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Big 4s: Backpack, Shelter System, Hydration, and Tools


Who would go on a planned jungle adventure? There are many guided trips that take you to remote jungle areas. These trips can be either overnight or multi-day.

These destinations include the Zambezi River, Africa, as well as the jungles, rain forests, and rivers of South America, Mexico and Central America. The most popular destinations in Southeast Asia are Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Most often, a package deal includes transportation by van, boat, or elephant and a guide from the local area.

Adventure travel abroad can lead us to amazing places, such as Canaima National Park in Venezuela. The author spent time here going to Angel Falls by small bush airplane, boat, and on foot.


Survival magazines tend to focus on emergency survival situations where skills and basic camping gear can be used to survive. Reality TV and movies about jungle life usually feature someone trying to escape.

This creates a negative impression of the beauty of the jungle. The preconceived notion that the jungle is full piranhas and crocodiles is a false one. Although this isn't true in all cases, it is true that almost every place in nature that has inherent beauty is also dangerous.

View of the vast, green jungle in South America. Only overseas adventure travel can offer such views.

For a day of leisurely hiking, I've seen people carrying four knives and a 30-pound backpack. The person's mentality of trying to fight nature makes them paranoid and makes them anxious. They will then be set off by any noises or wildlife that they encounter. Hardly enjoyable!

Camping gear that is lightweight and useful makes trips much more enjoyable. The “I must have all” mentality holds people back as much as the 30 pound plus pack. I want to change people's mindset and help them to enjoy the adventure of trekking in the jungle. I will focus on the Big Four: shelter, tools, and backpack.

Mt. Roraima in Venezuela was a 10-day planned expedition with porters and guides.


It's true: backpacks are essential for tourists who travel to new places. You can take your backpack with you to the wild or inside. Avoid large packs that exceed 1,200 cubic inches. On a few occasions, I used packs up to 900 cubic inches. Any type of school bag, such as an over-the shoulder school book bag or simple backpack, will work.

Two very light and able backpacks for jungle trekking. The Gossamer Gear Minimalist and RikSak packs are made in the USA.

Gossamer Gear has the backpacks that I have been using for years. Two backpacks that I used in South America and Southeast Asia are the RikSak (900c.i.). The Minimalist (1.100 c.i.) in main body/360c.i. Outside pocket The RikSak weighs only two ounces empty. When reduced down to seven ounces empty, the Minimalist weighs in at around seven ounces.

These packs can be used to transport day hiking gear or overnight camping gear. Each pack features a large, simple compartment with a drawstring closing. People can reduce the amount of stuff they have to pack, and still have enough room for all the necessities.

The author used the Gossamer Gear Minimalist backpacking the jungles of the Philippines and Peru. Perfect for week-long adventures abroad.


Luxury is a good goal in the tropics. A platform house or hut with hammocks might be available for a guided tour in the tropics. Three things are needed to make a shelter warm enough for the winter.

The best options are hammock, tarp and mosquito net. These three items may make your night less comfortable. The cool, refreshing airflow from a hammock can provide much-needed relief from the heat. It is best to test it like any other camping gear before using it.

Two Byer of Maine Amazonas hammocks. The author’s old Traveller Lite hammock (right) and the new Moskito Kakoon hammock (left) in Zambales, Philippines.

The guy lines are brightly colored and highly reflective at night. The author attached them to heavy coral here, as the stakes wouldn’t stay in the ground.

Keep a tarp with you, if possible. There were at least three occasions when we were to camp in a waterproof area with a thatched roof. All we had to do was hang our hammocks. Needless to mention, I was getting dribbled all night. Tarps can be used as a portable roof to carry around.

A mosquito net is essential in the jungle. You will be able to capture the spirit of the Three Stooges by your own means, while you slam away the night and shout out profanities. Neglecting to use a mosquito net can lead to dengue fever, Zika virus and malaria. Make sure you get the right type of net.

It is best to take it out of its package. To make it easy to set-up, it must have tieouts.

Lead RAT instructor Patrick Rollins in a jungle camp with two Byer of Maine hammocks in plain view. The Traveller Lite and the Moskito hammocks were used every night for 12 hours.

The author’s camp during a Randall’s Adventure & Training class in Peru. Simple setup with a tarp over the Byer hammock with a built-in mosquito net. This is considered good living in the jungle!

