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Gear for long term photographic trip to Southeast Asia including jungle

9:19 a.m. on January 29, 2011 (EST)
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I have read some of the threads here. Below is in consideration of suggestions already given.

Sorry for the length. I thought it would also help other users to have a concise thread for all needed, hence my choice of doing it in one thread.

 

My trip:

Will land in Singapore in early April 2011, to travel to Sabah, Malaysia. Will stay partly in the city, partly in the rainforest with indigenous people for several months (hopefully all journey will last at least a year).

I'll use Sabah as a hub to visit Palawan (and more of Philippines), Thailand, Cambodia, hopefully Vietnam and any other place I can afford, if at all. Will stay both in city and rural areas where indigenous populations live, will be relying on doing volunteer work in children orphanage, elephant orphanages, working with indigenous people, etc.

Not too familiar with the geography of the region, but I know wet rainforest is one thing I will be in. If chance arrives, I do like to do some hiking up the mountains.

 

My purpose and I:

I am from Cyprus. Fresh graduate from visual anthropology Masters in UK. I want to extend my field experience and practice as much photography and filming as I can (filming not certain, as I do not  have a video-camera yet).

I am 170 (5'7") and 65 kg (140?). Consider myself fit above average. Have a bit of experience in hiking and outdoors.

Journey is fully self funded and I am not even a student anymore= low on budget.

 

Gear and questions:

Backpack:

Will have my old Quechua backpack with probably 15-20 kg of load. it's not fully waterproof but has a mediocre raincoat. Suggestions for a better pack-raincoat? Or better to get a poncho that covers backpack?

Boots:

Recently purchased a pair of Asolo Fugitives.  Concerns: Gore-Tex could be good in regular travel and hiking especially in rain, but possibly be a bad choice for the forest: Breathability will be little and in longer journeys i'll walk into rivers and not sure if they will dry in-between journeys.

Am I taking them as unnecessary load? Is it better to replace them with lighter, mesh Meindl boots (Gore-Tex CXR = more breathability) or something even smaller?

Or is it good to have them when traveling  with pack and in forest, and use durable Chacos sandals in other daily life?

 

Gaiters:

Good to have? Any suggestions on what to look for? (GTX, etc)

 

CAMERA and plus:

Got my Nikon D300 for photography, with a Lowe protective camera bag, which is not waterproof. Bag has a small rainjacket. Lenses are 18-200 Nikon, and 50 prime Nikon.

Got a small netbook and external 500 gb harddisc to transfer photos and be in touch with world through a blog.

Got a Pelican Case to protect the gear when moving between locations.

I read a suggesiton of Aquatech camera coats for when using the camera. Does anyone have similar but LESS expensive suggestions to buy in Europe?

Would prefer to have a Nikon D700s for video recording as well, but can't afford it. So any suggestions on affordable video cams, that are not problematic in low light and with sound? I think it will be better not to have one with DV tapes, but instead go for digital.  This is a dilemma. I know I will wish to have video but is it worth it to carry an extra electronic piece on the side of an already heavy Nikon D300?

 

Tent:

Not taking any. I heard people are very friendly and hospitable, and I will not be left outside.

 

Sleeping bag and liner:

I have a basic sleeping bag from Quechua, more for warmer weather.

Silk liner: is it worth the high (35-40 GBP) cost?

 

Hammock:

Thinking of a basic, parachute-type material hammock. Any suggestions?

 

Mosquito net:

Will get one there.

Medicine:

Got Hep A and B, Typhoid, Yellow Fever for a trip to Kenya half a year ago.

Not thinking of using anti-malaria medicine, as I do not like chemicals in my body for too long. So, I think I will go for a malaria-treatment alternative in case I get it.

Have a small medi-kit for basic needs.

Other suggestions?

 

CLOTHING:

Quickdry, natural/synthetic pants with zips to convert them to semi and full shorts.

A fleece sweater for chilly nights.

A very light rainjacket, but also have been suggested to get a poncho when there.

Smartwool socks and equivalent in Bridgedale.

Jacket necessary? Someone suggested to have a tough jacket for walking in the forest among branches. Suggestions?

Looking for light, quickdry, UV protected shirts, or very thin and light colored linen (as already suggested).

 

I could go into more detail, but I think it is already quite a long msg. Thanks for reading till now.

 

 

 

 

3:16 p.m. on January 29, 2011 (EST)
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Well I will help answer your questions the best I can.

For starters I would learn more about the areas you plan on traveling as the more you know about the conditions and the land the better you can prepare. Once you get all of the gear together that you think you will need then you need to do a few test runs of a few days in length to work the kinks out of your system. That all being said, here goes.

Your backpack. I am not sure which pack that is as I am unfamiliar with the brand. But, if it fits you well, is comfortable and holds all your gear then that is all you need. As far as the rain coat/pack cover goes if it is leaking has holes or tears or whatever the issue is you can easily remove it and buy a new one. For example, I use a sea to summit pack cover that works well for me. One other trick of the trade is to get a trash compactor bag and use it as a pack liner that way it helps the gear inside your main compartment stays dry. With a combination of a pack cover, pack liner, and keeping a spare set of clothes and my sleeping bag in a dry bag I have never had my gear inside my pack get wet. And believe you me, I have spent many a moon in heavy continuous rains for days on end and kept everything dry within reason.

Footwear: Pick something that is comfortable and with good support for you. Doesn't matter if they are "Water proof" , goretex, or whatever. Your footwear WILL get wet, there is no way around it. Learn to dry them in the field at night or when you get to town. "Walk em Dry!"

Gaiters: You don't have to have to them, but I personally like them. They don't have to be goretex either. Bottom line is gaiters boil down to personal preference.

Camera gear I can't really help ya out with too much. But I can say camera armor and a dry bag or other waterproof case is a necesity.

Shelter/tent/hammock: You are a fool if your not going to take shelter with you. That being said, you don't have to carry a full bore 8lbs expedition tent. You can get a small 1 person backpacking tent, or a tarp, or a hammock and a tarp which would be my personal choice. You can visit www.hammockforums.net and your mind will be overloaded with information.

