2013 Equipment

Aqua Salveo Water Treatment
Financing an adventure is always a challenge. 
 
My desert expedition of 2-3 months was done on a 'non existent' budget of R40 000 (AUD 4 000), which included a R14 000 (AUD 1 400) international airticket and R16 000 (AUD 1 600) for food from my 92 year old Grandmother. Much of my equipment and clothing was old,  hand-me-downs, home made or discounted. I could have dropped 5kg with better light weight equipment, but technology comes with a price tag. I did the best I could with what I had. It got the job done.
 
This quote is my reality :
 
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:

          Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
          Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

WH Murray, from book The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, incorporating the words of Johann Wolfgang von-Goethe


My learning curve in 2013 and how it has influenced my equipment choices for 2015.
 
Equipment will vary according to how you intend to walk the Canning Stock Route. Each walk is unique. I walked with resupplies. Because of this, I did not consider weight to be a factor in my daily food supply drops. MISTAKE. Weight is always a factor in everything no matter how you intend to do the walk. Be ruthless with your kit. You will loathe your situation out there if you are walking heavy. The weight may even break you. The lighter you walk, the more you will enjoy your surroundings and the experience. Take less, do more.
 
Let go of the baggage. Practice austerity. Have an extraordinary life.
 
 

Communications

SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker. Venturing into the desert without my SPOT is unthinkable.

Sponsors: Hans and Frigga Bausenwein of the XC-Open World Series sponsored my unit several years ago in order that I may test it in paragliding competitions. The idea was that if I could use it, anybody could. SPOT is now a standard piece of paragliding safety equipment in countries where there is SPOT coverage. Australia, Europe and the Americas all have coverage. Africa, the dark continent, has limited service. SPOT does NOT work in South Africa.

SPOT on the CSR. There are different support subscriptions and several unit options. My unit is old school and reliable (KISS)

Tracking Progress - I include this feature in my subscription. The reason is: should I have an accident and be unable to push the '911' button to be rescued, my position is still being sent automatically to the control centre and the internet, providing I activate the unit at the start of my day. In the case of my 2013 walk, the track record verified my journey. This proved an awesome asset in writing my book, allowing me to remember the route and time span I walked with awesome accuracy.

There is no cellphone coverage out on the Canning. This is my only form of communication with the outside world and it works with satellites. 

OK - SPOT has an OK button, which when pressed, sends a message to pre-programmed email addresses, mobile numbers and Facebook, letting family and friends know that I am OK at the end of each day.

Help - For low level emergencies there is a HELP button which sends a message to pre-programmed email addresses and mobile phones. Almost pointless on the CSR due to its remote location, but I program in the communities of Billiluna, Kunawarritji, Wiluna, Andy Sutcliffe in Kalgoorlie and Dan Riggall, a friend in Newman.

SOS-911 - A button that is standard. When pressed, a message is sent to GEOS Alliance Australia who co-ordinate an all out rescue.

GEOS Alliance has an additional GEOS Member Benefit Insurance policy.  In the past I have paid for this policy.
Will I pay for GEOS Alliance again. NO.
Reason being: Upon inquiry as to whether I would be covered by the policy for desert walking, Mike Chubleck of GEOS Alliance declined to confirm, despite my history of hitchhiking and walking it solo over four years.

'The GEOS benefit provides up to $50 000 per occurrence in reimbursement  for qualified SAR extraction-related expenses for which you are held responsible up to two (2) events per year ($100 000 total).

Sounds like a good thing to have considering the remote location of the CSR. However:

Read the fine print in a separate attachment: GEOS-SAR-BENEFIT-TERMS-AND-CONDITIONS.pdf. There are several conditions that would invalidate a CSR claim by a cyclist or walker and that is why GEOS declined to confirm cover. That is insurance for you!

Will I use SPOT again? YES. I will also use the Tracking feature, but I will not sign up for GEOS Alliance insurance.

