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  • Total days on the road: 586
  • Currently in: USA
  • Miles Driven: 36821
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  • Days Camping: 389
  • Days Indoors: 202

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Packing List: 4x4 Overlanding in Africa

Written by Jessica on March 20, 2011


Elephant, tent at Ngorogoro Crater in AfricaBelow is the list of gear we packed on a four month trip through South and East Africa from June-Sept 2008. We started in Johannesburg and went north along the east coast to Dar es Salaam, then cut inland to Nairobi and central Uganda, looped south through Rwanda and continued back through Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia to Joburg.

Having family near Joburg made outfitting this trip easier than most. We were able to stay with family and friends and spend several weeks gathering our gear and buying and outfitting a vehicle. We attempted to sell the vehicle once the trip ended, but because of the economic collapse that happened while were on the road, we were forced to leave the vehicle with a family member who sold it several months later.

We were not working during this trip, aside from amassing a huge collection of photos to someday sell for millions.

Key things we learned:

  • You don’t need two of everything. Many things we packed two of, just in case one broke. We severely underestimated both the quality of our gear and our ability to fix stuff.
  • Research your type of vehicle carefully. Our biggest regret was the type of truck we had. The suspension wasn’t built for this type of travel and it caused us nothing but trouble.
  • If you haven’t used it, get rid of it. Trade, sell, or throw it out. We waited way too long to get rid of extra crap we never used, especially extra cooking gear and clothing.

Great things we did:

  • Give everything a home. Our gear was organized into separate bins for food, cooking, clothes, sleeping and vehicle spares. Some people build shelves into their trucks. There are many ways to accomplish this.
  • If you’re going to East Africa, get COMESA Yellow Card Insurance, and keep copies of everything, locked away. As soon as we had COMESA, we got through every police check point and border without hassle.
  • Have visitors bring and take things you need or don’t. We had several others join us on the trip. They brought things we’d busted (battery chargers), things we couldn’t find (decent mozzy spray). They took back stuff we didn’t need, but didn’t want to throw out like climbing gear, extra camera equipment and souvenirs.

The List:

Download and Excel file of this list here: Driving Africa and Camping Packing List