Sleeping bag: Once again I have never seen that brand. Test out your bag on a shake down hike like I mentioned to make sure it will work for you at the expected temps. Silk liner and liners in general I feel are a waste of money.

Hammock: see comments above. I have a warbonnet blackbird 1.7dbl with built in bug netting and I absolutely love it. You can see them at www.warbonnetoutdoors.com , there are many other similar hammocks by others cottage manufacutrers you can find the info at hammockforums.net

Bug net: either bring your shelter with it integrated be it a tent or hammock, don't bank on finding what you need when you get there. I would also bring a headnet with you.

Medicine: I always like to bring a few doses of a general pain reliever/headache medicine such as alieve or ibuprofen, naproxen, tylenol etc. I also like to bring a dose or two of a anti diarial  such as immodium ad(i can;t think of how to spell it right now), and a cold/flu medicine such as sudafed, and a dose or two of benadryl.

Clothing: It seems like you have a generally good handle on your clothing. My thoughts on rain gear is to either pick a poncho or a jacket. You don't need both. If you go with a poncho then you don't need a pack cover. Check out the Packa poncho or similar. Basically you need your baselayer, a mid layer, an insulating layer and an outer layer, and camp clothes. How heavy those layers need to be depends on the expected temps. You can probally make do without a mid layer. For a light, quick drying uv protectant shirt I like the l/s hiking shirts by Columbia such as the silverridge etc. There are many out there made by many brands.

One thing I did not notice was a cooking system. I would recommend bringing a stove, and a small pot and utensil to cook and eat with. I would suggest a multi-fuel stove such that can burn kerosene at a minimum. Kerosene seems to be common in that part of the world. Denatured alchohol stoves are out, as are canister stoves. A stove that can burn most kinds of petro would be your best bet. Examples are the MSR XGK-EX, MSR Dragonfly, MSR simmerlite, and there are other brands as well but I only have experience with MSR stoves. This is where some research of the area will come in handy.

A bit of wisdom for helping with the bugs. If you can get it in Cyprus, get some permetherin and treat all of your clothing, pack, shelter, everything! It makes a world of difference. Buy the good stuff and it will be effective for 50 washes or so.

I hope I gave you some insight and helped to answer some questions. If you have more specific questions or want some more advice then just speak up.

Remeber, you have to be able to take care of yourself at all times and not rely on others, if others help you great, but what if they don't?

4:45 p.m. on January 29, 2011 (EST)
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I've lived all over S.E Asia and the Sub Continent for years and have never needed anything more than a hammock/tarp and a light blanket, during dry months just a mozzie net will do. It sounds like you're planning on doing the volunteer/village stay kinda thing so you'll be right for basic lodgings etc. 

As TheRambler mentioned, do research on the areas you're going to and be cautious traveling solo in remote areas as there can be local instability in pockets all over Asia, you'd never know there was trouble until it's possibly too late. 

Be extra careful with cuts and scratches as they'll turn septic before your eyes and you'll be in a world of grief then. I don't use Malaria medication either. Medications are generally good quality and you can get anything you need in major cities.

"LP, SE Asia On A Shoestring" is a handy purchase if you're planning on seeing many places for the first time as an independent traveler. I still use one from time to time for little tips if I'm going somewhere new but it's pretty bulky so I just photocopy what I need.

As far as gear goes, I do a lot of 4-6 week backpacker type road trips on buses and trains etc and fit everything in a 30ltr backpack and my laptop bando for work. You really don't need much at all. If you're in the mountains it may get a bit mild at night so take a light weight fleece and light rain jacket then alternate or layer when needed. A poncho can be handy I suppose but I feel restricted in one, I try hard not to get around in tropical downpours anyway. 

Avoid Goretex boots as the humidity is a killer and your feet will hate you in no time. Look at mid weight boots as you probably won't be lugging big loads but will still need a bit of support for sketchy terrain.

Get a local sarong. Use it as a towel, head scarf, balaclava, blanket, sun shade, tourniquet, curtain..... very handy and pack like a pair of socks.  

Good luck with it all. 

 

 

 

9:55 p.m. on January 29, 2011 (EST)
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On the issue of photographic gear: if you are going to be in rural areas, the value of your Nikon alone probably exceeds the yearly income of most of the local people. IMO, it is improper to present such a temptation to people if you wish to actually be their friend. It also emphasizes unnecessarily a cultural difference. Instead of a DSLR, a Lumix GF1 is small, affordable, doesn't look expensive, and can use your existing Nikon lenses if necessary.

Just an idea.

Of course, the same goes for the netbook. If you want to learn from others and live as they live, then live as they live. : )

8:53 a.m. on January 30, 2011 (EST)
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@overmywaders i agree with most what you said. It has been a concern, not just of safety, but also as you say, of doing something unfair to the people I visit. Also a topic discussed in anthropology discourse.

I had a 7-week stay with the Samburu tribe in Kenya. It was quite easily as you said: my school-camera equipment cost more than their yearly incomes. It was disturbing in one sense. However, there is the other perspective: I am not going there only to experience how they live. I also want to document what I see and what my hosts will want to share with me and I choose to do this visually.

If I want to take this to a higher level and hope to use my photographs professionally, with the hopes that the photos serve to a positive service to the people in them, I will prefer to work with my Nikon. (Plus, buying the lumix will squeeze my already-too-tight budget even more).

I think I will look for a daypack that conceals the presence of a camera (for my safety purpose) and also, whenever I have the luxury, spend some time with my hosts to let them know me and where I come from, before suggesting the use of a camera.

Computer is for days where i'll be in the city (or possibly to show rural people their own photos that I'll take).

9:05 a.m. on January 30, 2011 (EST)
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thanks to all for the very quick feedback.

TheRambler and Paully, I'm going through your suggestions and will write back with further comments.

