The 7 essential items you should take with you on an outback camping trip
Planning for an outback adventure involves a lot of thought and decisions to be made, but there are seven essential items you must take with you on your outback camping trip.
1. Food and water
Take a good supply of food with you when you set off, particularly when your destination is an out of the way place. Townships can be well-spaced in the Australian outback so carry as much food as you will need before you reach the next township.
Also when in a remote area, you should carry extra supplies for a couple of days more than expected in case there is a holdup or breakdown. And you need to be aware that many outback settlements have only a limited range of goods for sale.
Carry water, especially in desert regions, where 4 litres per person per day is a minimum measure even in the cooler months.
The most important piece of equipment is the fridge. A fridge is essential to store your meat and dairy products and to keep the drinks cold. The most suitable fridges are those that run on 240 volt and 12 volt from the car battery. Some can be run as a fridge or as a freezer. Often travellers have two fridges, with one used as the fridge and the other as a freezer.
Modern fridges are very economical when running on battery power and will turn themselves off before they flatten the battery. And when you are on the move and travelling daily the battery will be recharged. Most travellers use a dual battery system, especially if they are running two fridges.
3. Recovery gear in case you get stuck!
The must useful piece of equipment is the snatch strap. This is a heavy duty strap with a little bit of elasticity built in. It is particularly useful if a vehicle is bogged in mud or sand and where the towing vehicle has room to manoeuvre.
A winch is another option, which can be useful in a tight situation, or when the bogged vehicle can’t be tugged straight forward or back.
Then there is the long-handled shovel to be used for clearing sand and mud away from the wheels of a bogged vehicle.
If a vehicle has a serious breakdown and needs to be towed to the nearest town or repairer, it will be useful to have a tow rope. It is not a good idea to use a snatch strap for towing any distance, due to the elasticity of the strap.
Make sure you are aware of all the rules regarding use of snatch straps or winches before you need to use them. Here are a couple of basic rules that should be applied in every case.
- Always attach the strap to the tow hook of the vehicle.
- Always use rated ‘D’ shackles.
- Always use a damper on the snatch strap or winch cable in case of breakage.
- Always stand back at a safe distance during the snatch or winch operation in case the strap or cable breaks.
Take a tyre replacement kit in the vehicle – i.e. jack (including winding arm), wheel brace, etc., and a tyre plug kit is very useful. You also need a jacking plate, wheel chocks (in case rocks are not available) and a compressor for pumping up a tyre again.
A tool kit of metric spanners and sockets, pliers, screw drivers and a shifter, hammer, pointy nose pliers, larger screw drivers and some larger sockets and spanners of more than 19 or 21mm will be very handy.
Jumper leads are very useful in case a battery fails.
Good reliable communications are essential for outback travel. There are various types and applications but the main ones are for vehicle to vehicle or for long distance communication.
A UHF CB radio for vehicle to vehicle and convoy to convoy communication is a necessity. Everyone should have one. In a convoy situation, the radio contact means that the convoy members are warned of turns at intersections, oncoming traffic, animals to watch out for (either on the road or beside the road) and of hold-ups such as flat tyres.
The UHF radio is very useful when used to warn oncoming travellers that you are there, such as in sand dune country in the Simpson Desert. Radio contact enables each convoy to keep a sharp lookout from the tops of dunes for other travellers.
A satellite phone is similar to a regular mobile phone and useful as there is no mobile coverage in many outback areas, including along major highways. In an emergency a satphone can be used to contact police etc and Royal Flying Doctor Service for help.
A satphone is also useful to call home or for when those left at home need to contact the traveller. They can be quite expensive though.
6. Camping gear
Don’t forget to pack the camping gear. You will need most of the following items:-
- Gas stove, camp oven, billies, table and chairs, cooking implements, frying pan, cutlery and plates
- Tents, sleeping bags or swags
In fact all the things that make camping such a great experience
And finally …
It’s best to travel with another vehicle. You can share the load of all that vital equipment, food and water, tools, the cost of the satellite phone. And there is someone there to help out if you get stuck, bogged or break down.
And best of all – there is someone there to share the adventure with, the challenges and the achievements, and the campfire under a million star sky at the end of the day.