Choosing what to put on the pack list
Whether you are doing the Mongol Rally or going on a road trip of your own, one thing you need is good preparation in order to have all the essential gear on your pack list. We have decided to share with you our extensive pack list with all the things, gadgets, and tools we have taken with us on our trip from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Almost every single thing from the list has been useful to us and we only name the items which proved to be durable so that we can recommend them. We know that everyone has a different packing style and has different needs on a trip. If you’re backpacking you should go for a minimalistic and light setup, but since we were travelling by car we had enough space for some extra stuff, which turned out to be a good decision and made the journey a bit more comfortable.
Our car modifications
Dima has modified the back seat area and the trunk of our Grand Vitara. When you are travelling for a long time and staying at a different spot almost every night – good accessibility of daily items like clothes, toiletry, food, cookware is key. We have bought several large clear boxes at the local hardware store and sorted everything in them. This made it very easy for us to find things quickly and allowed for a quick setup of our small overnight campsite. The next challenge is to make sure that you can access the things you need quickly. For this, we have built in a large wooden box into the back of the trunk so that we would get a second level in the trunk. Inside the box, we placed all the heavy things like a shovel, jerrycan, pavilion which we would not need as often. On top of it, we placed the boxes so that we could easily see what’s inside them. Lastly, we have attached two planks to the box with tension belts, which we wrapped around the boxes while we were driving. This way everything was being kept in place and did not fly around in the back of the car.
Our best investment was the tires which were recommended to us by a 4×4 car service in Berlin: General Grabber AT3. We have been considering whether they are worth the 600 € investment (including one spare) and in the end, decided to go for it. This decision turned out to be dead right since we did not have a flat tire even once. They are made for 50% on-road and 50% off-road, about the right mix for such a trip. While being a bit loud on highway tarmac, they turned out to be brilliant during offroad. Where other cars got stuck in the sand or mud, we were able to drive through effortlessly. Especially in Mongolia, they saved us from a bunch of sharp stones.
What other world trip gadgets did we have in the car? Below, we have listed and linked our top picks for the tour. We have been using most of the items on a daily basis and did not regret having them with us:
- 20l water canister with tap: * http://amzn.to/2xYMHp2
- 20l fuel canister: A canister is a must-have on a longer trip to Central Asia or Siberia. In fact, we really used it only in Uzbekistan and Mongolia, but the rest of the time it gave us a secure feeling and provided flexibility when taking shortcuts or alternative routes.
- Small hatchet (for campfires): *http://amzn.to/2x0l7Z8
- Small shovel (for removing human tracks or if you got stuck in the sand): *http://amzn.to/2xYMAd6
- Tow rope: *http://amzn.to/2wZyV66
- Jump Start Cable: *http://amzn.to/2fiSyyx
- A voltage transformer: *http://amzn.to/2xZAzUC. For charging the electric toothbrush, laptop or cameras while driving.
- Waterproof LED lamp with different colours if you need to get out in the evening or play cards in the tent: *http://amzn.to/2x3DcWg
- An external battery case for our phones and a magnetic car mount: very handy if you use the phone as a satnav and need some longer battery time during the day: *http://amzn.to/2xZ8tZF and *http://amzn.to/2h1F5P8
Top gadgets for camping during world trip:
The tent was the item we gave the most thought about and researched a lot. Since we did not want to camp on the ground for four months, the only options were to put up a tent on the car roof or build a bed inside the trunk. For the inside bed, our Suzuki was way too small and we would have lost a lot of storage space. Thus, the choice fell on a car roof tent, which turned out to be a great alternative if you do not have a camper van but still want to be flexible and able to sleep everywhere. We loved the bed on the roof because it’s was like a cosy little bedroom. With 120 cm it was wide enough for both of us. Best of all, it takes only 2 minutes to wind it up and about 5 minutes to wind it down. We bought it second hand in Berlin. It is called Maggiolina Grand Tour Car Tent* and a new one will cost you over 2000 EUR at Globetrotter.
We did not always need our other two small tents. The big one is handy if you stand for a few days somewhere and want to protect yourself from sun, rain, mosquitoes, etc. You can sit in it, cook, play games, store things, etc.
Camp Fire’s small tent is great for showering, as a changing room, rain emergency tent, and yes … you can also use it as a toilet as well.
