Up the by fjhuangjun

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									                                                                                      | E S S E N T I A L gear |




                                 Up the


                                        (
                                          river
                                           BUT WITH A PADDLE                                              )
                                        This month, a report from the field as Ed Stafford describes the contents
                                        of his rucksack as he attempts to become the first person to walk the entire
                                                                 length of the Amazon River



                                  A
                                            s Luke and I dipped our toes in the Pacific Ocean              these expeditions started, as we did, from the Pacific coast.
                                            to start the transcontinental walk that would take            That was Mike Horn’s inspirational hydrospeed expedition
                                            us over the Andes and down the length of the                  in 1997–98. We wanted to do the whole thing on foot, which
                                            Amazon River, we could hardly stand up. ‘Your                 has never been attempted before. We got so annoyed by
                                 pack is ridiculous!’ I mocked. It looked like Luke had an                everybody telling us that it was impossible that, in true
                                 overflowing garden shed strapped to his back.                             British fashion, we had to go and prove them wrong.
                                    ‘You can talk,’ he retorted. ‘Look at your shoulder straps,
                                 they’re torn already.’ It was true: the first day of a two-year           TRAVELLING LIGHT
                                 expedition and I’d ripped the top shoulder adjuster clean off            Seven months on, I’m tucked up in the sweaty jungle town
                                 the harness.                                                             of Contamana in the northern Peruvian Amazon. With well
                                    We had more than 45 kilograms in each of our packs: a                 over 1,600 kilometres under my belt, the arid coast and the
                                 sign of our lack of any notion of what lay ahead and what                snow-capped Andes are now just distant memories – as, too,
                                 we would need to tackle it. At the end of the first day, the              is Luke, who left the expedition after three months. My pack
                                 woman who owned the village shop invited us to put up our                is still functional only because many hours of crude sewing
                                 single-skin, one-person tents in her back garden. She must               have made it so. It now weighs a more sensible 31 kilograms
                                 have thought we were very appreciative, because she received             without food. When I’m walking, I no longer notice it.
                                 binoculars, phrase books, spare hats, spare trousers and fish-                This is now an out-and-out jungle expedition. My Gucci
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS: KEITH DUCATEL




                                 ing hooks and line in return… the                                                                 salopettes and Bavarian goose-down
                                 list went on and on as we desperately           – E D S TA F F O R D –                            jacket were parcelled up and sent
                                 tried to find more things to ditch.           is attempting to become the first person to walk the home a long time ago. So what makes
                                    This is the fifth expedition to          length of the Amazon (www.edstafford.co.uk). To find   up the 31 kilograms of weight?
                                 attempt to navigate the Amazon             out how Ed stays in touch with the outside world, and    First, there’s the rucksack. No, it
                                 River from its farthest source in Peru         what gear he deploys to guarantee fresh fish for   doesn’t need wheels. No, it doesn’t need
                                 to its mouth in Brazil. Only one of          supper, visit www.geographical.co.uk/magazine/kit    to double as an over-the-shoulder



                                                                                                                                       MAY 2009 www.geog raphical.co.uk 67
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 | E S S E N T I A L gear |

