Magazine article Geographical

Adventure Packed: Planning on Adding a Bit More Adventure to Your Holidays? Then Get Some Kit Tips from Our Equipment Editor, Paul Deegan

Magazine article Geographical

Adventure Packed: Planning on Adding a Bit More Adventure to Your Holidays? Then Get Some Kit Tips from Our Equipment Editor, Paul Deegan

Article excerpt

My first dedicated adventure-travel experience came relatively late in life. Until six years ago, most of my ventures abroad revolved around expeditions and long range treks. The travelling bit consisted of driving from the airport to the (usually skanky) note on me first night and the same snort journey in reverse at the end of the expedition

Then, in the summer of 2001 began packing for a seven-week tour of Peru and Ecuador. needed to squeeze a sufficient amount of equipment and clothing into a single 50-litre rucksack mat would enable me to snorkel in the Galapagos, "idea horse in the Ecuadorian cloud forest, trek around Machu Picchu and travel across Lake Titicaca. I also had to look sufficiently well dressed to meet scientists while researching a story for Geographical.

A few of the items I packed (such as a snorkel and mask) were necessarily sport-specific. The rest of my gear had to be infinitely more versatile. During my 49-day trip, I cursed the over-hyped, under-performing polyester shirt that claimed to resist body odour but left me smelling like last week's garbage and wished that I'd packed a second pair of the impressively fast-drying and, thankfully, loose-fitting trousers that I had uncovered in a Parisian outdoor store. My boots, lined with a waterproof and not-so-breathable membrane, were also often unbearably hot.

What I learned on that jaunt to South America has stood me in good stead on subsequent forays to China, Arctic Europe, Siberia and southern Indian. While I haven't always achieved my target of packing everything into a bag small enough to qualify as carry-on luggage, I have learnt to travel lighter than ever before.

Part of the reason why the incredible shrinking backpack is now possible is that adventure travel was historically viewed as the soft end of the outdoor-equipment market. But as remote regions that were once the preserve of elite explorers have become increasingly accessible to the mainstream, so other destinations have started to cascade down the inaccessible' charts. The good news from a gear perspective is mat as adventure travel continues to increase in popularity, the clothing and equipment specifically engineered for the 21st-century Indiana and Ms Jones is now lighter, more affordable and more versatile.

Hiking with a hybrid

One of the areas that has really benefited from this explosion in gear design is travel luggage. Hybrid systems mat back like conventional suitcases and carry like rucksacks are now a staple part of any self-respecting outdoor retailer's stock. I'm often asked by aspiring travellers whether to go for one of these front-loading backpacks or stick to a conventional top-loading rucksack. My answer is simple: if your load is made up primarily of clothing and footwear, or if you prefer to pack a smarter wardrobe, or if you wish to disguise your true intentions behind the veneer of an outwardly respectable. shoulder-harness-hiding piece of travel luggage, then go for me hybrid: however, if more than half of your journeys are likely to entail using the rucksack as a conventional backpack while trekking in wilderness areas then plump for a traditional top-loader. This is because the majority of hybrids push the load away from--rather than over--your centre of gravity, making them less than ideal for a multi day hike. Its also less straightforward to back and lash bulky, awkward items such as cooking pots, tent poles and sleeping mats to a hybrid.

Over the past few years, an increasing number of specialist manufacturers of outdoor products have taken the lead from the suitcase industry and incorporated wheels into their adventure-travel luggage. Mind you, with these wheels being described by one manufacturer as having" ... large 90mm treaded polyurethane wheels for ground clearance, aluminium-reinforced wheel housings for impact resistance and precision quality bearings for a smooth ride", you'd be forgiven for thinking that the designers have taken their lead from the aerospace industry. …

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