SpotWalla is a free SPOT tracking online storage facility, recording the journey, making it available for online viewing by the public or to a secure address. SPOT uploaded my position at regularly intervals as I walked across the Gibson, Great and Little Sandy Deserts. Sixty six days of live tracking over 1657km of desert. SPOT lost me on occasion but look at my SpotWalla track on my website (Change 'Fill' to 'All' for close scrutiny) and you will find that the tracking is pretty good, although not every ten seconds as stated on the SPOT website.

During and after the walk, the Canning Walker website was blowing its bandwidth several times a month for four months, despite  doubling up on bandwidth each time. When it used 10 Gig of bandwidth I moved to a hosting service offering unlimited bandwidth. A SpotWalla page on your website draws public interest and debate as they follow your progress across the desert. This flow of traffic will make your sponsors happy. The Canning Walker SpotWalla page received over 7000 views alone.

Batteries. The SPOT unit I have is the original version and uses minute amounts of power which makes it a great safety device for remote locations. Two Lithium AA batteries lasted two months, active from dawn to dusk. I would take two, maybe four more batteries with me, for safety. Dud batteries do occur, although I have never found this to be the case with Lithium's.

SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker

 

 

 

 

 

 

SpotWalla

 

SpotWalla_Map_Canning_Walker

 

 

 

 

 

LithiumAABatteries

 

GPS and Maps

Garmin 301 wrist gps

Pros - Convenient. Straps to the wrist where it is safe and unlikely to become separated from me. It held important information - the waypoints of wells, my water and food supplies.

Cons - No map and does not have enough memory capacity to store all the tracks whilst walking.  The BIG issue - uses two Lithium AAA batteries at a rate of 2 every 2 days when activated from sunrise to sunset. Ended up using it only for course verification, final supply drop location and anxiety control/comfort.

Garmin 76csx for back up

This one did have Australian maps, but I never checked to see if the Canning Stock Route was loaded until it was too late. MISTAKE. A GPS map with the CSR track loaded is important when going off track, over dunes and through spinifex, instead of following the frustratingly long back and forth between dunes. The main CSR track is 1657km between Billiluna and Wiluna. A direct line is close to 1000km. That is 657km of extra track distance, before side trips.

Maps

Westprint provided me with their Canning Stock Route map, free of charge. It is a beautiful map full of historical information and landmarks. Like most maps, it does not show the track in great detail i.e. the twists and turns between dunes. No paper map has enough detail to make off track walking safe.
I cut the map into strips and laminated it. This worked well as a reference. As I walked these sections, I burned the strips. Without a map on the GPS, the paper map was the only pictorial reference I had.

How would I do it better next time?
Read this ExplorOz Forum discussion - Which Map Canning Stock Route. The idea is to have at least one GPS map and a paper back up map, PLUS, laminated strips of selected detailed sections of track that look good for short cutting. On these selected sections I will be able to see where the dunes are in relation to the track. A detailed map of the entire area would be too heavy.

In 2014 I bought these two mapping programs for research and planning future CSR walks and making 'laminated strip maps'.
OzieExplorer and EOTopo

Garmin301 Wrist GPS

Garmin 76csx

Map Detail

 

Tent

I have used this design for 20 years under the name Coleman and Black Wolfe. Last year a Vango Banshee was donated by Elizabeth Wenness of FlyManilla, replacing a very worn out Black Wolfe tent.

A great little tent, but with some design issues that have since been rectified with the updated 2014 Vango Banshee 200. However, one change I do not like is the replacement of the mosquito/fly mesh door with solid material. A tent without a view is not a tent for me.

What will I take in 2015?

1) MSR Hubba tent. For another desert trek like the CSR I want to go lighter than 2.3kg. My choice is the old MSR Hubba at 1.4kg. Most CSR cyclists use this tent.

Pros:  The Hubba is 900g lighter than my previous tent.
         The Hubba is free standing which is better for sand and rocks.
         The Hubba's high ceiling means I can sit up in the tent, which I could not do before.

