Picture the scene; An idyllic seafront village on the north coast of Peru, near Trujillo; A walk along the beach followed by wonderful fresh-fish supper; Settling down for the night I was completely chilled and at peace with the world. Well, until about 04:50am …
At that point one of the fishermen staying next-door woke up and started cracking *hilarious* jokes that had his compadres rolling in the isles.
And that was the point at which I decided that earplugs would be part of my backpacking kit for all future trips. Since then, I’ve found ‘plugs to be very useful in coping with snorers, overnight-bus journeys, late-night revellers returning to dorm rooms after a night on the town, etc. etc.
On a similar theme, here’s some more general backpacking kit that I like:
Starting with the earplugs: I like Macks, (macksearplugs.com) which are effectively a blob of gum that covers the outer ear. You have to wash your ear before use, but the big advantage is that you can sleep with the side of your head on the pillow without feeling the plug pulling your ear – unlike other earplugs which put slight pressure on the eardrum when sleeping.
Duct Tape (or Duck Tape), which is usually silver/grey in colour, is very useful for quick, waterproof and robust backpacker repairs on the road, e.g. fixing holes in window fly-screens, hanging points for mosquito nets, temporary repairs of backpacks, boots, clothing, and holding a myriad of other backpacker kit together. Duct tape rolls are quite large (see picture), but you can roll 2-3m of tape onto a pencil if you want to bring a smaller amount. Don’t leave home without it.
Water purification tablets. I like Micropur, available from Boots in the UK, it’s active ingredients are Silver Chloride (antimicrobial agent) and Troclosene Sodium (releases Chlorine). Micropur tablets are cheap, lightweight, effective and a great back-up option if you’re on walkabout. You dissolve a tablet in a litre of clear water (i.e. taken from a local water source) and leave for 30 minutes. I’ve used Micropur on water taken from mountain streams – although the instructions say not to do that. They’re a good option for those people who don’t want to leave a trail of plastic water bottles in developing countries. Water treated with Micropur tablets – and this applies to other brands as well – has a slight after taste, but it’s nothing you can’t handle.
Antibacterial or Antiseptic wet wipes; Hygiene is pretty important on the road, whether it be hand-washing before meals, using (the often eye-popping) third world public loos, or cleaning minor cuts and grazes. A bumper pack of wet wipes (other brands are also good) – get them in a resealable pack, are an essential part of my kit.
Platypus water bottle, made from soft ‘collapsible’ plastic, they are stronger than they look, easy to drink out of and only take up the space they need. They work well with water purification tablets because the bottles are transparent and you can see the tablets dissolve. My platypus is almost 10 years old, hence the Duct tape in the mid-section to prevent the plastic creasing (see picture). A similar, cheaper bottle is now made by Evernew amongst others.
Anything to add? Tell me your backpacking tips or favourite piece of travel kit: