Sunday, November 03, 2013

Packing lists ...

As a friend of mine's father used to say - "Any idiot can be uncomfortable in the bush, it's easy".  The converse is that in order to be comfortable in the bush it takes a certain amount of forethought and planning which inevitably results in "lists" of things to take and things to remember to do.

The following list is the one we use for overlanding and we adjust it for the specific trip and conditions that we think we may encounter but it is the list from which we work.  At the end of a trip we try and update it with anything new that we have learnt but that is, of course, peculiar to our particular needs and requirements so this can't be treated as 'the list' but it is a decent place to start for anyone getting into overlanding.

How we arrived at this list was to consolidate all the lists from various sources that we could lay our hands on and then from that to work out what we need based on where we are going, which season we are going in and how many people will be in the party.  Anyway, this is the one we work from.

Roland's 4x4 Packing List

So what to do with the rubbish ...

One of the great issues that one faces when going to wilderness camps is that there isn't anywhere to throw used containers, tins, packaging and scraps of food and leftovers and it is always a problem as to what exactly to do about this because the stench of 10 day old rubbish that has been baking in the kalahari sun is quite something else.  Having stinky rubbish, aside from being unpleasant, also attracts bees, flies and other animals that take the odour to mean that there is something edible to had.  In my case, since I am highly allergic to bees, I try very hard not to attract them so I try to follow the guidelines are as follows:

1.  Try to use recipes which don't generate too much in the way of organic waste.
2.  Try to take just enough ingredients to make just enough food so that there aren't any leftovers.  Have a stash of edibles that don't require cooking if you really miscalculate badly or if you have teenagers and feed these to them if they are still hungry at the end of a meal.
3.  If there are leftovers try to incorporate them in the next meal if possible.
4.  Organic matter can be divided into two groups, those that it is possible to burn and those that one can't really burn.  Of course given a big enough fire one can burn anything but because firewood is often in short supply trying to burn half a pot of leftover pap just isn't going to happen.
5.  Anything organic that can be burnt in the fire should e.g. egg shells, naartjie peels, nut husks etc and small amounts of organic waste.  Basically anything that is small enough that the fire available can dry out and incinerate.  Bones from chops should be burnt and then the leftover bones sifted from the fire the next morning and taken with you along with the cans in #9.
6.  Burn any tins in the fire to sterilise them then crush them with a mallet.
7.  Plastic cartons and packaging should be burnt in the fire.  This should only be done after you have finished cooking as burning plastics sometimes gives off noxious gases so stay up wind.  Under normal circumstances, one shouldn't burn plastic at all but these are not normal circumstances.
8.  If there is any organic food that can't be burnt, then go 200m outside of camp, watch out for predators, break or crumble it into reasonably small pieces and scatter it around but it is by far the best to not to have to do this at all by taking note of #1 and #2.  The animals around will make sure it doesn't stay scattered for long but one wants to avoid making the camping site a culinary destination for them as much as possible, see #1 and #2 again.
9.  Pack the crushed cans and sterilised bones in a sack and take them back with you to where they can be disposed of appropriately.
10. Wash/rinse any glass bottles that are finished and take them back with you to where they can be disposed of appropriately.

Remember, if the food came with you there is definitely space for the remains to go back with you and I am aware that burning plastic isn't the best practice and I certainly wouldn't be doing it if there was an alternative method of disposing of the rubbish.

So how much water does one really need for a shower ...

Some, actually most, of our overlanding has been to places where there is little or no water so one has to take everything one wants to use and because water is so heavy, one wants to take as little as possible.

My spouse has a simple requirement on these trips, she will have a shower every day; no shower means that we don't go.  It's that simple.  Showers however means lots of water to be carried so estimating the amount of water we need is crucial to my marital bliss.

The amount of water required for showering is dependent on your shower so I have a bucket shower with a shower rose whose middle two rings of holes I have epoxied closed so as to reduce the flow.  There is still plenty to get one wet and wash with but the saving in water by simply closing some holes in the shower rose is appreciable.

What we have found is that 8l of water provided a good shower with about 2 min of just standing under the water.  We have also found that 4l is possible in an emergency and that 6l gives us a good shower but no standing around time.  8l gives a great shower with some standing around time.

In terms of 'time in the shower', 4l gives one about 3 minutes, 6l about 4 minutes and 8l about 5 minutes.  In terms of how much time one needs to actually shower, it takes between 30" and 60" to get wet and about 2-3 minutes to wash off.

Our overall rule of thumb as far as water is concerned is that 10l/person/day for drinking, showering, cooking and washing is enough.  Anything more is luxury but less than 10l of water per day gets a bit desperate.

Tire pressures

One of the mysteries about off-road driving is just what exactly to set one's tyre pressures to and because it genuinely does make a huge difference to the performance of your vehicle it is important to get it correct.  What I have found is that there is a tendency amongst people to lower pressures more than required because the folk lore states that when off road; lower the pressure and surely more of a good thing is better.

So herewith are roland's rules.
1.  Don't believe everything your read or are told, use some common sense.  I've read recommendations about tyre pressures which would certainly have landed me in trouble had I followed them and vice versa.  The problem is that between wheel size, the specific tyre fitted, tubeless vs tubed, the vehicle itself, the loading of the vehicle, the type of terrain and the weather condition there is so much variation that any general recommendations need to be used in conjunction with a good dose of common sense.
2.  Having said that, for my Fortuner 4x4 fitted with OEM Bridgestone dueller tubeless tyres when going overland I subscribe to the following rules' of thumb.
  • 2.1 bar - tar and excellent gravel roads.
  • 1.8 bar - Normal gravel roads with corrugations, rocky roads or rock and sand mixed.  Even short distances of heavy sand are fine at 1.8 bar.
  • 1.5 bar - Heavy sand for long periods of time with no or very little rock.  Very corrugated dirt roads without any rocks.
  • 1.2 bar - Emergency in very heavy sand.  Need to be very careful of anything sharp like rocks or thorns or sticks which will go through the sidewall.
3.  When driving with lower than tar road pressures be aware that you shouldn't do any sharp turns and this applies especially at the lower pressures.  If you do, you risk rolling the tyre off the rim bead.
4.  The pressures are measured when the tyre is cold and if the car is heavily loaded I add an extra 0.1 bar onto the above pressures.
5.  I try and drive with the pressures as high as I can get away with in the conditions.  I figure that no sidewall is going to be as tough as the tread itself and the lower the tyre pressure, the more the sidewall is exposed to being cut or punctured by rocks, sticks or thorns.
6. Drive carefully and avoid driving over sticks, rocks and thorns  as much as possible and I am particularly careful to try to make sure that the track of the rear wheels and/or trailer,  whose turning circle is tighter than the front of the car, doesn't go over the obstacles that I carefully avoided with the front wheels.

So that's it;  I'm not sure about what to do in mud but I think I would tend to have the tyres harder rather than softer in the hope that they would 'cut' through the mud to find hard ground.  This would obviously only work if the mud wasn't too deep and my tyres too wide.  In really deep mud I'm not so sure and I would probably try and avoid the obstacle altogether if possible.

A quick disclaimer that this is purely my opinion as a part time 4x4 overland driver and what I have used successfully thus far.