 


10:56 a.m. on January 30, 2011 (EST)
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Your photos on the website are great. I know you will enjoy your next adventure. My sister-in-law did the same thing you are doing, but in India.

I recommend a second pair of hiking boots/shoes to keep your feet dry. A few pair of extra socks and microfiber towel. Tie the drying footgear to your backpack. It is extremely easy to get the "foot rot" in rainforests and jungles. The pain is really bad and will put you out for the count. This is not good when you are in the middle of nowhere. Not sure about quality of medical facilities where you are going...

Also read up on local diseases and parasites to be prepared. Parasites are really bad in the water.

I would like to see your photos when you come back. Will you post on your website?

11:50 p.m. on January 30, 2011 (EST)
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Ok here it goes:

Test run: yes I hope to save a couple weeks to test the new items on a trip in Turkey.

Quechua brand: It's an in-house brand of french Decathlon stores. They are not the top quality but good price for fairly good quality. If I am not buying anything very important I go for their in-house brands.

Backpack: from Quechua, i have a 27 lt daypack, and a 70+10 lt backpack. After long walks with weight on, the big pack hurts the bones on the side of my waiste. But I think it is because of my wrong usage. Will look into it.

You'll see that the big pack has a full zipper in the front. So, even if I like the trash compactor bag idea, perhaps that would take away this nice feature, which I like for giving me access to interior. Does the compactor bag cause odours (from unwashed clothing, etc.)?

Actually, and unfortunately, some mice chewed part of my big zipper close to the top. It does not close properly there, but it did not kill the bag at least. I can still use it, as the broken part is under the hood. I am in London now, trying to find a place to replace the big zipper.

I got a dry bag for important stuff, but will get another one for extra set of clothes as you suggested.

Boots: Sound feedback from you guys. I think of returning the gore-tex ones before too late and get a pair of mid-height/weight mesh shoes with good grip outsoles. Just to be sure, does Gore-tex make it hard to dry the boots? eVent and Gore-Tex CXR are supposed to be somewhat more breathable, so wondering if even those are useless in humid conditions.

I'll be wearing my boots hopefully in "normal" weather conditions as well (once back) and it could be nice to have something against light rain. Should I even consider all leather (and maybe non-GTX) boots, thinking for longer term? Scarpa and Meindl seem to have some sturdy and comfortable shoes, even if a bit bulky.

For drying wet boots, a given suggestion to speed up the process is to have rice. Put them in a small bag with small holes and place inside the shoes at night, or use newspaper to suck the moisture. Also, I can gather silica gels from shoe stores and use them, as I will do it for my camera equipment. They can be re-used after heating in oven.

D-Dog, i worry that i will have too much weight, so I am not sure if I will be able to carry a second set of shoes/boots. I will rely on my sturdy Chacos sandals for when my boots will be wet. I am also told that locals wear very cheap shoes with plastic bottoms that can be used when crossing rivers, wearing socks (agains leeches). Maybe those can do the trick.

Camera protection: Pelican case ready for during river crossings, travel under heavy rain, etc. Also looking for a protective day bag which does not scream "there is a camera in here, come rob me", for days i am in the city.

Sleeping: Thanks, now I put it in mind to get a hammock and tarp cover for rain. Wow.. had no idea about the vastness of hammock world. But Warbonnet is way out of my league with prices :( Will look for cheaper hammock alternatives and get a separate bug net and tarp.

I'll also take my compact air sleeping pad for the days I'll be invited to sleep under a roof. My sleeping bag is ok with as low temps as 8-10 celcius with clothes on. I love it. It's tiny.

Silk liner is an expense, but I read that it prolonges the life of the bag as well as providing a clean space when staying in hostel beds. Quchua has it for 25 GBP so, will think about it (heard that silk prices are better in Asia).

Clothes:

TheRambler: "Basically you need your baselayer, a mid layer, an insulating layer and an outer layer, and camp clothes." What do you mean by camp clothes? And suggestions for the type of outer layer to look for?

Cooking: Got a non-stick cooking set. Will find a set of spoon-knife-fork. Did not think of getting a stove. Will look for a reasonable one that burn kerosene, next time I go into London streets. I had seen an alloy anodized Sea To Summit set in Field and Trek store.

Permetherin: Will get some while still in England.

Medicine: Paully, for protection of cuts and scratches, I guess an all around antibiotic / antiseptic cream is good to have, right? (not good with these kind of stuff).

Lonely Planet: Yes, i am looking for a used one in London bookstores whenever i run into one (yes, i want to cut down the expenses as much as possible). I know it's bulky, but I think for my first trip to SE Asia, it will be worth to carry it.

Water: I forgot to ask; are water purifiers worthy to carry (and pay for)? I would not want to rely on iodine droplets for too long (not in favor of medicines). I heard that body can get used to local water if taken in increasing amounts over a few days at the beginning. Not sure how true that is. Of course, I mean the water in the forest, not the one in the city.

 

D-Dog, I wish to invest a lot more time in my photos and put them on my profiles. I still got a few thousand to go through from trips in Kenya, Turkey and Cyprus.

Thanks again to you all for your comments.

1:21 a.m. on January 31, 2011 (EST)
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Inac-inca here's a website that will have some good information for you as well..WWW.LonelyPlanet.com Thorn Tree Forums International travel site..

Boots- the gortex will not do you any good thats a sub tropical climate like central america..I'v been to there and Thailand as well...IMO

I wore jungle boots in both climates...They have eyelits on the leather to allow water to drain and they have nylon as the upper and provide protection to the ankels...They dry faster than gortex with newspaper like your thinking....Shoes are going to stay damp regardless.

Medicine- Get Malaria pills and take them  with you and a small first aid kit..you can also buy antiseptic pads in London as well...Any scratch's and cuts treat right away....Also Soap for washing Dr Bonners is available in london at WWW.Victoriahealth.com  add about 4 drops of 100% Tea tree oil it's a Natural anitseptic and anitbiotic it will prevent Athlete's foot and jungle rot...Also get some Bug repelllent...

