Overland Adventure Packing

Overland Adventure Packing

 

Words and Photos by Shane Quinnell, Videos by Tarryn Quinnell, Team Tane

In order to help get you out on your own adventure, we are proud to present our versatile Packing special. Most useful of all we have spent hours compiling a checklist of all the items we brought with us on Suzuki Africa Sky High as a template that you can use for your own weekend getaway or overland adventure. It is in Excel format so you can edit it to your own gear. To get the list, simply sign up to our emailer below and we will send it within a few days. In addition we have compiled some useful tips to get you started.

Like anything else, overland packing comes in all shapes and sizes. From the modest ‘just chuck a few things in the car,’ to far more sophisticated Tetras tactics where every single item has its place depending on size and shape. Driving a petite Suzuki Jimny with loads of gear, overland and mountaineering, on a long seven-month trip, and wanting easy travel deep in the bowels of Africa where it is impossible to find anything, we set the Tetras packing game’s difficulty level to Jedi.

Even so, we managed without a problem and therefore so can you. Our biggest tactic was implementing the Mont Bell philosophy ‘Light is Fast,’ check out the blog here. We also used other strategies to get our gear in our Jimny with less hassle, our top seven top tips are explained here;

Illustrating our packing infrastructure; draws, a fridge mounted on rails with table beneath, space on sides and on top with plastic containers used on shelf for organisation.

  1. Pack Necessities and few Niceties – Most people take mounds of things they never use. Think hard before you pack that luxurious hair dryer or make-up set. Here are examples of necessities:
    • Vehicle tools and spares;
    • Emergency equipment; communications, first aid;
    • Basic living supplies; camping, kitchen and cooking;
    • Food and water;
    • Maps and navigation;
    • Toilet paper!
  2. Pack Early – It is much easier to cut things down with time to think. Put what you think you need aside a week before you leave. Come back to it with a few days left and cut as much as you can when you have had time to think;
  3. Packing Infrastructure – It is MUCH easier to pack with some form of infrastructure. In our case this means draws, pockets (including seat, dash and back door), external jerry can mounts and fridge rails built by Wizerd. You save loads of space finding things is easier. If you don’t have drawers and even if you do, use plastic boxes or ammo crates to compartmentalise;
  4. Think Light – Pack like a hiker or biker not a trucker. Aim to get small foldable or lightweight equipment to save space and weight. Every kilo you can save will help limit the stress on your suspension which in a small vehicle is a major consideration. Opposite Lock, Front Runner and Sea to Summit have lots of great gadgets for the road;
  5. Be Sneaky – Use all the space you have. Under and behind the seats, beside your drawer system, roof racks, all of it. Most people think their cars are full long before they are. If a Jimny driver says they full, there is likely not a centimetre unused.
  6. Play – It’s very unlikely you won the game the first time you played Tetras. Packing your car is the same, it will take a few turns and you’ll get better at it the more times you try.
  7. Plan – Put some thought in to what will be used most to least, this determines how accessible things need to be. Pack the big stuff first then add the smaller items to the remaining space being careful to make sure you can get it out again.

Inside the bowels of our boy Badger. You can see all the space is taken with gear. Bottom left is the Opposite Lock Battery Box, middle the SmartGrid Sat Modem, behind the Wizerd draw system, top are the plastic boxes and centre the fridge. Stuff is packed in every space.

A few things which you might not think of which in our case have been invaluable are; a spray skirt on our Front Runner rooftop tent which give covered living space and privacy when stopped, legless potjie and foldup tripod legs, large flexible Front Runner water sack and LifeStraw expedition water filter which can fit around other objects, external racks for gas and jerry cans designed and built for us by Wizerd, moving your rooftop tent to add space in front and open backwards and then using the space in front for a duffel bag or other goods.

Ready for the road! Check the duffel bag on the roof and side racks for the jerries and gas.