We had extra pegs for the two tents for a better grip during wind and bad weather. In Mongolia, we were glad that we had them: *http://amzn.to/2xZJ9my
Shortly before the trip, we came across the Nemo Helio shower. A portable 10 L shower which you first inflate with your foot and then have relatively good water pressure. The shower comes in a small bag and takes no space at all. With over 100 EUR not cheap, but it added a lot to the comfort and was really useful for showering, hair washing, washing dishes, car washing, etc.
You can buy the shower here*.
Well, not everybody needs the portable bucket with a toilet-seat and bio-degradable waste bags, but on some occasions, we were glad to have it:
*http://amzn.to/2jpM6tQ with matching toilet bags, biodegradable of course *http://amzn.to/2jpn8uQ
We also had a cool box. It could be connected to a normal power outlet or run via the 12V socket in the car. Keeps food and beverages cool even in hot countries like Uzbekistan:
Another great tool was the Coleman camping stove. It works with petrol so you do not have to carry a gas balloon. We just filled it up from our canister. It worked with every kind of fuel, in all weather conditions and has done us great service in the four months. We used it nearly every day for cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We also bought a small kettle for camping, which is very light and thin so the water boils very quickly: *http://amzn.to/2fj1tQF.
We did not buy any special cookware. Just a small and a larger cooking pot from Ikea and a small frying pan, which we had in the cupboard at home.
As for camping dishes, we just bought the cheapest ones there were. They turned out to be very durable and easy to clean: *http://amzn.to/2wZVYhb
Very cheap and simple camping chairs that have been sturdy and a simple folding table that we could easily place behind our seats.
Since the shower and dishwashing water always seeps into the soil, we have used only ecological and degradable eco-detergent. Can be used to take a shower, do the dishes and wash clothes. Since we want the places to be equally beautiful when we eventually come back. We ordered it from Globetrotter: *here.
In some of the countries, we were eaten by mosquitoes in the evening. The only remedy that helped us is “No Bite”. Not cheap, but effective: Buy it here*:
Our top picks for travel luggage:
We decided against trekking backpacks because we did not intend to walk for longer distances with our luggage. We also needed to frequently access different parts of our backpacks, so we found the ones that open like suitcases more practical. They are equally comfortable to be carried on your back for a while, offer a lot of space, but are not suitable for longer hikes.
The backpack by Lowe Alpine is designed for women, it lays on your hip is easy to wear. In addition, you can open it completely from top to down, which is very helpful if you are looking for something specific. It comes with a small daypack. It had been very comfortable and worth the investment.
Dimas backpack was from Bach and slightly larger because a man’s back is usually wider. The backpack is top-notch, absolutely robust and swallows a lot of luggage. It also comes with a daypack, which we used during our city tours.
The most reliable and reasonably priced camera to take with you on a world trip
We did not have a good camera before the trip so we decided to buy one. We have watched a lot of documentaries from the Mongol Rally to check what kind of cameras people are taking with them. We also read up a lot on the internet. After thinking back and forth for a long time, comparing many models and consulting with a professional store we decided against a mirrorless camera. Clearly, we wanted to save some weight and have something that could fit in every smaller bag, but after talking to a photo professional and telling him what we’re up to, he recommended us DSLR Pentax K70. Pentax is a lesser known brand, but the K70 has a better image quality and better features than the ones from Canon or Nikon. In addition, it is robust, waterproof and is not afraid of sand or dirt. The advice was worthwhile and our camera made great pictures and survived all the rocking and shaking in the car just fine. The fine sands in Uzbekistan or Mongolia did not bother the camera at all. We actually met some travellers who broke two mirrorless cameras along the bumpy roads. Compared to other DSLR cameras, the Pentax is not that heavy and has a comfortable handling. You can carry it in one hand. However, it has some issues with the video quality: the focus is very slow, which bothered us a bit. For photos, it is definitely a very good recommendation. We had two lenses with us, a fixed focal length and a “travel lens”.
Pentax K70 with lens 18-135mm: *http://amzn.to/2xZhDVV
Entry-level portrait lens for DSLR camera (great for portraits in the city): *http://amzn.to/2h21b4m
As a fun factor, we had two Go-Pro Hero4 action cams, which were sponsored by RT Germany. We had them with us all the time to make some quick videos on our blog or use it as a dashcam: *http://amzn.to/2xZw5gG
If you are planning a similar world trip or if you are going on the Mongol Rally in 2018 we hope that our list will help you create your own pack list. If you have any questions or would like to know anything else regarding our top travel gadgets as a question in the comment or write us an email.
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All products listed here have been tested and approved by us. We have also bought all our equipment at Globetrotter and Amazon and can recommend all the above products without any restrictions.