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Camping Gear - Comfortable, but Lightweight
Matthew Low plans route. Caranex tent on back of Patrol. Barrage Ait Adel, Atlas mountains, Morocco ©Dick Morgan
Too often on expeditions you see grossly overloaded vehicles. Roofracks particularly are magnets for too much gear. Weight high up raises the centre of gravity making the vehicle unstable and more likely to roll. Aluminium Landrovers have gutters that are prone to bending if racks are too heavy, which can make it impossible to open the doors - frightening if you have just rolled the vehicle! So try to travel light and fine tune what you take after each expedition - if you find you repeatedly carry gear you don't use then ditch it. I try and keep my roofrack as empty as possible: I find its main use is to stand on as a photographic platform!
Choice is vast - from ex-army goretex bivvy bag (£45 from Anchor Supplies ) to rooftent palaces (£2000+ see Nene Overland's Rooftent shop ). 1 or 2 man mountain tents are robust and light, but one of my pet hates is lying on my back struggling to pull my trousers on! My first step was to find a lightweight tent in which I could stand and which allowed direct access to the vehicle on wet Welsh hillsides. My search led me to Caranex the Scottish based company that have for years offerred tents that attach to a vehicle allowing standing room, rapid pitching by one person and access to the vehicle. This served me well until I changed my vehicle to a Nissan Patrol with side opening rear doors with spare wheel. My Caranex wasn't wide enough so I looked again and purchased a Napier Sportz SUV 82000 tent from TBR UK. Although taking longer to pitch it is much more spacious - it can sleep 4 and the panel that attaches to the vehicle can be replaced with a standard panel allowing the tent to be a freestanding dome tent. In 2010 after research I purchased a Californian designed and built off-road trailer with a South African Eezi-Awn Globe Traveller trailer tent on the top. Within 10-15 minutes of parking up you can be comfortably in your sleeping bag on a decent mattress off the ground.
Stoves vary in size, durability and price. High quality and durable single burner mountain stoves are good for 1 or 2 people travelling light but are less suitable for groups on vehicle based expeditions. I do find that a Jetboil personal cooking system is a useful tool for tea and coffee breaks on the road - enabling rapid boiling of enough water for 2 mugs very quickly, if necessary held in the hand while it heats. It is best just for heating water: milk or soups tend to burn on the bottom. It can use small gas cylinders which fit inside it, or larger ones if pack size isn't a problem. Self sealing gas cartridges (Coleman or Camping Gaz) are widely available in Europe or North America, but in Africa and Asia may be difficult to obtain. I have an ancient Trangia 25 cookset which is virtually indestructible with no moving parts and a meths burner. An accessory gas burner is available using the same gas cartridges as the Jetboil. With the purchase of my Off Road Adventure Trailer I decided to go for a twin burner LPG stove (See my Adventure Trailer page).