Cons: The narrow interior space took awhile to get used to as I suffer from claustrophobia.  
          The narrow space does not leave much space for gear.
          Durability is sacrificed in order to get the tent so light.  I have already replaced the outer tent bag with a heavier, more durable bag as it developed wear holes within three days whilst strapped to the outside of my daypack in the Fish River Canyon in Namibia.

2) Tarp. I will take a tarp to test whether if I can go that minimalistic. I also need a tarp for rain water collection.

3) Hilleberg Bivanorak. I am looking to see if I can find something like this to test for a sleeping/rain shelter and early morning/night walking.

Vango Banshee Tent

 

Water - The Challenge of Resupply

  • Storing water and food 21km apart for 1657km - 70 drops
  • Each drop to held 10 litres of water
  • Leave No Trace - Burn after use. No discarded containers on the Canning
  • Ensure supplies are safe from interference from thirsty dingoes and camels
  • Compact in transportation, ready to be filled at the Wells en-route
  • Quick and easy to fill
  • Water treatment must be simple, fast acting and stay clean for at least 4 months
  • Storage Containers and Water Treatment must be Affordable i.e  REALLY cheap!

ExplorOz.com Forumwww.ExplorOz.com

Water Storage Solution

on the Canning

*

How to Dingo and Camel

Proof Water and Food Supply Drops

Water Storage

Flexible foil bladders as used in the bag-in-box system for wine and juice and the inner bladders of Sea-to-Summit Pack Taps worked.

Sponsor: Nampak Flexibles fully sponsored 250 bags (50 spares).

Best financial option: fitting the low budget criteria @ R3,00 per 5 litre bag. 200 bags i.e. 1000 litres of water, comes to R684,00 including VAT.

Best transportable option: Empty, bladders, like these foil bags,  take up very little space in the back of the Toyota during the supply run. The problem we experienced was the abrasion from the protruding nozzles/spouts against the other bags when they were filled with water and placed together in a large container for transportation between wells and drops. The corrugations are hectic on the CSR, causing the nozzles to rub against the delicate plastic/foil bladders resulting in tiny perforations that were not easily visible to the naked eye. If the seepage was not detected before going into the hole, when I recovered the bags some weeks and months later, I would find that up to 4 litres of water had slowly seeped out. For this reason I am glad I separated my water into two bags! How to solve? Next time get bags with nozzles that do not protrude as much. Nampak supplies a wide variety for different applications. Turn bags to face away from one another in the transportation container.

Sunlight and heat are their enemy. This was Nampak's main concern. In the supply drops I protected them with an outer covering, in this case a bin liner, and buried them under two feet of sand in shade where possible. As it turns out, the water was always cool when I recovered it. 

With regards to their durability in the backpack: I placed the foil/plastic water bladders on top of the kit in the backpack, careful to avoid sharp objects.

Dingo and camel proof? The dingoes and camels showed no interest, so the water in foil/plastic bladder bags was safe, wrapped in a plastic bin liner, in the ground, mostly two feet deep, but sometimes with only a bare scraping of soil and rocks due to hard earth. It worked.

Nampak Flexibles - protruding nozzles

Bag in Box full

 

Martijn Boonman's Well36 surprise

Water Treatment

Well water is sometimes contaminated with animals falling into the narrow shafts and drowning. This is what Dutch cyclist Martijn Boonman found at Well36. The decomposing bodies make the water dangerous to humans.  Sometimes the wells are flooded and the murky muck can be horrible to strain and drink. Of the few remaining wells on the Canning Stock Route, the water is often perfectly fit for human consumption. But the water quality cannot be relied on.

A walker wants to economise on effort. We don't have time to boil 500-1000 litres of water, cool it and bag it. I really investigated the options over months preceding the walk. The simplest solution was also the cheapest - Aqua Salveo. Formulated in South Africa, Aqua Salveo is the safest, fastest, cheapest way to treat stored water. And it stays disinfected for two years, or at 35C for 6 months.