One thing that’s surprisingly unnecessary is                                             waterproof
clothing – I’m usually                                                                                                                              insect repellent permeth-
                                                                                                                                                    rin before I left home as
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 IT’S ALL ABOUT THE
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        personal solution has been
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        inflatable pack-rafts with
drenched in sweat all day long                                                                                                                      it definitely helps prevent                                    FOOTWEAR                                              travel paddles. They are
                                                                                                                                                    bites, but I’m well overdue       Footwear is a contentious subject. Wellies are fine if you’re not walking far, and the size of a roll mat when
                                                                                                                                                    a re-dipping now.                   my guides all use them. If, like me, you want more support and protection       deflated. Without them,
suitcase. It does need to be top-loading, have an adjustable                                                                                           After years of smirking at       from spikes and spines, then jungle boots are made specifically for the job.     this expedition would not
harness, and be able to accommodate at least 75 litres of                                                                                           walking poles, I now love          They have holes in the instep to allow water to drain out. They don’t attempt    be possible. It means that
kit. In the mountains, mine was a whopping 95-litre work-                                                                                           using them in the hills. But       to be waterproof, as more often than not, you are wading in deep water. The      when we reach water, we
horse; for the jungle, I’m switching to an 80-litre climbing                                                                                        they have no place in the                               key is that they drain and dry quickly.                     inflate them in less than
pack. Its lower profile allows me to get under vines and                                                                                             jungle. I need to use my              The US-military-issue jungle boot is usually recommended, but I opted for     two minutes, attach our
branches much more easily. I don’t need as much kit in                                                                                              hands as stabilisers on                     the more substantial and comfortable Altberg version. My pair is a      packs to the front, and
the jungle anyway.                                                                                                                                  branches and for wielding                 bespoke model with a chunky tread, eyelets rather than complicated        paddle across.
   I’ve customised my pack to hold two water bottles and                                                                                            my machete.                                     valves for letting water drain away faster, and uppers made from      I’ve been walking with
two pouches on the belt. One bottle is for drinking; the                                                                                               A young boy’s dream                                  Lorica rather than leather. To order these boots, you need  three guides recently. Two
other contains water being                                                                                                                          and a tool with a fan-                                    to specify these requirements, as the standard boot has   are indigenous Asháninkas
purified with iodine. It’s                                                                                                                           tastic diversity of uses,                                drainage issues. The boots they made for me are the best   and one is mixed-race
a rotation system that                                                                                               little blighters access to     the machete is invalu-                                    I’ve ever worn in the trees. In the past month, they have Peruvian. It was taking us
ensures I have water on                                                                                              your blood. To its credit,     able in the rainforest.                                 been under water for at least a third of the walking day.   forever to cross the rivers
hand at all times, which is                                                                                          Hennessy has acknowl-          My preference has always                             I also have a pair of Crocs for walking around camp in the     because we had to shuttle
absolutely essential in the                                                                                          edged this and has made        been for a slightly longer        evening. These let my feet dry out and breathe. I wash in them in the river too.  the two one-man craft
jungle, where dehydration                                                                                            me a bespoke double-           machete rather than a                 Because Crocs are 100 per cent rubber, they don’t absorb water and are        back and forth to get
is a constant threat.                                                                                                skin version. I sleep with     shorter Borneo-style parang.                   always dry, unlike the leather straps on other brands.               everyone across. The bold
   The other two pouches                                                                                             a lightweight single-season    I think it probably comes                                                                                           answer was simply to try
