Expedition Equipment – some thoughts


Expedition camp on Trident Col (Shackleton's Traverse, South Georgia). Skis standing on end as tent poles. (Chiz Dakin)As we count down the weeks and now days to our Patagonia trip, the question of what we’re taking with us takes ever more priority in discussions – at the dinner table, in the pub, on the way to the supermarket even. On many treks you have the luxury of pack animals or porters to carry most of your gear. When it’s you that has to carry every last gram of it, and there’s no resupply of anything, the question of what goes in the rucksack and how much it weighs becomes ever more important.

Some items you can’t do without – a tent and sleeping bag are likely to be essentials. As is something to carry them in. Others are more of a luxury eg Ipad vs kindle vs paper book for those stormed in days in the tent. But even with the essentials, there’s a lot of variation in the options. And as always, the question of can we go lighter without risking that it’s not up to the conditions we’ll encounter?

And that is the crux of the balance… Weight (and to a lesser extent, bulk) vs conditions. £/gram saved is a useful figure, but in simple terms, the more you wish to save weight without affecting performance, the more it’s likely to hurt the credit card!

I’m going to try and write up some of our thoughts on the decisions we face for our trip across the Patagonian Icecap. Where every gram and £ counts.

First up – sleeping mats…