Aqua Salveo works with minute traces of silver, zinc and copper killing 99.9 % of bacteria normally found in water. Very importantly, it destroys giardia and crypto originating from animals. Aqua Salveo is effective against certain viruses, all the same viruses that the other expensive options like MSR and Katadyne filtration pumps and the Steri-Pen do. It does not strain the water of particles. I did that with a chuck-it cloth which worked well. Aqua Silveo is so simple and so cheap at R50 per 30ml bottle. (different sizes available). 30ml treats 300 litres of water.

3 drops of Aqua Salveo per 1 litre water or in my case, 15 drops per 5 litre bag and it is ready to bury and leave until my return.

I thoroughly tested Aqua Salveo on the Canning including drinking from well36 which once held a decomposing camel. Unlike other pills and solutions, Aqua Salveo is ODOURLESS AND TASTELESS. I remained healthy, despite some pretty dodgy looking and smelling water. Aqua Salveo = safe water.

TO BUY ONLINE

Aqua Salveo

TO BUY ONLINE

 

Daily Hydration

1 x 3 litre Oztrail bladder and 850ml plastic drinking bottle

Each day I had a renewed choice of 5 litre flexi bladder in which to carry extra water according to my needs. In the north my maximum carrying water was 8-9 litres. In the south, usually 4-5 litres.

Water Bladders

Water bottle

 

Food

Nutrition is covered in a separate article. To walk 21 to 30km per day, for over 6 hours, I needed 4000-5000 calories per day to maintain my weight and energy levels.

Outdoor Food Solutions - Africa Sponsored 23 Wayfayrer meals, cooked and ready to eat. Thank you!!

Springbok Foods - Australia Sponsored the South African staples of cereals, grains, biltong etc. Thank you!!

My Grandmother Sponsored R16 000 for the balance of my food and supplements. Much Love..

Outdoor Food Solutions and Wayfayrer Meals 

Springbok Foods

 

 

Backpack

Backpacker Boulder 75. The Boulder has done many trails with me. It has the long back length I require, but the hip and shoulder straps are a bit flattened with years of use.  The uncomfortable hip band caused serious bruising and swelling on my hips, front and back. A comfortable backpack tested under maximum load and endurance conditions is important.

Backpacker Boulder75

Backpackers Boulder75

 

Clothes

Walking the deserts in winter means I need to cater for a wide temperature range of -5C early frosty mornings in the south, to 37C on hot days in the north. Summer temperatures soar into the 50C's, but I do not expect to experience that.

Modern day fibres react with my skin causing body odour, therefore I am choosing clothes made of natural fibres, as much as possible.

  • Islamic styled cotton Kurta. A long sleeved dress covering my skin from neck to knuckles to knees to protect me from the sun and keep my body cool. Cotton absorbs sweat and this acts like airconditioning. I used this in the hotter climate between Billiluna and Kunawarritji. 

  • Icebreaker 200g long sleeve Oasis Crewe Merino wool top - The 200g was worn more often, at night in the north, in the cold early mornings and walking during the day in the south

  • Icebreaker 260g long sleeve Merino wool top - This was only worn in the south at night or in very cold early mornings
  • First Ascent Down Body Warmer - Not used during walking, only on rest days and at night

  • Long thermal Icebreaker Merino  wool light weight pants (actually thermal underwear) - Not strong enough to last the walk. I walked in these pants a lot during the day in the south and always wore at night. Spit at pressure points - bum and knees. They were the biggest size I could get.