are for my GPS unit, com-                                                                                            sleeping bag and use a silk    down to where you were                                                                                              fitting two people and two
pass, suntan lotion, water-                                                                                          liner – both to stop the bag   first introduced to jungle living. For me, a 40-centimetre                      full rucksacks in each boat. It worked – beautifully – and this
proof head torch and                                                                                                 getting too stinky and on      blade cuts through most things. The key is to use the weight                   has now become our standard practice. The total weight in
DEET-based mosquito repel-                                                                                           its own as a cooler option     of the blade and to keep it scrupulously sharp, as it then                     each boat is around 195 kilograms.
lent. These are all the                                                                                              on hot nights.                 requires much less effort to cut through vines and branches.                       Finally, I have an MP3 player, which I’m using to help
things that I need to have                                                                                              All of Hennessy’s ham-         There are probably more than 1,000 river crossings over                     me learn Portuguese as I approach Brazil, as well as getting
to hand. I’m not sure if I                                                                                           mocks come with the            the course of this expedition. At the river’s mouth, some of                   my daily dose of Kate Nash’s music. Life would be unbeara-
should admit this, but I                                                                                             option of the superb Hex       these crossings will be more than 16 kilometres wide. My                       ble without her.
also always have my tooth-                                                                                           Fly, which is an enormous
brush and toothpaste in                                                                                              hexagonal waterproof fly-
these pouches. I hate hav-                                                                                           sheet. It covers the ham-
ing unbrushed teeth.                                                                                                 mock with room to spare,
   Everything inside the                                                                                             allowing you to cook,
pack is stored inside a 100-     TOP RIGHT: Ed makes good progress through the flooded forest. Small wonder that      administrate and even have
                                 he chose boots that drain and dry quickly; TOP RIGHT: crossing a stream on a fallen
litre waterproof rucksack                                                                                            meetings with four or five
                                 log with one of his guides, Cho
liner. Within that rubber                                                                                            people out of the rain.
liner, each item is com-                                                                                                On the subject of rain,
partmentalised and has its place. It may seem rather regi-                   the one thing that’s surprisingly unnecessary is waterproof
mented, but it’s essential for me to know exactly where                      clothing. The humidity and temperature are so high that I’m
everything is at all times. I don’t want to be searching for the             normally drenched with sweat all day long. Days when it
medical kit or the satellite phone when an emergency arises.                 rains are actually more comfortable, as I find the air is fresher
It also means that I’m on autopilot each morning and, from                   and less sticky. The one concession to this is that if you’re
sleeping, can be up and walking in about five minutes, unless                 going to move around in an open vehicle or boat, you may
I want to eat breakfast.                                                     want a lightweight waterproof jacket or poncho, as the
                                                                             resulting windchill can make life rather nippy if you’re wear-
HANGING ABOUT                                                                ing a wet cotton T-shirt. Personally, I prefer to save the
I’m now using a hammock sleeping system rather than a                        weight. I could theoretically use the Hex Fly as an impro-
tent. Hennessy Hammocks is a Canadian company that                           vised jacket should the need arise.
makes an ingenious all-in-one hammock and mosquito net
that you enter through a flap in the bottom. Having used                      JUNGLE WARDROBE
the old military hammocks in the past, I love the Hennessy                   Clothing is very simple and doesn’t need to cost much. I
concept. Its hammocks are lighter, quicker to erect and                      carry two sets: one for the day (often wet) and one for the
pack up in seconds. You can sprawl around and turn over as                   night (always dry). Long trousers and long-sleeved shirts are
much as you like.                                                            the rule, but I just wear a cheap, locally bought T-shirt dur-
   The one drawback with the version I’m using is that it                    ing the day as this garment has less material to get soaked.
isn’t completely mosquito-proof if you sleep with your                       A quick-drying fabric is great, but make sure the trousers              ABOVE: Ed and Raul, another of his guides, set off across a lake in his one-man Alpacka raft. Ed estimates that over the course of the expedition, he will have
bare skin against the hammock. That’s because your body                      are tough enough to resist rips from thorns and spiky plants.           to undertake more than 1,000 river and lake crossings, making the raft, which inflates in just two minutes, an indispensable piece of kit
weight stretches open the fabric just enough to allow the                    I impregnated my clothing and mosquito net with the