Most importantly, enjoy your packing experience. It can be stressful trying to find pack and fit everything around work and life commitments but we are sure these tips and our packing list will help. Try them out and let us know how it goes. Most importantly think of the end goal and the amazing things you are bound to experience once you’re packed and put a smile on your dial. There is a big world to explore!

Don’t forget to sign up to our emailer at the top or below to get the FREE gear list. If you missed it, send us an email or Facebook message and we will flick it on.

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Helping Hands

Helping Hands

Words and Photos by Shane Quinnell, Videos by Tarryn Quinnell, Team Tane

At some stage or another, we all need a helping hand. Moments when we are incapable of helping ourselves without the aid of others. Times like, while lying with a broken back on a mountainside, hanging unconscious on a cliff while a rope strangles you or running out of fuel in a place even Tracks4Africa has not yet mapped. In my personal experience, long expeditions like Suzuki Africa Sky High, situated in exotic lands, on remote, poor quality roads and aimed at adventure, severely concentrate the frequency of these moments. While we feel a lot more confident with our SmartGrid sat phone and International SOS just a phone call away, sometimes you just need a helping hand.

Though we haven’t talked much about it, the last month and a half of Suzuki Africa Sky High has presented Tarryn and I with more helpless moments than the four expedition months before put together. Fortunately, these sh*tuations have also introduced us to more good Samaritans and helping hands than we could ever have hoped for.

Like most true problems, our month of misadventures started with a “BANG!” It followed with a “clunk, clunk, scrape and stop.” We were in the middle of the Serengeti and justifiably, based on the saturation of dangerous animals, not overly keen on getting out of our Suzuki Jimny, Badger. However, we had no choice.

The problem smacked me in the face. The shock mounting bracket had snapped off the axel causing our Tough Dog shock to hit ground then the stabiliser, bending both. We were not surprised. We had covered over 12,000km crazy African roads, the worst of which was the last 300 kilometres of Serengeti car-eating corrugations. Moreover with our whole life and adventure cupboard in Badger, we were SERIOUSLY overloaded. After removing the shock We managed to keep going, but within 20km the compromised bar gave way rendering us stranded.

Into this moment of need stepped first saviours, new friends, couple Wessel and Judy, Martin from Explore Africa Adventures and Sagit, the manager of local balloon safari operation, Aloft, a complete stranger. As if a mirage, Sagit arrived in a cloud of dust while I was still under the car and offered his workshop free of charge to weld the damaged bar.

Before we knew it, we stood alone with two proffered cold Castle Lagers, cold water and snacks while everyone else took off save us. Wessel and Judy headed one way to weld the stabiliser at the offered workshop, Martin drove to camp to organise a backup lift and Sagit left in the opposite direction promising to return in an hour to check in.

Tarryn under the acacia tree, completely unphased of the potential lions.

We sat, back to back under a leafless acacia tree, with pepper spray and Masai machete for lion protection and International SOS umbrella for sun protection, making a pot of coffee in the middle of the Serengeti. Tarryn was absorbed in her book apparently completely unconcerned for her safety.  ‘Not worried about Lions?’ I asked.  “The grass is too long for us to see them so there is no point worring,” she replied matter of factly.

Thankfully, within no time our friends arrived with our repaired stabiliser and two very enthusiastic welders who insisted on finishing repairing Badger. Ten dusty minutes later, after Sagit returned to inspect his welders work, we astoundingly were back on the road.

It may be hard to believe but our miracles were only just beginning. A day and a half later, after crawling over 250km back down the same corrugated roads that caused the calamity, we reached Karatu and emailed our sponsors Suzuki SA, Opposite Lock and Wizerd asking for support.

We are not just helping you because of the sponsorship, we would do the same for any of our clients.

Charl Grobler

Marketing Manager, Suzuki Auto South Africa

Within an hour all parties involved had responded with a game plan. Suzuki would send a new stabiliser and some additional maintenance spares to get us home safely, Opposite Lock would send a new shock and Wizerd would provide the necessary instructions on how to fit the shock. We were blown away by the eagerness of everyone to help. ‘Sure they were our sponsors but this was above and beyond,’ we thought. In response to our repeated thanks, Suzuki said simply “we are not just helping you because of the sponsorship, we would do the same for any of our clients.”