As clothing go's your going to want long sleeve polypro shirts to ward off the Mosquitos... Also Nylon pants as well.....

I would get a water filter but you could use AquaMira drops..There's an A-bottle and B- Bottle you mix the two agents together to treat your water and the bottles are about 2oz altogether...Better than the pills and cant taste it....IMO..

Have a great trip !!!  Hope you make a cool Documentary.....

1:44 a.m. on January 31, 2011 (EST)
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Oh I forgot this until  I logged off...Boil your water if you can...Water treatment will only work so much and their are a plethra of Viro's out there..

Also Do you have Peptobismal tablets there in London? your probably going to get the runs for  food or water. Take one once aday..Number  one issue with that condition is Dehydration....Thats what you have to worry about...Hydration. I also reccomend you get some type of powder Saline.Your going to be in a very humid area and the water is going to be sucked out of you...The Powered Saline will help put the salts back into you....gaterade only has a little..Compaired to the powered saline..

8:53 a.m. on January 31, 2011 (EST)
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What I meant by camp clothes is have a change of clothes for when you are "done for the day". It makes a world of difference to have a dry set of clothes at the end of the day. I consider my camp clothes my sleep clothes as well.

As far as an outer shell, this can vary based on your preference, but can be anything from a poncho to a 3 layer goretex parka. Basically your shell is for blocking rain and keeping you dry. Some people like having shell pants as well, but this is personal preference as well. If I was taking this trip I would take a very breathable jacket vs a poncho. Event jackets breathes the best of anything on the market, but it is pricey.

You definitely want a water filter. I stress using a filter instead of aqua mira etc. The reason I say this is it can be VERY difficult to resupply drops/tablets overseas in rural areas. Bleach can be safely used as a method, but is not nearly as effective as other options alone. There are a few things to consider. First being that the water in a jungle environment commonly has viral and bacterial contamination due to decomposing animals in the water supply(not neccesarily physically in the water, but near enough to contaminate) and fecal contamination from animals and people.

There are some options that would work best for long term use. I would recommend an MSR sweetwater filter , MSR miniworks, Katahdyn Hiker Pro, or similar. Please note that a filter will improve water clarity and taste, but will not remove viruses. All of the filters listed will take out most of the bacteria and other contaminents. About viruses, viruses commonly bond to bacteria and other larger particles so a filter will capture these. But in a area where the risk is high I would recommend also treating your water with chlorine bleach. Bleach is probably your best bet due to the availability of it. That or carry lots of aqua mira etc with you. 2-3 drops of bleach in water will kill anything given enough time. It can take up to 4 hours to kill everything, but is safe from everything besides viruses within 30 minutes(after filtering, time varies greatly if water is not filtered). PLEASE NOTE THAT BLEACH IS NOT EFFECTIVE BY IT SELF IN KILLING MANY VIRUSES AND BACTERIA!! Bleach must be used after the filter because bleach can not kill bacteria or viruses that are in a biofilm without prolonged exposure(4+ hours). A filter removes most of the contaminates and all biofilms, so bleach added afterwards works just fine in killing all remaining bacteria and viruses.

Why use a filter vs aqua mira etc alone? Filter is good for 5,000+ liters of water typically. A 1 oz bottle of aquamira is good for 60-120 liters. Do the math.

I would take a MSR miniworks, and about 3oz of bleach. That will last you 6 months easy using 4 liters a day. Roughly there is 500-600 drops in an ounce. So 3 oz of bleach should last you for 750 liters at a minimum.

1:20 p.m. on January 31, 2011 (EST)
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Rambler is correct you are going to want a waterfilter and if you do use drops or tablets only as a secondary....I went through your thread..I see you only had a light rain jacket down..What about the contents in your pack? Are you going to use Sea to Summit dry bags or a Backpack liner? You need to keep the contents dry...Also When I went we used 2 Ponch's because the rain is large droplets...LOL One for our packs and one for us..This is an item that may help I have never used on but people who have praise it   The Packa  it will fit around you as well as your pack..Monsson season is long...

4:40 p.m. on January 31, 2011 (EST)
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you guys are great.

I am working on my list. Boots will be the hardest it seems. Reading to find good shoes before I head to London city.

MSR Miniworks: I just purchased from online an MSR Miniworks, just to realize that in England it is about 40$ more expensive. I sent a message to cancel the purchase and now I am attempting to buy the expensive things from amazon.com. Apparently they can send to England (hopefully it won't get stuck at the customs!). Will get AquaMira/ bleach as a supplement to get rid of viruses.

MSR Whisperlite: It's less expensive when compared to Dragonfly and is not as loud. Should be enough if the reviews are correct. I am also purchasing a medium size fuel bottle.

 

Some things I will have to let go due to costs summing up to too much:

Packa: over 100$. Will have to rely on my bag's own raincoat and a cheap poncho. Will it around my using some ropes etc.

Hammock: Clarks or Warbonnet too expensive

eVent jacket: again too pricey. Will look for something at Quechua as an alternative.

My eyes are popping out from review reading. I wish money was easier to come by so I wouldn't have to hunt for gear for so long.

4:44 p.m. on January 31, 2011 (EST)
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found this list in the amazon, personal gear choices of an outdoor person. IN it there are somethings that are also suggested here. Perhaps I will prepare such a list once I finish all my shopping, so others can use it.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Survival-Preparedness-List-Updated-Regularly/lm/R16RZBKLXOFHQY/ref=cm_lmt_srch_f_1_rsrsrs0

 

 

4:47 p.m. on January 31, 2011 (EST)
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we have heavy garbage bags here called Compactor bags.3 mil plastic...heavier than a regular trash bag and they would do well for you..I don't know if they have them there in London...you could use one for cloths then one around everything in the pack.....if not get my email and I will send 3 to you....Just send me an address

6:21 p.m. on January 31, 2011 (EST)
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@Denis-

I checked. Compactor bags are available. Thanks for the gesture, anyway.