  • 2 x Buffs, one long Infinity made of eucalyptus fibres for sensitive skin - the standard Buff is standard equipment for sun, fly and wind protection. I have had this one for years. Once around the neck you forget it is there and just pull it up when required.
    This year I added the Infinity Buff to protect the sides of my face from sunburn. It was also used as a handy pad to put between my hips and backpack hip buckle. Unfortunately I lost it in the third week when it fell away unnoticed in the constant shifting of the backpack to ease the pain on my hips

  • 10 socks - 5 moisture wicking inner's and 5 TK4 outer's, Falke, wool

  • Compression Socks - I took one pair. This walk requires two. This was the first time I ever wore compression socks. I believe they do aid recovery. My calves were never sore and fuctioned well with zero cramping although at night my legs did flex involuntarily in the early evening
  • 4 x cotton underwear - After the first week or two I only wore underwear during menstrual cycle or when wearing long pants. Sweating was so profuse, the underwear became soaking wet promoting chaffing and bacterial build up. Walking in a dress without underwear was the solution. I seldom used toilet paper. Not wearing underwear made cleaning myself with water easier

  • Summer light weight dress - I almost never wear dresses in civilisation, but in the desert, this was my favourite day clothing, worn together with the cotton shirt to protect my arms and chest from sun

  • Cotton long sleeve shirt covering the back of the hands

  • Hat

  • Sunglasses with reading glasses inserts. This made writing in my diary at night difficult due to the shades, but it was a saving on weight

  • Spinifex gaiters - I had to reinforce store bought gaiters with curtain backing to deal with the spinifex spikes. Find a pair that fasten at the back of your calves so that you can leave the gaiters open where spinifex won't penetrate and reduce the sweat. Many shin gaiters are made of waterproof material which is horrible int eh heat. Because leather is breathable and was such a good choice for my boots, next time I would have leather gaiters made to order

  • Flynet - some are cheap and tend to fall apart requiring constant stitching. Buy or make a well made flynet to avoid maintenance. Walking the Canning without a flynet will take you close to insanity. The flies are relentless

Long Dress for sun protection

 

Fly net for hat

 

 

Shoes

  • 1 pair of leather boots custom made by Freestyle in Cape Town. They walked the Canning Stock Route with plenty of tread to spare. I was extremely happy with my choice. Below are specifications and suggestions:

  • The design I chose was the Bowhunter with modifications.
  • The widest width (which could have been wider in the front of my foot)
  • Enough height above ankles to stop sand falling in and provide ankle support (I was carrying a load over a long distance)
  • Bellow tongue to stop sand seeping in by the laces
  • When specifying my needs from the boot, I requested that the bellows leather be thicker than normal to ensure strength. In hind sight this was a mistake. The laces had to tighten up over bulky leather folds. Standard bellow specifications are good enough.
  • Lace loop/buckles. I would recommend in future a self jamming cleat at the ankle to lock the laces where they will keep the heel and foot back and secure in the boot.
  • Leather inside for temperature control (most leather shoes have imitation leather inside causing sweat and heat)
  • Double stitched to the board (piece between upper and lower shoe) for durability. (I was looking for stitching through the sole/tread as many of my modern day shoes delaminated at this point, but they don't make them like that any more. This worked)
  • Waterproofed board (to prevent delamination)
  • Tread custom cast with a special compound for extra endurance. I had the choice of a natural rubber compound as used with the normal Bowhunter, but we were concerned about heat and durability of the rubber.  Would it soften in the heat? Camels walk the desert with pads, no tread. The smooth rubber tread of the traditional Bowhunter was a viable option. I had to make a choice. The rocky terrain in the south swung me to go with the heavy tread and therein have the option of a specially formulated endurance compound to ensure the boots lasted the distance. It was a good choice. The boots walked over 2000km, prior, during and post walk and are still in use today.
  • Care for the leather. I did not look after my boots. They took a beating and became dry in the desert heat and the salt. I should have had a small quantity of leather treatment with me. Instead I did the best I could with olive oil. The dryness later caused a hole to develop in the leather, long after the walk, by my right little toe. The one that got the big blister. The boot, although the widest option I had, was just a fraction too tight on this foot.
  • Spare laces
  • Custom made orthotic inserts to shift the weight from the metatarsal bones in front back/heal and to correct a rolling action in my step. The pain I felt when walking without these insert for just 4kms, under load, was excruciating. The benefit had to be tested. I made use of the services of Ferdi Nel - A list of South African Orthotists
  • Lastly, walk your boots in thoroughly before the event. I struggled to find the right boots for months and did not have that opportunity, only receiving my boots two weeks before departure.

