Part Ten: Hitchhiking Gear
Depending on where you are going, there is a variety of gear that can be useful while on the road. I’ll break this down into sections:
a) Clothing: Be sure you take weather-appropriate clothing. A few t-shirts are always a must, as are good socks, underwear,pants, a hat for the sun, and a light jacket. If you are traveling to a cold climate, obviously bring a good coat and gloves/ mittens / scarf
Note: Sometimes, a scarf is essential in any type of weather, because it can double as a bandana in windy or dusty areas. Also, a good pair of gloves is ESSENTIAL if the area you are hitchhiking in is cold.
b) Shoes: A good pair of footwear is probably the most essential part of your gear. I personally reccomend a sturdy pair of boots; not cowboy boots, but lace-up military or hiking boots. These are waterproof, have good arch and ankle support, and will never let you down on a long walk. Additionally, in a hot climate, if you have lace-up military boots, you can tuck your pants into your boots to prevent disease-carrying mosquitoes and other biting insects from getting at your legs. In a cold climate with snow, your feet and pant legs will stay warm and dry.
If you aren’t a boots kind of guy, than good walking tennis shoes will suffice, though you sacrifice the waterproof and lace-up advantages and they aren’t as warm.
Never hit the road with a brand new pair of boots. This can lead to large, extremely painful blisters. Break them in first.
c) Packs: Your backpack is your house; therefore, you must have a sturdy pack with plenty of room and pockets. You can choose a frame backpack or a supportless military backpack. Frame backpacks are generally more comfortable, though some people prefer the floppy military bag. The military bag is more spacious, though with less pockets and straps on the outside for excess equipment such as bedrolls and sleeping bags.
Some suggestions for packing your pack: Make sure you put the heaviest items on top. If you have too many things to fit in the main space and your pack is equipped with crossstraps, you might try using a counterweight bag. Counterweight bags can be anything, from plastic grocery bags to cloth bags, even tents. Clip this into your crossstraps; it can help counterbalance the weight of your pack. I usually keep food and other dispensible goods in my counterweight bag.
d) Sleeping gear: The most essential part of your sleeping gear is your sleeping bag; subzero mummy-styles are the best. You should also have a bedroll or a blanket on which to lay your sleeping bag.
In the tropics, a hammock with a mosquito netting is extremely useful and very valuable to your comfort.
e) Shelter: Many people carry tents, and these are indeed useful. I carry a tent for cold or rainy climates, but a tarp and hammock in the tropics.
f) First Aid Kit: Your health is important; do not skimp on your first aid kit. Suggested atricles are:
- rubbing alcohol
- cotton balls
- rubber tubing for tourniquets
- syringe with needle
- antivenin for snakebites
Some of these aritcles may be difficult to find.
Also include items based on your persopnal health, such as inhalers if you have asthma, bee sting kit of you’re allergic to bees, allergy tablets, and so on.
g) Accessories: Essential accessories include:
- toilet paper
- U.S. Army Survival Manual
- Field Guide to Edible Plants
- fingernail clippers
- deoderant, maybe
h) A Good Mentality: While on your travels, it is important to always maintain a posotive outlook, to try and not get angry about small stuff, and remain patient.
i) Your sense of Adventure: But of course this one should be a given. Take the path less traveled, make spontanious decisions, and the road will strech on forever into the farthest reaches of your imagination.