I'll get and use a couple. I already have a dry bag for 45 lt volume and also acts as a vacuum bag that can compress my clothes if needed. i think i will choose to have few small bags in the packpack so that I can still use the front zipper of my backpack and just pull out the necessary "compartment" bag.

6:55 p.m. on January 31, 2011 (EST)
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When I name out a brand it doesn't mean that there arn't other options. there are plenty of lower cost items that work just as well. You can for example get a cheap blue poly tarp for like 10$ from most hardware stores. You can by bugnetting and nylon ripstop by the yard at any good fabric store, and with an hour or two of your time and some basic knotts and a little sewing you can make your own hammock with bug netting. There is a sticky thread at hammockforums.net that talks about all kinds of cheap complete hammock setups for under 100$. You can get army surplus hammocks that have bugnet and a very small tarp built in for like 30$, add in a larger poly tarp and your all set minus some rope and webbing for the suspension.

For rain/shell wear take a look at Marmot Precip, it is fairly cheap for good quality. Then there is always the Driducks or FrogToggs route, 20$ish,which work pretty good but don't last nearly as long.

You can compromise on alot of things gear wise, especially clothing, but do not compromise on your water filter, shelter, stove, or footwear. That doesn't mean it has to be top of the line or the fanciest, it just has to work for you. I don't know if you can get it shipped to england, but REI, EMS, and Columbia are all good quality and somewhat cheaper clothing/general backpacking gear. The actual store brands of REI and EMS that is. I have a columbia rain shell that I have used for many years, it's not the most breathable but it keeps the rain off.

11:01 p.m. on January 31, 2011 (EST)
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Get a hammock there. You'll find them along with toiletries, meds/drugs, clothes/sarongs at any local market. A raincoat for your pack is fine for river crossings Indiana. Having done hundreds myself, the gear's been swimming 4 times. 2 dumb animals fault and 2 my dumb fault. 

Seriously, you can land there with no gear and be kitted out with what you want for a bargain in a couple of hours. You can then get what you need, as you need and it gives you experience negotiating with locals early on in the trip.

S.E Asia has been a budget travel mecca forever and the locals have become absolutely accustomed to dealing with foreigners and therefore cater for pretty much anything. Remember, most of what you buy at home is made here anyway.

My outlook is to try to blend in as much as possible. I laugh whenever I see a tourist with their massive backpack on the back and the fully loaded daypack on the front, sweating and struggling with the humidity. If they carried half the gear they wouldn't be sweating anyway and they'd be in a much better frame of mind to enjoy their surroundings. 

Photocopy the guide coz that's another tourist giveaway. The vultures start circling as soon as "the bible" rears its head. Two pages fit A4 and do single side copies and then then make notes or whatever on the back relevant to that page.  

Learn to count to 10 and multiples of 10 and basic greetings. Local word for beer too.

You'll be right, don't overthink it too much. (my 2c)

 

11:03 p.m. on January 31, 2011 (EST)
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Get a hammock there. You'll find them along with toiletries, meds/drugs, clothes/sarongs at any local market. A raincoat for your pack is fine for river crossings Indiana. Having done hundreds myself, the gear's been swimming 4 times. 2 dumb animals fault and 2 my dumb fault. 

Seriously, you can land there with no gear and be kitted out with what you want for a bargain in a couple of hours. You can then get what you need, as you need and it gives you experience negotiating with locals early on in the trip.

S.E Asia has been a budget travel mecca forever and the locals have become absolutely accustomed to dealing with foreigners and therefore cater for pretty much anything. Remember, most of what you buy at home is made here anyway.

My outlook is to try to blend in as much as possible. I laugh whenever I see a tourist with their massive backpack on the back and the fully loaded daypack on the front, sweating and struggling with the humidity. If they carried half the gear they wouldn't be sweating anyway and they'd be in a much better frame of mind to enjoy their surroundings. 

Photocopy the guide coz that's another tourist giveaway. The vultures start circling as soon as "the bible" rears its head. Two pages fit A4 and do single side copies and then then make notes or whatever on the back relevant to that page.  

Learn to count to 10 and multiples of 10 and basic greetings. Local word for beer too.

You'll be right, don't overthink it too much. (my 2c)

 

5:52 a.m. on February 1, 2011 (EST)
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I guess opinions vary on going somewhere without gear and hoping you can find it there. I think that is foolhardy. To each their own though.

4:21 p.m. on February 1, 2011 (EST)
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i have also been told that Bangkok and Kuta Kinabalu have everything i will need and more. This came from a senior person in my anthropology department with several years of expertise in SE Asia, specifically dealing with indigenous communities using similar equipment.

Nonetheless, I also want to make sure I got at least the main things before I go. So, I think I am choosing the middle way of both suggestions from Rambler and Paully.

To my initial delight, I choose 4-5 pieces of MSR equipment (Whisperlite, its canister and repair kit, Miniworks, and a titanium Spork) from Amazon.com which came to around 240$ and I found out I can get it shipped to UK. To my disappointment, however, shipment came to be 20$ and estimated customs to be 40$. Now this leaves me with only 30-35$ difference with the UK prices on Amazon.co.uk.

I am not sure if this difference is worth the risk of long distance shipment, higher customs possibility, difficulties in return if something unexpected comes out of the package, and the potential complications of warranty.

Above all, I just find it hard to accept that same product can have such different prices in different locations and I am at the loosing end.

 

6:38 p.m. on February 1, 2011 (EST)
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Gear and questions:

Backpack:

Will have my old Quechua backpack with probably 15-20 kg of load. it's not fully waterproof but has a mediocre raincoat. Suggestions for a better pack-raincoat? Or better to get a poncho that covers backpack?

Quechua makes adequate backpacks, though I am not enamored of their gear. As others have suggested, the best way to keep your gear dry is to use a drybag (Sea to Summit and some other companies make very lightweight versions, though pricey) or a plastic garbage bag (the "compactor" bags are heavier duty)as a liner to your pack. You might want to divide your gear into several of the bags, with some spares to put the wet and dirty gear in when not wearing it.

