle of Tabasco. A good lightweight way to make otherwise boring bush meals far more edible.


Zipper belt

Not a moneybelt to be worn under clothes and not a ‘bum-belt’ – or fanny-pack to any Americans out there. (All hustlers and scallywags know about the former by now and the latter is too easily removed with a dexterous slash of a razor). A good-quality leather belt with a zip inside is capable of hiding as much as USD1000 of emergency funds. Carefully wrapped in plastic (or tied in condoms) for waterproofing it could be enough to get you back to ‘civilisation’ from almost anywhere.



To record songs/sounds etc and to take notes while on the move without having to take your eyes off the trail.



I’m a spoon junky and never leave home without my genuine ‘Nam issue American Marine’s spoon. However, the clever yet simple ‘spork’ (combination spoon/fork/knife) is also a must for any daypack.


Roll top canoeist’s bag 

Perfect waterproofing for your camera and other valuables on boat trips (or at the beach). Also fantastic dust-proofing on safari. It is also lightweight enough, yet resilient enough, to function as a ‘spill-over bag’ to carry all those unavoidable gifts and souvenirs you’re sure to have on the flight home.


Bonus tip for the romantically inclined

When you buy a sleeping bag ask for one with a left-hand zip. Most sleeping bags produced have right-hand zips...therefore when you meet the future love of your life on the road chances are better than average that your sleeping bag will be able to zip neatly into hers/his to form a cosy double!




By Mark Eveleigh