Since over 10 years, I have been using hammocks made by Byer of Maine because they are light and easy to transport. The Traveller Lite hammock is a favorite model. It is lightweight at 11 ounces. I can also add my own bug net/tarp combination to it and weigh in at well under 2 pounds.

A new model, the Moskito Kakoon hammock, was recently released. This model comes with a net that attaches to the Traveller Lite hammock. It is 16 ounces in weight and takes up less space to set up. Although it's not the most luxurious hammock, it's easy to use and lightweight.


Do not drink water from streams or rivers as the locals do. It has been a long-standing habit, but it can be dangerous for those new to the area. Water is the most important priority. You must have safe water treatment methods in order to stay hydrated.

Avoid stagnant water bodies. This is not always possible. Avoid waterways with wildlife activity. This is also not always possible. Every stream had a carabao (Asian Water Buffalo) in it when I was last in the Philippines. We were able to get plenty of coconuts, which was a blessing for us.

This is what a water filter looks like after being used about five times. Water filters are quick but a little heavy and short-lived.

There are three main ways to treat water: boiling, water filter and chemical tablets. Water filters can be used for up to six times before they become clogged, depending on how much grit is present in the water.

Water can be carried in the jungle just like anywhere else. It is important to have water readily accessible in a container that won't burst. Gatorade bottles are simple and durable. They have a large mouth and are tough. They also come with a healthy fruity drink. Platypus 2L Hydration Bag doubles as a pillow if necessary.


The long blade is a multi-purpose tool that can be used on an overseas trip, especially in the jungle. No matter what type of tool it may be, big blades are the best! A guide will likely bring a machete if you are going on a planned trip into the jungle. They will also probably use trails.

A machete is an all-purpose tool for clearing trails, hacking, and splitting up firewood. The machete is a household fixture that is cheap and easy to obtain in Latin America.

It doesn't matter what type of long blade you have, it is clear that a large-bladed tool is effective in the jungle.

For most tasks encountered in a camp, a person should always carry a multi-tool or swivel knife. A long knife is a great souvenir that can be used to help the local economy.


It's the little things that make overseas travel easier. Antibacterial and antifungal creams should be top of the list. The hand sanitizer can be used for obvious reasons but it is more effective for nighttime use on the feet. Alcohol dries the feet and prevents them from getting waterlogged. It is a good idea to have Imodium for diarrhea handy, even if it's not for yourself.

Wear at least one brightly colored piece of clothing. This will increase your chances of being recognized by the group if you are separated.

Some miscellaneous items the author keeps with him on any jungle excursion. These little things are quite important to the health and well-being of any traveler in tropical/jungle environments.


When you travel overseas, your feet should be your top priority. I travel in areas where black palms can be found, such as Peru, and wear large, bulky boots with an Altama Panama sole. They have drain holes that let water out and are easy to clean.

They are very effective and protect your feet from any kind of nasty. Crocs are my preferred footwear in Southeast Asia (Thailand and the Philippines). Crocs are extremely durable and protect your toes and bottoms. They also dry quickly.

In the jungle, all guides and native peoples are seen wearing flip-flops or Crocs. Who am I to ask what works for them?

Explore the world and remember that flexibility is key to success in travel.


Here is the author's jungle adventure in the Philippines. Trike drivers use arm guards and a cheap mosquito net purchased at a hardware store to protect their arms from the sun. In a country with dengue fever, it doubles as a mosquito protection.

Moskito Kakoon Hammock

Color Spruce Green

Dimension: 56 inches x 116 inches

Weight 22 ounces

Hanging Point Approximate: 9-10 Feet

Weight Capacity: 275 pounds

MSRP: $59.95

Color: Red/Blue

Length 100 inches

Weight 9.2 ounces

Capacity: 330 pounds

MSRP: $17.95

Traveller Rain Fly

Dimension: 132.5 inches x 108 inches

Color: Teal

Weight 22 ounces

MSRP: $79.95


Gossamer Gear

Byer Maine


Editor's Note:

This article was first published in the August 2022 issue American Outdoor Guide Boundless.

American Outdoor Guide's Big 4s: Shelter System, Backpack, Hydration and Tools appeared first.


By: amit.kumar
Title: Big 4s: Backpack, Shelter System, Hydration, and Tools
Sourced From:
Published Date: Mon, 12 Sep 2022 13:16:35 +0000

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