Over the last year, some of us have latched onto new sports and activities and have spent a good deal of time contemplating future adventures. A friend and his wife recently purchased a 4×4 and started visiting a few trails after their training course. With Mother’s Day on the horizon, he decided he wanted to get her some kit of her own as well as taking her out to lunch. With further trips in mind, he asked me to suggest a few items of suitable gear. I ignored the obvious ideas such as cooking equipment or a portable braai and applied myself to the task.
With this being a new way of life they do not have a good deal of equipment and have even borrowed stuff from me.
So let’s start as if from scratch and see where it goes. They do not have outdoor furniture so a collapsible chair was considered, as I prefer matching chairs he would then have to buy more than one and that would negate the concept of a gift. It was also important that the suggested items could be used at home and on trips and not simply gather dust
But let’s look at a few items that can be more personal yet still useful and functional.
Whilst they are not avid birders they do roam the Braamfontein Spruit and Delta park so I suggested two books, the first one By Duncan Butchart a well-known illustrator and author “Garden Birds in Southern Africa” and “Birds of Southern Africa” by Ian Sinclair and Peter Ryan. Both books are superbly photographed with all the necessary detail to assist in the identification, they are also suitable to carry easily when on foot.
To go with the birding I then suggested a pair of binoculars, to start with perhaps a small pair that is easy to carry although not having the magnification of a large pair. I am big on compact stuff when walking. The smaller variety still allows you to zoom into landscapes, but a larger pair is better for birding and wildlife. Quality is important as good glass is sharp, if you go this route look for a waterproof pair as opposed to the older style.
I would add to the list a camp blanket for impromptu picnics, get one that is washable and comes with a strap or bag, it can even double as a groundsheet in an emergency. If it is compact it can also go hiking with you.
I have suggested two technical hats, one is a lightweight crushable peaked cap and the other a broad-brimmed hat which is better when it is extremely hot and sunny as it protects your neck as well.
With regards to clothing, there are a plethora of stores offering a wide variety of brands across a broad spectrum, but clothing is personal so I have avoided it.
An outdoor watch is always useful, they are rugged and can have a variety of “adventure” features which may include a compass, weather forecast, outside temperature, air pressure, altitude and many more.
A small torch was next on the list, look for a rechargeable one that kicks out about 500 lumens and can also be hung from a hook or inside a tent, Handy when changing in a tent or ablution block in the absence of electricity.
I always suggest a knife, for a lady I like the elegance and functionality of something by the French manufacturer “Opinel” as the long blade can double as a carving knife. From experience, I have found that many self-catering facilities skimp on quality knives.
A “Swiss Army ” knife is also good as it fulfils many functions and has a corkscrew, oft-overlooked in many places.
Icy water on a sweltering day is an absolute treat, as such a standard water bottle is not a great option, I have suggested an insulated bottle which keeps things cold for over 24 hours, or in the case of coffee or tea warm around about the same time.
Lastly, I have suggested a collapsible trekking pole or a good walking stick, extremely useful on a hike or even a sedate stroll in the park. As it stands this is a somewhat daunting list, it will be interesting to see the final selection.
And a journal with a good pen, it’s important to record stuff!