 

Boots:

As others have noted, Goretex (and eVent and other waterproof/breathable liners) get plugged quickly and can led to "immersion foot" and other foot problems. Better to use "jungle boots" (get these military surplus) or "Wellington boots", or footgear that lets your feet just get wet while protecting against critters like leeches and sticks, stones, and other sharp objects, and dry your feet off at your night sleeping site.

 

.....

Gaiters:

Yes, good to have. They reduce the amount of junk entering the tops of your boots.

 

CAMERA and plus:

Got my Nikon D300 for photography, with a Lowe protective camera bag, which is not waterproof. Bag has a small rainjacket. Lenses are 18-200 Nikon, and 50 prime Nikon.

Got a small netbook and external 500 gb harddisc to transfer photos and be in touch with world through a blog.

 

 

Good choices. But consider the Nikon D300s. The big thing on your list it adds to the D300 is that it shoots HD video with sound. It has a stereo mike jack for improved sound from a reasonable quality mike. It is limited to 5 minutes of video at a time, but for interviews and many other things you will shoot, that's fine. It won't do a full ceremony for indigenous peoples. But you only need the one camera (take one of the small HD cameras that are out now that others have mentioned as backup). It takes 2 chips, one a CF, the other a SDHC, with the video going on the SDHC and the still on the CF. You can get good quality 32G chips in both sizes, though they are pricey. The D700 has the advantage of being full frame (which does noticeably improve the image quality, especially under low light), but for 90% of your shooting won't really add anything.

For the photostore disc, I suggest the Jobo. I had a couple other brands, then had the Jobo suggested to me by a friend who shoots all over Africa as a profession. It has proven well worth its cost. He uses a pair to double-backup his photos. Jobo is a Swiss company,though they have distribution branches in many countries.

You might consider getting a solar panel for recharging your batteries in the field. I have been using one for a number of years now, a Brunton 26 Watt. It is about 10 years old, so there are more efficient ones available that fold up to the same 9x12 inch size. There are several companies that make charger units for the Nikon batteries that work on 12-24V (which the solar panels that are suitable put out). I used this in Dec in Antarctica to charge the Nikon batteries in about 2 hours, as well as a couple years ago in Africa as well as Alaska.

 

.....

Got a Pelican Case to protect the gear when moving between locations.

 

I have several Pelicans of various sizes. Excellent choice for a hard case (only choice as far as I am concerned). I use the LowePro version of the 1520 which has a LowPro camera bag for a liner. So you can take the bag out when you don't need the hard case and its lockability. The particular bag used has straps for attaching your tripod (I use a Gitzo Traveller for the lightest possible stable tripod, and a Gitzo Mountaineer with an Acrotech head for heavier duty, but still quite light usage).

 

.....

I read a suggesiton of Aquatech camera coat for when using the camera. Does anyone have similar but LESS expensive suggestions to buy in Europe?

 

After trying other approaches (including garbage bags with a hole punched in them for the lens), I broke down and sprang the bucks for the Aquatech. It was well worth it. I have used it in African rain forests and Alaska where it seems to rain whenever I get the camera out, plus for shooting a few bicycle races during heavy rains. The D300, D300s, D700 are pretty water resistant. So an umbrella is all you need if there is no wind. If there is wind, though, use the Aquatech.

 

.....

Tent:

Not taking any. I heard people are very friendly and hospitable, and I will not be left outside.

 

Yes, but ... There may well be times when having a small, light 2-person tent will prove of value. I wouldn't completely eliminate the idea.

 

.....

Sleeping bag and liner:

I have a basic sleeping bag from Quechua, more for warmer weather.

Silk liner: is it worth the high (35-40 GBP) cost?

Although, as I said, I haven't been to Asia, much less the area you are going, friends who have have said that a basic 3-season or even summer only bag is more than adequate. Since you may be in wet areas, you should be taking a synthetic bag, preferably one of the top-quality synthetics like Primaloft. These offer close to the warmth to weight ratio and compressibility of down, but hold less water when wet plus dry fairly rapidly. Personally, I have never found silk sleeping bag liners to be worth the cost, although they might help keep the sleeping bag a bit cleaner.

 

.....

Mosquito net:

Will get one there.

A mosquito net is pretty light and compact. But give some thought to the configuration you choose. The pyramid type that requires tying to some point above you is the lightest, but does require a tie-point. The ones with a box-shaped frame are self-supporting, but you have to pack the (very light, but does have rods of some length) frame. The kind that are just large enough for your upper body don't shield you if you happen to be restless and hot and kick the covers off during the night.

As someone else posted, treat your clothes with permethrin, or buy some clothes already treated (the already treated clothes, such as Ex Officio's "Buzz Off" retain their repellent power for about 4 or 5 times longer than doing it yourself, but are pricey - again, my wife and I finally broke down and bought pre-treated shirts, pants, and hats - sometimes paying for it pays off better in the long run).

Medicine:

Got Hep A and B, Typhoid, Yellow Fever for a trip to Kenya half a year ago.

Not thinking of using anti-malaria medicine, as I do not like chemicals in my body for too long. So, I think I will go for a malaria-treatment alternative in case I get it.

Have a small medi-kit for basic needs.

Other suggestions?

Make sure your other immunizations are up to date - Tetanus, for example. There are several anti-malarials. We used doxycyclin for Tanzania a couple years ago, then discovered it makes one more sensitive to UV (my nose got seriously burned while on Kilimanjaro despite #50 sunblock). Doxy also affects some people's digestive system (like me). Some of the others have less side effect. The tradeoff is that if you do get malaria, it never completely goes away, but can flare up a year or 2 or 10 later - the parasite just goes dormant for a while and isn't killed by the medicines in its encysted form. It's a trade-off, and I prefer not getting tropical diseases that just go dormant and can't get completely cured.