Freestyle Genuine Leather Handcrafted Boots

Freestyle Bowhunter Boots

Freestyle Genuine Handmade Leather Boots

Dry Leather Shoe

 

Bedding

  • First Ascent Icebreaker Down Sleeping Bag - very happy with this choice. More compact and lighter would always be an improvement, but I have tried light weight versions before and suffered extreme cold. This sleeping bag weighs 1.4kg and is rated to -8C.
  • Therm-a-Rest - The Therm-a-Rest blow up mattress I took with me in 2013 developed a small leak by the nozzle early on in the journey. The hole was so small I could not located it, but during night I had to blow air into it twice. At Durba Springs I submerged it in the spring and located the leak round the  nozzle. It responded to treatment temporarily, but was leaking again within a few days. Even in this condition, it was well worth carrying the mat. When I woke up at night and found my arm off the mat, but still within my sleeping bag, the cold was very noticeable. In the last week of the 66 day walk, the Therm-a-Rest completely fell apart; loud tearing sounds emanating from within the mat, a massive bubble forming in the middle, making it impossible to sleep on. I can only assume that the repeated folding of the mat in order to pack it in its bag caused a breach.
  • 2014 There are a number of Therm-a-Rest models available today. I bought a new regular sized Therm-a-Rest Pro Lite (460g), but must admit to being a little nervous regarding durability. An alternative might be the closed cell Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol egg box type. It is bulky, but it won't deflate. The next alternative is to see if I can learn to go without, utilising leaves etc for insulation and comfort.

First Ascent Icebreaker Sleeping Bag

First Ascent

Therm-a-rest

Therm-a-rest Cascades

 

 

Cooking

  • Trangia fuel burner. A reliable partner the past 20 years. It was a hard decision between a billy and fire or a Trangia and meths. Because I had resupply I chose the Trangia. I am glad I did as it afforded quick and easy access to a cuppa and hot food. The self-contained pots, kettle, windbreaker, pan and standing support are bulky, but the total solution is a plus.  The one thing I don't like is the connection of aluminium to Alzheimer. My little kettle started getting white powder inside. Probably due to moisture. The gasket in the fuel burner was dry and this allowed meths to leak out into my kettle in transit, which made the water taste like poison. So dumped the kettle even though it was useful and drained the burner after use. My aluminium Trangia took a hammering with the alternate use on the fire and was retired after this journey. If I was doing it again?

  • Billy. On my previous hitchhiking trips I only had a stainless steel billy. Whilst I was camped at the wells, I had plenty of time to gather wood and make a fire. When travelling with a lift, I missed not being able to have a quick cuppa and was reliant on hospitality. In the desert, independence is expected, resources calculated carefully. Weight is a factor. Although a stainless steel billy might be heavier, you don't have to carry fuel.   Without resupplies, a billy and fire would be my choice. There is plenty of firewood on the Canning.
  • Douw hunting knife - Heavy. Never really needed it, but would take it again. Safety, survival, reassurance.

  • Spork - NO. Mine broke. Take a short handled strong spoon on a long trek like this. Fork and knife are not generally needed. The hunting knife or pen knife will do the job, if required.
  • Matches or lighter? I always favoured lighters until this trip. Matches start a spinifex fire more easily. Just one match sets the lot ablaze. For some reason the lighter makes hard work of it. In Australia I recommend the Redheads, the ones over 50mm long. They come in a wide variety of lengths and amount per box. Keep them in a dry container or bag. It rains in the desert and sometimes your water bladders might leak over everything.

