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Most camping equipment for a 'Footprints' tour can be rented at relatively low cost in Africa, if it is available.  But there are certain things you may wish to bring with you.

Proviso: The equipment listed here is aimed primarily at the serious mountain hiker. I have put an asterisk beside the items of a more general need. They are 2., 5., 6., 8., 10., 17. And 19.

1.  Rucksack or backpack:  I generally follow the principal the 'bigger the better'. But it can lead to the temptation to fill it. However, in mountain trips somebody else might be carrying it and glad for the extra room in which to put his own stuff and communal equipment. I have a 75 litre bag, but would like a 100 l.  I met a young woman carrying, all her own equipment in an 80 l. bag. 75 l. is probably a good standard if it feels comfortable for you.

* 2.  A second rucksack or day bag is also needed. This might be the size of a school book bag. Expect to carry it most of the time.

3.  Sleeping Bag:  A three-season bag adequate to 0 C or –5 C is sufficient.  It's easier just to wear more clothes for the odd night of chill, rather than use a winter sleeping bag all the time.

4.  Air mattress:  You will occasionally need something between you and a hard surface. I have found the 48 inch long inflatable thermarest a good compromise between nothing and the extravagant.

* 5.  Rainwear:  Rain protection of some sort is imperative to carry most of the time.  Again, if you can afford it, Gore-Tex covers both the rain and the wind protection needs. But an inexpensive plastic suit will suffice.

* 6.  Fleece:  While fleece is mentioned in the clothing section, it doesn’t hurt to emphasize it.  One of its big advantages, along with warmth, is that it dries easily.

7.  A balaclava or at least toque and gloves are needed.

* 8.  Water:  You will always carry your own water.  What type of container is up to you. Many just carry the plastic water bottle in their daypack. A drinking bladder inside the daypack can be convenient.

9.  A large heavy plastic bag or old duffel bag that will accommodate your rucksack is useful for the air travel portion. Uncovered rucksacks with all their loose straps are susceptible to damage in baggage handling.

* 10.  Flashlight or Headlamp:  A good small (double AA) battery flashlight with half a dozen extra batteries is really useful. A headlamp may be more useful, but can be quite expensive. For a few dollars you can make an elastic headband with loops to hold a regular flashlight.

11.  A lightweight tent may be useful, but don’t make the investment unless you plan to use it again. Borrowing works for me.

12.  Swiss army knife or equivalent.

13.  Towel

14. Walking  stick or two

15.  Granola bars or equivalent personal energy source

16.  Waterproof gaiters may also be considered.

* 17.  Money belt for wearing under clothes.

18.  A Bug Jacket, depending on your sensitivity may be useful.

* 19.  Sunglasses, ideally with wrap-around protection.


Clothing Suggestions


The clothing description below presumes a lot of high mountain hiking. If you aren’t planning to do that you can eliminate much. If you later change your mind, much of the heavy clothing can be rented. A second lighter pair of footwear is important. Running shoes or sandals (I shy away from open toed) are useful most of the time. Again some light rainwear is good to have.


Everyone has their own feelings about what clothes are comfortable. Here is an outline of what has suited me in East Africa.  While one can wear short-sleeved shirts and shorts, along with copious amounts of sunscreen, I prefer long clothes most of the time.   Loose fitting cotton in beige and earth tones blends well with the dust that soon gets on them.  I have found pants with zip off legs particularly useful because they can double for shorts.  

Lots of pockets are good for carrying and organizing things. Frequently you want to keep valuables out of sight and leave the crooks guessing.  

A soft broad brimmed hat is important to keep the sun off.  Sunlight is intense at the equator and it increases exponentially with altitude.  A sunburn which takes 30 minutes at sea level happens in six minutes at 3,000 m.  And while the temperature drops as you go up the sun’s intensity increases. Sunglasses with side shields are recommended.  

Some people use heavy coats on the mountain, but it is my experience that layers of clothing offer optimum comfort.  Among the layers which I have used are silk long underwear, wool sweater, a fleece and wind jacket for the top.  On the bottom it seems that not more than three layers are needed; the long underwear, regular 
  long pants and wind pants. A two piece Gor-Tex suit is a way of getting wind and rain protection in one, if you can afford these.  And whether Gortex or not, a rainsuit is a must.


Good BROKEN-IN walking shoes, or hiking boots are an imperative. But along with these something light such as sandals or running shoes allow your boots and feet a break from each other at the end of the day.  I usually have several T-shirts, which along with shorts, I frequently wear in the evening.  Quick dry polypropylene fibre foundation garments are also an option.  These allow sweat to wick away from the skin and reduce likelihood of getting cold when the temperature drops suddenly and the wind picks up.


Three pairs of thick hiking socks, if hiking mountains, and at least two pairs of lighter cotton socks have met my needs. When walking more than a couple of kilometres, I use a heavy wool or similar sock, which absorbs the sweat and cushions the foot.  Generally my feet fit snuggly in the boots for a long walk.  The less space, to slip, the less chance of getting blisters.  One theory on boot fit is that there should be a half inch between your toe and the end of the boot inside.  This reduces the likelihood that your toe will contact the front of the boot when walking downhill.

Two changes of regular clothing are the minimum and more than three may be extravagant.  The use of porters means that you don’t have to lug all of your stuff.  But it is a good practice to bring only as much as you are capable of carrying for at least a few hundred metres.  You will rarely need to have all of your clothes with you.

Some of these clothes may seem heavy given your understanding of Africa.  But everybody knows equatorial Africa is hot. That it can also be cold is less well known.





About Footprints

Whether you want to experience the glaciers and thin air, high on the great mountains, the huge herds and predators of the fabled Serengeti Plain, or the chaotic tangle of life in the rain forest, Footprints Tours offers opportunity to marvel at nature or test yourself in it.  Read More »

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