A week later everything we needed, including some spare zips from Front Runner, arrived in Dar es Salaam with Stew Brogden, the local importer of Opposite Lock and Front Runner equipment. Along with his wife Marion, Stew proved to be the biggest helping hand received from anyone not involved directly in our expedition to date.

After climbing Kilimanjaro (check out ‘King of Africa,’ story) our plan was to head to Dar to refit the shock and stabiliser in a day or so before checking out Zanzibar. Fate had other ideas.

The crew from Aloft Serengeti, some of who helped weld our stabiliser

In our absence Badger had mysteriously developed a croaky misfire which was very unlike his usually bullet proof constitution. Hardly phased I figured the most likely cause was dirty spark plugs, thanks to countless tanks of dubious quality African petrol, however, sparkly new Suzuki genuine plugs didn’t help. We phoned the Wizerd, Monty for advice. The prediction was dire. The old plugs looked corroded, coolant was disappearing and there was a misfire, “it sounds like a blown head gasket,” Monty replied. “Oh bugger.”

The crazy thing is that despite the apparently pessimistic situation, as always, things worked out. Stew, who we had never met, kindly arranged a truck to transport us and Badger to Dar and offered us a place to stay for as long as required. As with all experiences in Africa, the promised truck became its own adventure. Another story for another time.

A night’s sleep on dusty couches behind a hotel and a 14 hour drive spent sitting on the trucker’s bed later, we arrived in Dar. With a home cooked meal, warm shower and comfortable bed waiting for us, we could not have been more grateful to anyone than we were to Stew and Marion in that moment.

Loading Badger into the smugglers truck in Moshi

While we checked Badger at Stews workshop and fitted the new Tough Dog shock Opposite Lock provided, Suzuki SA arranged for us to drop Badger at Suzuki Tanzania for the necessary repair. Needing to thaw out after the time on Africa’s Big High Five Mountains, we headed to the tropical paradise of Zanzibar.

Monty had been right, the head gasket was blown. However, strangely enough the mysterious misfire was a symptom of a loose electrical connection and an independent problem. This knowledge almost certainly confirmed my suspicion that the gasket had actually blown way back in Botswana in the first week of our trip when we crossed the flooded Makgadikgadi pans. Not only had Badger never overheated since, but the coolant had been disappearing since that day. Crazily enough this had meant that we had driven probably around 11,000km with a blown gasket, hence providing yet more evidence of the hidden toughness of our petite Suzuki Jimny.

Saying goodbye to our main man Stew after our stay.

Thanks to excellent support from Suzuki SA, Badger was fixed a couple of weeks later and we were back on the road. Stew and Marion welcomed us in their house for over two weeks, treating us like family. We left Dar es Salaam in a daze with a knowledge that miracles really can come true.

The truth is that no matter how hardcore you think you or your car are, if you tackle Africa for long enough, something will happen. Life here might be tough, but the driving conditions are far tougher. There is only so many knocks, dodgy litres of fuel and dusty kilometres any car can handle. More than 90% of the overlanders we have met on extended trips here in Africa have been in the workshop once, most of them far more. Only when these situations occur do you find out the true nature of the people and companies you have associated with and you better hope you picked well. Thankfully, we could not be happier with our choices.

Above: A large part of the incredible team behind us with Suzuki Africa Sky High. Left to Right: Ryno (Suzuki Bryanston), Monty (The Wizerd), Megan and Charl (Suzuki SA), Jaco (Front Runner), Darrell (Opposite Lock)

Other AWESOME Articles…

Overland Adventure Packing

Like anything else, overland packing comes in all shapes and sizes. This blog intends to help you decide what to take and where to fit it on your own Overland adventure. In addition, it tells you how to get our FREE overland packing list! You don’t need to pack like this to fit!

read more