Trangia cooking set

Douw hunting knife

Stainless steel billy

Redhead Matches

 

Medical Kit

Custom selection - here are some basics to add or delete

  • Painkillers of the super medium to strong category, including Endone for spinal pain. Thankfully not needed
  • Strong over the counter Panados took the edge off each nights muscle discomfort
  • Anti-inflamatories (Celebrex and Voltaren) to ease the swelling in feet, back and hips
  • Blister treatment - Fixomull,  Ampoule PlastersBactroban Ointment,  Disinfectant solution, Anti-bacterial wipes
  • Anti-biotics for wound and stomach ailments
  • Burnshield. On one outback experience a billy of cold water fell over in the coals with my hand still holding it. The steam severely blistered the skin on the back of my hand from fingers to wrist inclusive. Had I not treated the wound immediately with burnshield etc, my hand would be scarred for life with tightening on the skin restricting full movement. Pack at least one burnshield dressing
  • Three bandages. Snake bite and wound dressing as well as bracing. You probably won't survive the snake bite, but it is worth a try
  • Fluconozole/Diflucan - feminine treatment. Desert, sweat, heat invites fungal infections. I remained free for the first two months, then ..
  • Probiotics
  • Multivitamins
  • Duct tape - When nothing sticks, duct tape it
  • Tweezers
  • Tiny precise scissors. I used the one on my multi-tool to cut up my Fixomull bandages and trim my toes, but a real scissors does a better job
 
 

Survival Kit

Custom selection. Going extra light, you might consider Bob Coopers Outback Survival Kit. I already had a kit from my previous desert trips otherwise I would have taken this one.

 
 

Headlamp

I had two. Both gave me the same problem despite one having a push button, the other a slide to switch on. In the pack, both would switch on without my knowing it and drain the batteries. The one in my custom survival kit (filled with wants and not necessarily needs) I removed the batteries and kept spares in the kit with the empty headlamp. With my day to day headlamp, removing and replacing the batteries was a pain and so I would try to place it carefully so that it would not bump on. Not always successful. Battery power is too precious and heavy to waste. Get the right headlamp for the job.

 
 

Suncream

Invisible Zinc Tinted Day Medium Wear. The best sun protection and make-up in one for me. My sensitive skin reacts to most face creams and sunblocks. Bought in Australia.

On the walk I covered up from head to toe with clothing and used minimal sunscreen - sometimes my face and the back of my hands and knees

Invisible Zinc Tinted Sun Protection Cream
 

Camera

Leica D-Lux1. Lovely camera, but cameras and sand are not friends and two months is a long time to avoid a meeting. Going light, take one that does not have a zoom-retractable lens. It is this retraction feature that sand gets stuck into rendering the camera unable to focus. There are sections of my walk photographed due to this intermittent failure.

If you are going with a big camera, refer to Tom Walwyn's informative blog for recommendations and experience: Bicycle Nomad Canning Stock Route: Photography

 
 

Storage Bags

Two tough plastic waterproof storage bags. One for food, the other for clothes. Keeps things nicely in order. I had two that have been with me for twenty years, but Sea-To-Summit makes some nice looking lighter weight ones.

Vacuum packed food plus Glad Ziplocks for portion food packaging to go into the supply drops. The ants get into everything otherwise and they are super efficient at making food disappear. Vacuum packing also reduces the chances of dingo attraction.

 
 

Utility Bucket

Sea-To-Summit Kitchen Sink. One of the most useful pieces of travelling equipment, it folds away into a tiny little travel bag the size of the palm of your hand. Used for washing clothes, dishes, feet, drawing water from wells, carrying things, collecting rain water from the tarp and purifying well water, it is a worthy piece of expedition equipment, light and taking up very little space.

MSR Kitchen Sink
 

Dingo Deterrent

Catapult and lead balls (two thirds of the desert you will walk is sand without stones) On my hitchhiking trips I used this once on a cocky dingo. Was it worth carrying? Probably not, but it made me feel better. Would I take it next time? Probably not.

 
 
   
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