The following is a review of the main items camping equipment I used during my 25,000km Take On Africa bike ride to Cape Town.
Tent – MSR Hubba Hubba
This tent was a great choice – a two-man tent which is free-standing and can be put up inner only meets all the needs of travelling in Africa. The inner, a mesh material, acts as a mosquito net – I frequently put this up on beds in cheap hotels where I was plagued by mosquitoes.
- MSR Hubba Hubba tent erected inner only, Niger River
Unfortunately, being lightweight, it is not as robust as some others and did not stand the test of time. The zips slowly stopped working (I got one replaced) and the threads on one of the aluminium joins wore out. A jackal-attack resulted in a ripped bottom too. It survived 18 months of near constant use before needing repairs however – not bad I think.
- MSR Hubba Hubba tent, in Senegal
Sleeping Bag – Cumulus Quantum 200
Fantastic bag – packs down really small, is lightweight and yet kept me more than warm enough. I rarely needed to zip the bag up, so in that respect, it was probably better than what I really needed. Will be taking this bag on the next trip…
Usually a fan of Thermarest. But for wild camping in Africa, I’d recommend a foam mat. The mat got numerous holes in it from Acacia thorns and other spiky plants that I gave up repairing it and so slept on a flat mat for most of a year. And since it is rarely very cold, the extra insulation of air in the Thermarest isn’t a big factor to consider.
I had real issues with the multi-fuel stove – first an Optimus Nova, then an MSR Whisperlite. The first I never got to work, the second needed cleaning far too often. In the end I bought a cheap camping gas stove locally. The small blue C190 gas cannisters were available throughout Africa. It never needs cleaning and is simple to use. I would recommend this to anyone else travelling in Africa.
- Camping Gaz stove (a cheap chinese import!)
(I’ve used an MSR Dragonfly in the past and was really pleased with it. I can only think that I got unlucky with the multi-fuel stove this time.)
The MSR titanium pan set is definitely worth the money. A hungry cyclist definitely needs a 2-person pan set! The bigger pan holds pasta for two substantial servings and the other works well for any sauce you can conjure up. It’s so lightweight, you’ll barely notice carrying it. It has survived well without denting and I’ll definitely be using this well into the future.
- MSR Titan 2 pot
The MSR spork I ended up calling the comedy spork. A great idea in principle but the design just isn’t quite right… The hinge is the wrong way round in my opinion. Fully loaded up with spaghetti and the hinge collapses, depositing the food back in the bowl before it reaches your mouth. Very annoying when you’re very hungry!
Water bags – Ortlieb 4L bags (2)
Another great piece of kit. The bags pack down small when not in use. One bag got a hole in it from a thorn. I just applied some superglue to the outside and it sealed fine for another year of use. I’ll be taking these again too.