On the med kit - consider that in 3rd world countries, the doctors and dentists, especially in the "outback" and "bush" are not as well trained or equipped as even in the cities, much less western countries. When we go to such locations, I take a "3rd World" set of supplies, including sealed, sterilized syringes and needles (the first aid kit is in a commercial package clearly labeled by the manufacturer as a "3rd World Kit", including a list of contents so that Customs won't get bent out of shape by the syringes and needles). The only use I have had to make of it was for a chap in Tanzania who had an impacted tooth and had to go to a "dentist", whose "office" was a rather unsanitary-looking shack. He made sure the dentist used the sealed needles for injecting the anaesthetic, rather than what appeared to be unwashed syringes and re-used needles.

If you need any meds, take your own extra supply and the prescription paperwork.

You might want to get the Lonely Planet book on medicine abroad - lots of good, honest, and straight-forward advice and information there.

 

10:44 p.m. on February 1, 2011 (EST)
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firstly, thank you all for the incredible advice I have been getting.

@Rumbler- alternative suggestions are great. I did NOT know that army surplus shops were so popular and available. I found one in my town and several in London. I'll go check and let you know what comes out of it.

@Bill, thanks for the additions. I've been noting everything down and will check whatever is applicable and within my budget.

As others have suggested, the best way to keep your gear dry is to use a drybag (Sea to Summit and some other companies make very lightweight versions, though pricey) or a plastic garbage bag (the "compactor" bags are heavier duty)as a liner to your pack. You might want to divide your gear into several of the bags, with some spares to put the wet and dirty gear in when not wearing it.

Got a 45 lt Quechua drybag, will get compactor bags and perhaps another smaller drybag and use them as compartments in my bag.

 

Boots:

 Better to use "jungle boots" (get these military surplus) or "Wellington boots", or footgear that lets your feet just get wet while protecting against critters like leeches and sticks, stones, and other sharp objects, and dry your feet off at your night sleeping site.

Will check "jungle boots". IF I find them not very comfortable, I will choose to use my sandals and some local river shoes that local people use, during when I am in place where I'll definitely get shoes wet.I heard local shoes when worn with socks and with some chewing tobacco rubbed on the ankles take care of leeches, are hard enough at the sole to step on stones an sticks and dry real fast, and are like 5$.

Again, IF jungle boots are not good for long term use, then I think of getting a pair of Meindl Borneo (leather, more breathable, not GTX, and I can wear them in future in different environments again, which might not be true for jungle boots if they are not comfy). I know they are a bit bulky and don't dry as fast as mesh upper, but if the jungle boots will make my longer hikes miserable, I think it's worth the consideration. Plus their price is 60 GBP reduced now.

 

 

You might consider getting a solar panel for recharging your batteries in the field. I have been using one for a number of years now, a Brunton 26 Watt. It is about 10 years old, so there are more efficient ones available that fold up to the same 9x12 inch size. There are several companies that make charger units for the Nikon batteries that work on 12-24V (which the solar panels that are suitable put out). I used this in Dec in Antarctica to charge the Nikon batteries in about 2 hours, as well as a couple years ago in Africa as well as Alaska.

Should have thought about how to power myself while in rural areas! Thanks for the suggestion. It was a problem in Kenya. I hate to say the prices are still over my head. Same goes for Nikon D300s, Jobo, Gitzo and Aquatech too. All will have to wait for next trip. I better find a way to earn money out of my trips!

 

.....

Tent:

Not taking any. I heard people are very friendly and hospitable, and I will not be left outside.

 

Yes, but ... There may well be times when having a small, light 2-person tent will prove of value. I wouldn't completely eliminate the idea.

Will get a tarp following others' suggestions, and match it with a hammock from there, to save on weight. But in any case, I am looking at Ferrino tents whose poles are shorter than average tent making it very compact when in bag (shorter than 40 cm length). Price is also good for abot 150-170$

 

Medicine:

For malaria, I am trying to find Artesunate or Cotecxin. They are treatment medicines and some of the ethnobotany people in my department said it works to cure it once you get it. one student said she gets malaria twice every year in Tanzania. I'll prefer to take this WHEN i get malaria then use a preventative medicine for a whole year.

Took note of your suggestion on medi-kits and LP medical issue.

 

 

10:51 p.m. on February 1, 2011 (EST)
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I forgot to mention the idea of something like Teva sandals, some versions of which come with a toe guard. But I note you had that idea already. I find Tevas much superior to Chacos (if you get the right model), but like any footwear or pack, different people have different feet (or torso shape in the case of packs). So you have to try them and find what works for you.

Some people really like Vibram Five Fingers. I have a couple pair, one of which works well for wading streams and rivers. There are reviews of some of the models here on Trailspace.

12:39 a.m. on February 2, 2011 (EST)
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Bill S I was hopeing you would chime in with your wealth of knowledge and perspective of world travel...

12:55 a.m. on February 2, 2011 (EST)
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i have also been told that Bangkok and Kuta Kinabalu have everything i will need and more. This came from a senior person in my anthropology department with several years of expertise in SE Asia, specifically dealing with indigenous communities using similar equipment.

Nonetheless, I also want to make sure I got at least the main things before I go. So, I think I am choosing the middle way of both suggestions from Rambler and Paully.

To my initial delight, I choose 4-5 pieces of MSR equipment (Whisperlite, its canister and repair kit, Miniworks, and a titanium Spork) from Amazon.com which came to around 240$ and I found out I can get it shipped to UK. To my disappointment, however, shipment came to be 20$ and estimated customs to be 40$. Now this leaves me with only 30-35$ difference with the UK prices on Amazon.co.uk.

I am not sure if this difference is worth the risk of long distance shipment, higher customs possibility, difficulties in return if something unexpected comes out of the package, and the potential complications of warranty.

Above all, I just find it hard to accept that same product can have such different prices in different locations and I am at the loosing end.

 

Yes you can get good deals there. Thailands a great Rock climbing area.I went in 2004..My buddy goes every year...He owns a Rock gym.. 

