This is the gear worth investing in – even if it costs a bit more.
1. Leatherman Wave
Why invest? It has all the essential tools and a 25-year warranty.
Made from stainless steel, this is Leatherman’s best-selling multitool, and at just 10cm long and 240g in weight, it offers 17 functional applications. I used the knife to cut hard plastic, which it did easily; opened a tin of sweetcorn with the can opener; and the wire cutters effortlessly snipped a 2mm-thick length of steel binding wire. The large thumb holes make it easy to open the tools.
2. Osprey Meridian 75L Travel Bag
Why invest? It’s made from hardy 1680D ballistic nylon and has a lifetime guarantee.
Most bags are made for going places and the Osprey Meridian is designed to do it well with its versatile and durable luggage set. The main 55-litre duffel compartment is a wheeled trolley bag. When testing, it rolled smoothly when packed full. It also has cleverly integrated backpack straps and the cushioned hip belt lifts the bag away from the body, preventing the wheels from digging into your back. The laptop-friendly, 20L detachable daypack is a great addition (it zips seamlessly to the front of the main bag) and worked well as a backpack on a short walk.
3. Campmor Sierra 5-person Tent
Why invest? It features waterproof 400-gsm ripstop polycotton canvas.
I’ve camped in these tents with family for at least 10 years, so it’s safe to say I’ve tested them thoroughly. The hardy canvas walls offer protection from all the elements – wind, rain or sunshine. The fabric is breathable and the PVC groundsheet is welded to the canvas (rather than sewn), which makes it less prone to punctures or seepage. The spring-steel frame ensures the tent is a solid structure. Although it’s heavy to carry when used for two, this five-person tent has enough space inside to stash your kit, stand up in and even jump up and down. The YKK lifetime-guaranteed zips and electric cord pocket are bonuses.
4. Zeiss 10 x 42 Terra ED Binoculars
Why invest? The optics are great value and there’s a 10-year warranty.
Robust and protected by sealed housing, these binocs are high quality. The 10x magnificationmeans thatimagesappear up to 10 times closer than normal and have a diameter of 42 which indicates how much light is let in. The higher the number, the more light, and above 40 is good for stargazing too. I tested these on a birdwatching trip to Mapungubwe. I like the clear focus and the fact they work in dimmer light, such as twilight and dawn, which is when I added a lifer to my list – the Narina trogon. The minimum focal distance of 1,6m can be used to get a closer look at things such as insects, and the twist-up eye caps are great if you wear glasses.
5. Thule En-Route Escort 2
Why invest? It has a slick look and tough protective features.
Weighing 1,26kg, this sturdy, stylish 27L daypack is well padded, comfortable and made to safeguard all your gadgets. Protective features include a padded laptop and tablet compartment (the laptop sleeve can also be used as a hydration reservoir) and a crush-proof compartment for sunglasses with a plush phone pocket. I used this bag as my work backpack for a week and it served me perfectly on a day hike on the weekend too. There are more pockets and dividers than you know what to do with, so small items are easy to find. The airflow channels on the back panel provide good ventilation so I didn’t feel sweaty.
6. Stanley Classic Vacuum Flask 1L
Why invest? The stainless-steel exterior is ultra-hardy and the ask comes with a lifetime warranty.
Finished in Stanley’s signature classic hammertone green, this ask’s heritage is legendary (the company has been making them since 1913) and this is the best flask you’ll ever buy. I tested the company’s promise of keeping water hot for 24 hours, filling the flask with 95°C boiling water. A day later, its temperature was 66°C – still hot enough to make a good cuppa.
7. Outdoor Warehouse Ammo Box with a Low Lid
Why invest? It provides durable plastic protection.
It might not chill your drinks or cook your food, but this stackable storage box is a must for any adventurer. It’s comfortable to carry and easy to store in the car or the cupboard at home – I have a ‘ready’ box filled with essentials. The clips sometimes snap, but these are replaceable (R50 for four).
TIP If you need more storage, get a higher lid to add about 6cm more of space. R89,frontrunneroutfitters.com
Other great gear with good guarantees:
The High UV Bu is a versatile piece of travel gear that protects from the sun and wicks away moisture too. There’s no specific guarantee, but the quality and resulting longevity of the product is pretty phenomenal for the price.
From R349 (500ml), atlasware.co.za
The insulation ability of the stainless-steel Atlasware bottle for keeping liquid cold is exceptional. Available in a variety of sizes.
Use Tracks4Africa to guarantee you find your campsite. The initial app payment might seem a little steep, but then you’re sorted for life and all updates are free. iOS and Android available.
4. Roberts Birds
Invest in a bird book on your smartphone. Great for any name changes and keeping an up-to-date life list – the classic Roberts is one of the best, with bird calls and photographs.