68 www.geog raphical.co.uk MAY 2009                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       MAY 2009 www.geog raphical.co.uk 69
                                                                   | E S S E N T I A L gear |




                           1                                                            2                                                             3

                   HAMMOCK                                                          BOAT                                                        PADDLE
       Hennessy Explorer Ultralight                                        Alpacka Yukon Yak                                              Splat carbon fibre
          (with Hex Fly option)                                            US$790/2.1 KILOGRAMS                                            US$210/935 GRAMS
              US$220/1.15 KILOGRAMS                         This inflatable pack-raft allows you to reach places               Light and unbelievably strong. This carbon-
 The best hammock system available. The hammock              you couldn’t otherwise go. It’s tough, simple and                fibre paddle breaks into four parts and sits
sits high and close to the fly so that even in torrential     light. If you like a comfy night’s sleep and are on              on the side of your rucksack so snugly that
downpours, you don’t get wet from rain splashing off            a rocky beach, you can flip it over and use it as                  you’ll forget it’s there. Order it with the
              the ground or other trees                                       a luxury bed. Genius                                           raft from Alpacka




                                                                         TEN
                                                                       OF THE BEST
                                                                Walking the length of the Amazon
                                                               means becoming well acquainted with
                           4                                                                                                                         5
                                                               water. Whether it’s keeping the rain at
                 VIDEO CAMERA                                   bay or crossing the river’s abundant                                        SEWING KIT
                  Sony HVR-A1E                                                                                                     Speedy Stitcher Sewing Kit
                      £1,705/670 GRAMS                           tributaries, this environment offers                                        £11/130 GRAMS
If you want to film your expedition in high definition,           many an aquatic challenge. Here’s a                         This inconspicuous little item will repair anything
  this little unit is hard to beat. The mini DV tapes are       selection of the items with which Ed                         from your rucksack belt to your boots with very
bombproof and can be chucked in a bag with silicone                                                                        strong, rot-resistant, waxed thread – in a matter of
  for complete peace of mind. The camera also takes                       has armed himself                               seconds. Supplied with thread. Think you don’t need
   still images. It uses Sony’s Memory Stick Duo Pro                                                                                          one? Just try it



             6                                                         Don’t forget…                                                                                 7

      MACHETE                                                   …deodorant. Essential for                                                                    RUCKSACK
  Ralph Martindale                                                maintaining your self-                                                                   Macpac Ascent
      machete                                                   respect as a human being.                                                                      XPD
      POA/550 GRAMS                                                                                                                                        £190/2.6 KILOGRAMS
                                                                 Tell people who say that
     Where do the best                                                                                                                                   For the jungle, this pack
   machetes in the world                                       it’s okay to smell to go and                                                                 is the bee’s knees. It
 come from? Birmingham.                                         sit somewhere else. And it                                                                      sports a single
Martindale sells to markets                                      doesn’t attract insects –                                                                    compartment so
  worldwide and the steel                                                                                                                                     doesn’t have any
                                                                  that’s a complete myth
they use is pure quality. Its                                                                                                                               unnecessary zips or
 files are amazing too: use                                                                                                                                    flaps. It also has a
one next to a file bought in                                              NEXT MONTH:                                                                     surprisingly low profile
Latin America and you will                                                                                                                                for an 80-litre capacity,
   laugh out loud at the                                        WHEELS ACROSS VICTORIA ISLAND                                                               enabling you to slip
   difference. Beware of                                                                                                                                  through the trees like a
                                                                    For stockists and information, visit
     fakes that bear the                                                                                                                                 snake. It’s heavy but it’s
                                                                   www.geographical.co.uk/features/kit
       crocodile logo                                                                                                                                        tough and will last




                           8                                                            9                                                            10
        WATERPROOFING AGENT                                                REPAIR TAPE                                                         TORCH
                     Seam Grip                                           Advance Tapes AT160                                                Petzl Zipka Plus
                    £6/28 GRAMS                                                  £6/500 GRAMS                                                    £26/64 GRAMS
Sliced bread was a rubbish invention in comparison.          This stuff mends anything, including pack-rafts and             Small and beautiful, and a must for countries where
Apply to seams in items such as jackets and flysheets,       Therm-a-Rest mattresses (with a little help from Seam         it’s dark at 6pm and you still need to cook, read and go
and around the edges of a duct-tape patch to repair         Grip). Also brilliant for hot spots on my feet: it’s better      to the loo. It uses LEDs: there’s no need for halogen
 items that need to be 100 per cent airtight, such as        than zinc oxide tape as the outer is shiny and so the        lights because in the jungle, you can’t see further than
       Therm-a-Rests, rucksack liners and rafts                     sock slips over it, which reduces friction                            about 20 metres anyway                   G




70 www.geog raphical.co.uk MAY 2009

								
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