Since numerous excellent articles have been published regarding the above-mention title, the writer is sharing his personal experiences as to what is or is not a thorough guideline for essential bush gear for Field Guides. Bear in mind that the following is assuming that you are guiding on foot and are not vehicle bound.
These boots were made for walking
First and foremost is a stout pair of walking boots that have already been worn in, never start a trail or a bush walk with new shoes unless you enjoy treating blisters! Boots with leather uppers and hand stitched soles are my personal favourite, with Jim Green being the brand I prefer (with a life-long guarantee you cannot go wrong) and secondly, woollen socks are a strong recommendation. Once again to avoid blisters going with woollen socks is the way to avoid blisters. Experience has taught me that poly-cotton or any synthetic material seems to cause friction which produces blisters! Remember, take care of your feet as they are your only means of transport, a lesson learnt the hard way during my military days!
The trusty back pack
Apart from the abovementioned, a sturdy 35 litre back pack with a water bladder is of equal importance. Broad shoulder straps are something to look out for since the thin straps dig into your shoulders cutting off blood supply to your arms causing fatigue and pins and needles in your hands and arms.
In your back pack ensure you have a suitable first aid kit to render aid in the case of minor scratches, scrapes, stings etc. these are available at any pharmacy outlet at reasonable prices or you could choose to make up one using your common sense in terms of available space in your pack and the weight there-of!
Save yourself from the harsh African sun
A wide brimmed hat to protect your ears and the back of your neck is a must in the harsh African sun, not forgetting sun screen with a high plus factor. Some prefer wearing only a baseball type of cap, yet I have found this to be inadequate for extended periods out in the bush.
Be prepared for that late afternoon thunder showers
At the other extreme, a rain poncho is also of importance for obvious reasons! At the very least it can also be used to build a water proof shelter or used as a stretcher if a serious injury has occurred and one needs to be evacuated!
Clothing of a neutral colour and light weight to dry out quickly if caught in the rain is another strong recommendation, long trousers are the writer’s preference despite the heat of the day, however, shorts and a set of gators for leg protection are an alternative. Try not to use gators of a cloth material as they will hook on thorn trees and thick vegetation which means you will need to replace them constantly!
The little extras that really help
Lastly, other “brick a brack” items such as para-cord (to repair broken back packs, replace broken shoe laces etc.) cable ties, zip lock bags for your trash (remember take out what you bring in-no littering!) “white gold” otherwise known as toilet paper also in a zip lock bag for obvious reasons, loo paper is quite difficult to work with when wet! And if you are walking in dangerous game areas with a weapon, the necessary bore-snake and cleaning materials to ensure your weapon is also looked after!
Hopefully the reader will find some use out of the afore-mentioned and thus “happy Trails” ladies and gentlemen.
Author: Trevor Myburgh – Trainer at Bushwise