Items Brought & Used Wished we didn't Wished we had Notes
Sleeping bags (Synthetic Mummy bags, rated to 15 degrees F for Kilimanjaro) X      
Sleeping mats (Inflatable Therm-a-rest knock offs) X     Now we use foam mats. The inflatable ones became too much of a chore to roll up and repair punctures.
Sheets X     We took cotton, but would opt for a lighter, easier to clean silk option if we had the cash
Fleece Sleeping Bag Liners X     We took these for climbing Kilimanjaro, but ended up using them more often than the sleeping bags.
Tent - Kelty "4" person X      
Tent stakes X      
Tent snow & sand anchors   X   Never used.
Chairs X      
Table - small folding plastic table X     We melted it a few times. Would recommend an aluminum folding table instead.
Pillows (cheap old ones) X     Wished we had smaller easier to pack pillows, like these Thermarest Small Compressible Pillows
Water Purifier (MSR MiOX) X     Worked brilliantly.
First Aid Kit - beefed up a bit X     Full list of contents is here.
Malaria tablets X     Bought in SA to save money
Headlamps / Flashlights X      
Lantern X X   Usefulness is debatable- we rarely had enough charged batteries to keep it running.
Fishing gear X      
Hatchet   X    
Wood saw   X    
Compass   X   GPS had a compass and we still never used it
Mosquito nets   X    
Pocket Knife X      
Plastic bins to hold everything X     Wished we had smaller easier to pack bins
Towels x2 X     Quick Dry Towels are the best.
Quick dry- camp towels     X The cotton ones we had sucked.
Tent repair kit   X   Just bring duct tape
Extra water purifier parts X      
Cooking Equipment
MSR Whisperlite stove X     Recommend the International version.
MSR Dragonfly International Stove X     Great when we couldn't find Benzene to fuel the other stove, but slow at cooking
MSR Fuel Bottle 20 oz. x2 X      
Pots - Set of 3 nesting pots w/ lids X      
Big fry pan with Lid by NOLS X     Used religiously
Small Fry pan   X    
Grill rack X     Wished we knew about this one: Folding Grill Rack by Texsport
Plates x4 X      
Bowls x4 X      
Cups x4 X      
Mugs x2 X X   One would have been enough
Coffee pot (Turkish Style) X     Only used for about half the trip. We got over our coffee addiction fast.
Silverware X      
Tupperware X      
Pot scraper X      
Washing basin X      
Big Cooler X      
Small cooler X     For drinks in the front
Cutting Board X      
Spare water container   X   Split apart in the Serengeti and we never replaced it
Grill / Coal Tongs X      
Electronics Equipment
Batteries AAA & AA X      
Battery Charger for AA and AAA X     Had to buy 2 more along the way, they kept dying
Hard Drive Backup X     Sent home with family half way through the trip as a photo backup
Photo storage hard drive X      
GPS - Garmin 60GSX X      
Tracks 4 Africa Maps X     Brilliant! Best part about the GPS.
Laptop X     Rarely used. But was handy on a few occasions.
Pocket Fan   X   Never had enough charged batteries to use it.
Power Inverter for Cigarette Lighter X     If you have the money, put in a dual battery system like we did for our PanAm trip.
Unlocked Cell Phone X      
Local Sim Cards X     Bought new in each country
iPod   X   Hardly ever used
Mini Alarm Clock X      
Plug adapters X     Various types
Paper maps X     A good backup when the GPS batteries died
Lonely Planet Books:
East Africa and Southern Africa
X     Although we didn't use all that often, when we did need an opinion, they were helpful
Passports X      
Carnet de Passage X     Got in Tanzania. Helped with border crossing immensely
International Drivers License   X   Never needed. Because Kobus had a South African License
Visas X      
Credit Cards X      
Copies of Everything X     Kept in a lock box, behind the seats
$500 Emergency Cash X     Kept in a lock box, behind the seats
Journal X      
Vehicle & 4x4 Accessories
Hi-Lift Jack & Base X      
Tire repair kits X     This is the best on the market: Safety seal truck tire repair kit
Extra tire repair worms X      
Lift-Mate - (to jack from wheels not truck body) X      
Tire iron (lug wrench) X     This kind is handy: Folding lug wrench
Extra lug nuts X      
Shovel   X    
Jerry Cans X     Started with 2, bought 3 more in Mozambique, traded 2 for car repairs in Uganda
Recovery Strap X     Never used, but good to have
D-Ring shackles X      
Sand Trax X     Never used, but good to have especially through Mozambique
Tow rope X      
Spare Tires x2 X X   Debatable if we needed 2
Socket wrench set X      
Hammer X      
Pliers X      
Assorted extra bolts X      
Electrical Tape X      
Duct tape X      
Epoxy X      
Radiator Stop Leak X      
Extra Oil X      
Hack saw X      
Zip Ties X      
Light Bulbs X      
Spot Lights X     Broke off about half way through the trip, but will well loved up until that point
Air compressor X      
Warning Triangles
Bungie Cords X      
Lock box - for paperwork and extra cash X      
Wire strippers/ cutters   X    
Metal File X      
Kilimanjaro Gear
Rain Coat X      
Rain Pants X      
Gaiters X      
Fleece Jacket X      
Thermal Top x2 X      
Thermal Bottoms x2 X      
Thermal Heavy Top X      
Thermal Heavy Bottom X      
Wind/Nylon Pants X      
Shorts X      
Sun hat X      
Boots X      
Wool Socks & liners X      
Hat X      
Gloves X      
Scarf/ Balaclava X      
Backpacks X      
Pack covers X      
Water bottles 1 Qt. (x4) X      
Trekking poles X      
FOR HIM        
Cargo Pants X      
Light weight hiking pants X      
Jeans   X    
Shorts X      
T-shirts X      
Cottons LS X     Only used South of Kilimanjaro
Socks X     Needed more
Underwear X      
Boxers   X    
Glasses + spares X     Never used spares
Sneakers X      
Sandals     X Would have replaced sneakers
FOR HER        
Pants- lightweight full length x3 X      
Skirt- ankle length X      
Shorts x3   X   Could have done with 1 pair
Sarong X     Became a towel
T-shirts and Tank Tops X10 X     Quickly became 6 or 7
Long Sleeve shirts x4 X     Used for the first two weeks and on Kilimanjaro
Socks x8 pair X      
Underwear X      
Bandana x2 X     For those bad hair days.
Swimsuits   X   Never used
Teva Sandals X      
Sneakers X      
Sunglasses X      


#5 Kobus 2014-01-13 17:21

Glad you enjoy the site, as for vehicle make and model, there are so many to choose from.

Check out our section on choosing a overland vehicle section and have a look at there are many overlanders driving in and around Africa each one with a different rig. You will get a better idea of what to look for based on where you are planning on going.

Keep us posted on what you settle on!
Paddy Mitton
#4 Paddy Mitton 2014-01-13 17:00
Hi there
I have been enjoying your website. We are in the early stages of getting organised to drive from the UK to Capetown. I was wondering what vehicle you did your trip in and whether you have have any recommendations in terms of make and model?
cheers for now
Paddy Mitton
#3 Paddy Mitton 2014-01-13 16:58
Hi There
I have been really enjoying your website. We are in the early process of trying to get organised to drive from the UK to Capetown. I was wondering what vehicle you did your trip in and whether you would recommend anything particular in terms of make or model?
Cheers for now
Tim Austin
#2 Tim Austin 2012-07-02 10:26
Hello folks wow love the blog Amazing travels.
Will be reading this site for days to come.
Arrived here a couple of hours ago and have not stopped reading.
I am really enjoying the stories and advice you have shared with us all.
Stay safe and Happy trails.
Tim AKA Gadgets Hobart Tasmania.
Treg hitch
#1 Treg hitch 2011-11-01 06:40
I always visit your website and I really love the content. Thank you for sharing such beneficial articles! Will surely recommend this site to some friends! Regards,

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