With only 10 days to go until I leave for this South Pacific Expedition, I’m milling about to get the last bits and pieces together, while passing by my doctor and dentist, just to be sure. You don’t want having to have your teeth pulled out deep into the Papua new Guinean jungle!
I usually ever only pack gear for one week, in the philosophy that any gear I will need in one week, I will also need and use on any other length of trip, discounting food. But preparing for 8 months, where I will be passing through jungle, up mountains and over rivers, while probably having to cross oceanic waters in smaller boats, the inventory list tends to become massive. Even with experience from similar places, it is so damn hard to plan ahead from the comforts of a sofa.
I would love to take all my hiking gear with me, so that I would be ready for any kind of environment or situation, but it simply is not possible. Not by a mile. So I compromise, and demand of any item that I bring, that it must have at least two functions. If it weights a lot, it should also have more uses.
Whatever I buy at this moment, is taken directly from the budget I have for the expedition however, so I need to be careful not to overspend on all the juicy gear you can buy nowadays. Also, one has to bear in mind, the more you look like some outdoor Go Pro Hero in shining new gear, the more prone you are to become the victim of petty thefts or worse.
No, you want to look at least somewhat outdated and rugged! Fat chance really in my fancy new Salomon XA Pro 3D Trail runners. And there you have it, I’m not bringing my big and bulky leather Meindl hiking boots. Whenever my path will become harder to tread, I will use these trail runners, also with 15kg+ on my back. And even though I should have plenty of jungle time, this expedition is by no means an “Ed Stafford” affair hiking through the entire Amazon Basin. No, this should do for any jungle I will encounter.
Shoes like these have worked for me in the past, and they should work out in Papua new Guinea and beyond too! Actually, unless you are going on a really deep jungle trip, I’d say sandals will do the trick. Bring wellies or extremely breathable boots for safety, but only for serious bushwhacking. Nothing ever truly dries in the jungle, so bringing stuff that has a hard time drying on hikes in the northern hemisphere, like my Meindl boots, is a no go. Worst case, you buy some wellies locally.
Other compromises I have made is on my camera. I’ve got Nikon’s Coolpix AW120, which does take decent pictures and shoots decent video too. But the main reason for bringing this great little camera, is that it can take a beating most cameras would never be able to withstand. Supposedly you can drop it from a height of 2m and can dive to a depth of 18m with it, and that is what I want in a Camera for the wild and the South Pacific.
Go Pro you say? Sure but the extra gear I needed just to match the Nikon out of the box possibilities, made it an easy choice. While I love Go Pro’s new video quality, I have a hard time with the pictures it takes, and if you don’t buy the external screen, its downright annoying to shoot pictures with it. So the Nikon is my all-in-one compromise. We will see how it fares for real, pretty soon now. I could write a book about the debate I have had in regards to what camera to bring..
Anyway, I have decided to start the expedition in the very east of Papua new Guinea just outside the small city of Alotau in Milne Bay. The cool thing about this place, apart from being beautiful, is that its the very place where the South Pacific begins. It’s perfect for my plan, since I will be able to traverse the entire South Pacific region, from the furthermost western point to the furthest east you can go; the Easter Island.
For the next couple of posts, which I hope to write in a few days, I will be talking about what my plans are for the first couple of months, and how I will try to find my way to the Solomon Islands mostly on foot!