Here is an overview of some of the equipment that I took with me on my 5.5 month overland adventure in 2014. This information has, until now, been posted on my site under a dedicated ‘Equipment’ page. However, this site has evolved since the 2014 trip, so I am removing some of the pages. I’m therefore capturing this information in a post, so that it is still available after deleting the Equipment page.
I decided against having a roof top tent for a variety of reasons and instead opted for a ground tent. I bought a Quechua Base Seconds 4.2 tent that was the primary sleeping option. It has two separate sleeping compartments so that we could have some privacy, and a central living area. The tent held up very well for the first two shakedown trips and for the first half of the big trip. The tent is reviewed here.
For the second half of the big trip, when I was travelling solo, the Quechua tent was too big for my needs, so I replaced it with a Salewa Sierra Leone II two-person tent, which is detailed here.
A back-up option was sleeping inside the Defender, so I had a wooden sleeping platform built into the vehicle to facilitate this.
Getting a good sleep is an important factor when camping, so I had some memory foam mattresses custom-made for the trip. They were sized so that they fit neatly into the rear of the Defender (on the sleeping platform). When I needed to climb into the back, the mattresses are already in place. If we were using the tent, it was a quick and easy process to slide the mattresses out of the rear door of the Defender and into the tent. They were six inches thick and were very comfortable! We also had a pair of memory foam pillows to contribute to a good sleep.
I initially planned to fit a gas cooker to the rear door and carry a large propane gas bottle on the vehicle. I abandoned that idea in favour of options that are lightweight and don’t take up much space.
I took two Trangia stoves that pack small, with nested pans. The stoves can operate with methylated spirits (which is widely available) and can also be adapted to use small butane camping gas bottles. Having two of the stoves allowed me to run two burners at the same time, which cuts down on juggling pans between the burner(s). When the weather is bad, I could set the Trangia stoves on the table inside the tent and cook indoors without a problem.
I also had a Bushpig braai that is quite compact and lightweight. It was a very useful addition for when I wanted to grill meat. And for heating up quick lunches whilst on the road, I had a Wavebox 12-volt microwave.
I had Wolf storage box that was full of cooking/kitchen supplies – eating utensils, cooking utensils, chef knives, cutting boards, enamel metal plates/bowls/mugs, plastic wine glasses, salt/pepper/herbs, cooking oil, dishwashing liquid, dish towels, etc.
The Defender was fitted with an Engel MT45 fridge/freezer for storing perishable foods. The fridge was fitted to a slide-mount behind the driver’s seat and was accessible via the second row door. Other food items were stored in a Wolf box in the storage area of the Defender.
I had two 20-litre jerry cans for water that were stored in the area behind the front passenger seat. I also had two smaller plastic storage containers that were only used for potable drinking water.
I purchased a Platypus GravityWorks water filter that can be used to clean any water that we have to collect, or water of an unknown quality. We will also had Milton steriliser fluid to treat water of an unknown quality. But we never needed to collect water from outdoor sources. We did use the Platypus filter for hotel water that we transferred to our plastic storage containers.
The Defender had a dual battery system with a leisure battery dedicated to the fridge and ancillary power outlets. Due to the compact size of the Optima batteries, they both fit neatly into the under-seat battery box. The vehicle alternator could charge both batteries via a split-charge system. There was also a GB-Sol semi-flexible solar panel glued to the roof to keep the batteries charged when the vehicle was stationary.
The Raptor dash had a bank of charging outlets so that we could operate and charge a variety of electrical equipment. The dash had both USB sockets as well as the standard cigarette-lighter 12-volt sockets. Additionally, there was a ring of 12-volt sockets at roof height in the rear section of the vehicle, situated near the doors.
I also had a 12-volt to 110 power inverter. The inverter could be connected to the 12-volt cigarette lighter socket and to provide 110 power for charging camera batteries, laptops, etc.
The Defender was fitted with an additional fuel tank to increase its range. The 45 litre tank was fitted in the rear offside wheel arch, between the filler cap and the standard tank. Its design allows fuel to flow directly from the higher auxiliary tank into the lower main tank without the use of pumps.
The vehicle relied on X-Eng security products to prevent or deter theft of the vehicle. It was fitted with the X-Defend column lock, X-Defend pedal box lock and the X-Defend gear stick lock. The front cab was also fitted with a Raptor lockable steel cubby-box for storing electronics and valuables. There were steel security screens fitted to the windows at the rear of the truck and the wooden sleeping platform presented a barrier to deter theft of items stowed in the rear storage area. There were no security issues for the duration of the trip.
TRACKING & COMMUNICATION
We had a Delorme In-Reach satellite tracker/communicator that can operate in the vehicle or can be carried by us when we left the vehicle. The In-Reach sends GPS coordinates every 10 minutes that can be viewed live by anyone who has the password to the online software. The unit also allowed us to send pre-set or customised SMS text messages via satellite, together with our GPS coordinates. It also has an SOS feature that we could activate if we had a serious problem, alerting search and rescue services of our GPS coordinates so that help can be sent. The In-Reach allowed friends and family to keep an eye on our progress and allowed us to remain in contact, even when there is no cell-phone coverage (at less cost than a sat phone).
For western Europe, navigation was via Garmin GPS (sat-nav) that had mapping for 45 European countries. I also had a Garmin Monterra for use in Russia, Mongolia and the Stans, as that unit was loaded with Open Source mapping as well as waypoints provided by people who have already travelled in the area.
In addition, I had several paper road maps for the areas we would be visiting, as well as a hand-held compass to assist with map reading, should the electronic option(s) fail.
I didn’t fit additional driving lights to the Defender. I made every effort not to drive at night due to the increased risks associated with doing so. Further, arrays of additional lighting tends to draw attention to the vehicle and I was trying to keep the exterior looking as close to a basic Defender as I could. I did have an LED worklight fitted to the rear of the truck.
There were two LED light strips fitted in the rear section of the Defender for those occasions when we had to sleep inside the vehicle.