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Don't Leave Home Without It: Advice from Veteran Travellers

By  Verge Staff August 12, 2009

Verge asked six seasoned explorers, "What do you NEVER leave behind?" Here's what the experts had to say.

Les Stroud: a.k.a. "Survivorman"

Just back from filming a survival story in the mountains of Colorado for Discovery US, and a family sea-kayaking trip in British Columbia.

I never leave behind a good solid butane lighter. In an emergency situation, if you can make a safe fire, the rest is relatively easy. A fire calms the nerves, rids fear and keeps you warm and at least feeling safe.

Jamie Clarke: explorer, mountaineer

Recently summited Antarctica's Vinson Massif—number six on his way to the seven summits. Crossed the Empty Quarter in 1999.

I never leave on a trip without a little treat packed somewhere amid all the 'critical' gear—a 100 mL Nalgene bottle of B&B scotch. Recently, in Antarctica, during a wind storm I sat beneath the tent vestibule deep in the snow kitchen filling water bottles at -49 degrees. The miserable night was passed with tiny, but regular sips of the highly viscous gold.

Geoff Green: polar expedition leader

Also director of Students on Ice, Member of the Explorers' Club of Canada. Recently returned from Antarctica and South Georgia Island.

The one thing I always bring on my expeditions, besides good karma, is my favorite baseball hat. Why is that indispensable? Hah! That's top secret!

Robert Young Pelton: author, film maker, adventurer

Just returned from Iraq where he was working on his new book, "Licensed to Kill: Privatizing the War on Terror," due out at the end of May.

Money... it's very comforting.

Jen Buck: former river guide, outpost nurse, volunteer with Doctors Without Borders

Co-led an all-women's expedition to the north pole in 2001.

I ALWAYS take my kite. It is a compact Parafoil kite made in Vancouver; it weighs almost nothing and slips into the bottom of my pack. It is bright and colourful with a long rainbow tail and reminds me of home. From the north pole, to Lake Tangyanika in the Congo, to the tops of a mountain in the BC Rockies, to the Hood River in Nunavut, my little kite keeps me company wherever I go!

Kevin Sites: journalist

Midway through a one-year tour documenting life in the world's major war zones. At press-time, he had just left Chechnya and was heading into Afghanistan.

I always take an iPod. You need something that can take you away from where you're at. Never short change yourself on your toiletries. It's more important sometimes than taking clothes. Baby wipes are your friend. Also Cipro (an antibiotic). I did find a flat tripod when we were putting together our gear. It's called MagicStix.

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