2:46 a.m. on February 2, 2011 (EST)
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TheRambler suggested using bleach after water purification.

We are talking about ordinary unscented bleach used in cleaning and whitening, right?

A suggestion my professor gave me is to carry lots of powdered drink mix to make the taste better.

Is there a measure for how many drops for how many litres?

I just found this link with some measures:

http://www.csgnetwork.com/h2oemergencypurifycalc.html

it suggests about 8 drops per gallon (i suppose American gallon, something like 3.7 litres).

3:40 a.m. on February 2, 2011 (EST)
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@Bill, you might find this interesting. It came to me as part of a newsletter:

http://library.creativecow.net/kobler_helmut/solid-state/1

The article is reviewing two portable hard drives similar to the Jobo you mentioned.

4:34 a.m. on February 2, 2011 (EST)
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@TheRambler- I understand your point in being generally ill-prepared but I was taking Inanc-inca's financial and geographical location with regards to gear acquisition into consideration mostly. You guys really take it for granted how accessible top shelf stuff is to you in the U.S. 

I understand the region in discussion here intimately having lived and travelled there extensively on and off for the last 6 years and I wouldn't dare suggest anything that I wasn't sure of. The conundrum a lot of people have when doing something new is to try to be over-prepared for the unexpected and I'm hearing these bells a ringin here. Thus, the calm down call.

If you choose to believe what I say to be foolhardy, then fair enough, we obviously move in vastly different circles. I can implicitly state that I'm a very conscientious traveller and am very rarely unprepared for whatever I'm taking on. 

I travel light and often and I know what I'm saying. I'm thinking you haven't spent any significant time in S.E Asia, if you had, you'd know what I'm saying as to getting equipment on the ground there. It's not your average trip, and buying locally is the way to go for many reasons.

 

@Inanc-inca- Good luck with the trip bro. Load up and whatever you've overlooked you can get at Central World Plaza in Bangkok, and a few places in Cebu, Singapore and Manila.

I really don't mean to come across as condescending, but after your trip you'll know what I'm saying, I get that you feel the need to be prepared though.

Why are you paying duty on $240? Surely the U.K are more lenient than that...... or maybe not?

7:23 p.m. on February 2, 2011 (EST)
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Using bleach is about 2-3 drops per liter, so that would also be about 8 drops per gallon. And yes, regular ole unscented household cholrine bleach.

You wont need to worry much about improving the taste of water if your using the miniworks filter, turns the skankiest water you have ever seen into crystal clear awesome tasting water. However, i do like to have the occasional powdered mix of gatoraide etc.

My only point in regards to getting gear at your destination is that you will have a limited selection and will not have a chance to test it out/ learn your gear before you strike out. At a bare minimum one should bring all of the essentials with them, because there is no gurantee you will be able to find any specific item locally, no matter if you have seen it there 100 times before or not...could be your lucky trip where whatever item isn't available for whatever reason. Decide to get something locally that is backpacking/camping specific and you are rolling the dice is all I'm sayin.

9:06 p.m. on February 2, 2011 (EST)
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...

You wont need to worry much about improving the taste of water if your using the miniworks filter, turns the skankiest water you have ever seen into crystal clear awesome tasting water. ....

Sorry, Rambler, but I can point you to some streams that appear crystal clear that have chemical contamination that the Miniworks and virtually every other backpackable filter out there will not remove and will leave you with foul-tasting and foul-smelling water. And those streams are in popular and well traveled backpacking areas. I say "virtually" because all the major brands and models of those brands have been tried and still leave the water smelling and tasting, but just in case there are some filters that I have not witnessed being tried that are successful.

 

 

8:38 a.m. on February 3, 2011 (EST)
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Think i need to put a chemically contaminated water disclaimer in any posts relating to water filters from now on.

Ok, so if your going to be getting your water from a bio waste chemical plant resivoir then you might have some funky tastes...

Seriously people, few places have some super crazy level of chemical contamination(note that I said few...that means that I do agree some places have severe chemical contamination). And even fewer don't have a different source you can get water from within a few miles. And those places that do have minor contamination the miniworks DOES remove a good amount if not all of it. Is getting water from a chemically contaminated source advised? No.

Chemical contamination is it's own seperate category, nothing will get rid of it, but your best bet is a filter. Lets run through our options...aqua mira or similar, bleach, boiling, steripen, Filter. Of all of those a filter with a carbon core is your best bet for chemicals. Obviously, if you can avoid a water source that has chemical contamination then you should. How do you know if a source is contaminated? Well, you can try and do research before your trip, otherwise unless it is posted as such you want to look for abnormaly foul smelling water.

As far as the ability of the miniworks specifically to turn skanky foul smelling and tasting water into pure goodness I have about 6 years of first hand experience with it. Did I ever filter water that was chemically contaminated? I have no idea, am I still alive? I think so. I used the miniworks on 5 deployments to Somalia, and Afghanistan where on several occassions I turned a stagnant muddy insect larvae infested water puddles into perfectly fine tasting drinking water. I have also used it while backpacking state side for all of my filtering needs from anywhere from crystal clear mount springs, to mucky beaver ponds, to squeezing water out of peat moss. And it has never put out anything other than crystal clear perfect tasting water.

7:50 a.m. on February 4, 2011 (EST)
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FYI

Just got my Miniworks from the mail today. Manual says below about cleaning chemicals:

"Never use the MiniWorks EX to filter seawater or chemically contaminated water, such as water from mining tailing ponds or near large agricultural operations. The MiniWorks Ex does not make drinkable water from these sources and does not remove all viruses, chemicals and radioactive materials, or particles smaller than 0.2 microns."

 

8:02 a.m. on February 4, 2011 (EST)
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That is a companies legal disclaimer in effect. Of course they are not going to tell you to filter chemically contaminated water.

My only point is that if it ever came down to having no other choice than to filter a chemically contaminated source then filtering it with the miniworks or other carbon core filter is the best bet you have other than not taking water at all.

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